Well, if you’re from Kalamazoo or Southwest Michigan you know what our community has been going through since this Saturday evening.
A gunman shot people in 3 different, apparently random areas on Saturday evening/night, wounding 2 and killing 6. It was a terrible series of events that will impact our community, and the communities of Mattawan, Battle Creek, and Baroda for some time. The families of the victims have been, and will be, dramatically and tragically impacted for the rest of their lives. The family of the shooter–from all accounts, innocent and unaware–will be impacted for the rest of their lives.
Kalamazoo is not a small town…there are events that go on in this city and region that never effect us, personally.
This one, however, does.
Whether or not you are family and friends with the victims, or the shooter, or whether you’re simply a member of this community, you have been impacted. There is a ‘heaviness’ around town. Conversations all over are taking place, with people shaking their heads in disbelief. It’s hard to take, and much harder still to try to make sense of any of it. It leaves you feeling like you need to take a deep breath, but can’t–like the ‘wind has been knocked out’ of you and you can’t get enough air.
What can we do in this time?
How can we help each other?
How can we heal, and move forward?
I do think there are things to consider, maybe even some things to learn. Over the next few days I’ll be blogging about this, and my sincere hope is that you find it helpful. If you do, feel free to share it with others.
For today, I just think it’s important to say this: It’s ok to mourn. It’s ok–good, even–to feel down. Obviously, the closer you are to the victims, the more tough this is, but even those who had no actual ‘connection’ have felt the loss.
The shooter took lives, but he also took any semblance of normalcy and any illusion of safety and security from our community. We have tended to go through life in a matter-of-fact way in which we assumed ‘everything’s under control’. This weekend reminds us that this is not the case, and that’s a tough reminder. This weekend also reminds us of our own mortality, and the brevity of life, and that is a lesson no one likes to be reminded of.
The people who were victims of this violence were embracing life together…playing on a playground, shopping for new cars and enjoying a family night out. This killer stole all that life, for reasons known only to him for now, and there is immense grief as a result.
I just want to offer a word of encouragement to all: Grieve!
Admit that it’s hit you–even in surprising ways, and feel it. Express your feelings–to a loved one, a friend, a minister, a counselor…express your feelings to God! Pray, journal…but don’t just try to ‘go on’ and pretend it didn’t hit you like a sucker-punch-to-the-gut.
As you do express your feelings and struggles, I encourage you to cry out to Jesus. He certainly knows the pain and injustice, the violence and evil in this world. He is with us in our pain!
He said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)
Elsewhere in the Scriptures we are reminded of the compassion of God:
“The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.” (Psalm 145:8-9)
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
Therefore, let me encourage you to comfort one another. Be there for one another.
Go to the Lord and cry out to Him. He will comfort you and help you to move on.
In that spirit, I offer this song…