My heart hurts.

 We have another school shooting.  Another community hurting.  And there are many hearts and communities hurting across our country. My heart hurts for the students who witnessed this and their families.  My heart hurts for the families who lost a loved one to death.  My heart hurts for the parents and family of the shooter.  And my heart hurts for the shooter.  Yes, the shooter too.  Because as the saying goes, “hurt people hurt people.”  And this situation is a lot of hurt.

Next, come the outrage and the cry for gun control.  The cry that says how can this happen again? The cry that says how do we stop it?  All of these cries come from a deep place of fear in our hearts.  A fear that says this could happen to our community, our family, and our child.  And that is a scary place to live and react from. This fear causes us to want to fight or flee.  This fear tells us that we need to isolate those who may harm us and separate those who seem different from us and to place blame and point fingers.  But I don’t believe that is the answer.  Reacting from a place of fear does not create lasting change.  Only love can do that.

When trying to decipher what caused the shooter to commit such an act, there will be many theories that are presented. Profilers will say that he probably talked about it or posted about it on social media. He probably felt isolated or lacked friends or did not feel as though he belonged.  He probably had mental health issues. There may have been a hit list or pictures with scratch marks.  We’ve seen this before.

We are looking for the formula to identify who could potentially do this.  Does a+b=c? The problem is that these things can exist without leading to mass destruction.  There are many who experience these same feelings and post things on social media who do not or would not hurt others.  We don’t know what sends someone over the edge and that creates fear. So what do we do?

We react from a place of love.

The Bible tells us in 1 John 4:18 that love drives out fear.  When we love others, our fear of them shrinks.  Now, you may say that there are some people who are just monsters. Well, I don’t believe that there are throw away people.  I believe that evil gets fed and the answer is to starve it and feed the good.  We don’t do a good job of this with some in our communities and that is why Mental Health funding needs to increase.

It is easy to call out to congress to make changes.  It’s easy to point fingers and say they aren’t doing anything.  It’s easy to place the blame anywhere but at our own feet. It is sometimes difficult to see how one person can make a change and to see how you the individual can create change.  You have the power to share the spirit of love, you have the power to create change within your home and within your community and when we act from that position of power, change will happen across our country.

How do we do that you ask?

    Always report when you see a red flag.  However, do it from a position that says someone is hurting and not from a position of fear. Fear creates chaos and separation and isolation.  If we want to stop the pain, we cannot do so by creating more chaos, separation, and isolation.  We need to love the hurting.

    Call your legislator and demand funding for mental health services.  We need better training and more research. We need easier access to services and better pay for those who are on the frontlines ministering to the hurting.

    Reach out to people.  Everyone.  There are those you can see by their body language that they are lonely, but there are lonely people who are reaching out and no one is responding.  Someone has invited you to lunch or to the movies as a way to try and make friends and are you reaching back?  Making friends is hard for some of us and there is nothing lonelier than to try and reach out and no one responds in kind.  It is the person that you think has it all together who is probably hurting the most.

    Educate your kids on how to show kindness and empathy.  Teach them that words and actions have long-lasting consequences. Proverbs 18:21 says, “The tongue has the power of life and death.”  And Ephesians 4:29 says “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”  Teach these to your children.