Tonight I sat on my teenage son’s bed, fighting back tears as he asked me if I thought he would ever get shot at school. It was the first time I’ve seen real fear on his face—fear born from the stark realization that life-altering, life-ending violence can happen anywhere. And I hate it. I hate not being able to tell my son with 100% confidence that violence, evil, or the effects of brokenness will never touch him or those we love. I hate it. I hate it so much it makes me physically ill. I despise the mess our world is in. I want nothing more than to make it better. I want to tell my son he and his sister are safe. That they can grow up in a safe and stable world. A world where goodness and kindness reign.
But sadly that is not our world.
For we live in a broken world, a hurting world. A world tainted by evil—marred by sin.
A world full of wounded people, shattered people, confused people. A people capable of great acts of violence—violence born from violence.
And we as a culture are left to cry out in fear and anguish—mourning one senseless loss while dreading the next. For we know the next is always coming.
We lament and ponder. We accuse and blame. We draft laws and memos. We train and we equip. But nothing changes. Why?
Is it because the change we need—the change we truly need—cannot be legislated or mandated, instituted or decreed?
Is it because the change our society needs cannot come from politicians or platforms but from people just like you and me?
Is it maybe because the only way we are ever going to put a stop to the senseless violence destroying our schools, is by radical acts of love and kindness?
I am just one person—and an introverted scaredy-cat one at that—but if I am one person willing to show love, compassion and kindness to one other person, then could I possibly affect a larger change.
For what if—just what if—at some point in my life I end up reaching just one person on a crash course with a deadly act of violence? What if I (one ordinary nobody) interrupts their life with light and love? What if I plant a seed of hope into their life? And what if that seed grows large enough to push out the seed of violence, planted earlier by an experience with trauma or hurt? Wouldn’t it stand to reason then that one seed, planted by one regular person, could potentially spare the life of another—or possibly even many others? Thereby bringing much from the one?
Could it really be as simple as that???
Maybe not, probably not—and clearly there is much that needs to change and many many things to fix—but for the sake of our kids, for the sake of my kids, I am willing to try anything!
And I might be naive—it wouldn’t be the first time and it certainly won’t be the last—but here’s the thing: By myself, I can’t make a law. And I can’t enforce a law. And I can’t even change a law. But because of God, I can change a life. And maybe that’s even better. Because one life changed could mean many lives saved. And isn’t that reason enough for us to be willing to:
Reach out to one
Pray for one
Show love to one
Stand up for one
Platforms are great, pulpits are needed, policies are warranted, but ultimately people need people. And most of all people need Jesus. Real Jesus. True Jesus. The powerful, perfect, redemptive love of a Savior capable of transforming hearts and lives.
Kids need us to see them, to hear them, to offer them another way—a better way. Our kids, both those inflicting pain and those bearing pain, are victims of the broken world in which we live. And it’s a mess. A giant mess. And when we look at it as a whole it’s overwhelming—feels too far gone to save.
But when we look at just one child—step into just one life—suddenly it all seems a little more doable.
And so maybe if we want to change the world—really change the world—we go look for the one. We teach a class, mentor a child, get involved in our schools, hang out on our front porches, coach a sport, invite someone to dinner. Maybe we stop looking at the big, giant overwhelming picture and instead take one step, speak to one person, ask God to lead us to one hurting soul.
It will probably feel awkward. It will no doubt get messy, but what if—just what if—God uses us to interrupt the cycle of violence?
What if God takes our little and brings forth much—much good, much love, much lasting change? Then wouldn’t just one be worth it?
It’s probably naive, it’s undoubtedly too simple, but maybe it’s at least worth a try…