As tears glisten around the country for the victims of Friday’s shootings in Connecticut, sorrow blurs the joy that usually comes from this time of year. Our hearts ache for those affected by this tragedy, and as of yet, I haven’t met anyone who has not been touched by this unimaginable horror.
By now, as a nation we know that whether it is at the movies, mall, college campus, press conference, place of worship or elementary school, we are not safe from the violence that permeates our culture.
We cry because it’s so ungodly that someone could kill so many innocent people. We cry because we can’t imagine such a random, senseless act happening to our own babies, who since their birth have commandeered almost the entirety of our hearts. We cry to mourn what will never be for the victims and their loved ones – and right now we stand as a nation of loved ones in overwhelming grief.
I think of the few minutes of horror that obliterated a lifetime of promised moments, leaving in the wake nothing but precious memories – and sorrow. It is a loss greater than each one of those 26 lives, as the evil in our world becomes hauntingly familiar, and we wonder not only what’s next, but who.
I don’t know what to think about the future of our country. I don’t know what has become of humanity. All weekend I thought not only of the families’ devastation, but of God’s. I can’t imagine what He must think of all of us.
We are called to comfort the sorrowful, and yet we are all filled with so much sorrow of our own for these victims and families. There are no words, there is nothing our money can buy to compensate for this loss, and yet we have to do something to offer comfort. We cannot be idle in our grief. We have to use the evil which devastated our nation as an impetus for good, because that it is the only way the good will triumph – and oh, how badly we need a victory right now. We simply must stop the complacency, the apathy and the neglect that make these unimaginable acts reality.
I thought a lot about what I could do to help these victims, but there is no helping the dead. The finality of death and helplessness it evokes as always are hard to comprehend – especially children. When I read about the angels heaven gained, I feel sadness for the ones our country lost. Twenty children, too innocent to know sin yet ravaged by the depravity of it.
Thinking of the unopened presents under the tree this Christmas in Connecticut, I can’t help lament the joy that is lost this season. However, there are so many other children, angels still among us, who are left in tenuous situations this Christmas, and with them remain hope.
The only way I know how to comfort the sorrowful is to help someone else who is suffering. Sadly, countless children know violence, and unfortunately for many it exists in their own homes.
To honor the victims of this massacre and the suffering of their families, I decided to give Christmas gifts to children who are affected by domestic violence – presents for 12 little girls and 8 little boys. Twenty presents in all, one for each child victim as an offering of peace, hope, and love for children everywhere.
My local domestic violence shelter sets up a holiday store this time of year where mothers can go in and pick out presents for their children, so they can still participate in the merriment of the season even if it’s in a shelter instead of their own homes. Truthfully the where doesn’t matter. After all, Jesus spent His first Christmas in a manger.
What matters is that we find some way to bring peace into this world. Every day our actions can either bring peace to others or take it away. I could say that the shooter took away the peace of our nation last Friday, but it wouldn’t be true. Not because our hearts don’t break for each shattered life, but because we weren’t a peaceful nation to begin with.
When I was in my twenties I would think about my grandparents and the sufferings of their generation. I would consider the many wars they fought, the economic depression, racism and discrimination they endured. I was a bit awed by the peace they had despite these trials. They had seen darkness, but didn’t remain in it. Certainly this darkness wouldn’t be repeated, the world would only get better I thought naively.
Now I am 40 and I have seen my own share of wars, economic hardship and terror brought by men and their machines. I watched the horror of 9/11, the devastation of natural disasters, and now, the shooting deaths of 6 and 7 year old children at an elementary school. I haven’t overcome these things. I, like so many others, have simply endured the tragedy of them.
We have reached a new bottom of darkness, one that thankfully my grandparents are not around to see. I shudder to think of the atrocities my children will know if we don’t change the course of our actions.
On behalf of those sweet little faces we mourn, my own children, and yours, please go out and make someone’s day better. It doesn’t matter so much what you do as that you do something inspired by love, something to show that while evil may exist it will not prevail. There is an entire generation of young people whose hope hinges on each of us doing our part to make the world a better place – a place they can know peace.
It’s Christmas, and it’s time to believe and to hope. Mostly, it’s time for the newest angels in heaven – 12 little girls, 8 little boys and 6 heroic adults, to finally see peace on earth and goodwill toward men.