Last night Greg and watched a Biography of John Walsh – better known as the host of the popular television program, “America’s Most Wanted“. Some may not know that it was his own personal story of grief that led him to be an active voice to Congress and helped changed some laws regarding missing children and bringing criminals who abduct children – to justice. He was then asked to host this show – and since the onset of the program in 1988 – hundreds have people have been found.
John and his wife had a beautiful six-year-old boy, named Adam. Adam was abducted and murdered – his body found dumped in a river near their home. Although John had his suspicions of who had committed this crime – it took the police and authorities over 25 years to solve the crime – and by this time, the man had passed away – before ever being sentenced. Although it was comforting to have the thing “put to rest” – it was a lifelong sorrow and passion within John to try to change the system – and have more help and networking around the country and the world.
As we watched this program – it struck me. I said to Greg, “I wonder if John realized that this one tragedy in his life – allowed him to be the vehicle in which real change would take place for other children and suffering families? Do you think he knew that because of this – he forever rewrote history”?
Oh – but what a price to pay for change.
Years ago – there was no stoplight in front of the church where Greg was on staff. It was a dangerous busy highway and hard to turn left to come out of the church – as many of us had to do. The city refused to put in a stop light. Something about “not enough people’ or something like that. It took a few fatal accidents in that place to finally wake them up – and today there is a stop light there.
It is the painful, tragic and often fatal events that thrust people forward to make a change.
So I got to thinking about this – and tried applying this principle to my own life. I too have experienced heartache – just like you. Yours may look different from mine – yours may be loss of a child, a husband, a parent – or a relationship – but loss is still loss. Grief is still grief.
What if – instead of putting that passion, anger, frustration and questions that we experience about the loss inside ourselves and hoping time, friends and activity will help put it to rest – we instead saw it as a possibility to do something great? Maybe even something that we would never have done if we had never experienced or been touched with the pain at all?
What if – we turned grief around, inside out and stared it down, used that raw emotion to fuel a passion for others and saw it as a “God moment”.
I’m sure at the time of tragedy, the Walsh’s did not think any such thing – but the wonderful things he has done since 1981 are a sacrifice and personal tribute to their lost son – the effects of which are still felt today.
I think if we could all muster up the courage and turn tragedy around – make grief palatable – look fear in the face and use that raw emotion to find God’s purpose in the pain – the world would have more artists – more musicians – more writers and more champions.
Behind every heroic act is a story.