A few weeks ago I was listening to Anita Moorjani’s show “Explore the Extraordinary” on Hay House Radio as I often do on the drive to my weekly Wednesday client. I started listening after the show had begun, so I didn’t know who Anita was speaking with, but the conversation was thought provoking. The two women were discussing how we tell kids all the time what not to do, “Say no to drugs. Stop bullying. Don’t have sex.” But rarely do we tell them what they can do when they are feeling angry, stressed or confused. Anita’s guest pointed out that kids having a difficult time don’t raise their hands in class and say, “Excuse me, Ms. Johnson. I am experiencing a lot of strong emotions that I do not know how to process. Could I please schedule an appointment with you and the guidance counselor at your earliest convenience?” No, but they do let us know in other ways if we are observant. I later found out Anita was speaking with someone who knows all too well what happens when a young person does not know what to do with anger and confusion.
Her guest was Scarlett Lewis, the mother of Jesse Lewis, one of the twenty Sandy Hook Elementary School children who was killed in the tragic shooting in December of 2012. Scarlett wrote a beautiful book titled Nurturing Healing Love: A Mother’s Journey of Hope & Forgiveness. And what an inspiring journey it was and continues to be! The book is full of remarkable stories leading up to that day, as well as the many messages she has received from Jesse since his passing. The title was inspired by the three words Jesse wrote on a chalk board just days before the shooting: nurturing healing love. Scarlett did not see these words until after the incident. Because these words were not typical for him (or any first grader for that matter), she knew it was a special message from Jesse instructing her how to carry on after the tragedy. These words inspired her to start the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Foundation to teach kids what they can do when they are angry, confused, or feeling stressed. The following words are directly from the foundation’s website.
The Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement collaborates with professional educators to bring lasting meaning to Jesse’s murder by developing school-based educational programs to change our current culture of violence to one of safety, peace and love for everyone in our world. This is the single guiding principle, the sole purpose and motto of our work: Teaching others to Choose Love.
Rather than analyzing the details of incidents like this looking for someone to blame, doesn’t it make more sense to focus our attention on a solution? By bringing programs like this to schools everywhere, we can teach children of all ages how to choose love more consistently. If Scarlett can say that she is still choosing love over anger, even for the shooter, we all can. She realized that not choosing love would keep her stuck in the pain of that horrible December day. It really touched me when she said she believes there were 28 victims that day, not the usual 26 associated with the Sandy Hook incident. She includes the shooter and his mother who also died that day. This is the kind of thinking that will change the world to one where love prevails and senseless acts of violence are a thing of the past.
I have no doubt that if you aren’t already inspired to support the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Foundation in some way, you will be when you read Scarlett’s book. I know it’s a heavy topic, but don’t let that prevent you from reading it. Scarlett doesn’t dwell in the sadness, and neither should we. With honesty, tenderness, and courage, she shares what happened, her healing process, and all the love and miracles that have occurred through it all. In fact, I had my own miracle while reading this book. “Coincidentally,” I finished reading it on June 30, which just happens to be Jesse’s birthday. When I made this connection, I got that tingling sensation all through my body. It felt like Jesse had just recruited me to help share his message. What better birthday gift could I give him than to say yes? I hope you will say yes too.
I also say yes to doing more Family Constellations and Life Coaching based on A Course in Miracles. Both are a powerful ways to help adults choose love over fear. Please visit my website for more information and to register for an upcoming event.
For those of you in South Florida, I’d like to bring your attention to another program that has been helping children for over 40 years. The Listeners Program is a team of volunteers that give K-12 school children in Miami-Dade County a safe place to express their feelings and be heard. Listeners don’t offer advice or try to fix anything. They simply listen. Please visit the Listeners Program online to learn more about this one of a kind opportunity to make a difference in a child’s life just by your presence. Click HERE to read what kids who have had Listeners are saying about their experience. There’s still time to be trained to become a Listener for the upcoming school year.
Until next time, keep listening and keep choosing love!