May 11, 2019 the world was introduced to a true hero. We don’t often meet them, but this extraordinary young man captured the hearts of the world with his heroic actions at his high school to disarm a fellow student and save the lives of many who would have been his victims.
Kendrick Castillo. When I read his story, pondered on his remarkable young life, and grieved his passing that has left a hole in the world where he held a special place for so many; I thought of my Master’s words. “Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” This boy had that greater love. Just like the two young men who helped the handcart pioneers cross the river and then died themselves, he earned his ticket to paradise with that holy act. He laid down his life for his friends.
The scriptures prophecy of the last days when men’s hearts shall fail them. We are seeing those prophecies come to pass. Think of these young school shooters. There is no love or compassion in their hearts. They are murderous and full of hatred, for what or whom it is unclear. They arise in the fulfillment of prophecy. They are born from the breakdown of the moral fabric of the nation. They are the bitter fruit of the last days. There is only one way to fight back, We must have greater love. Just as Kendrick did.
Some think that the battles must be fought in the courts, or our legislative halls; some believe that forcing their interpretation of God onto others is the solution. There are so many op-eds, so many statistics, so much pontificating on these shootings whenever they happen. I applaud all those who wish to make schools safer for our children, but I think Kendrick had the best answer.
I don’t believe that we will see less of these acts of mass violence. I think we will increasingly see more. What we need are not more weapons or less, but more love. Greater love. Love like Kendrick had.
Love is nurtured in the garden of the soul. Pouring shame on the soul is like pouring salt onto a garden. It will kill everything. It will disturb the PH of the soil for a long time preventing many things from growing properly. People with soul gardens of salt reek havoc on the world. They sow discord and cynicism. They endlessly take from society while refusing to show any gratitude. They produce nothing. They give nothing. They are not born, although some souls are challenged in ways that others are not when it comes to developing their gifts; these souls are made. We make them by using shame instead of love. In our homes. In our classrooms. In our law enforcement. Shame is our go-to tool of choice.
Refusing to shame, choosing to have compassion, choosing to build trust is so much harder to do. With our church congregations. With our families. With our circles of friends. Choosing love is choosing to accept a person as they are, even when they are wrong. We can embrace and protect and nurture each person and help them find their place. When the laws of God are violated, as they will be, the need for love is greater still. If we choose love, the gardens of the souls of those we care for will produce greatly and give back to us again.
Not everyone responds to love. The school shooters killed Kendrick. His love did not prevent that tragic outcome. Still, I have hope that Kendrick in accomplishing his supreme act of sacrifice, has secured for himself a glorious future in the next life, and also for us in which his goodness will inspire many more acts of love and courage.
The rise of so many forms of hate this decade has been for me, an invitation. I have tried to foster greater love. I have laid down my life, in my way, onto this blog. I have laid down my life on these digital pages, for my friends. In doing so, I have exposed myself to the judging eyes of all those who come across it. Still, I lay down my life for you. Take my experiences. Learn from what I have written. May it be a benefit to you.
Some of my friends have encouraged me to walk away from my ward, as they have done. I understand you so much better than I did before this experience. Only you can decide where God wants you to be on Sunday, and I totally respect your decision to put yourself in a place you feel safe and loved. That is where God wants you to be. It isn’t your fault if church members are unable or unwilling to make the holy houses of the Lord safe places for you to worship. It isn’t your fault when uncaring hearts and careless comments wound and destroy trust. I love you. I hope to be an agent of change in a firm and very appropriate way, to make church a safer place for all of you.
When I am strong enough, I plan to meet with my leaders. I plan to help them understand how to make church a safe place for me. In making the church a safer place for me, it will also make it safer for you, and all those who seek the love and compassion of the healing power of the Master. If church feels safe to you now, and my words make you anxious, just realize that not much is going to change. Hopefully, the only thing that will change about church, is that we will understand each other better, and be able to love each other with greater love. That when wounds are given, either purposefully or unintentionally, that those injuries are repaired. That victims are not blamed, that aggressors are not enabled. That patterns of shame are identified and eliminated. That channels of communications are opened and relationships of trust are built.
As we come unto Him in humility and share our experiences, miracles can and do happen! The forces of Satan rage and sow their destruction. The forces of Love and righteousness can likewise rage! Let us consume the forces of hate and Satan with the fire of our greater love! Just as Kendrick did.