Unanswered Prayers

posted in: Culture, Parenting | 7

I can not think about it.

I can not let myself think about it.

But still, it creeps in. My minds tries to push it out with its entire weight. Like when I act on an impulse to rearrange a room by myself, and I try to move a bookshelf full of books using my whole body because I don’t want to be bothered with removing each piece and re-shelving it.

I can not have these images in my mind. Not when I look upon my children’s faces, faces that are of the same ages as those tiny victims. I can not look upon my children and imagine the horror that raced within those children. I can not feel my imagined grief knowing it could never mirror the gut-twisting, bone-weakening, heart-strangulating, living hell that has enveloped those parents. I just can’t.

Yet I do. Because I am a parent. Because I am a human. There is not one person who can hear of the tragedy that happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut and not be touched…except perhaps the kind of person who would do this in the first place.

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photo credit: Silent Vigil via photopin (license)

Tonight, my mom said very simply, “None of those children will ever come home from school.” And it made me so sad. Ironically, that is the exact moment I heard about the shooting. When my child was coming home from school. The only television that got any air time at my house today was Nickelodeon, so when a friend of mine mentioned it as we stood in the school’s parking lot waiting for dismissal, I had no idea. I didn’t even know the whole story yet. All I knew was that my children both came home from school.

Tonight after I put my daughter and son to bed, I silently prayed over them, as I do on most nights. God protect them always. I bet those parents in Connecticut have prayed those same words over their children. Unanswered prayers. It is so easy to wonder about unanswered prayers.

But I can not think about it.

I can not let myself think about it.

Beyond that, I can not think of anything else to say. But I did read something today that was about the only thing I felt I could hold onto in regards to tragedies like this. Thank you Matt Chambers at Ethoshift for your wisdom:

“[I]f you were to ask me during the greatest moments of my life exactly how and why it happened, why God chose that moment…that person…that circumstance…I’d never be able to explain it. It’s like trying to stare directly into the brightest spotlight to try and see the very center of the lightbulb. You just can’t do it. You know the light is there, you know you are in its beam, but it’s simply impossible to look into the center of it while it’s shining…

…[I]f you were to ask me during the most horrific moments of my life exactly where God was…why he didn’t stop what happened…how he could let it happen in the first place…I’d never be able to explain it. It’s like standing at the bottom of an abyss and trying to figure out exactly where the darkness begins. You know the darkness is there, you know it’s there because light is absent, but you’ll never be able to completely understand why…or how to get out.

Somewhere along the way, I imagine we’ve misunderstood the exact relationship between Heaven and earth. While a small minority are quite at peace with their understanding of it, I’d say the vast majority of us will struggle and wrestle with this for our entire lives.

While we grapple with and attempt to cling harder to our faith, there will always be a portion of it that in these moments is impossible to understand, explain, or describe. All I know is, every day around the world, tragedy like this happens. When it’s far away from us, it’s easier to stomach, but the closer it gets, the more vulnerable we feel, and it forces us to raise the questions we never wanted to talk about.

Yet, here we are…asking…begging for answers, and somehow still know that the answers we’re begging for probably won’t ever come. Besides, even if someone was able to provide an explanation of some sort, would it really help? I’m convinced explanations don’t magically end grief, or bring back people we love who have been taken away far earlier than we ever would have imagined.

This is a scenario when explanations are pointless. It doesn’t matter how genius the theology is or how many Bible verses we quote. This is that space that’s beyond anything we’re ever prepared to answer for. And that’s probably for the best. Most of us are experts at trying to fix things, but fall far short when it comes time to simply walking with people through their darkest or brightest days.”

Excerpts were taken from Matt Chamber’s post, “Where is God When 20 Children Are Murdered?”

7 Responses

  1. Such a terrible terribly tragedy. It is hard when we will probably never ever understand what goes on in someone’s head when they decide to commit such a horrible act. In some ways I am glad I don’t understand. If I did, I would be worried about myself.
    I look at my Little Mister all the way over here in Australia and I am grateful today for all we have together. It’s so hard to imagine the grief of the parents. I am only a pretty new parent (13 months and counting) but I feel that deepest fear – if something happened to my child…I can’t even finish the sentence.
    I just hope that those children are playing in heaven together.

    • I know exactly how you feel. And you make a good point about being glad you can’t understand it. I guess that is the very definition of “senseless.”

    • And it doesn’t matter how long you have been a parent. That instinct and fear of losing them kicks in full throttle from day one…

  2. I don’t think it matters what the age of the child: it is just not right for a child to die before their parent. But then I rememeber that we are preparing to celebrate the coming of a Child who was born in order to die, and His mother knew it! I don’t think that made it any easier for her either.

  3. Dearest Kelly, I know how your heart is aching for all those families in Newtown. Especially because Grace is the age of some of those little girls. It is so hard to process, and so unbelievably painful to contemplate. My friend Carol lives in Newtown and I happened to be there yesterday when it all happened. She kept saying “It’s our town” with such a sense of disbelief. Newtown is a beautiful and quiet place with excellent schools and caring people. We have been to Mass at St. Rose (her parish) and know the town well. And it does not seem possible that such a horrific act could happen there. But it did, they will never be the same. They are a strong community and they will help each other through this. But it will never be the Newtown that was before December 14, 2012. Just keep them in your prayers, and give Grace and Michael an extra kiss.

    • Those of us who live in safe communities so often feel immune to these things. But we are not. Violence can find its way anywhere, and things like this serve as a reminder to everyone. It is so scary not just because I can identify with having a child that age, but it happened in a community like ours, a school like ours. I can only imagine how the people of Newtown are reeling from this. Please let your friend know how deeply this has touched us, and how firmly held they are in our prayers. Oh, and there have been a lot of extra kisses. I think my kids are starting to think something is wrong with me. 🙂

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