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TINA AUCLAIR, San Juan Capistrano 

“I don’t understand, but I know my God does,” Pastor Frank Pomeroy, First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, said the day after 26 church members were murdered, including his daughter.

I don’t understand such tragic loss to that community, either, or any of the other hate-filled episodes of recent headlines. What I do understand is that people are hurting. Those that lost family, friends and neighbors are aching with a pain so unimaginable we can only offer our shoulders to cry on, the embrace of our arms and our thoughts and prayers. Are thoughts and prayers enough?

I believe in the power of prayer and have seen amazing things happen because of it, so if you are a prayer warrior, keep it up, or if you would like to know more, please ask me! But what about our thoughts? How can thoughts help anyone?

Sadly, horrific acts of violence start with a heart that is also hurting. A heart suffering with such agony and torment the actions of that hurt person end up hurting others, sometimes entire communities. The damage can begin by enduring abuse both physical and mental, by being bullied and feeling alone, or something as simple as holding a grudge and allowing it to manifest into hate. There are many of these damaged hearts in our world today. In our country, city, neighborhoods and maybe even in our own families.

So, what separates those of us that have experienced horrific emotional pain in our lives and do not act out from those that do? Could it be as small a thing as having someone in our life that cared enough to speak up or merely paid attention to our anguish? Someone that offered to acknowledge our pain, to console us, advise us or just listen to us? Someone that truly thought about us?

It all starts with a conscious thought to act or react to our neighbor’s pain and need for compassion. Could we make a difference if we tore down the barriers of division, isolation and loneliness in our own communities and replaced them with unity, inclusiveness and love? What would happen in our world if we each asked someone the simple question, “What can I do to help you today?” And then we really listened.

If we each took the slightest step toward each other, allowed others into our circle of trust and truly thought about each other’s needs, the results would be miraculous and our thoughts and prayers for comfort, peace and a kinder world would already be answered.

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