I’m pretty sure I won’t hold back anything in this post, because I’m pretty sure I’m waist-deep in frustration. I am finding that I’m balancing on a very thin tightrope of emotions, so please bear with me as I continue to trek in-and-through my thoughts.
Ever since hearing about the most recent school shooting in Ohio, my heart and my mind have been heavy. It wasn’t until today, when they put young faces to the names of the victims and to the alleged shooter, that I felt my heart cave in. I don’t know what it is about this school shooting in particular that makes me feel such a weight in my chest, but it’s slightly unbearable. I started asking God why I’m feeling like this. Is He allowing me to feel some of what He is feeling? (Although, I’d probably die if I felt the entire stampede of ache that He is feeling.) I don’t know. But I do know this…
I really wish people would just shut up. I don’t know how else to say it in a kinder more friendlier fashion or more ‘Christian-like’. Not to mention, my mom raised me to never, ever mutter those words. But for now, for this moment, I just need to say, “shut up” and feel some air come back into my lungs. Now to be specific and to clarify, when I am referring to “people” I am mainly shining the spotlight on high schoolers. Since the specifics card has been drawn, let me continue my stroll on this wobbly road.
I have continued to watch from afar (literally, I am in Illinois) how each of these teenagers continue to belittle one another, make nasty, disparaging comments without any afterthought whatsoever. And I’m over it. My heart, my eyes, my mind cannot take seeing this trash any longer. It literally is making me sick to see how teenagers continue to berate one another. I also will not sit here and act like I wasn’t a drama queen when I was that age and I didn’t hurt people with my words, too.
But there certainly comes a point where it’s time to realize that you are taking a black, permanent marker to another persons story and you are writing horrendous words where there was once space for life. Whether or not you post it anonymously on your Facebook or Twitter account, social networks are the ‘new’ permanent, black markers. It’s easier to take human worth and shave it down to nothing on the internet these days. Is it only when you’re 23 that you realize such actions and words, mixed in with the poison of a troubled home life, can cause another human being to bring weapons, and ultimately death, to schools? Even to a job? It shouldn’t take that long or for those things to occur before the realization happens.
Proverbs 18:21 says, “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.” (MSG). Here’s the thing, regardless of your stance on God – words have power. We talked about this at Soul City Church on Sunday, and I’m almost positive you could hear the caving of chests throughout the service. What we say matters, age difference aside. So, while my post is mainly aimed at teens, I suppose this trek has led to humanity as a whole.
We just need to shut up. We all need to carefully construct our words before we type them, before we say them, and before we let them plant themselves in our hearts. Words take root. It can take a lot of time, therapy, money, and multiple trips down the wrong roads to uproot them.
The alleged shooter from Monday’s shooting is seventeen. SEVENTEEN. I look at his pictures and I see every seventeen-year-old that I know. Girl or guy. I see the book with which he holds open in his eyes, and I can see permanent marks from words that either his family or other students wrote. I hold no authority to judge or to pound the gavel. What I do know is that three young lives are now gone from this planet. And when I look at their pictures, I see every seventeen and sixteen-year-old I know. Girl or guy.
Words matter. They carry weight.
Speak life or shut up.