It’s been a few days since the school shooting in Florida. The images are heart-wrenching. And honestly, I’ve barely followed the story. But I can feel the heaviness in the air and the weight of all the choices made that day and how they still linger.
A lot of people have a lot of opinions about young shooters (and just mass shootings in general)…and they should. People should think about the world and process the state of the broken and hurting in the country. Moments like this force us to ponder…
Here are my thoughts on the school shooting, but also just on young shooters specifically.
1. Hurting People Hurt People. No matter what, behind every abuser or killer there is a mountain of hurt and pain. When all that goes unseen, when entire generations overlook the broken, when ADULTS overlook the YOUNG…there is no where else for teens to turn but to hate. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that. Remember? We learned this once, didn’t we?
Here is my question to you….how are YOU loving young people and teens and the broken and the overlooked? When is the last time you stooped to enter someone else’s world?
If your answer is never or rarely can I say with all the love in me that you are part of the problem.
2. Policies and Laws have never been all that great at keeping abusers from harming others; people are changed when other people invest in them. Believe me when I say, that I have seen firsthand how “effective” laws are at keeping victims safe. Believe me when I say that ADULTS really don’t want to hear about abuse…not really…because then you’d have to do something about it. You’d have to face it.
Here is my question to you…do you even SPEAK to young people at all? Do you invest in the lives of the young? Do you offer financial assistance to programs and churches and missionaries who are in the thick and in the mud and in the unbelievable darkness of the lives of teens?
You can walk into just about any youth group in America and there will be stories of rape, of physical abuse, of depression, of teen suicide, teen pregnancy, substance abuse, and self-harm. It’s not new or shocking. You’ve just never looked.
3. Depression and stress are absolutely RAMPANT amongst teens. After five years of walking alongside youth in our community, and several years of Young Adult Ministry, and nearly eight years of consistent involvement in our church…I can tell you with confidence that depression is an enormous burden that many, many carry. If we struggle as adults and moms and spouses…how much more so must teens struggle?
No one can or should do life alone. Including you. Including them.
4. The church is on the front lines. If you’ve never been involved in church, this will seem odd to you. But the church has been, and is still, on the front lines of the battle for our teens.
In our small community alone, there are thousands of Christians who support, volunteer, and encourage youth. We still need more. We still need YOU!
Churches often have the gift of accomplishing much with little. Help a church in your community accomplish MORE!
But also know that the most impactful relationships are the ones forged in the day to day, over lunch, and alongside the ups and downs of life.
5. When you minister to broken hearts, your heart WILL be broken. My husband and I have cried for the youth in our church so many times. Our hearts hurt and ache when we see a student give up and start believing the lies that are literally dumped on them by our culture. When you love someone, you offer your whole heart to them. You cheer them on. You cry with them. Be that for someone.
6. This is absolutely a parenting issue. And love starts at home. Healthy homes do not produce hate and violence. And there might be very differing levels of parental responsibility case by case. But there is always an element of parental influence.
You don’t have to be a pastor to make a world of difference. Just step outside your comfort zone and love on a kid with all your heart. And you will see the world change.