As a new week dawns and we pass the “one week” mark since the shootings that have so deeply impacted our city, we find the intensity of those first days waning and the more daunting prospect of recovering appearing before us. Indeed, it is often the harder task. The whirlwind of activity and emotion that occupies one’s mind in the early days dissipates. Life moves on, and we must begin to figure out what that looks like as we live in a new reality. I was struck by one woman’s comment regarding her recent trip to a local store. She said, “I walked in and remembered a law enforcement officer had said stores are ‘soft targets’ and I suddenly looked around wondering if I was safe.” That is normal to be sure, but we must learn to courageously move past such thoughts and reclaim our purpose as vessels of Almighty God in the building of His Kingdom.
As we move into the coming weeks and months, our church will continue to post ways you can help by giving or serving. Service is often a helpful balm for grief, and that service can be accomplished even if not directly associated with the victims or their families. Find a way to help others, and you’ll be blessed. You will be contributing to larger good of our city.
Also, the "how" of healing is difficult because grief is an experience every person manages in a slightly different manner. There is no right or wrong. There is no manual for how it is done. However, time is always a part of it, and in that time, we find one thing: pain is the common denominator of the human experience. Pain is our most effective teacher, for in our pain, we are pliable, and in our pain, we search for answers to the deeper questions of life.
For that reason, part of the "how" will be the engagement of our church in serving others and walking with them in that pain. Part of our healing will come through our common experience of that pain, one that transcends our politics, our religious beliefs, our sexual orientation, or our socioeconomic backgrounds. Shared pain allows us to see one another as human beings, as part of the larger human drama that is life. We see others not as "us" and “them”, and in finding that common humanity, perhaps we can dispense with the hateful rhetoric and learn to love and respect others even in our differences. It would seem this might be the greatest healing of all.
As we move forward, may we stand firmly on the hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that is sure and certain and true; and may we make that gospel manifest in how we genuinely love and care for others in their pain.