Dear Angry Young Men,
I don’t question that you’ve got pain. Were you bullied? Ignored by women? Did your parents abuse you? Were you always a bit lost in a crowd? I don’t know your particular pains, but I’ll tell you right now, every single one of us carries wounds. Your wounds don’t make you special, they make you normal.
I don’t understand the twists in your thinking, how your autobiography is being written in your head that you think going out in a blaze of blood equates glory. Because the watching world doesn’t see your victory or fame, we see a coward with a gun mowing down precious people. We see crying parents and schools with police tape around them and coffins way too small. This is your glory? This is your grand finale? To crown your pain with the pain of others?
I’d ask you to take a walk with me. Somewhere quiet and I’d give you paper and I’d ask you to do this: let your pain spill right out, right on to the paper. Fill up the margins, write right off the edges, spill. I’d ask you to scream out your anger at the top of your lungs; every slight, every insult, every dark thought, every abuse, every insecurity, all of it.
When you were done, I’d ask you to be quiet. In that silence I’d whisper to you:
You are loved.
You are precious.
Your pain is real, but it isn’t the truest thing about you.
Your anger is deep, but you are deeply, profoundly, loved.
God made you, dear one, He made you, He sees you, He grieves your pain.
There is more in your story and the center of the spokes doesn’t have to be this gnawing rage and bitter fatalism.
What if you told the Author of Rage and Violence that you didn’t want to be his puppet anymore? What if you thumbed your nose at him and dared to live as though life were worth living until it actually is?
What if you disappointed that prowling Lion who wants your destruction, by telling him to go home to Hell, to find another lackey, that you’re through with being a slave?
That God is leaning-in and waiting for your half-hearted prayer, the smallest request for help, ready to send a legion of angels to fight for his dear son?
That God loves you enough to allow you to decide between great love and black hate.
I would whisper those words and I’d pray. I’d lay out your ink smeared papers in intersecting lines, a cross, and I’d tell you about Jesus who forgave everything done to Him, even though He’d never done a wrong to anyone. How He died for even the ones who were killing Him, how great His love was. How forgiving the people who have hurt us opens a valve down at our feet so our anger and hurt can drain out. That the valve has to be left open because some wounds seep and seep all our lives.
I would smile a little and tell you that you can’t see it now, but if you choose life you’ll never believe the joy that will grow tall and wide in your soul. I know about that, see. I was suicidal as a teen and I couldn’t see beyond the horizon of my pain. I thought the pain was all there was and all there would be. The Devil loves to lie.
Dear angry young men, be slaves no longer to blinding rage and lashing pain. It gives the Devil so much satisfaction that he’s duped another one. He’s thrown a black blanket over your head and told you it’s always night now, and sometimes you have to be sensible and brave enough to yank his tricks off your head and believe the light around you.
You are more than what you’ve suffered, you are loved.