Monday, February 26, 2018

Thoughts and Prayers

After Jack died, thoughts and prayers helped carry me.

I could feel our pain being shared in our town, across the country, and around the world by readers like you. You were willing to step into our story, to care and pray, even though it hurt. Those thoughts and prayers helped me get up and speak at Jack's service, and greet his classmates in the carpool line each day after school that first terrible year. They helped me have enough strength to parent Margaret in my most depleted state.

Some people wonder why "thoughts and prayers" are getting such a bad rap these days. I'd love to share my perspective.

For those of you who were with me in those early days, there was absolutely nothing that could be done to "fix" our family's situation. There was no real "cause" attached to Jack's accident. The best thing that could be done for us was to send up fervent prayers.

You prayed, and it did make a difference.

"Thoughts and prayers" ring hollow, however, when those in a position to effect change after a tragedy choose to do nothing, or even actively WORK AGAINST change, while saying they will pray.

This heaps pain upon pain. It is the utmost in disrespect.

When I see yet another child with cancer come across my timeline, I pray. Hard. But I also get out my credit card and donate to children's cancer research, because I know that money will make a difference. I am not a policy maker. I don't decide why children's cancer only gets about 4% of research funds. But I can pray, donate money, spread awareness, and not look the other way.

In the case of our nation's epidemic of school shootings, I can honor the children who died by advocating for common sense gun control. I can support Sandy Hook mom Scarlett Lewis's program to increase Social Emotional Learning so that fewer children will feel so alienated that they turn to violence.

It's easy to say that NOTHING will prevent all school shootings.

Is that reason enough not to try? The victims' families can't be "fixed." They need our prayers, big-time, as they grieve. How generous of them, in the depths of their pain, to use their voices to try to stop this from happening to another family!

There is no way to gauge the power of a single heartfelt prayer.
Or a single weapon that didn't get into the wrong hands.
Or one human connection that made the difference between destructive anger and hope.

I'll close with this powerful video from Aaron Stark, "I Was Almost a School Shooter" Interview is at the top, Aaron reading his letter is at the bottom.


Sharon in Indy said...

Thank you for offering words from your own pain. I can't explain to people who are angry at what they perceive to be attention to a non-existent magician in the sky that prayers do help, but you got it exactly right--only if they are accompanied by actions to the extent that those actions are possible. But to have the power and to do something and offer only prayers? Shameful. Cowardly. Wrong.

NanaDiana said...

Amen and Amen and Amen. Beautifully said!!!!
I am one of the ones that was there with you when you lost Jack. I sent up so many prayers and thoughts and healing wishes---always feeling a bit inadequate that I couldn't do more. However, sometimes that is all that is required of us---we turn it over to God, as we understand him, and let Him carry the burden and spread a healing balm because it is beyond our ability to do so.

Unknown said...

Thank you for your words. Prayer and works (action) can and should go together. I give my prayers, my voice and my money to support common sense gun laws.

connie said...

gorgeous boy...

Anonymous said...

Thank you for saying this. This, all by itself, is evidence of doing something because you're putting yourself on the line. You may get some angry responses that hurt and you know that and yet, you do it anyway. Thank you.

Jennifer said...

Thank you for writing this. You put into words what I feel. I am a school principal and feel haunted each day by school shootings.