This 4th of July my husband and went to see the fires works show downtown Raleigh, NC on Fayetteville Street. We parked on a side street where the towering buildings stood above the promise of fun. As we moved slowly through the dense crowd, I processed thoughts moving through my head: the population growth of Wake County, recent news reports of violence, increased number of people with gun permits and the safety of our youth. I considered how the sounds of gunshot could so easily be masked by the sounds of fireworks. I was not having a good time but using my calming thoughts to ‘relax, enjoy the moment and stop being so serious’. We held hands tightly and searched for the right vendor who could provide some great food. The anxiety started to build.
Drastically, the mood of the crowd changed. There was what sounded like gunshots; a shooting had occurred. As we watched young children on various rides, suddenly a vast crowd of people came running and screaming toward us. We stood against the walls of one of the blow-up rides observing the frightened and confused faces of people running from the south to the north part of the street. My husband’s nonverbal communication confirmed our agreement to stay put for the moment. I asked God for His protection and peace. We squeezed into a sandwich shop where a young boy was crying and incoherently telling his version of what was taking place. I asked God to comfort this young boy, for His direction and for safety. As we entered the street I could look up and see the stars between the skyscrapers. I was reminded that God could see everything on every street in the surrounding area. A mother huddled down with her body sheltering her two young children. We choose to leave the event – quickly moving past the mixture of those injured in the stampede and those unaware of incident taking place on the other end of the street.
On the ride home my heart filled with gratitude that I could go to God in my time of need and that my anxious thoughts would not overwhelm me. The nightly news revealed a photo of the young man who violently assaulted someone now in critical condition. I wondered if this needless act was planned, what started the argument, did he know the confusion/fear/injury that he caused, did he think it was worth it? Mostly I wondered what could have made a difference in preserving his dreams for a bright future. I prayed, “God bless America—stand beside her (His faithfulness) and guide her (with wisdom) through the night (of increased violence) with the light from above (peace, liberty and justice for all).”
Beth Holloway, MA, LPC is a Licensed Professional Counselor and has more than 12 years’ experience in the mental health field. She has recently joined the Miller Counseling Services team and specializes in counseling individuals and couples who have experienced all types of losses including abuse, domestic strife, and trauma. She enjoys leading group therapy classes in the areas of Divorce Recovery, Spiritual Enrichment, Couples and Parent/Child Relationships, Grief Processing and Depression Recovery. Beth has had the privilege of traveling all over the United States and to more than 10 foreign countries and has been enriched by learning about people from diverse cultures and ethnic groups.
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