Why? Helping our Kids (and Ourselves) Through Tragedy

When I first heard the news about the CT school shooting, all I heard was that there had been an attempt and the shooter was dead.  It was not until much later that I heard that he successfully killed many people.  I have not had on the news very much today since my children are home, but I did catch the President’s news conference.  He said that he was not reacting to this tragedy as a leader, but as a parent – and he lacked his usual composure.   I can relate to his response.   I think once you are a parent you definitely see life differently.

When you decide to write an article like this, there is a danger that you will come off like an expert.  Like you know exactly what to do and have handled the situation with decorum.  Right now, I would like nothing better than to turn my house into a fortress, have my husband start working from him, have my groceries delivered, along with everything else.  But while this seems so desirable, I have a feeling that this probably not God’s will for my life or for family.

I remember a conversation that I had with Lorri a few years ago.  She had just read a book by Francis Chan (I believe it was Crazy Love) where he challenged his readers that we are not supposed to pray for our children to be safe.  Instead we are to pray that God will develop them to be more like Him.  No matter the cost.  I have not been able to read that book yet, because while I probably agree with the philosophy, the thought goes against my nature.  I think that is probably my biggest prayer – that nothing will happen to my children.  The events out East are part of my nightmares- I want to cry and cry, even though the tragedy is not really going to touch me personally beyond the next few days the way that it will some parents.  I have to think God understands our need to pray for protection for our children, but He also does need us to pray that in all things He will be glorified.

As I was praying today, I was reminded of John 16:33.  “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  God was not surprised or alarmed at the events that have happened today or in the past few years.  I feel that He is saddened, but He knows human nature.  Somehow in Him, we can have peace.  We can trust.  We can hope.  Because He is the Savior.  I wish that I could have rushed into that school today to lock everything down and save those precious people.  But I couldn’t.  God could have.  But He didn’t.  I don’t know why – we may get glimpses in the days ahead as to how God was working in the midst of evil.  But we even if we never hear those stories this side of heaven, we can be confident that He was there.  Not causing the tragedy but working in spite of it.

We did decide to sit our kids down and explain bits of what happened today.  They are older now and cannot be isolated as much.  I knew that I wanted them to hear from us, not from the news or shocked people.  We talked about that people make evil choices and how God still cares.  We can still trust God.  We need to know that our days are numbered and that this fact should not make us scared but should help us to be more kind to each other.  Then we prayed.  Unfortunately now my daughter has visions of kids hiding, even though I tried to be gentle.  I wish I could shelter her from the harsh realities that sometimes happen.  But I can’t.  So I pray with her and for her.  Not as often as I should, but I try.

I think another result of a day like today is survival guilt.  I distinctly remember feeling this 13 years ago after the Columbine shootings.  I had gone to school that day as a teacher too – I had not done anything differently or better than those teachers in that community.  But I was not directly affected long-term, the way that they were.  Now today the fact that I can hear all of my 4 kids getting ready for be upstairs causes there to be a bittersweet feeling in my heart.  Feelings of gratefulness that they are all here but sadness for those who do not have that joy.  I am sure that there are a few that lost children today (or recently) with regrets – you can never have enough time with a child.   Tragedies can definitely remind you that life is short and time is precious.  So, as we enjoy family time tonight, I think it will be sweeter.

Days like this make me ponder Scripture more – to be thankful that God is close to the brokenhearted.  That He binds their wounds.  That he comforts those who mourn.  Promises that can carry us through.  I also am glad that other Christians who are wiser than I put their perspective on paper.  This prayer by Max Lucado is particularly poignant today.     http://maxlucado.com/read/blog/a-christmas-prayer/

And I am also thankful that other moms admit when they feel vulnerable or afraid – that helps me to know that I am not alone.  I love the reflections of one of the MOPs leadership moms who admitted how she struggled personally to make sense of a tragedy when there was a missing young girl in her community this fall.                                                     http://www.mom-ology.org/page.php?pageid=3209

And I am thankful that there are experts who have helped others through tragedy, so that I can know where to begin.  I need to read advice from others who have a biblical perspective, who do not grieve as though they have no hope.  So many great organizations are available for counsel.  Focus on the Family has several helpful articles on their website.

http://family.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/26257/

I also found a random article on a website I had never visited before – I really appreciated their perspective, especially on limiting watching the same news story over and over- helpful for your child (and for you).  (Note:  I only previewed this article – I cannot vouch for the rest of the site.)

Helping Children Deal With Tragedy

I know that events like this do give us an opportunity to talk about our faith.  People will be searching for God more than ever.  I pray that I will be ready to give an answer.

For now, I am going to be done on the computer and go watch a movie.  A little cuddling and laughing needs to be on my agenda today.  And extra hugs all around!

 

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