Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Boston, Foster Care, and Intentional Responses to Others' Pain

I was driving my in-laws in from Saint Louis when I heard the news about the explosions at the Boston Marathon. An eight-year-old child was killed, along with two other people, and many more were injured. And the strange thing is, I don’t think news like this surprises us anymore. It saddens us, angers us, frightens us, discourages us, disheartens us. But it doesn’t surprise us anymore.

When we’re surprised, we often act out of instincts. Amazingly, the people closest to the crises often act with selfless courage. Todd Beamer led a group of passengers in an effort to prevent a fourth crash on 9/11. Videos and stories of Boston show normal people acting heroically in surreal situations. But those of us not at the site react, too. And so often, the reactions are not just anger, but rage. Not just fear, but hatred. Not just grieving, but soapboxing. When we’re surprised, we don’t often choose our responses. But rage, hatred, and soapboxing don’t bring about healing.

But news like this isn’t surprising anymore. I think that means that we can intentionally choose our responses. Offer prayers. Maintain hope. Spread peace. Comfort the frightened.

I hope it’s not insensitive to make this connection, but, in a way, I’m reminded of foster care. Many of the kids I worked with in foster care had been hurt by other people’s actions.  Sometimes foster parents react to the stories of what’s happened to the children with rage, hatred, and soapboxing. But other foster parents hear the stories, empathize, and respond with prayer, hope, peace, and comfort. Both sets of responses come from a caring heart, but the first set of responses only serves to feel the anger that the foster parent thinks the child should be feeling. “I’ll be angry for you.” The second set of responses joins the child where they are and offers help towards healing, “Bad things have happened to you. You can feel angry or sad or scared, or all of them, and that’s OK. I’m here to be with you, to help you heal.”

Let’s be intentional as we choose our responses to those who have been hurt by others.  


  1. This is such an astute observation, Addison.

    Yes, let's be intentional. So well said.

    1. Thanks Lori. I've been feeling that way for a while.

  2. There's too much good stuff here to comment on all of it. Instead I'll say this:



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