Sandy Hook Shooting

Reconciling tragedy

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My heart is heavy over the tragedies of the lives taken and families grieving from the mall shooting where I live, the school shooting in Connecticut, and the Chinese school stabbing. News of a bomb threat in an Eastern Oregon town showed up my newsfeed with the statement:

This world has lost it’s mind and gone crazy!

The ensuing lobbying for/against gun control and political finger-pointing sickens me. Most of those forwarding these messages are wonderful, well meaning people. After all, I only have wonderful, well-meaning people as my Facebook friends, truly.

The fact is that no matter what kind of regulations and laws are put into effect, people’s thoughts and emotions will not be changed or controlled through legislation.

The more insular and intolerant we become in order to make ourselves feel safe and secure, the more we create and promote the environment, attitudes, and alienation that enables the proliferation of the very things we strive to protect ourselves from.

I don’t pretend to have the answers. I don’t think anyone does really.

What I do know is that the families suffering such tragedy and loss are not benefitted, comforted, or validated by strangers in the world engaging in petty conflict with each other, playing the blame game, and tearing each other down for having opposing values, opinions and beliefs.

Grieving people don’t want or need to be put in the position of taking care of anyone else’s issues or concerns. These families don’t need to feel like they should care about anyone else’s feelings. They need to be given the space and the time to grieve.

Instead of getting on a soapbox and adding voice to the cacophony of rhetoric and opinion, find a way to honor the children and families in your own community. Volunteer in a soup kitchen, join SMART and read to a little kid, become a Big Brother or Big Sister, become a mentor, do something that touches someone’s life constructively and positively.

Offer encouragement, kindness, and acceptance to those who seem least deserving, chances are it may not be received well or appreciated, but they are likely the ones most in need of it. Offer it to the ones closest to you who may see it least from you because they love you and you can be yourself around them. It could make all the difference.

Look for what is good and right and focus your energy into building that up.

People are going to believe, think, and feel whatever and however they will. Adding or raising my voice isn’t going to change that.

I am going to grieve for those who grieve and I am going to count my blessings. I’m going to look for ways to take my own advice.

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Really? This is NOT helpful!

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I may be alone in this, as a Christian, but this is crap!

I understand why it is a popular response, however, that very same understanding is why I wonder if I can even consider myself a Christian at times.

Religion sucks! Religious responses like this in response to horrific tragedies are simplistic, lacking in compassion and empathy, and most of all faulty.

There are many spiritual belief systems, Christianity included, that state the omnipresence of God and believe that God’s spirit or essence can permeate and inhabit people and that essence is love.

If that is the case, then anyone who claims to be a God follower, regardless of the name we call God by, is the vessel through which the incarnate presence of God may be shared and shown to the world around us.

If the presence of God isn’t being shown or felt, it isn’t because God isn’t being allowed in our buildings and institutions. It is because we are not allowing God’s healing spirit of love to flow in us, through us, between us and around us.

When someone so removed from love that their only emotion is rage and action is destruction, that is not God’s doing or choice. When people rush headlong into danger to save, rescue, protect, and take down the source of destruction, that is God’s presence of love manifesting itself.

I believe with all my heart that God is weeping and grieving along with us all. Not just over the lives lost and families torn asunder today, but over all the tragedies that have ever happened that we have forgotten or never known.

I believe this because I see the uprising in the spirit of love, empathy, and compassion pouring out.