Gosh, I really wish I knew how to answer that. Life can be so complex and yet does it really need to be? People's words and actions can fly so quickly and loosely and thoughtlessly. They can cause so much pain, intentionally or not. My heart is reeling with the pain of the recent shooting in Orlando. I wish I knew the words to say. I wish I could speak words of comfort and healing but they escape me.
I'm not trying to compare a mass shooting with the everyday discord that we humans create, but there is a connection. There really is a reason for the story of Cain and Abel in the Bible.
Here were two brothers in disagreement, one jealous of the other; angry. I'm sure words were spoken. I'm sure resentment grew over time. And finally, one killed the other. Our violence, our anger, our hatred, our capacity for evil and to hurt others - so much of that begins at home. It begins with the people around us. It begins with the people we love.
An action, a word, an assumption, a lack of forgiveness, a lack of understanding, a lack of grace, a lack of forgiveness - and suddenly it all tumbles down.
You have to ask yourself sometimes if the punishment you are doling out fits the crime that was committed. You have to live with the punishment you’ve doled out for the rest of your life.
I've lost both a mother and a sister through death. I miss them every day. Yes I loved them more than words can say, but I also know that I hurt them at various times and in various ways. I can no longer sit them down and say I'm
sorry, I miss you, I love you. They're gone.
I guess my point is: be gracious to one another. We all say things in the heat of the moment. We all make mistakes, we all say the wrong thing, we all snap a little bit. This is where you need to weigh it out. What was the person’s intention? Where was the person coming from? Is this something I can forgive? Is this a mistake that I myself have made? Did she misunderstand me and so she said this thing? Choose to listen to the person’s intention and character, not the faltering and imperfect words we often speak because - don't we all falter?
This world right now is so broken on so many levels. There's hatred, misunderstanding, intolerance, bigotry, fear. We all need a shelter from those things. We all need a safe place to be and that safe place is among our families and our friends - the people that we love and care about.
Yet, it’s those very same people that are also the ones who are capable of hurting us and making us angry. And we're capable of hurting them and making them angry - and that's where grace and forgiveness need to step in - so that we can still have that safe place away from all those things. Please don't be like Cain and Abel. Please don't “kill your brother.”
When you don't know what to say, it's okay not to say anything. It's okay to say, “I'll talk to you later” or “I don't know what to say” or “I wish I had answers for you.” Silence can be golden sometimes. Know that your words and your actions contribute to the emotional atmosphere of the world.
If you want less fear, less hatred, less bigotry and intolerance then you need to refrain from those things yourself within your own families within your own friendships. If you want more love and forgiveness and kindness and understanding in the world - that comes from you within your own circle of friends and family.
You have more control in this world then you know. Use it wisely. Let kindness, love, and forgiveness direct the decisions that you make.
In the words of Mother Teresa, “I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”