Today there were two crank calls saying that there was an active shooter at some of our nearby high schools. Thank God they were fakes. Nevertheless, I have to admit that I was not minding having my twin sons at home with me due to a stomach bug running through the house.

Tensions and emotions are running high after what happened earlier this week.

We have, yet again, more families forced to deal with, as Lin-Manuel Miranda once wrote, the unimaginable.

We have the ongoing shocked stupor that many of us find ourselves in after so much gun violence in such a short period of time (these last several years) and learning that guns are now the number one killer of children. I can hear the psalmist in my head repeating, How long, O Lord.

And yet the piece that has continued to spin round and around in my mind is my heartache for the seventh person killed that day. Because unlike violence at churches and synagogues and mosques around our country and the globe that were carried out because of hatred for specific racial and ethnic groups or religions, this one appears to have come from a place of deep-seated hurt.

In and of itself, that is not unlike so many other school shootings. And no amount of hurt can excuse violent actions like this. Ever.

My mind still thinks back to the conversations I had with my late husband about his upbringing in Nashville, though. About having been raised in church like the one connected to this school and other denominations that were theologically different, but far more similar than they wanted to admit. I remember the long nights of talking about sin and when he had his own “Great Awakening” sometime in high school or college – God, I wish I could ask him now.

His churches had taught him that all sins were equal. And therefore, being a member of the LGBTQ+ community is the same as committing murder.

For years he quietly went along with the doctrine and dogma of those around him. But he always knew this was not right. This was not okay. This was not of God.

Because hatred never is. And indoctrinating children into it – that is some next level… stuff. (That’s not the word I want to use.)

So I find my heart breaking for this young person who had been raised in such an environment and found themselves truly not fitting. What they must have experienced. Wondering what their community outside the school looked like – if any of them were ever accepting of them. And how far they might have been pushed before they snapped?

How many other young people in the same situation feel they have no one to turn to? Especially with the fights (not even debates anymore) visibly dominating our new culture at the moment.

My heart grieves with all of the families of the dead, as it always does and always will.

Nevertheless, something we must not forget in the midst of this all is that hatred is still and always will be completely unacceptable. No matter how biblically backed it may be – it is not following our Crucified God.

Whatever else may happen in the coming days, be aware and be wary. Look for all the ways you can support those in your own community who may not fit. Who may have been told they were an abomination because of who they are. Who may feel like there is no where to turn. A kind voice and welcoming shoulder can make more difference than you know.

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