That’s where change happens. In between what you think and what I think. In between what she said and what he said. In between that opinion and this opinion. When national tragedies happen, we hear a variety of both knee jerk and thoughtful responses that open up dialogue. This can be frustrating…and good. It’s frustrating to hear extreme opinions and defenses in a time like this. It’s frustrating that most of the dialogue happens on Facebook where we can’t see expressions and genuine spirits. It’s frustrating that we spout opinions without taking the time to seek the Lord and discern a response. It’s frustrating how media reports before it really knows… …and yet, it’s good. It’s good for people to be expressing themselves. It’s good to have a place like Facebook to facilitate conversations. It’s good that media responds immediately so we are aware and praying and available to the stories that influence us all. The issues that have surfaced are all very valid. Don’t be so quick to dismiss. Hear them out. Pray for discernment. And don’t assume your first response is the right one. Guns have quickly become the hot issue. To those who passionately defend guns, my very first reaction is: I just don’t get it! Why be so passionate over something the Lord spends not one breath on in his word? But people I love are concerned about it, so I’m going to listen. I’m going to consider their words. I believe the weapon Jesus intended his people to use is love. It isn’t always safe in the hands of people, but it’s powerful and effective. And it’s only in Love himself, where we discover the only true safe place. I know love won’t protect me in a moment of real danger…but it will save me in the way I’m most concerned about, the way God’s most concerned about. Now I’m sure that sounds all pacifist-y BUT… I’m not unrealistic. We live in a country where there will always be guns. I see the need for guns in many situations, and I am not against people owning them. And being the true Michigander that I am, I embrace hunting and recognize the ways it facilitates healthier wildlife…and excellent jerky. But here me out: In a moment like this, it is extremely insensitive to publically defend guns. Innate objects with the sole purpose of killing don’t deserve that much support, especially right now when they were successfully used to bring about death. There are roughly 300 million firearms owned by civilians in the United States (source). That’s nearly one gun per every person living and breathing in this country. To say we don’t have a gun problem hinders a real conversation about it. Likewise, to say guns ought to be banned hinders a real conversation about it. Somewhere in between. That’s where change happens. And until we’re comfortable in these in between “we’re both right and we’re both wrong” places – we won’t get very far in discerning genuine responses and solutions. God’s presence is another topic of opinion as we sift through and desperately try to find answers for what happened on that sad Friday. Or what is happening in general in this violent world. Some claim God has been taken out of public schools, leaving them as open targets for dark attacks. Others claim God can’t be kept out. Even I asked God the question: So where were you on Friday? Somewhere in between. That’s where truth is. I have to agree, God cannot be contained nor prohibited from entering the spaces where we dwell. And yet, if people do not receive him, how can God’s spirit manifest in spaces and people who publically and legally ensure his lack of welcome? And in those environments where God’s spirit is not invited, life is hindered. And the fruit of what is valued instead of life bears a reality we don’t want to face. As for the pleas and concerns regarding mental health and our need to better educate and equip families and their communities to engage this broken reality – well, there really is no in between. The stories are sad. I pray for the mamas and daddies who live with constant fatigue and anxiety or fear as they deal with a child that is not capable of rational, healthy behavior. I appreciate the cries for help and the awareness it’s brought to my heart. May we meet them where they are. Violence is the conversation happening in our home. It’s the topic our children can better relate to. Whether it’s the actions virtually played out in a video game, the wars, torture and crimes witnessed on a screen, or the mild anger issues in our own home – this is a healthy conversation to have. Some blame video games as the culprit to the culture of violence we’ve created. Some believe our flesh has always, and will always, succumb to violence as we work through our dysfunctions and brokenness on this sinful earth. Somewhere in between. That’s where change happens. That’s where truth is. It’s ridiculous to blame one thing for such a deeply rooted sin. But come on, what value do video games centered on violent acts and battles have in our life? What are they teaching us? What are they producing in our minds and hearts? And what possible good can come from our children spending hours assimilating that behavior? As I listen to the grumbling, sarcasm and genuine expressions of concern, I am left with more questions than answers. Why not talk about how to make it harder to acquire guns? Why not meet in the middle to discover God’s presence as something we have no control over, yet can powerfully receive or reject? Why have we failed at helping families who suffer with mental illness? Why not challenge the availability of increasingly violent virtual influences that shape the way we live in reality? When something this tragic happens, let’s listen more than we talk. Let’s discern before jumping to conclusions. Let’s hear people out, rather than sarcastically refute their opinion. Let’s come together somewhere in between. Where change happens. Where truth is found. Where real conversations emerge. Where people find common ground. Where hearts are softer. Somewhere in between. That’s where God is. In the center of all of this! Of our questions. Of our hurt. In the middle of our frustrations. Of our grief. Of our fear. God’s all encompassing spirit has the capacity to reach to the very heart of everything that’s in between you and me. To reveal, to heal, to restore.