I've always considered myself to be quite empathetic and therefore non-judgmental of other people's choices. That's not to say I won't make fun of you for watching The Bachelor or for wearing crocs, but I'm just kidding around. As long as what you're doing involves consenting adults and doesn't spread violence or hate, we're all good.
So it came as a surprise as I was wandering around Pinterest this weekend to realize a slow, steady pulse of fury was building through my veins. Over and over I saw pins with the same, earnest refrain: God's answers are wiser than our prayers. What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise. Faith in God includes faith in his timing. God is in control.
For the first time since my conversion to atheism, I felt angry with Christians rather than their beliefs. When exactly is the right time for your child to be gunned down? When does that dead baby become a blessing? It disgusted me that people would respond to a tragedy with words that seemed at best insensitive, and at worst cruel in their passivity. Where believers saw faith, I saw blind resignation and an insulting attempt to minimize someone else's life-shattering tragedy.
After closing my Pinterest screen, I didn't want to see or read anything more about Newtown, but as the weekend wore on I found I couldn't stop thinking about it. I wanted so badly to find a way to support the grieving families, but what could anyone say or do that would ease their pain? It felt disrespectful to pretend it hadn't happened, and I realized I wanted to know the names of the victims and their stories, because the least we could do for their families was listen to them speak about their lost little one.
As I cried through the articles and videos, I came across a statement by Robbie Parker, whose six-year-old daughter Emilie died in the shooting. In the midst of his emotional description of his daughter's talents and bright smile were these words: “I don’t know how to get through something like this...We find strength in our religion and in our faith and in our family.”
With that, I stopped judging. God may not exist for me, but in this moment I am so thankful he does for one grieving father.