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Finding a Higher Power

answered 04:17 PM EST, Sun December 15, 2019
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Elizabeth Genge Elizabeth Genge Holly Springs
Hi Mr. LaPierre,

This morning, my husband, daughters and I went to see the therapist we started seeing a few weeks ago. I shared with her that I am struggling with Secondary Trauma surrounding school shootings. These are the most frightening thing for me to consider, yet they have been happening around the country with frightening regularity. Within the past month, there were two threats - one at each of our daughters' schools - that have caused me to experience horrid anxiety and often left me in tears. The idea that I am sending our sweet girls to public school and that there could be someone there who feels angry and violent enough where he would commit this kind of act just shakes me to my core. Of course, when news stories have occurred covering one of these events across the country, I put myself in the same place as the families themselves. It is as if I am experiencing their unimaginable tragedy also. Wednesday, an email was sent by our 12-year old's middle school to say there had been some sort of "terroristic threat" by one of its students. All I could do was beg my husband - through tears and sobs - to allow our daughters to stay home this past Friday. He allowed this, but not without a ton of conflict between him and I about allowing this. He feels that we have to live our lives and by keeping our daughters at home, we are really not doing so. I know I cannot keep them locked inside their home, but honestly, if I could convince them, I would love to live in a "safe house". We'd drive each other bonkers, but at least no one would shoot us.

Today, our family therapist talked to me about spirituality. I feel a tremendous amount of mistrust towards conventional religion and therefore turn my nose up towards anything "God" and "Jesus". She spoke to me about developing a relationship with my "higher power" instead. After reading what you wrote on your site, I was quite taken with what you said.

Do you know of any books that are available to help me develop my relationship with my higher power? Years ago, I read "Codependent No More" and thought a great deal about Melody Beattie. I don't know if you are familiar with her or not.

Thanks for reading this long email!

Elizabeth A. Genge, LMSW

Jim LaPierre Says...


Thank you for your question and my heart goes out to you and your family.

My children were in middle school when 9/11 occurred and I will never forget how terrifying it was

to know that there was a broad, developing threat and not understanding whether I could keep my children safe.

School shootings have become too common and your fear is justified.

I also understand your husband's point of view.

I would say that you're both correct.

I think the central theme is powerlessness and I believe it's one of the most difficult lessons

a person encounters in their lifetime.

Powerlessness is not hopelessness or helplessness. It is simply not having control.

Everything about fear makes us crave greater amounts of control.

I have found that as much as I dislike powerlessness, I dislike everything I do

when I don't accept it more. I agonize and stress and seek comfort in illusions.

This of course does not help my loved ones and it makes me stressed and unhealthy.

I recommend the Serenity Prayer and I recommend it to people who are devout atheists

It does a wonderful job of naturally separating what I have control over and what I don't.

The things I don't have control over, I surrender to a Higher Power.

That was a very hard lesson for me to learn, but I reconciled that whether I trust the Universe or not

I still can't do a thing about it - so I quite literally have nothing to lose.

Religion doesn't work for me either - but as a clinician, I have seen far too many miracles not

to believe that there is something more powerful than myself and I choose to believe that It wants good for me.

So, I talk to it - and in the worst of all worlds, I'm just talking to myself which is still healthy.

I ask my Higher Power for absolutely everything. It's not that I think of the Universe as Santa Claus - far from it

It is that I do not believe me asking changes what the Universe will do.

Instead, I believe it makes me more mindful and aware - which leads to recognizing blessings placed in my path.

I would say the connection you have to your children is spiritual - it's about connection. The fear of losing them

is intolerable - I concur. How you cope with that fear will determine the lion's share of what is possible in your life.

I also urge you to consider that you are teaching your children by your example.

Books on the topic:

Everything Anne Lammot has ever written, but especially Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith

the Tao Te Ching

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

Narcotics Anonymous - all of their literature

I hope you find what speaks to your soul and I pray your children are safe.

If I can be of further help please email me

[email protected]

Very best,


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Page last updated Dec 15, 2019

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