Archives For shootings

We Are All Adam Lanza

Stephanie Raquel  —  December 19, 2012 — 3 Comments
image photo : Gun with bullets on steel

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In the aftermath of the Newtown, Conn. shootings, there is a national debate raging about gun laws.  Many have wisely pointed out, however, that changing gun laws alone won’t solve the problem.

Case in point.  Even with some of the toughest gun laws of any city in the country, Chicago saw gun violence rise in November by a whopping 49 percent compared to Nov., 2011.  Homicides in 2012 are up by 21 percent versus the first eleven months of 2011.

And so, the chorus of “Not just stricter gun laws, better mental health care!” has begun.  Indeed, we can always do a better job looking out for the ‘silent sick’ among us through proper diagnoses and encouraging friends and loved ones to seek therapeutic support.  Full disclosure … I’ve got a bevy of mental health patients in my family tree, and we’ve all benefited from great doctors and medications.  It’s a tremendously good thing to support people who are facing mental issues.

Nonetheless, I believe we have to ask the question:  What if the gunman’s issues weren’t in his head, but in his heart?  Then what?

As a Christ-follower, I do believe that we were all created in God’s image and have the capacity to do incredible things here on earth.  I also believe that ever since the very first humans, Adam & Eve, ate from that dreaded forbidden fruitcake, we’ve been born with this thing called a sin-nature and its capacity for harming others.  And only God incarnate can resolve that problem, which is the very essence of Christmas.  John 3:16 isn’t just a verse for NFL quarterback Tim Tebow to wear under his eyes.  It’s part of God’s love letter to the world, reminding us that He didn’t just send His Son to be a nice guy … He sent His Son because we needed Him to come and save us.  We were each drowning and in desperate need of being rescued from our own hearts’ propensity for selfishness.  As the apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans, we’ve all messed up our lives.  I love the way it’s worded in The Message: we’ve each proven “that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us.”

There’s a blog post getting a lot of traction right now from a woman who said, “I am Adam Lanza’s mother.”  My heart goes out to her and I commend her honesty.  But if I’m honest with myself, I must admit, I am Adam Lanza.  And I kinda think, we all are all Adam Lanza.  No, I don’t own a gun (nor have I fired one — ever).  And I’m not talking about harming others the way he did, but God’s word says harboring anger in our hearts is just as bad as murder.  Ever been angry?  Check.

Changing gun laws and improving mental healthcare alone can’t fix this global pandemic.  It’s a heart problem, not just a head problem.  A spiritual issue, not just a mental one.  And spiritual problems need spiritual solutions.  Only the divine power of God Himself can do that.   At the end of the day, that is the message the world needs to hear.

This is the crisis we’re in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and won’t come near it, fearing a painful exposure. But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is.”  ~ John 3:19-21 (The Message).

Did you catch that?  Again, “anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God’s light.”  So this year, for those who know the True meaning of Christmas, let your God-light shine.  Every single one of us needs it.


Photo Credit: Architect of the Capitol. 


Flags around the USA are still hanging at half-mast today because of last week’s massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  Our hearts are truly heavy as the funerals of 20 young children have begun.

And yet, in coming weeks the children and families directly affected by this massacre, as well as individuals far-removed from Newtown, Conn., will have a choice to make in our response.  Simply put, we can choose:  bitter, or better?

I was so encouraged by dad Robbie Parker’s statement in choosing to let the world know he feels such compassion for the gunman’s family.  He set the tone of forgiveness and hope, and I pray the world will follow.  NBC News correspondent Ann Curry has already launched a social media campaign motivating simple acts of compassion inspired by the children from Sandy Hook who lost their lives.  Using the hashtags #20Acts and #26Acts, thousands of people have taken to Twitter to share their random acts of kindness.  This is a good thing.

And yet my hope and prayer is that this type of generous spirit is not short-lived.  The children, staff and administrators who survived last Friday’s harrowing attack have ample reason to become angry and resentful.  But I hope they will do the tough work of healing.  And that is exactly what it is: hard work.  Finding and getting into good counseling, opening up about their emotions, and learning healthy ways to cope are all part of dealing with tragic circumstances.  This is not easy, and it takes time to process — months and months, if not years.

I often say that a good counselor is like a relational tow-truck who can help us get out of our emotional ruts.  If we never make the call, though, we’ll be stuck spinning our wheels.

By the same token, we can’t just preach forgiveness if we don’t put it into practice. And for tragedies of this magnitude, I really don’t believe that’s possible apart from divine power.  I can’t say enough about the book, “Total Forgiveness” by R.T. Kendall.  The first chapter alone, describing what forgiveness IS and is NOT is worth thousands of dollars in therapy sessions, whether you’re dealing with a minor dispute with your spouse or coping with something far more severe such as abuse or abandonment.

So for today, the choice is ours.  Bitter or better.  Which is it going to be?