A Plea on Behalf of Newtown, Connecticut (and All of Us)

First Day of Third GradeIf I woke up this morning and my nine-year-old son was lying cold and shattered in the city morgue, I would want to die.

It would feel like something dark with sharp yellow talons had punched its way into my chest, clawed out my heart, and thrown it like a fastball against the opposite wall. The pain would be complete, an un-nameable thing, reaching into and past the depths of my soul.

The pain would shred my mind and I would want nothing more than to escape it. It would be selfish and cowardly, because I would still have a wife and two lovely children who love me and need me. But I would want to leave myself, to leave the bottomless pain.

In that kind of darkness, words are meaningless. Even the most tender of words rings hollow. Explanations? Reasons? Solutions? Debates about how to avoid future pain? Meaningless. Worse than meaningless—salt in the wound of devastation.

Talk about redemption? An insult to the depth of our sorrow.

We talk a lot about redemption here at UnTangled. Because it is a good thing, maybe even the best of things. But there are times and places in which the word should not be uttered, at least not for now. We find ourselves, as Americans—and as citizens of the human race—in one of those places this morning.

At a time like this, words—even words about redemption—only deepen the pain. At times like this, the only thing that matters is presence. Being together. Reaching out and grasping for a hand, any hand that’s offered in love. Leaning into the one, or the One, that will hold us up.

At times like this, simply putting one foot in front of the other is the epitome of courage, and it’s really the only thing we can ask of each other.

And so I’ll ask.

Can we be together instead of divided? Can we lend a hand rather than a cliché? Can we wrap each other in an embrace instead of a debate? There will be time for all of that later. For now, can we simply lend each other the strength to take one more step forward?

Kelly is a licensed clinical psychologist and co-founder of Artisan Clinical Associates in Naperville, IL. He is also a writer and blogs regularly about the redemption of our personal, relational, and communal lives. Kelly is married, has three children, and enjoys learning from them how to be a kid again. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • ezer

    …well unsaid

  • Stacy

    I’ve seen the posts about redemption in the midst of this horrendous violence and it seems trite and untimely to say the least. I found myself getting angry as I read posts about redemption and I couldn’t figure out why because that’s what good Christians say, right? Jesus will take the pain away, right? Those words about redemption are well meant, but it really robs those that are in the midst of their grief and pain of their right to experience what you’ve described above. Thank you for posting and reminding us to let them grieve and reminding us to be present.

  • Jennifer Newell

    This is the same kind of pain we experienced after 911. It is the inability to understand why someone would want to cause so much pain and suffering to innocent people. Just like after 911 I went home and hugged my kids. It doesnt matter how big they are they are still your kids and the thought of anything hurting them is more than we can even begin to handle.

  • Kim

    Thank you for this, Kelly. I specifically signed on to my computer to see if you had written anything about this tragedy, and I’m grateful to read your words.

  • Catherine

    You are right. Those who lost loved ones are in the throws of the deepest most unimaginable grief possible. You described perfectly how I imagine I would feel in the midst of such horror. We pray for them. We pray for their ability to grieve in the way that they need. We feel deeply for them and we want to do something – anything for them.
    And we grieve also – all of us differently. We are fortunate that we are slightly distanced from the intensity – the rawness of it. Some of us feel a grief that is intertwined with anger and urgency and an intense desire to turn all these emotions into action. Because SOMETHING went WRONG here. A MILLION things went WRONG here. And so we NEED to talk, and debate and scream and yell until we have investigated every possible way in which something went wrong and every possible way in which it could have been prevented. Because the talking and debating is a catalyst to change and understanding. And we NEED change. Because we CANNOT let this happen again. We cannot. We cannot stop talking, and searching, and investigating, and debating until our children are SAFE. They need to be safe. Period. And they return to school Monday. Tomorrow. The time for debate is now, the time was years ago.

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