Taylor Schumann is a writer, shooting survivor, and contributor to the forthcoming book If I Don’t Make It, I Love You: Survivors in the Aftermath of School Shootings. She lives with her husband and son in Charleston, South Carolina.
I have a complicated relationship with “thoughts and prayers.”
The phrase has become the familiar refrain after each mass shooting, echoed in tweets and statements offering condolences to families and communities shaken by tragedy. Like many others affected by gun violence, I can’t help but feel frustrated and cynical when I hear another line about “thoughts and prayers.”
It has been six years since I was shot when a gunman opened fire at New River Community College in Virginia. With the news of each mass shooting, each child dead after finding a loaded weapon in their home, and each suicide or senseless gun death, I wonder if action from those in power will ever follow the thoughts and prayers.
As a shooting survivor, I believe in action. At the same time, I believe in the power of prayer. I know firsthand what living through a shooting does to a mind and what a bullet does to a body, and I believe that my recovery and healing is a direct result of prayers that were prayed for me.
It is easy to feel powerless in the aftermath of a mass shooting. As we mourn the lives lost in El Paso, Dayton, and every other community where gun violence is an everyday reality, it can seem impossible to find the words to pray.
Being a survivor doesn’t mean I can singlehandedly solve the crisis of gun violence. What I can offer, though, is insight into some specific ways to pray for survivors as one part of our response to gun violence.
Pray for physical wounds, pain, and future treatments.
Managing bullet wounds is often a process of trial and error, where it can take days for doctors to figure out how to provide comfort. Many survivors face years of recovery, including surgeries and physical rehabilitation. Pray that they would experience a relief from the physical pain, that the lasting effects of the wounds would be minimal, and they would have the strength to persevere through the treatments to come.
Pray for their invisible wounds.
Survivors have witnessed the unimaginable, oftentimes seeing people they love also wounded or killed. These are images that will never leave their minds. Whether or not they were wounded, they are processing their near-death experience and wondering what their new reality will be. Many survivors will deal with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression. Pray for the emotional trauma they are dealing with. Pray that they would have access to counseling, therapy, and whatever type of mental health treatment that they need.
Pray for wisdom for doctors, nurses, and all medical specialists they encounter.
Medical staff face a weighty task as they are asked to treat and care for victims. Pray for wisdom as they make medical decisions, steady hands as they perform surgeries, kindness as they talk to their patients, and for stamina and endurance as they provide care.
Pray for shielding from photos and information of the shooter.
I will never forget waking up and seeing the face of the person who shot me next to my picture on the front page of the newspaper or seeing my name scroll across the ticker on the national news. As videos and photos make their way into the coverage, pray that the survivors are shielded from hearing about the shooter and reliving their trauma over and over again.
Pray against nightmares and for the ability to sleep and rest.
For me, one of the hardest things in the days following the shooting was sleeping. I was terrified to close my eyes, and when I did, I suffered through nightmares. After a significant trauma, the body needs sleep. Pray that the survivors are able to able to rest without fear.
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Source: Christianity Today