Through the Storm
by Terri Roberts
Tucked away in my memory is a truly idyllic childhood. I was privileged to grow up amidst lush countryside, rolling hills, quiet woods, and quaint villages in one of our Creator’s most perfect garden spots—Lancaster County in central Pennsylvania. I never doubted the love of parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins. Or the existence of a loving and good heavenly Father. I met and married a wonderful man who was—and still is —not only the love of my life but also my best friend. We were blessed with four beautiful, healthy sons.
Of course, life is never without its storms. The normal wind and rains of raising four rambunctious boys. A miscarriage. The inevitable ups and downs of marriage. The challenges of a demanding job. A hurricane blew in with a diagnosis of breast cancer. But I’d survived every challenge. Life was good. My children were grown and settled. I had grandchildren to love. Other mothers would approach me to say what a wonderful job I’d done raising four sons. My very identity was wrapped up in being a wife and mother who wanted God’s best for each member of her family. I was living the “happily ever after.”
Then the tsunami struck. On October 2, 2006, my firstborn child, whom I’d cradled in my arms, overseen his first steps, taught to love and serve God, watched grow into a gentle, hardworking man, a loving husband and father—this beloved son walked into an Amish schoolhouse with an arsenal of guns. Before it was over, five precious young girls were dead, five more were seriously injured, and my son had taken his own life.
Suddenly I had a new identity: the mother of the Amish schoolhouse shooter. I cannot describe my devastation, the gut-wrenching pain, the nights of anguish. All those sweet young lives, families, our own family—changed forever because of a single senseless act of evil and rage committed by my own dear son.
I would survive this tsunami. I found myself hanging on by my fingertips as the storm battered my body, inexorably loosening my feeble grip. What kind of a mother was I that my son could do such a terrible thing? Where was the God who’d been there with me in all the other storms of my life? The God in whom I’d taught my children to place their trust? Why had He not stopped this? Was there a single ray of light, of hope in this darkness?
I could not see the light. I could not hold on. But even as I found myself swept away by this rogue tsunami wave, in the darkest depths of my pain, I felt loving arms enfold me. And in surrendering to that sweet embrace, I was reminded that survival is not the only word that starts with the letter ‘s.’ It is in surrender that I found balm for my pain. Surrender to the One who had been with me through every storm and who had not abandoned me in this one.
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