Free Will, as Taught by Robbie Parker, in Connecticut

I took some time to ponder whether I would write this weekend. I’ve spent enough time watching the news updates to be both angry and devastated; not only about the tragedy in Connecticut, but also in how some news sources have been reporting. Rachel wrote perfect advice about grieving together and so I’ve held back my thoughts until I could feel confident in what I want to say.

candles for prayer by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-Sphere

Pursuing my own social media success seems so trite in lieu of this horrific event. So blogging and Tweeting have taken a back seat, until now.

Kimberly offers up a prayer for Connecticut and I’ve lit a white candle for peace and a blue candle for healing. Joy even recommends silence at a time like this. Pastor Bob has arranged for additional financial assistance to be given to the grieving families through their organization and while we may not think presents are important right now, he offers this perspective;

“There is no agenda behind this other than to help families have a good Christmas that now have to re-direct funds to have a funeral. I know presents are not the main thrust behind Christmas, but tell that to a 6 year old boy or girl. So if “lalaloopsy” helps a little girl cope…so be it. If a Nintendo WiiU helps a boy cope…awesome!” ~Pastor Bob

I’ve watched Emilie’s dad, Robbie Parker, speak live on CNN and I watched with tear filled eyes and a lump in my throat. He spoke compassionately and with incredible courage as he gave peace and prayers to the shooter’s family. Everyone deals with grief differently.

I can’t imagine the grief of losing a child, especially under violent circumstances, but add to that the moment a grieving parent thinks of unwrapped gifts not being opened on Christmas morning. Sigh** No, I just can’t imagine. Trying to explain to siblings that they have permission to have gifts, to feel joy, and to embrace the magic of Christmas. To remember the birth of Jesus and the joy of this fallible world having a Savior who redeems mankind to our Father seems difficult to convey. Emotions can turn from joyful giggles over a long-wished-for toy then to sudden grief over the thought that beloved siblings aren’t present. Can we comprehend  the emotional and spiritual upheaval of difficult questions about God’s will, His sovereignty, and his love for broken people….even broken people who misuse guns?

Our world has already been wrestling with theological questions this year from biblical womanhood, female equality in the pulpit, and the notion that there could be no literal hell. While some of these issues seem unimportant at a time like this, people look to the Bible and other spiritual texts to find a way to process this mortifying event. When real life hits us we realize how vulnerable we really are and how out of control humanity can become. I’ve even wondered, how we can be thankful for today, when tomorrow could take so much away from us? Are the babes in God’s loving arms? Are murderers being tortured forever?

Life has it’s way of sending us curve balls and we either shake our fists at God denying his love exists or we kneel in prayer and give thanks for the gifts we’ve had thus far. Emilie’s dad has shared his thoughts on ‘free will’ when he spoke to the nation via television just a short time ago.

“Parker said he knows that God can’t take away free will and would have been unable to stop the Sandy Hook shooting. While gunman Adam Lanza used his free agency to take innocent lives, Parker said he plans to use his in a positive way.” ~ABC’s Alyssa Newcomb

“I’m not mad because I have my  [free] agency to use this event to do whatever I can to make sure my family and my wife and my daughters are taken care [of],” he said “And if there’s anything I can do to help to anyone at any time at anywhere, I’m free to do that.” ~ Mr. Parker (Emilie’s Dad) [source]

The concept of heaven helps people dealing with grief and sadly, the concept of hell temporarily satisfies the anger expressed in some people.  We live in a world with brokenness all around us and while some are using this as an opportunity to re-open the discussion about gun laws others are talking about mental health coverage. Many remain faithful to proclaim God’s love and some question where He was Friday morning.

We have heard it said that hurting people hurt others. We’ve heard it said that bad things happen to good people.

It’s a difficult notion to consider the brokenness of shooters, but we’re all just as fallible as the next person. Some don’t get the help and relief they seek in this life. People reject the plea of insanity so they can punish to the fullest extent of the law, but there’s no one to punish when suicide occurred. We wrestle with unimaginable things and against forces we cannot see.

A brother no longer has his brother or his mother. Parents no longer have their children to tuck in at night. Siblings no longer have siblings to hug and share cookies with. Grandparents no longer have grandchildren to share the magic of Christmas with. It’s a tragedy from every angle.

So we press on and take one day at a time. We try to put one foot in front of the other as we step out of bed each morning. Parents bite back the tears when they place one less bowl on the table for cereal and one less lunch box to pack for the day. We’ll be angry and sad, joyful and frustrated. We’ll approach each day and each event one at a time, but we must keep waking up. We must keep packing lunches for those who are still here and we must keep counseling hurting people.

Hug your loved ones a bit tighter and longer and send up prayer for those affected.

Life goes on and we must pull together as communities to make today and each tomorrow the best we can. We must plant seeds of hope so people will know they are loved and included in community. May we follow Robbie’s thoughts on using our free will for good and help others.

“When I was a boy and saw scary things on the news, my mother would say to me,

“Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” ~ Mr. Fred Rodgers




Grieving Together

Stay up to date with articles and resources for your spiritual journey Subscribe by Email

Soul Liberty Faith

↑ Grab this Headline Animator