Awful Things, Open Wounds, and Why I’m A Hopeful Inclusivist

I was supposed to run a blog post today that’s contributing to Rachel Held Evans‘s Week of Submission, but I haven’t finished polishing it yet, so instead of putting it out unfinished this morning, I decided to just forego my daily blog post.  Part of the reason behind that is because I’ve been taking some extra time to relax the last few days, which means that I’ve not been as disciplined about my writing.  It’s actually kind of nice to not stress every single day about writing something new.

Most of the reason I didn’t run that post today was because I spent last night decompressing after receiving some really bad news at work.  One of my old students was killed yesterday morning in a car accident.

I got this news in the middle of my second period class and then had to go back to work without letting on to my other students what had happened because all of the staff hadn’t been informed yet.  It took about half an hour for us all to get the news, then we had to go tell the kids.

It is hard to tell children that someone they used to know is dead.

After that we pretty much had to shut down the high school for the rest of the day.  The news hit everyone pretty hard, and we decided that it would be futile to try to carry on with class.  I spent most of yesterday with my homeroom students, most of whom knew this kid well, talking with them about what had happened and offering them what meager consolation I could.

It was a difficult day.

The whole time I was trying to comfort my students, I really wanted to take some time to myself to mourn, but that just wasn’t possible at work.  I’ve been reflecting on the situation since yesterday, and one incident continues to go over in my head.

Stained glass window of the sacred Heart of Je...

Stained glass window of the sacred Heart of Jesus Christ in the former Mosque (Cathedral) of Cordoba, Spain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There was one day last year when I overheard a conversation that this student had with another one of my students about religion.  The kids I work with say a lot of stuff, and oftentimes its about things they really don’t know enough about to offer a really solid opinion.  I find that’s pretty normal for teenagers.  They’re practicing being mature by talking about adult things, and from an adult perspective they often sound foolish.  In this case, with the talk about religion, the kid who was killed said that he didn’t believe in God even though he went to church and did all the youth group stuff.

I don’t know if it was just posturing to look cool in front of his peers or if he was serious.  I know that at that age I would have been serious, but I just can’t be sure.  Part of me hopes that he wasn’t, and that the stories his youth pastor told at his memorial tonight were the true version of events, that he did love Jesus.

I’m just not sure.

And in the midst of my own uncertainty, I can’t help but think that it would be absolutely monstrous for God to hold professed disbelief against a kid who probably wasn’t sure what he believed in the first place.  I don’t know that he’s in heaven celebrating his homecoming.  I have no certainty of it.

All I can do is hope that God is bigger and better than I imagine, and that he’ll take this child in regardless of what he believed.  Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that our reconciliation with him happens here.

At least that’s what I pray to God.