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A gun violence survivor's redemptive suffering

During National Gun Violence Survivors Week where we are encouraged to share our stories, I resist writing about being a survivor of gun violence and yet feel a certain obligation. I am unsure what to write, how much to share, and what to share. I have a button at home that says 'Survivor: End Gun Violence.' I wore it yesterday hoping it would inspire me, but when I did I realized the futility of that pursuit for me. I lost Jack to gun violence and have come to realize that is my contribution, the one that makes a difference.

I can't explain it, but I hope you bear with me through a mystery I cannot and may never come to understand. When Jack was shot and killed, I came to know and bear a suffering beyond any known to me. My heart, my life, my family was shattered. I survived, but I did not want this new world where the evil of gun violence could take Jack. But that is the world I live in today—we all live in—crushing, destructive violence and a level of despair that destroys precious souls. I want to end gun violence. But what I have to offer is my suffering alongside the other families who have lost loved ones. Their suffering informs mine—their hope, strength, and courage gets me through the difficult moments of my grief. We have learned that suffering together somehow gets us through this moment, this day.  One step at a time, not knowing but trusting that God will take our shattered hearts as our gift to him. Not knowing but trusting that God will bring the sacrifice of our children and loved ones and join with the suffering of Jesus on the Cross. Our suffering is redemptive for the souls in danger of being lost, for the soul of the young man who killed Jack Shockley. Jack would want that redemption.

Most precious blood of Jesus Christ, save us and the whole world. 


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