Search This Blog

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A Letter to My Children In Response to Orlando

My Precious Children,

I know someday you'll look back on the recent shooting in Orlando as a distant event, far removed from your memory because, well, that's what happens. Time moves on and memories fade, even when we do our darnedest to commemorate them with holidays, memorials, trinkets, and even charitable foundations. That's how Oklahoma City is to me, and I barely remember Columbine. I'll explain all of these to you in time, but for now, here's what I want you to know. Here's what I believe is the most important takeaway from these events.

Evil will always find a way to disrupt, debase, and destroy human lives. 
But love will always conquer. 

I know that sounds cheesy, and maybe you're rolling your eyes or considering tuning me out.

Don't. You need to pay attention because you need to understand what I'm about to say.

You see, it started with one silly apple. With one errant decision, one human literally changed the course of history and introduced evil into the world. One apple became the introduction to millennia of needless pain, suffering, and evil. It happened in the days of slavery, in the Holocaust, in each and every war, and it still happens today with every incident of gang violence and each horrifying terrorist attack. I'm sure as you watch the news you will see newer, equally vicious versions of Orlando and 9/11 and Oklahoma City. Headlines will tell tales of hateful, deeply troubled humans spewing poisonous diatribes and laying out violent manifestos. People will cry out in their devastation, "When will all of the [violence/hatred/suffering/etc.] end?!"

The sad truth is that it won't. Evil will continue to pervade our lives in insidious and awful ways. As you watch terrible acts of violent hatred unfold, you'll be deeply effected by the emotions of those around you as well as an overwhelmingly feeling of loss and helplessness. We all feel these things when we're wounded; they're normal and it's ok to express them and support each other as we heal. But my prayer is that you don't dwell in that place of pain and confusion. Instead I want you to learn.

I want you to learn to respond with love and compassion. Don't seize the opportunity for political commentary, and certainly don't lash back in anger. Feel your emotions, share them, and heal. But respond to others with the love and compassion, no matter what. There is a place for righteous anger, it's true, and I'm not saying you shouldn't be angry at the unjust nature of suffering. I'm only saying that you should not allow yourself to be consumed by anger and hatred. If you do, you are no better than those perpetrating the acts that hurt you and others around you.

I want you to learn to see all humans as souls to be cherished. No matter what their race, creed, lifestyle, etc. - God sees human souls that He created and loves desperately. Not all return that love, and none deserve it, including me and you. But He gives it freely and abundantly, and so should you. This is much, much easier said than done sometimes. But with patience, prayer, and gratitude it is possible. God hates evil, but He loves us so much He literally paid the ultimate price so that we - you and I and every other living soul - could know and receive that love. A love like that demands nothing less than your best, and your best should be sharing it with a broken, hurting, sometimes hateful world.

I want you to learn to understand that God's heart grieves when yours does. God hates to see us suffer, especially senselessly, as in the case of hate and violence. As I said before, God hates evil and He especially hates what it does to people and through people. No matter what decisions we make in life, God is willing to lovingly accept us with open arms, just as the father did the prodigal son. Our decisions and the suffering they cause grieve Him even more than they do us. But even as we hurt, He is right there, ready to wrap us in His arms and hold us as we heal. When the world wants to blame or revile God when evil things happen, just remember - His heart is broken too. It's broken because of the evil, and it's broken because people won't let Him love and heal them. Lean on Him in those times. Trust His peace when peace is nowhere else to be found.

I want you to learn to search for the "helpers." Mr. Fred Rogers said,

"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." To this day, especially in times of "disaster," I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are so many helpers - so many caring people in this world."

In Orlando and 9/11, there were countless examples of humble heroes who stepped in to help. From emergency responders who gave their lives helping others to safety, to organizations that provided food and supplies for the workers trying to clean up in the aftermath to volunteers donating blood for the wounded. Look for the helpers, and therein you will find a community of hope, unity, and strength. I want you to take it a step further too - be a helper. It's not possible to help everyone in every situation. But you can pray. You can raise money. You can send letters, collect canned food, etc. There are endless ways to help, but even when all else fails, you should always pray. Prayer is powerful because, like we talked about before, God is grieving too and He loves every human soul. 

Romans 12 says: 
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
...Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
...Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
...Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
...Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

I wish I could eradicate evil and promise you a perfect world. I can't. I simply don't have the power to do so. But I know someone who does, and so do you. God's love already conquered evil on the Cross. Until the day comes when Jesus returns, there will continue to be evil and suffering in the world. I can't protect you from either, as much as I might try or pray that I can. What I can do is teach you to see others as God does, love them as He does, and help make your world that much better in the process. 

Love always,

No comments:

Post a Comment