You Have the Right Person

I woke up this morning, like most of the country, to the horrifying news. Another gunman in a violent rage, this time letting loose on a movie theater, killing a dozen innocent victims and wounding scores of others. Like the rest of us, I watched the news footage, read the online articles, followed the tweets, both drawn to and repelled by the gruesome details of what happened in Aurora, Colorado late last night.

Surely a clearer, more accurate picture of the mass shooting will unfold in the days and weeks to come, along with a resurgence of debates on gun control, violence in movies, and public safety. But to me, most of it will be white noise because, for now, the only thing stuck in my head is the statement made by the alleged suspect’s mother.

“You have the right person.”

That was her response when an ABC News reporter contacted her to confirm whether or not her son was, in fact, the suspect police had in custody.

Much of what happened is still under speculation, and the mother’s response is really no different. For all we know she could’ve meant that she knew her son was going to the movies last night. She could’ve just been saying, “Yes, the man with that name is my son and he lives in that town.”

But sadly, I think she meant so much more. And that simple sentence speaks louder than all the media pundits combined.

As mothers we are often painfully aware of what our children are capable of. Some of us might gasp when we first learn of our son’s biting problem in the church nursery, our daughter’s tendency to bully the short kid on the soccer team, but given enough time, if things don’t change, we can become resigned to this kind of behavior. We no longer act surprised when we hear about it, even if – no, especially if – we’ve done all we can to intervene.

I don’t know this mother’s story. I don’t know how much she tried to intervene in the life of her obviously troubled son. But I think it’s safe to assume that even though she was speaking on instinct this morning, her heart is nonetheless breaking. It makes me want to reach out to her, to write her a letter or something, but someone I admire recently said that drive-by advice, without context or relationship or invitation, wounds more than it heals.

So I’m kind of at a loss for what to do with all this sadness and sympathy I’m feeling. I suppose I can get off the computer. Turn off the TV and unplug the Internet. Help my kids build that fort they made out of sticks in the backyard.

And I can pray. Pray for this mother and mothers everywhere who have children caught in the crosshairs of evil. And pray for the courage to realize that nothing we do as parents guarantees good children will result.

“It would be against God’s character to give us a promise that our children will be saved if we raise them in a certain way. That would mean that he was telling us to trust in something other than Christ and his grace and mercy. He would be encouraging us to trust in ourselves, and God never does that. The way of the Lord is always a way of faith…Our faith is to be in him, not in ourselves.” (Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus, Elyse M. Fitzpatrick & Jessica Thomspon)

I try to teach my kids every day about Jesus, about the difference between right and wrong, but there are no guarantees. For reasons I will never understand this side of heaven, sometimes God is glorified most in our children’s mistakes, failures and tragedies.

I pray that is the case today in Colorado, that maybe one mother’s statement in response to her son’s horrific alleged crimes can be altered to reflect our dependence on Him, the One who, when our children call on us for answers, we can point to and say, “You have the Right Person.”


  1. I never heard that quote. But my heart skipped a beat when I read it here. For the same reason that you just wrote in all of those beautifully strung words. You are so incredibly gifted!

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