Raw – A Response to Newtown

I’m raw. I feel bruised. The light seems too bright, the noises too near. Today, the fact that this world is not our home is overwhelming. We took our girls, 3 and 5, to a restaurant last night and I felt exposed and fearful. I saw adults look at them with kindness and sadness, and even that made me want to hide them away. I live half a country away, my girls are safe, and I feel traumatized. I cannot fathom how people in that tiny town in Connecticut feel, especially the ones who woke up today to realize that the nightmare of yesterday was real and that their home is truly empty. I ache for them.

It is like we are all grieving. And the stages of grief are flowing over us.

Courtesy WKOW

Courtesy WKOW

Denial. Yesterday I kept praying that the media was wrong, that they’d somehow find the children okay. That a survivor would be found. That somehow this was all not really happening.

Anger. I confess – I’m furious at everything. Furious at our enemy (damn you. Your end is certain, and I pray it is soon. Jesus has won.). Furious at sin and the death that has wrapped itself around humanity since the garden. I am READY for its power over us to be OVER. Furious at the killer. Furious that he could get his hands on weapons that are that lethal and quick. Furious at our broken mental health system and the casual culture of violence as entertainment. Furious at everyone who is racing to defend their position instead of putting everything on the table to FIX THIS and STOP IT. I’m livid. I just want it to stop. I hate this fear.

Bargaining. I want it not to be true. I keep analyzing it thinking what would have happened if one factor had changed, wondering why and how someone could EVER do this, and even looking at my own kids and begging God to somehow spare them the hurt of this broken evil world.

Depression. I can’t stop crying. Yesterday a scary part came on a movie and Bekah curled up next to me and said, “Mom, will you protect me?” and I prayed “Jesus please” as I cried and held her tight. I just keep imagining those rooms and what those babies saw and felt. I see my Grace’s kindergarten classroom in my head as I read the stories and my heart breaks for those parents. How do they go on? I pray and I pray all day and although I want this to lift I know that for thousands in Connecticut this won’t lift for years, if ever. So I pray and I ask the Lord to somehow supernaturally let my sadness ease someone else’s – let me, from afar, bear another’s burden and lift their sadness. That maybe a parent or a family member or a counselor or a first responder or a teacher or someone in that town will be able to breathe today because I felt a little of their weight on my chest.

Acceptance. I don’t know how any of us are supposed to ever accept any of this. It is fundamentally against all I believe – life and hope and love and the promise of the future. I am grateful that Jesus drew little kids to himself and I believe that those children are with him tonight, and that gives me a small measure of hope, but honestly even that doesn’t seem enough.

But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14

So what do we do while we grieve? How do we lift this sadness? Should we even want this sadness to lift? I don’t know. How can we help these broken families? What do we do with this helpless feeling?

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. Revelation 21:4

We’re trying to process and yet protect our kids from even knowing it happened. We are letting each other cry and vent. We are praying with all we know to pray for the families in Newtown. We are holding our kids tight. We are trying to shine light into a world so dark, and asking the Lord to renew our hope even in the midst of this sorrow. I know Jesus is the answer – and I pray that somehow in this people will turn to him and find comfort and hope. We are asking the Lord to return soon, and to give us strength in the meantime. We are worshiping and praying – listening to hymns of hope and strength. We are sad and sorry and just trying to stand despite all of those feelings.

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

But Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul.

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

Horatio Spafford


  1. Jen, Thank you so much for your honesty and faith-filled response. Your words express much of what I’m experiencing silently in my own heart and it’s a balm to my soul to know someone else is feeling the same way. My children are grown and my grandchildren are all in their teens already, but I have been shaken by this particular event much more than any other. The randomness and pure evil of this event is beyond me and I hate the fear it brings out in all of us. Jesus promised that He is always with us and we know that these little ones are dancing with him today. I’m not sorry for them, I know they’re okay, but I ache for the parents, family members, the community and all who grieve their loss. I too am praying for all of them/us and take heart in knowing that our Lord truly knows us all. We struggle on, knowing that Jesus cries too, but that He walks with each of us as He surely guides us through. He turns everything to His good will and their loss will not be in vane. Thank you for your wonderful words. God bless and keep you always in His sweet care,Sharon Date: Sun, 16 Dec 2012 02:16:06 +0000 To: slross94@hotmail.com


  2. I think the thing for me is this: I have done the praying and the crying and the asking. I have done the arguing and the talking and the mediation.

    I am sure all these things help, because our Risen Lord hears the prayers of the saints and the cries of the oppressed. I am sure of that.

    But I want something to _happen_. I want my duly constituted and ordained government to _make this stuff stop_.

    We Christians especially should be horrified and outraged that our beloved Lord and His Church in America is so thoroughly identified and enmeshed in this worship of guns.

    We serve a Lord who is the Prince of Peace. We serve a Risen Christ who conquered death. We are free from fear, and we know that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. But I cannot tell you the number of people who call themselves “Christians” who glory in their guns and their weapons and their ability to “blow people away.” It is a culture of violence and death and nihilism, and it has infected the body of Christ.

    We have got to be outraged to the point of holy nausea over the way guns and violence rule in America, how much we have let guns rule our politics, how much we have let weapons determine our sense of peace.

    I don’t know. I used to think that there was nothing that could be done, that guns were more powerful than prayer. I was wrong.

    Christians should be at the forefront of the movement to rid this nation of guns. We should be in the streets protesting, tieing up the switchboard in Congress and the White House, fasting and mourning. We who say we are “pro-life” should be standing in prayer, lamenting over our cultus of violence.

    We who are family-oriented should be thinking about our families.

    I am so, so distraught, But for me, I want more than earnest pleading.


    1. Stephen, I agree. For me, the definition of pro-life includes being somewhat anti-gun (I have no problem with a home defense gun or with some carrying rights but AR and large quantity magazines I am absolutely against). My husband was robbed at gunpoint. I fear them, I dislike them, and I am tired of being made to feel guilty for feeling that way. Jesus never advocated violence. He died defenseless when he could have ended the world with a word. Why some seem to equate the 2nd amendment with righteousness is beyond me. I want it changed. I am praying hard but also will be using my money and my voice to cry out for a more safe and less easily-armed America.


      1. I am told by my gun-worshipping friends that there’s nothing that can be done, that guns have saturated America, and that the only response is to get my own gun.

        But–I believe in a God who is bigger than a gun. And I have to wonder about their faith in God’s power to change the world, and about their trust in a pistol rather than the Holy Spirit.

        It might not happen in my lifetime. I might not see the end. But I can see the beginning, and I can act in faith.

        It took 350 years to kill slavery in America. And I can imagine the people who tried to do it and who died in faith, believing, still trusted God and still believed their actions and words would some day be effective.


  3. I am an American living in Latvia. No guns here unless you are a hunter and belong to a certified club. No gun crime, although the Russian mafia probably have guns. This is a little country, part of the European Union that stood up to that Union and said no to abortion. The decision was made when the President and the Prime Minister called in the Catholic, Lutheran and Baptist Bishops and other religious leaders and sought their opinions. Yes, we have problems as the nation continues to recover from Soviet oppression but the evidence of God at work is hopeful and we are here to encourage. Please pray for Latvia. Kathleen


  4. I have done two things:

    1. Started a facebook page – “Media! Stop glorifying these killers!” It is an attempt to get a grassroots movement to voluntarily stop giving a face and a history to mass murderers. Please join and ask others to join. It is an online petition to our media.

    2. I am encouraging everyone to write their Senators and representatives and have them put more money towards making mental health services more accessible,

    I believe that these two things will make a difference, and things that we all can agree on. They are looking at the root of the problems that we are experiencing. Doing something is helping me cope with the grief that I am feeling.

    Carol Jewell


    1. Carol I love that. I agree that if we can do something, we will all be able to process this grief better. Thank you for your comment and your heart and I will certainly look up your FB page.


  5. “I’m furious at everything. Furious at our enemy (damn you. Your end is certain, and I pray it is soon. Jesus has won.). Furious at sin and the death that has wrapped itself around humanity since the garden. I am READY for its power over us to be OVER” — Amen, Amen.

    I’m not a parent but I am a nanny, which of course isn’t the same at all but I have a slight, extremely slight (I can’t say slight enough) understanding of it all.

    But for all the parents, and you – I just wanted to share a familiar verse that I heard this week, which reminded me of what God has given us.

    II Timothy 1:7 – for God has not given us a spirit of fear, of power, and of love and of self-discipline

    As I have shared a bit of my story with you, I am terrified of a lot of things – and having kids is way up on the list. I fear everything that comes with having children.

    But this is the verse that I think of and want to claim for all of the parents and future parents.

    That God has given us not a spirit that has to be afraid but one that has power. That power includes not having to parent out of fear.

    Jen, I pray that you and your husband grow closer to the Lord in this time and to one another and to your girls. May the Lord remind you of HIs Spirit that is within you – that does not have to fear, that never has to fear. But His spirit has overcome this world, and he is Sovereign and loves you deeply and your husband and your girls deeply. I pray that the enemy will be far from your family and other families, especially during the time. I pray for your spirit to be renewed in the Lord. May the Prince of Peace be ever present in your home and within you. As you, and we all long to bear the burden of another, may we keep giving those burdens to Jesus – for he can bear it. Every temptation to fear, I pray would go away, I ask in the name of Jesus. May Jesus continue to fill you with love as you desire to pour all of your love out. I am encouraged by you dear sister.

    thinking of you and all the other wonderful parents out there and praying for you all

    although a new friend, i love you very much.

    – Charlesia


    1. Oh Charlesia what a precious blessing you are to me! That verse and prayer touched my heart.

      I also feel a love and sisterhood from the Lord with you. God bless you and may He wipe every fear and tear away from you today as well. Thank you thank you thank you.


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