With some things just are no words to say.
A recent school shooting in my hometown of Roswell, New Mexico has been very sobering for me. It has brought the story closest to my heart. I’ve spent the day unnerved, unsettled, and unrestful.
And even though I’m a writer, I just feel I have no useful words to write.
My heart goes out to families. My heart goes out to children. My heart goes out to teachers. My heart goes out to one student who felt it was necessary to bring a gun to school and unload it on his fellow students.
I am not angry at this young man. In fact, I don’t know what I am. Confused? Frustrated? I can’t tell. Whatever it is I’m feeling towards this boy, it has me greatly bothered.
What would I say to him if I had the chance? I don’t know. What would I do if I saw him? Try to love him? Try to hit him out of anger? I asked myself this as I was driving home yesterday, thinking about the tragic, horrifying incident that has happened just miles from my home. I’m confused. I’m deeply bothered.
And then I became at conflict with myself.
You see, I believe in grace. I believe in the unadulterated, unelicited, forgiving kind of grace. I believe in grace so much, that I even wrote a book about it coming out later this month. I live my life believing that grace is fundamental to the foundation of love. At least I say I do. Now I’m faced with putting my beliefs where my mouth is.
Does this kid deserve grace? Does he deserve to be forgiven? Am I about to extend my arms and give him both my full supportive grace and an abundance of love? If I really believe in grace, if I really believe that grace is the fundamental point of love, then I ought to extend it to him.
But I don’t want to.
The story isn’t political. It has nothing to do with laws, or security, or who is supposed to be where and are they supposed to be there without clearance. For me, the story is about seeing whether grace is really true in my life or whether it’s just a fanciful idea concocted out of wishful thinking.
It was easy, comparatively, to write a fiction story about a character receiving grace. It’s easy to sit behind a computer or a notebook and cram out a story about grace and why it is so important and how it can save the world. It is altogether troubling and confusing to look down the street to see a crime scene that beckons me to shower it in love and grace. All of a sudden, it isn’t so easy.
I believe in grace. Maybe I believe in it because I needed so desperately. Yet I’ve put myself in almost impossible situation where I must extend grace to another human when it is neither easy nor popular. I don’t know this kid. But that doesn’t make a difference. He’s a boy. A child who like the rest of us – whether we would like to believe it or not – has fear in his heart that makes him cower and tremble when no one watches.
I sometimes tremble and cower. I know that feeling.
Whether I want to or not, I must extend him grace. I must extend him love. I’m obligated. I have no choice. Though part of me doesn’t want to, out of anger and out of frustration, I also know that he and I are not that different.
We both are afraid of fear.
I neither justify his actions nor believe in a world without consequences. But I must also recognize that this child, this boy, is just like me. We are both human. We both have fears. And we both desperately need grace shown out of love.
I refuse to believe that this story must end in disaster. It may, and if it does it is by our own doing. I must, however, believe that no matter what happens there is still hope for redemption, because if I don’t, I don’t really believe in grace. It is by grace that this story can be saved, which comes through faith. That means patience. That means forgiveness. That means love.
So I must go and live by grace. Though I write about stories that redeem heroes through grace, I find it infinitely harder to do this in real life. Perhaps you’ll join me believing in grace. Perhaps you’ll join me in living with grace. But if you don’t, I understand.
Trust me. I understand.