Healing Our Collective Grief
SUNDAY THOUGHTS: 5/29/22
This last week was a hard one for many of us. I can feel the grieving in the air. Loss of life, loss of beliefs, loss of innocence in more ways than one.
It began with the results of the Guidepost report - which is an independent investigation that was being done of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and their handling of sexual and spiritual abuse cases in their congregations. If you want to read all 288 pages of it, you can see it here: Guidepost Report Findings. But I’ll warn ya….Lord, have mercy… it was rough. As someone who grew up in the SBC, I had been watching this case with interest. I had prayed that somewhere along the way, I’d see the leadership step up, admit their wrongdoings and do everything they could to make things right. Sadly, that’s not what I’ve seen at all. More like the opposite. Clearly, patriarchy is alive and well in the SBC and it’s not going down without a fight.
“Those who believe in patriarchy have noble notions of men being called by God to protect women and children, but the reality is that patriarchy leads men to protect the patriarchal system. To protect themselves.” - Jeb Barr
Watching so many abuse victims who have bravely spoken out to tell their stories be repeatedly attacked, maligned, and threatened over and over again by Christian leaders through this process has been literally sickening. Heartbreaking, really. It’s just more proof that humans don’t handle power well — especially when it’s perceived to be God-ordained. That has been proven time and time again to be a a bad combo. The religion I have called my cornerstone for many years has been forever tainted and it has shaken my foundation in many, many ways. I know I’m not alone. I feel a collective grief there.
While the SBC report came out on Monday, and it was a difficult thing to process —- no one was prepared for what happened on Wednesday.
The front page of the Uvalde newspaper said it all:
It was truly the darkest of days.
19 children and 2 teachers — murdered by an 18 yr old - still a child himself, really.
Why on earth did this happen?
It appears this boy, living in poverty, shunned by friends, misunderstood by family, mocked by peers, and probably living with an undiagnosed mental disability, just couldn’t take it anymore. His pain was transferred to us all by this horrific act, and now we are all left with even more collective grief to try and process.
Collective grief: when grief affects an entire community, city, country, or even the whole world. It’s from communal trauma….something that we are all getting way too used to. It happens after major events like pandemics, wars, natural disasters… or lately UN-natural disasters, like these mass murders that keep happening in the United States.
An 18 yr old in body armor, loaded up with guns and ammunition and driving far away to another community to walk into a grocery store and shoot innocent shoppers and workers in a local supermarket is definitely an UN-natural disaster.
Another 18 yr old boy, buys 2 AR-15-style assault rifles, shoots his grandmother and then commits the worst school massacre in nearly a decade - gunning down 19 children and 2 teachers without mercy - yes, that is definitely another UN-natural disaster.
Ya’ll, I’m shook up. I truly am.
I used to think that there would be certain lines that we all as a nation would collectively agree were lines that cannot be crossed.
Of course, Jan. 6th changed all that for me. I realized that we have arrived at a moment in history where some believe their individual rights, ideals, and beliefs are worth holding on to and fighting for, no matter what the means. No matter who gets hurt.
I would have thought Columbine would have changed some things… but no.
I would have thought Sandy Hook would have changed some things… but no.
I would have thought Parkland would have changed some things… but…… no.
Grief is something that we all should take time and work through or it will make us numb and paralyze us. We have to start taking steps towards changing some things in this country — starting with some reasonable gun control measures and addressing the mental health decline in our nation. I think taking some action to DO something about these issues will help us all work through the grief, instead of feeling like we are just helpless humans… waiting for the next mass murder to happen like sitting ducks.
But what about God? Where is he in all of this? Good question. Sometimes I wonder that myself. But as I sit here on my front porch, looking at the beautiful blue sky, the deep green leaves on the trees, listening to the birds sing their songs to one another, I know in my heart that God hasn’t abandoned us…..
Psalm 34:18 - “The Lord is near to the broken-hearted and saves the crushed in spirit”. —- This is who we are now as a nation. Broken-hearted and crushed in spirit. I feel it so deeply in my bones.
Why didn’t God stop the shooters? I don’t know.
But what I do know is…..
God is here in the midst of our grieving.
God is the salve on our hearts that keeps them from breaking apart into 21 pieces.
God is here to help begin the healing.
Personally, I’ve been through many hard seasons and heartbreaking events. Events I didn’t think I could get over. Situations that I didn’t believe I could heal from. Dark seasons I didn’t think I could survive. But I did, with God’s help.
Without God, I don’t see how there could be any way to recover from what we are all experiencing right now. This horrible collective grief is suffocating. But we can’t let it stop us from doing what we can to make this world a better place… for every human being in it. God calls us to action in times like this.
I’m ready. Are you?
May we all do what we can to partner with you in the healing of our nation.
In the healing of our communities.
In the healing of our neighbors.
And in the healing of ourselves.
1 Chronicles 28:9 - “…..for the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you.”