I woke up this morning with no specific expectations of what my day would hold. I thought that my day would go about as any normal Sunday typically does. Church, lunch with family, rest in the afternoon, then church again in the evening. I was wrong, so wrong. Even with as few expectations as I had previously held, I could not have prepared myself for the way that my day would start.
Instead of waking and preparing breakfast for my family, I woke and was instantly reminded that we live in a world that is broken. I opened my phone per my usual morning routine, but this time was different. This time my heart sunk deep into my stomach and I wept. Uncontrollably, I wept for the loss of life at the hands of one individual. I wept and wept and wept for the 53 people who survived and are struggling to heal, both physically and mentally. I wept for the family members and friends of these 100+ victims of violence. Of outrageous, tragic, and unnecessary violence.
As the day has continued, my weeping has not stopped, both internally and externally. Many questions have raced through my mind, some of which I have no answers for. As a Christian, I can’t help but wonder what I can do right now. I can’t help but wonder if other Christians are also wondering what they can do right now. So while I definitely don’t have all the answers, there are a few things I feel the need to say.
To the friends and family members of those that lost their lives: I’m truly so sorry. I can not even for a second imagine the pain that you are feeling right now. I can try too, but reality is that I can’t understand it because it hasn’t happened to me. I’ve lost family members. I’ve lost friends. But not like this. Not in the same way that you did.
To those that survived: I’m truly so sorry. You didn’t deserve to be targeted. You didn’t deserve to be shot at or to witness the things that you had to witness. I can not even for a second imagine the pain that you are feeling right now. I can try too, but the reality is that I can’t understand it because it hasn’t happened to me. I’ve been hurt before. But not like this. Not in the same way you were.
To my Christian brothers and sisters: I know the questions you are wrestling with as they crossed my mind also. I see the burdens of “how can I help” in a few posts here and there. But mostly, I see silence. I get it. I do. It’s an awkward thing to know how to help when you don’t know what to say or what you can do. I don’t have the perfect answer to “what can we do?”. But I do have a few ideas of what we could refrain from doing.
The first thing that I think we have to do is step back and acknowledge the situation for what it was. This was a senseless act of terror towards a very specific group of people. It is not a coincidence that it “happened to be a gay bar”. According to reports, it was intentional, it was planned. These people were targeted. We have to acknowledge that. We can’t ignore the reality of what this situation is.
Second, let’s please step back and realize that due to what happened this morning, now is not the best time to publicly argue on Facebook about whether or not this lifestyle is correct. I understand whole heartedly the tension of speaking truth and not wavering on what the Bible says. Speak truth, yes, I understand that burden. But please, speak truth in love. I can only imagine that if Jesus were walking this earth right now, He would be the one in Orlando donating blood and hugging those who are broken. I can only imagine that he would be speaking truth IN LOVE in such a time as this. Love, always love.
Third, over the next couple of days and even weeks, there will be pastors who say that God did this. It’s God’s wrath because “he’s placing judgement on these individuals”. Please I beg you, please don’t say that to someone who is mourning right now! Comments like that are what makes people hate the church. Comments like that are not in love and they make God into something that He is not. If God did this, then how do you explain Sandy Hook to parents who lost children? If God did this, then how do you explain Columbine and Rachel Scott being shot when she was asked if she believed in Jesus? A man, one man did this. One man ruined probably thousands of lives by his actions. This was not an act of God, it is a tragedy. A terrible, terrible tragedy and act of terrorism.
As I still sit broken and confused, I have to remember that Romans tells us to “rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn”. Today, I mourn. To a community who is broken and hurting, even though we do not see eye to eye on all things, I want you to know you do not mourn alone.