Opinion: How do you help the hurting?
Perhaps it’s because I am a Christian, but I have been especially troubled by the shooting at Covenant School in Nashville over the past week. I am saddened for the victims’ families, including the pastor of the church the school is associated with. I am also angry. It isn’t an out-of-control anger, but rather, a righteous, controlled indignation over what occurred.
I have been thinking: What would I do if I was a high school or college football coach in the Nashville area right now and wanted to help? What can football players and football coaches do for people who are in pain? What would I do?
First, I would listen. Sometimes people don’t want anybody to do anything for them. Sometimes they just need a shoulder to cry on. Sometimes they just need an open ear. Make eye contact, practice active listening, and listen to them and their concerns. Hear the heart. Listen to why they are saddened, distraught, and angry.
This sounds easy, but it can be harder than actually writing a check or donating something, especially for people whose views do not align with yours all the time. But sometimes listening is all people really want.
Second, I would act. I would go to the family members of the deceased and ask how you can serve them. Start a meal train of some sort. Give them gift cards for groceries like Wal-Mart, Kroger, or Publix. Ask them if there is any outdoor project that you can do for them around their house. Have a fundraiser. Wash their cars. I don’t know – I’d think of something.
Third, I would visit the school and lift them up. Elementary and middle school children almost always look up to athletes – high school, college, professional – as superheroes they want to be like. Just visiting the school and treating the students well to encourage them is a positive move.
Fourth, I would defend them. Call balls and strikes even when it is unpopular to do so. I am reading horrible things in the media, even professional reporters, to the point where I am ashamed of my journalism degree. This is still a free country where people are allowed to believe whatever they want so long as they are not hurting anybody else. In this case, the three students and three teachers in that school did absolutely nothing wrong to the shooter. Stand up for the victims, not the perpetrators.
Finally, I would pray for them. The Covenant School community has suffered a devastating loss. May God comfort the victims’ families.