Today I have to break one of my rules.
Normally I refrain from getting swallowed up in religious or political debates in social media, but this one hits too close to home.
Since Friday my Facebook news feed has been awash with shared pictures, quotes, and articles blaming the tragic shooting in Connecticut on gun control laws, a lack of God in schools, and poor parenting. Every time I see one of these I click away and try not to seethe with anger. With frustration. With disgust.
It makes my stomach churn to think of these families watching the news and going online to see these kinds of comments. Why? These comments are not helpful. Not at all. They hurt. Believe me, I know. When my husband was killed, I sat for hours watching people’s comments saying he deserved to die for talking on his cell phone while driving (he wasn’t) or that he was probably speeding (he wasn’t) or that it was all part of God’s plan (it isn’t). Not only was each one of these a painful accusatory jab at the wrong person, but they minimized my grief. The danger in these statements is that they carry a clear, underlying message: If something bad happens to you, it must be your fault. You didn’t pray enough, you weren’t a strong enough Christian, somehow you had it coming. We don’t know all the details and in all likelihood this shooter suffered from a mental illness. Would you tell someone with a broken leg or cancer that they deserved it or that they just didn’t pray hard enough? Of course not.
Do you know what was helpful?
People who said to me, this is tragic. This is horrible. This is not how his life was meant to end. This should never have happened. I am so sorry. I am so sorry. I am so sorry. They came by with food, they sat and listened to me cry, they drove me to work.
These are the people who cared.
If you are sitting back, behind your keyboard, lazily reposting someone else’s speech or comments on this tragedy being a result of God being kicked out of our schools or ignored by society, I ask you this: What are you actually doing to help?
Those types of posts can be hurtful, offensive, and cruel. Instead of blaming society, our gun laws, or a lack of faith, maybe you should be contemplating your own role. Because if this is really because God has been kicked out of schools and ignored by society, perhaps the more appropriate message is this:
This is my fault.
I DID THIS.
Last week I lied to my husband about how much I spent at the store. I was short with my children. I was jealous and bitter. I allowed my competitive nature to take over instead of my loving nature. I gossiped viciously about my sister. I slandered. I embellished a story to make myself look more favourable and someone else worse. I lusted after someone who wasn’t my spouse. I was too lazy to clear my sidewalk after it snowed, not really caring my postman could fall and hurt him/herself. I sped. I cut someone off in traffic. I got angry with the clerk at McDonald’s who got my order wrong. I cheated on a test. I took credit for someone else’s work. I saw starving children on the news and changed the channel. I got angry someone who wasn’t a part of my family was invited for Christmas – they aren’t one of us. I slacked off at work. I knew my mom was having a bad day but instead of calling her, I went out to dinner. I didn’t listen, I didn’t offer support, I didn’t act. I chose anger over kindness. I chose pride over humility. I chose indifference over love. This tragedy is the fault of people like me, doing these things, every day.
I AM society.
MY actions are God’s work in society.
This is MY FAULT.
Instead of sitting back, blaming other people and other things, why not act with love EVERY DAY.
Don’t repost some trite quote on Facebook. Help the families instead. Show them they are loved, that you care, that their tragedy is more important than your religious or political agenda. Send them a letter of love and support. If you live too far away to shovel their walkways or bring over food, give to local mental health organizations to support families dealing with mental illness. Encourage your friends on Facebook to do the same. You can find info on that here: http://abcnews.go.com/US/newtown-conn-shooting-victims-families-community/story?id=17998635
This time of year is the perfect time to ACT with love, instead of just talking. Did you know you can send care packages filled with cookies, toiletries, and gifts to soldiers overseas? Here’s how in Canada: http://www.forces.gc.ca/site/commun/message/addresses-2-eng.asp
How about giving to a local charity or inviting someone over for the holidays who is grieving, single, or alone? Shovel your neighbour’s walkway instead of just yours. Stop speeding. Tip generously. Live with the kindness, the grace, the forgiveness, the generosity, and the love of the God you keep saying others have kicked out of society.
Show the world what it looks like when He is welcomed back in.