I get my home church bulletin emailed to me every week. It makes me feel connected to my church and, well, keeps me up on the gossip.
This morning, I opened it and was casually reading when I saw this:
JANELLE AND JOANN will share about the tragedy which affected their lives for Mennonite Women, April 10, at 1:30 p.m. The theme will be “God’s Grace is Sufficient.” Special guests will be included for a fellowship following the program. All are welcome.
It was like I had been struck.
Without going into the details of what happened (for that is not the purpose of this post), my freshman year of high school, my class of 13 was tragically taken to 12 when an accidental shooting took the life of a kind and talented 14 year old. This shook my community, and my class, to its very core.
Nearly 15 years have passed since Matt died and I will never forget that day, and the days of grace and compassion that followed. As I look back now, I realize how much the response of my community, and of Matt’s family – Joann is his mother - shaped who I am today.
Both mothers were faced with tragedy in their own way and I’ll never forget Joann’s immediate forgiveness, her understanding that this accident was just that – an accident. She and her husband embraced Janelle’s family and Janelle’s embraced her. This could’ve turned into a court battle, harsh words could’ve been shared, and grudges could’ve been kept. But the grieving was a collective grieving.
Looking back, I wish I had done more for Janelle’s family and for my classmate who carries this heavy burden. I realize now that their actions shaped me more than I ever realized. I suppose the best I can do is carry that message of forgiveness into my daily life. The things that happen to us that we get all worked up over are nothing in comparison.
“God’s Grace is Sufficient”. Those words are so hard to comprehend. Yet if Joann and Janelle can speak about this, if they can believe that (which I know that they do), I can believe too.(and now, for something more light hearted, go watch the video of Roy and Sophie on his blog.)