i have carried you heavy in my heart since I first heard the tragedy.
because i know the million different ways a mama's heart breaks for her child.
i close my eyes and think of you holding that bundle of blue for the first time.
how your heart must have skipped a beat.
i imagine you have spent years laboring over the boy you hoped would conquer the world.
every mama knows the laboring never stops.
because mamas always dream bright and hope big and see the best in those who bear our own hearts.
isn't it true that to have a child is to have a piece of your heart walking around in this world?
and if you have a piece of your heart walking around you double your chances for heartbreak.
once when the hearts of our own break.
and again when we feel the ache their hearts must bear.
i imagine you walking the hall and swaying back in forth to the rhythm of midnight cries.
i can see your tired, loving eyes gently singing him to sleep.
i can feel your joy as he accomplished childhood successes.
the pure delight over walking and talking and laughing for the very first time.
mamas always remember all the moments.
we are encouragers.
because the only way to mother is on your knees, right?
i feel the hot, salt flood your face as you learn he has walked in the way of the world.
and i imagine your pounding heart as your family faced the toughest decision.
watching your child suffer the consequences for their actions is grueling.
but training your child in the way he should go will always give you Hope.
mamas can pray and guide and teach and encourage their child on the path of righteousness.
but there comes a moment when the child must decide for himself.
i know mamas who have raised wayward children.
their worn out knees and tear-stained cheeks and whispered prayers will never cease to undo me.
for they continue hoping and praying and loving fierce.
in spite of choices they never dreamed would be made.
and consequences their hearts can hardly bear.
and just like you, they keep returning to the place where only comfort is found.
i imagine your trembling legs and shaky hands and pounding heart as you graced the doors of your church yesterday.
and i know full-well the lies the enemy taunted before you.
like a ship caught in a squall, you steered yourself for safe harbor.
for when our hearts are tethered to the One who saves the storm will never overtake us.
hearts that follow Jesus should never question forgiveness.
because we all have been forgiven in equal measure.
instead, out of an overflow of grace, Christians pour out mercy.
the way is blurry.
confusion is abundant.
and chaos is threatening.
yet, there is but One who makes all paths straight.
He will light the way.
dear mama, cling to this truth.
He sees you.
and your boy.
for you both were created in His beautiful image.
And He doesn't make mistakes.
imagine His broken heart as He sacrificed His only Son.
to wash us all clean.
for it is never our bad choices and wrong-doings and down-right blatant sin that plummets us to the deepest abyss of darkness.
it is our deliberate decision to deny Him.
Who He is.
What He has done.
the people of emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church and followers of Christ alike forgive your son.
we do not choose the path of hatred or bitterness.
fingers are not pointed.
because forgiveness is the overflow of the precious gift we have already received.
so, we hold our arms to Heaven and lift our eyes to the One who offers grace upon grace upon grace.
immeasurably more than any of us deserve.
my prayer is that you wash in the grace that so freely pours out.
and that your boy will come to know the redeeming, restoring, relentless love of Jesus.
He is pursuing Dylann.
from the day he was born.
lean into His all-encompassing love.
seek shelter in the shadow of His arms.
and keep clinging to Hope.
for Hope comes in His perfect timing.
you have not failed your son.
no prayer laid before the Throne is ever wasted.
and nothing takes the Sovereign King by surprise.