Today a friend posted about the most recent school shooting in which at least seventeen people died. She closed her post by asking, “What are their names?”
I don’t know their names. I can’t name a single victim in Florida. (Although I will read and learn about them later today.)
I do know one name: Tyrone.
Tyron Aris. A young man with a beautiful smile.
His family is grieving. Our homeschool community is grieving. I am grieving.
I can’t comfort the families in Florida. I can’t hug them or take them a meal. I can’t text them that I love them, because I don’t know them. I can’t go to the funerals. I can and am praying for them.
I can and have and will continue to comfort Tyrone’s family. I have hugged them and helped with meals this week. I will go to the funeral later today. I will continue to pray for them.
I will continue to text and love his momma in the weeks and months ahead. I will pray for God to comfort her and give her peace, hope, and strength as she grieves the loss of her son.
I will pray for a sweet little girl who has a new red dress to wear today. Red because it was her big brother’s favorite color. A big brother she adores still. A big brother she will miss the rest of her life.
I will pray for a baby boy who will never know the brother who loved him. He will hear stories of Tyrone, but he won’t have his own memories of his big brother who died so young. He won’t really know him…until they meet again in heaven some day.
I will pray for Dwain as he stands in the pulpit next Sunday, a grieving dad with a flock who still needs their pastor to lead them. He’s a good man who loves Jesus. I believe and pray that God will use this tragedy – this grief and pain and loss – in his life to make him an even better, more compassionate pastor. Because that’s what God does: He uses ugly things in our lives to bring himself glory and to work for the good of His body. He uses ugly things in our lives for our good as He conforms is to the image of His Son.
Sometimes we get “compassion fatigue” from national traumas. We can’t fix it all. We can’t go to every funeral or help every family involved in a national tragedy. So we don’t do anything but feel sad and helpless to change anything.
We may not be able to change everything, but we can change some things. We cannot help everyone, but we can help some. We can help those around us.
We can love those near to us. We can take meals to those who are hungry. We can visit those in nursing homes. We can support families caring for children in the foster care system. We can buy groceries for a single mom. We can invite a person who is divorced or widowed or not yet married to join in our holiday celebrations. And we can go to the funerals involving families in our community.
We can do more than feel sad; we can serve. We can serve those in our neighborhoods who are alone today, who are hurting, who are struggling, or who are grieving.
We can’t hug every momma who is grieving in Florida today, but we can each love our neighbor.
We can’t make the whole world safe, but we can work to make our neighborhood a better place. We can each work to make our small part of our town a safer, more loving place. We can be kind and compassionate to one another. We can forgive one another. We can love one another.
And if we each love our neighbors as Christ loved us, perhaps we can together change our communities, our states, and our nation to be a safer, better place.