Good morning. It is Tuesday, May 31, 2022. Jeanette Stark here.
Last week was a tragic week for many families in the state of Texas. The mass shooting in Uvalde where 19 elementary school children were shot dead in their classroom; two adults were also killed, has left families, friends, an entire community…the nation, reeling in shock and drowning in sadness.
I was talking with my co-worker Christie this morning. She had no idea what I was writing about today, but she felt impressed to share a story.
She had seen or heard a Ted Talk on a guy who was almost a school shooter. In fact, that name of his talk is “I Was Almost a School Shooter.” I know because I found it online. As I listened to it, I could not help but think how one person can change the world. How one person showing love and compassion can change the life of another and ultimately change the lives of many!
His name is Aaron, and the year was 1996 in Denver Colorado. He was a student in high school, and he shared how in a moment of pain and anger he almost committed an atrocity.
He said growing up he learned early on that there was a strange comforting calmness in darkness. He tells how his family was very violent and drug-addicted and they were always moving from place to place. He recalls going to 30 or 40 different schools due to his parents always on the run. He was always the ‘new kid’.
He admits because he was from such an unstable house, he smelled bad and never had clean clothes. His clothes were dirty and torn and on top of all that he was overweight. Kids pretended to shoot him with a harpoon because he was “as big as a whale.” Kids dumped food on his head and called him fat. He was verbally abused at home and at school.
He was told he was worthless and when you are told you are worthless enough times, you begin to believe it. He said he wrapped that darkness around him like a blanket.
He said he became very aggressive as well. At the age of 12 or 13 he began listening to heavy metal music. At the age of 14 or 15 he began cutting himself; he still has the scars to this day.
By the age of 16 he was homeless and living on the streets. He had pushed away most of the few friends he had by lying and stealing from them; doing exactly what he had been taught in his home from a young age.
He was now living in the shed of his last friend on earth. It was a dirty shed. The roof leaked and one day he looked around. The rain was pouring down on him, he was covered in blood from cutting himself and he knew he was going to die. He said he did the only thing he knew to do, he called social services. They brought him in, and then, called his mother.
His mother knew exactly what to say and how to act to cause social services to believe it was just an act and that he was only trying to get attention by lying. They sent him home with her. The woman who had harmed him his entire life. The woman who had kicked him out of his home. That is who they trusted more than this hurting young man.
When they got home, she turned to him and said, “Next time you should do a better job and I’ll buy you the razor blades.”
His heart was completely ripped out of him. That darkness that he had wrapped around him for so long, he ran straight into. He had nothing left to live for. He had nothing to lose. He said, “When you have nothing to lose, anything is possible.”
He got a gun from a gangbanger and decided he was going to inflict as much pain as possible. He was either going to attack his school or a mall food court. It did not matter to him. He wanted to inflict the most pain with the least amount of security in the quickest way possible.
But there was still a ray of hope in all that darkness.
That friend whose shed he was living in, showed him kindness and compassion. Even though he had stolen from him and lied to him, that one person showed kindness, regardless.
Aaron said he thinks it was a Tuesday and this friend sat down next to him and treated him like a person. He said, “when someone treats you like a person when you don’t even feel like a human, it will change your entire world.” The friend said, “Hey, would you like a meal? Let’s watch a movie.”
It was indeed life changing. All these years later Aaron is married; he is a father of four and is still friends with that young man that showed such kindness and compassion.
Ephesians 4:32 tells us to “…be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another…”
We are told to show and have “…compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another…forgiving each other…” Colossians 3:12-13 ESV
And “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” 1 Peter 3:8 ESV
If you knew that one kind word, that one kind act, that one show of understanding, would stop someone from doing something horrible, would you offer it? Of course, we would. Let us then determine to go through life, dropping seeds of hope. Let us determine that by our actions, the world could be changed for the better. That one kind word, one smile, could save someone’s life! Let’s be that change in this world!
“If you see someone in that spot who needs that love, give it to them. Love the ones you feel deserve it the least because they need it the most.” – Aaron Stark