I watched the interview with Mark Kelly, the husband of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, last night. My heart ached as he talked about seeing the misinformation that his wife had died. My heart smiled as I listed to him talk about their love, in spite of the distance that is often between them.
In the days that have passed since this tragedy, Mr. Kelly has been in my thoughts and prayers much of the time. As I watched the news on that Saturday, in the beginning, as they were reporting that she had died, my heart ached for her family. I know what it is like to lose a spouse in a tragedy. While my tragedy was not national news, grief is no respecter of persons. If you love someone, it hurts when you lose that person.
When reports started coming out that Ms. Giffords had not died, that she was in surgery, all I could do is pray, and stay glued to the TV. Literally all day long, I just sat, watching for some news of her. My husband would ask me throughout the day if I was OK, if I wanted to talk. I didn't really know what to say.
It wasn't until a couple of days later that I put my finger on why I was so drawn in by this story. Yes, while it is completely different from my tragedy, I identified with the heart break that was going on in Arizona. While Ms. Giffords was still in critical condition, hope was looking up for her. However, there were still senseless deaths that happened that day.
Countless lives have been affected by this tragedy. As I have talked about and prayed from the beginning of this blog the day after the tragedy in Arizona, the family of Ms. Giffords, the families of all those who were killed that day, the families of those who were shot but lived through it, the family of the shooter, the first responders, those who were shopping in the Shopping Center that day.... the list goes on and on. Countless lives were affected that day.
I have learned that the only comfort for me in these times is Jesus. Talking to Him, writing to Him, crying to Him, just being in His presence is the only comfort that truly soothes my soul. Yes, the pain is still there, but it is bearable because He is there. I truly cast my cares on Him.
Yesterday, as I read the news of Connor Mennings committing suicide at school, once again, my heart ached. It's been almost 10 years since my first husband shot himself, taking his own life. That horrible night is forever etched in my mind's eye. While the nightmares are not nearly as often as they were in the first days, weeks, months and years past this tragedy, that scene changed me. I have a new understanding of true terror. I could not change what was happening before my very eyes.
I have asked myself countless times what could I have done. Could I have said something that would have made a difference? I will never know the answer to that question. What I do know is that the aftermath of this tragedy changed many lives forever. Yes, God, in His infinite beauty and love, has turned this horrible tragedy for good (Romans 8:28). He has used me and allowed me to be open to share my grief and experience with others, so they know that they are not alone. When I was living this nightmare, there was so very few people I could talk to. My prayer is that God will allow me to continually turn this tragedy for good, by letting me be there to help others who are going through a tragedy like this. It is my prayer that my life can be seen as an example of how when you let Jesus have the pieces of your shattered life, He will lovingly and gently and patiently put your life back together. No, it will never be the same as it was before. Yes, there will always be a hollow place in your heart that aches and echoes with the loss of your loved one or the pain you have experienced. But that pain and echo can become beautiful when the love and light of Jesus shines through it.
Today, I continue to pray for all the lives that have been affected in these two tragedies. I continue to pray for Congresswoman Giffords, Mark Kelly, and their extended family and friends. I pray for all those families who lost loved ones and friends on that horrible day. I pray for this country, as politicians jockey to take advantage of this tragedy. I pray for common sense to prevail, as things are getting completely ridiculous, with the political correctness that is being pushed. I pray for the blame game to stop, and accountability to be allowed to happen. I pray for justice to be carried out to the man who committed this horrible crime. I pray for his soul, that he would repent of his sins, and turn to the forgiving mercy and grace of Christ Jesus. Again, I believe just punishment for this crime should be the death penalty for his mortal life, but I continue to pray for his immortal soul.
I pray for the family and friends of Connor Mennings. I pray for the teachers and students at his school. I pray for the youth across this country who feel that suicide is the only answer the pain they are experiencing. Yes, I most definitely believe that their pain is real. However, I know that suicide is NEVER the answer! Suicide is a permanent solution for a temporary problem. I pray that those who do not know the love, mercy and grace of my Savior, Jesus Christ, will seek Him. If you seek, you will find Him. I could have never made it through the tragedy I went through without having Jesus to comfort me. The pain was still there, but my healing was only possible because of the love of Jesus Christ. Of this, I have absolutely no doubt.
I pray that all those who have been affected by these tragedies will find it inside themselves to forgive. I learned the hard way that you have to go through all the stages of grief. I pray that each of these people will allow themselves to walk through this process. I fought part of the process, and it just prolonged my grief and healing. This is a natural process that must take place for true healing to take place. I believe this is why so many people never heal from the tragic events in their lives.
I pray that each of these tragedies will be turned to something beautiful. Many will not be able to see how that is eve possible. I did not see how it could be in my tragedy for many years. And the beauty did not come from me- the beauty came from Jesus. It truly is a miracle, just as Ms. Giffords living through this is a miracle. All praise, glory and honor be to Jesus Christ.
I pray all of these things in the Name of Jesus Christ- Amen.