My husband called me at 8:29 Monday morning to tell me there was a shooter as his office. I was dropping off one of his coworkers at a doctor’s appointment before heading into work myself when I got his call. Stunned and a little disbelieving, I parked my car so I could find his coworker and tell him not to go into work after his appointment. I hadn’t thought of the possibility that the rest of the country would hear about the shots that were fired at the Navy Yard.

Thankfully, Brad was safe all day, though others were not as fortunate. It was a scary day and it’s been hard to think of much else since. As I’ve thought about what happened, I’ve thought about what I want to take with me from the experience. This is what I’ve come up with:

Be kind to people, particularly strangers. As soon as I hung up the phone with Brad, I started crying. I got a few strange looks from people as I was looking for Brad’s coworker and I kept thinking how disturbing it was that no one around me knew I feared I’d never see my husband again. I’ve since thought about how at that moment I was in one of the largest and most premier military hospitals in the world, a place where suffering and heartache are present every day. How many times have I been unaware of the pain of those around me? I’m sure it happens daily. I want to be kinder to people because I realized you never know when someone around you is facing something unbearable. Rather than add to someone’s grief, I would hope to lift it.

When you’re questioning whether to do something kind for someone else or not, do it. As soon as the news broke about the shooter, I received a number of calls, texts, emails, and messages, asking if Brad was okay and how I was doing. Every one of them meant so much to me. Sometimes when I have an idea of some small way I can help someone, I push the idea aside. I don’t know if it’s because of fear, lack of energy, or selfishness, but I know I need to stop doing that. If you feel prompted to call someone, to help someone, to send a card, to take someone flowers, or whatever it may be, you should do it.

Pray often. Prayer is real. Nearly every person who contacted me on Monday told me they were praying for us and for the people at the Navy Yard. I’ve had many experiences where I’ve felt a weight lifted off my shoulders, where I’ve been able to take a step forward when it didn’t seem likely, and I’ve had the distinct impression and realization that it was due to prayer. I want to pray more fervently every day and have a prayer in my heart throughout the day. I believe we can make a difference in our lives and in the lives of others as we turn to our Father in Heaven in humble prayer.

Tell people you love them and show them you love them. Enough said.  

Spend time on things that are important. I can’t count how much time I’ve wasted on things that really don’t matter. The scriptures tell us to “be anxiously engaged in a good cause,” and I know there have been many times when I could have been serving others rather than whatever inconsequential thing I was doing. This past Monday I wasn’t thinking about a new pair of shoes I wanted to buy, a party I didn’t get invited to, a TV show I wanted to catch up on, or how I wanted to redecorate my house; I was thinking about my family, praying for my community, and wondering how we could help the families of the victims. One of the outcomes of Monday was that it put things into perspective and reminded me what was most important to me.

Look for the good amidst all the bad. There were a lot of horrible things that happened on Monday. Twelve people were killed while they were going about their day, serving their country and helping to keep others safe. But there were also good things that happened and people who survived. I heard the news report of a woman who texted her father saying she had been shot. Her dad rushed out of work, drove to the Navy Yard, made his way through the gates, found his injured daughter, and took her to the hospital. I thought that story was so beautiful. While I can’t eradicate all the evil in the world, I can actively look for the good and beautiful things that do happen and appreciate them.

So those are my thoughts. I am grateful that my husband came home unharmed. I am thankful to the many people who risked their lives to save others. I am proud to support the U.S. military. Sorry for getting a little serious but sometimes serious things happen.

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