My phone rang at 5:38 a.m. yesterday morning. You know that pit in your stomach when the phone rings at a time of day when no one should be calling? When you just know there’s going to be bad news on the other end of the call? And there was.
It was a recorded message from the school, notifying me that all schools would be closed due to two police officers being shot “ambush-style” near one of the schools. They were sitting in their squad cars, doing their jobs; apparently unaware they were about to be shot.
Shot and killed.
My heart sank. This kind of thing just doesn’t happen here. I was overcome with fear, grief, anger, confusion and disbelief. How would I explain this to my kids? They would require an explanation as to why school was closed. And then quickly my heart ached for those who loved these officers. At this time their names hadn’t been released, but I knew there were people who were receiving the worst news possible. My mind rushed back to the first moments of my own grief. Thinking about others feeling all of that is almost unbearable to me.
The weight of such darkness and evil is so heavy. There’s so much pain in this world. There’s so much senseless suffering. I reminded my kids that even though there are so many bad things that happen in this life, there’s also so much good. There’s something more powerful than darkness.
“Do you know what that is?” I asked them.
Gman immediately replied, “God!”
Yes, son. That’s right. God…love. God IS love.
As the hours passed yesterday, we witnessed our entire community grieve. And then we saw our town rise up! Acts of love and kindness were everywhere. We saw our community rally around our police departments, serving them in support, sharing hugs and tears, paying respects with flowers and prayers. And that, my friends, is what it’s all about. We are a community grieving, but we will not let tragedy define us.
John 13:34-35 (NIV)
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Sure, there is anger and we seek justice, but above all else, we are called to love one another. I have no explanation as to why someone would shoot and kill another, other than we live in a very fallen world and we’re in need of a savior. I won’t speculate as to why the shooter would do such horrific things, but I pray for him as well, despite my anger and confusion over his actions. I can’t help but remember the thief on the cross next to Jesus. His heart was changed and he was forgiven. I don’t want to take away from the brave service and sacrifice of our community’s fallen officers by mentioning this, but I want to admit that the shooter falls on my heart as well.
To the families and friends of Sgt. Tony Beminio and Officer Justin Martin: Your community is lifting you in prayer. We hurt with you and for you. We will honor your brave fallen husband/father/son/friend by combating darkness with light. We will band together to conquer evil with love. We will use this sorrow to spread joy. We will face bad news with the Good news. We will hold each other up and God’s love will shine through. Love wins.