Events like Sandy Hook are occurring more often these days. It is a sad reality. In doing some research for this post I found that most of the school shootings that have occurred since 1996 have been performed by students, mostly high schoolers, who attended the school. Very few were done by someone from the outside who, for whatever reason, chose a particular school to attack. However it was done, any time someone walks into a school with the intent to harm and kill we all receive the news with shock and horror. My first thought is always this, “What must have happened to the killer that his heart has been so hardened to the point of being able to murder?” That question becomes even more difficult when the killer is a teenager. What has occurred in this young person’s short life to bring them to the point of bringing a gun to their school and shooting their classmates and teachers? That question should shake us. But then you have Sandy Hook Elementary where a man came to the school and shot and killed 20 children. Children!! How far gone that man must have been to commit such an evil. And that’s where I want to begin when speaking of how events like this effect the family. I want to begin with the killer.
The reasons for why someone commits murder are numerous but I always find myself wondering about what happened in the killer’s life leading up to the act of murder. Though I believe in the total depravity of all mankind, these particular people had a bent towards murder and surely there were many things in their life that pushed them even further towards that natural bent. Every single one of these shooters were effected by their families, most of all their parents, in one way or another. I say that with certainty not because I know it for a fact but because we all are effected by our families. We are affected by how we are nurtured, how we are raised, and by the dynamics of our family. I do not want to put total blame of all sin on families or the involvement (or lack thereof) from parents. We are all born into sin and we all make our own choices. But I believe that nurture certainly contributes to nature and the way a person is raised and the dynamics in which they grew up will effect how they view themselves, the world, and the people around them. Many people are able to rise out of the less than perfect dynamic they were raised in and manage to make good choices but not everyone takes this course. And thus we have people who’s hearts are so hard that they can take another person’s life and even their own. I am saddened when I think about how the sin of others and the sin of the killer can bring about such a tragic event. Sin creates destruction. Sin destroys the person it has hold of and it effects all of those within its path. The young man who first killed his own mother and then went to Sandy Hook and killed those children was evil, consumed with his own sin and the sin of those who influenced him, and he left behind him 26 families, broken with loss and grief. This tragedy ultimately began with depravity but it grew to fruition because of the broken circumstances (whether familial or not) in this man’s life that, for one reason or another, he was not capable of overcoming.
The second party that is effected by events like Sandy Hook are of course the loved ones of the victims. I think the death of a child is every parents nightmare. I can only imagine but not truly know the depth of grief and pain the parents of the Sandy Hook children must be experiencing. It is heartbreaking. This event has surely effected these families in a lifelong way. I cannot say how each of these families will cope, whether healing will come, if they know Jesus or not, or if they will fall apart, unable to cope. However they go on, the loss of their child will forever be apart of their lives and will always effect them.
The third party that is effected by such events is the rest of us, those of us who heard about it over the news, the internet, or Facebook. We all respond in different ways but I think it’s safe to assume that most are saddened by the news. How this effects us, the ones who aren’t directly touched by the event, will be different for different families. I think fear, sympathy, and examination are the most common responses. Some are influenced to fear and become afraid to send their kids to school, afraid that this could happen to their kids. Most, if not all, sympathize with the families directly effected, understanding how tragic it is to lose someone you love. And some, parents in particular, turn to examining their own life, their parenting, and they draw their children closer, hold them a little tighter. And then there are the children who have many questions about what happened and parents are faced with the challenge of how and what to tell their children. The sinfulness of this world is paraded in front of the faces of very young children more and more these days and parents, particularly Christian parents, have to figure out how to maintain the innocence of their children while raising them in a world where they cannot always be protected.
School shootings, which are the result of sin nature, are just one manifestation of sin and how it effects the family. As I have said many times, the family, as a whole, is broken. It is scarred by sin. When someone goes into the schools of our children and kills them a family loses a member, people are influenced to fear, sadness is put in our hearts, and the depravity of this world and how it effects our family is brought to the forefront. All families are effected and influenced by sin but it is how they chose to respond that will make the difference. They will either fight to remain whole and united or they will allow sin to tear them apart. I cannot speak for the families that have been most directly effected by Sandy Hook and the other school shootings that have taken place, but for the rest of us I can say that we need to not give in to fear, but rather we should be convicted to love our children better, to thank God for them more often, and to pray for God’s healing and grace on the results of sin that stretch out and touch us all.