I loved Vicki’s post and on my own personal blog I shared how drawn I am to the stories coming out of Aurora. Maybe it’s my mama’s heart or the nose for news I’ve had since I was a child. When there is a tragedy, I’m always looking for take-away lessons for my own application, and to share with my kids.
Aurora is no exception.
I found three principles to not only honor the victims, but transform my own life for the better.
- Forgive.Craig Scott was a teenager and a survivor of the 1999 Columbine shootings. I was a new mom at the time and I cried with the rest of America when Katie Couric interviewed Craig soon after. Although he survived, his sister, Rachel, did not.One of the news shows I watched last weekend featured Craig, now an adult with a decade plus perspective on the impact the shooting had on his life. He told of a long season I didn’t know he struggled with, or to what extent: forgiveness.No one could blame Craig or his family for harboring ill-will towards his sister’s killers. But the bitterness was toxic and accelerated inside his heart and spewed like lava over his actions. One day the rage hit rock bottom when he recounted pinning his brother down and holding a knife to him.He realized he had to let go of the unforgiveness. He explained forgiving didn’t excuse the people or what they did, forgiving was unlocking the prison door and realizing it is you that is set free. I’ve heard this before, I’ve even shared it. But what a powerful statement when it comes from a shooting survivor who saw the path of destruction he was on.
- Know the One, True God who created you. This isn’t so much an altar call based on what if today was your last day (which I hope you know your eternal destination because we aren’t promised tomorrow) but a reflection on why God made you the way you did. One of my favorite stories comes from Lysa TerKeurst in Made to Crave where she recalls a high school dance where the boy confessed they could never date because she had “tankles.” She grieved over his statement for years until one day she asked God why He made her with tankles. In the quietness of her heart He asked if she had coordination issues, which she admitted she did. With love He told her that was why she had tankles. Those thick ankles supported her and kept her from broken bones. What was a curse suddenly became a blessing.
Aurora survivor Petra Anderson has a miraculous story about why God created her brain the way He did for such a time for this. I strongly encourage you to read this post to learn about what doctors discovered.
3. Release tributes to the living. Alcoholism robbed my dad and I of critical years, but I’m thankful the many good years we shared were precious. When he was near death, I was the last to have a conversation with him that he was able to comprehend and respond to. I let him know there were no regrets, there was love, and a promise because of our mutual faith in Christ we would see each other again. While he waited, I asked that he watch over the baby I miscarried. The peace and joy I had sharing this tribute was something only God could put together, and I’m so glad it did as a tribute and not an eulogy.
The victims from Friday’s senseless tragedy thought they were seeing a movie, a couple hours plus of summer entertainment. They had no idea it would be the last thing they would ever do on Earth. To honor them and all who have died in such tragic fashion, can I challenge you to join me by giving tributes to those around you? Nothing fancy, but a verbal pat on the back to the one who never asks for credit. For the weary mom or the dad working three jobs. Have you given applause to the grandparents who gave up their empty nest to raise their own grandchildren? Have you encouraged a teacher? A colleague? Doctor? Gas station attendant? How about your own child or spouse?
It’s important to me to take what the devil meant for harm, to transform for good. I know applying these lessons won’t bring loved ones back, but it’s my way of honoring those who no longer have a voice, and those still living who deserve to see the best out of me before it is too late.
By the way, the lyrics to this Matthew West song, Forgiveness, really sum up how hard it is, yet how it really is the right thing to do.