My 18 year old son was killed too

jon2Ferguson has been causing a heaviness in my soul. You see for those of you who don’t know, my own 18 year-old son was murdered in 2011. I was angry too – at the cruelty of humans, at a media that doesn’t fact check and harasses grieving families, at lying girls, at drugs that keep parents from watching their children.

And at the same time, the last thing I wanted to do was pour more anger into the world. I talked and got to know so many people during these past few years. I have heard stories of other people’s losses, fears and angers. I have learned that all people are dealing with something. I knew this in my head, but now I truly understand it in my being.

Now I know I need to be as kind as I can. Everyone I meet has dealt or is dealing with loss, failure, regret, loneliness, fear, and sadness. The women in the checkout line going so slow may be in a brain fog after another round of chemo. The menacing teenager that glares at you may be feeling abandoned as his dad has moved across the country.

We don’t want to see other’s pain because then we might have to deal with their darkness. We also might notice our own. What if we don’t know what to say? What if they start to cry? What if we start to cry? The whole thing might get…uncomfortable.

We don’t need to fix. We only need be there in their hurt and pain. It probably will be uncomfortable. it will also bring you closer.

We put up barriers between ourselves and others all the time. What if we didn’t assume someone was judging us by our skin color, weight or income? When we assume we are judging them. What if we didn’t allow our own biases to color our interactions? What if we asked how someone was doing and really wanted to know? What if when asked how we were doing, we answered honestly?

It is in our kind, honest interactions with others that healing connection happens. On a personal level. And societies as a whole.

When Jon died, I was given a collection of Ben’s Bells that say, “Be Kind”. I hang them as a reminder, have one outside my entryway door and have given them to others. Many of us also did an act of kindness for each year of Jon’s birth plus one extra. Out of tragedy, kindness sprung.

I will always remember the outpouring of love for my family from others and still have my prayer shawl, angels, candles, jewelry and plaques. (Though the food is long gone)

Just this past Sunday part of the youth group from my church brought baked goods and wanted to let us know they continued to pray for our family. They didn’t know how they would be received. They were probably uncomfortable. They didn’t know if they were going to bring up bad memories. But they followed love and I was deeply moved.

When we look at Ferguson, or Syria, or Iraq and see all the hate and division we feel so helpless. But, we can all be kind today.