Columbine High Survivor
I just finished the book "Marked For Life" by Crystal Woodman Miller. I was able to almost consume it in one day on my flights home from Florida. Crystal writes about the high school shooting that rocked her life and so many others on April 20, 1999. She writes about escaping gunmen who threatened to kill every student in the school's library where she was curled up under a table praying for her life. But most of all she writes about choosing hope and discovering purpose in the darks days that have followed that tragedy.
I met Crystal just a few months ago. Her husband called me from Oklahoma early this year asking that I snap some promo photos for Crystal's book. What he didn't know was that I lived in California. He had seen some of my work on a website of an Oklahoman musician/worship leader Charlie Hall and loved my style. When I explained that I didn't just live down the road he was bummed but determined to have me so much so that he flew me a couple of weeks later. I had just a brief couple of hours with Crystal and wish that I had had more time. She and her husband Pete were full of joy, peace, and love. I could tell that they are people that have been "through it" but have come out victorious on the other side of despair.
I think the hardest part of surviving a tragedy where loved ones die in front of your eyes is actually surviving. Crystal's story has encouraged me to move on from the bitterness of suffering that I have held onto and befriended. There were parts of the book that brought me to tears as I read of suffering greater than mine experienced by people around the world that have gone before. It encouraged me to pursue God in the face of tragedy and pain and to use my hurt to find the beauty that can come out of the ashes. Thank you Crystal for showing us that life is not about ourselves and that we take for granted every day, every breath and the amazing people God has entrusted to us for such a short time.
"Frequently, I prayed to God, 'Why can't you just erase my hurt, my pain, my memories? Why won't you restore my life to how it was before Columbine, before my family broke apart, before my mind was permanently imprinted with images I wish I'd never seen? They're thorns in my flesh, God... Please just take them away!'
God of course, didn't. But as years went by, I'd find myself seeing God's face more clearly, sensing his presence more fully, feeling his hand on my life more strongly as I walked through bouts of suffering."