Tragedy: a lamentable, dreadful, or fatal event or affair; calamity; disaster. --dictionary.com
Friday's senseless massacre has had me on the edge of an emotional breakdown just beneath the surface all weekend long. I tend not to let my thoughts linger very long on such things because I learned long ago that my anxiety attacks are triggered when I allow myself to dwell. That being said, this is a subject that I cannot let slide.
It has come to my attention that, after the initial shock and horror, many people have been using this tragedy as a platform to spout their personal beliefs and, while I'm dismayed, that is a right that each of us possess. If you're all about gun control, then this becomes a gun control issue. If you're all about the right to bear arms, it becomes a right to bear arms issue. If you're a die-hard athiest, you'll use it to your advantage in attempting to prove there is no God. If you're a homeschooling parent, you'll solidify your choice to keep your kids out of the school system. If you're a Westboro Baptist Church-goer, you'll use this atrocity to get your face in the news once again on the wrong side of what Christianity is really all about.
But I'd like to think that, if you're a human at all, you have this feeling somewhere in your heart that says, "This is something so wrong, so horrible, it hurts my heart to even think about it."
That's the way we should feel. Regardless of our personal belief system, there is no valid ethos in which the slaughter of small children should or could be championed. Something is wrong. Something is terribly, terribly wrong.
To address the issue that is, of course, on my heart, I will go ahead and ask -- then attempt to answer -- the question that I've already both seen and heard more times than I thought possible:
"What does God have to say about this?"
I think it's safe to say that God is not always pleased with the manner in which His creations exercise their free will. And although I cannot speak for Him, I can clearly see when He speaks for Himself. Proverbs 15:9 says, "The Lord hates what evil people do." It doesn't say He hates evil people, for God hates nobody. He loves all of His children, even when they make horrendous choices that affect the lives of everyone in the community -- in, to be certain, the entire country.
Our mindset, however, dictates how we, as fellow humans, will deal with such a tragedy. We can spout off about the evil, we can cry for the lives lost and the families left to grieve, we can champion our own political cause, we can hold our own children tightly and live in hopes that such a tragedy will never affect us personally. One thing is certain, though: this is not the last calamity we'll see in our lifetime. How we deal with it defines who we are.
Are you going to be someone who takes advantage of such horrors to further your own political or religious viewpoint? Or are you going to be someone who wants to make a difference in the world in any way you can?
"Part of you is broken, and the other part is bitter. Part of you wants to cry, and part of you wants to fight... There is a fire burning in your heart. It's the fire of anger. And you are left with a decision. Do I put the fire out or heat it up? Do I get over it or do I get even? Do I release it or resent it? Do I let my hurts heal, or do I let hurt turn into hate?... Without forgiveness, bitterness is all that is left." --Max Lucado
We can't change what happened, we can only change our reaction. We can't bring back the dead, but we can affect the living. We can't turn a blind eye, but we can help others to see the hope that is out there. Do I think that dead children are a blessing? Absolutely not -- I think it's an unspeakable atrocity. Do I think we should hate the man responsible? Absolutely not -- God doesn't hate him, He weeps for his loss as much as He does for the people the guy murdered. Do I think God is at fault? Absolutely not -- I am humbled that I was given the free will He blessed each of us with and pray constantly that I use it to remain on His chosen path for me, and not stray from it, lest I become so far gone that I commit some horrible act that affects the lives of a nation.
I humbly request from each and every one of you that you take a few steps this week:
Pray for not just the families that lost children, but for the entire school system, and all the children left who witnessed such atrocities.
Release from your heart the anger and bitterness, and let forgiveness and love sink in deeply and firmly, becoming rooted as the one and only foundation you have. Do not allow yourself to hate, for hate only drives more tragedy.
Make it your personal mission to do anything and everything you can to lift people up, bring goodness and happiness to those around you, and to be a harbinger of light and joy and peace. Who knows what lives you may affect? What if YOU bring a message of hope to someone that might have otherwise been the cause of another terrible disaster such as this, and lives are saved that you will never know about?
None of us knows the impact we have on each other. None of us is aware of the ripple affect our words and actions may have on a person, on a community, or on a nation. None of us is innocent, and none of us is righteous.
We are all fellow sojourners on this Journey of Reinvention. All each of us can do is keep taking step by step in the right direction and bring others along with us.