by Terri Wagner
I know people. Always thought that was a clever opening life. You immediately want to know who, why, etc. But I am already digressing...probably on purpose. This is a hard post to write because it is a tough subject to tackle. And yet I am going to have to share this with someone who may not want to hear, but needs to hear this.
There are times when we revel in the "milk" of the gospel. We share exciting or painful experiences with friends, family, sometimes strangers, and we are awed by how Heavenly Father answers us. At times without meaning to, we remind ourselves not to be too questioning by saying take it on faith, it's someone's free agency, move on, learn from it, it's God's will, etc. Those are truisms. They are a part of the gospel. But they are part of the milk of the gospel. The "meat" of the gospel makes you tremble with its dreadfulness and awesomeness...at least that's how I see it. But I shy away from sharing that meat. It's the meat that explains why a Sandy Hook happens, it's the meat that tells us about our own Sandy Hook's, it's the meat that separates us from the tares growing in our midst.
There are towering examples in the scriptures of those who faced and struggled with the meat of the gospel. Always Mormon comes to my mind first. He lived when his own people were in the throes of wickedness. He edited the scrolls, he defended his people knowing it was a lost cause, he wasn't even allowed to share the gospel with them. He was only able to give his son Moroni the scriptures to save, and bury for centuries until Joseph Smith was entrusted with them. I cannot imagine a prophet more grieved than he must have been, more saddened by what he was surrounded with daily, and yet who did his duty to his family, his people, and to us. I often wonder how he feels about those of us who have accepted and testify of his efforts that gave us the Book of Mormon. But he saw horror...a horror now too often portrayed on our media.
So how do you explain Sandy Hook, or a personal Sandy Hook? Please do not mistake this for comfort. I am not offering up simple platitudes which is about all you can do at first. Be with that someone, hug them, feed them, honor their grieving process. I'm talking about when they "wake" up again, after the horror has somewhat faded, when they really want and need to know why. When their need is so great, you feel it like a thing alive. Recently, after a long time, someone I know and love has asked that question. Why if Heavenly Father knew did He not warn me? Why if He knew it would happen, He didn't tell me? I can't believe in a God that would let this happen to me. I did everything right. I followed all the church advice. I did my duty, and I have a current temple recommend. "They" promised me repeatedly if I did the right things, I would be protected, I would be ok, this would never happen to me. What are the promises worth if that is not true? I did nothing to deserve this.
Believe me when I say the usual answers are not going to work now. The pain has been years in the growing. The situation never resolved. The questions deeper, more painful, more meat than milk. So how do I give the meat answer, and how do I know what it is. I did the usual to get the answer. I fasted, I prayed, I read my scriptures, I listened to the Holy Spirit. The answer flowed into me like a river running silent, angry, and deep. Not gentle, not smooth, overwhelming me, and yet so powerful I knew it for what it was.
Now comes the much much harder part. How do I share this? How do I explain that Heavenly Father at times will not warn the victim beforehand. That sometimes the scenario must play out. That free agency really means free agency to do an evil beyond our comprehension. That promises of safety are not necessarily meant for this life. That horror we cannot fathom is on our doorstep.
The person I need to share this with is ready in the sense that it is time for this to be said. But am I ready to share it?