I am going to beg down at the beginning of this post. I am going to have a warning right here at the start. What I am going to say is going to involve the use of the words Prayer, God, and possibly Faith, Jesus and forgiveness. I am also going to write about a man that is not exactly well liked – in fact he is pretty universally hated by anyone that hears about what he has done. What I write about him will not involve me calling him nasty names or hoping he goes to Hell. So this is your warning. If you don’t want to read further I encourage you to carry on with your day as though this was never discussed between us. You have your opinion and Lord knows I have mine and we can agree to disagree. So move along now. If you disagree with me but continue to read I hope that maybe you will at least think about what I am saying and not just dismiss it outright. I hope that if you choose to comment you will be respectful.
If you are still here, just remember, you asked for it. Truly, nothing that I will write is all that explosive or revolutionary. It’s the opinion of a Catholic mother, that’s all. I understand that all that I will say here is easier said than done, especially by those closest to the situation.
I have never really cared about the popular opinion. Well, I have never cared if my opinion was the same as the popular one, I suppose I should say. If Christ had cared about what people really thought about Him or what He had to say we would all be in a mess of trouble today. (see, I mentioned Christ right there and no one had a heart attack, right? Good.) He was just about as UN POPULAR as one could be right around Holy Thursday. He had a whopping 12 friends left and one of them sold him out to the authorities and helped arrange for him to be arrested. That is pretty much the definition of un popular. So I am going to propose the theory that God is rather fond of the revolutionaries out there, the ones that speak up for love and forgiveness. Not that I am putting myself on par with Christ or the saints and martyrs, but saying that maybe we could apply His teachings here.
Ryan Lawrence. This gentleman took his 21 month old daughter to a remote location outside of Syracuse and killed her. He then partially burned her body, returned to Syracuse and dumped her body, which was weighted with a cinder block, into the inner harbor. This is the stuff nightmares are made of. This is every parent’s worse nightmare, yet he was HER FATHER. She had, at not even two years old, already fought and beat cancer. He helped her fight for her life, how could he then turn around and take her life like that? These are only a couple of the questions that I ask myself and that we all likely ask ourselves when we hear about something like this. The next obvious reaction is to hope this man is prosecuted and justice is done. Also to say that he should burn in hell, he should be killed, he should rot in prison etc. I guess that is all a normal reaction. Something so horrible and unfair and cruel happened to the most innocent of people by one of the people she trusted and loved most. The fact that he committed this act is horrible enough, the fact that he was her father is that much worse.
Here’s the thing, though. (This is where I voice the unpopular opinion and start talking about God and Heaven and forgiveness and stuff. Last chance to leave.) The very fact that none of us, parents and non parents alike can fathom what was going through his mind in order to enable him to do this pretty much says his mind wasn’t functioning like the majority of ours. To truly understand the mind of a monster we would also have to be a monster. In order to create such a nightmare his mind and his soul must have BEEN a nightmare. This isn’t to say I think he was legally insane, there is a lot more to an insanity defense than committing a crime so horrible the world at large is nauseated and brought to tears by it. This is not an excuse, there IS no excuse. It’s maybe an explaination. It’s also my reason for asking that we pray for him and his soul in addition to Maddox and the rest of her family.
We talk about justice for Maddox. She will have justice, but it won’t be by anything that happens here and now. We, as a civilization, can remove her father from society and prevent him from harming others. We can maybe see that he spends a good portion of the rest of his life in prison. That isn’t justice. We don’t even know what justice really is. How can anyone pay for taking a life? What is the price? Are all lives equal? In God’s eyes they are. In our eyes though? We, as mortals, aren’t even capable of bringing justice to anyone, only God can do that and I know in my heart with all my soul that He will. There will come a time when Ryan Lawrence stands before God and his heart and his soul are laid bare. God alone can be just and God alone knows this man’s soul and mind and heart. All our anger and outrage and disbelief don’t do anyone, especially Maddox, any good. Those feelings don’t help her mother, they don’t help us. Even if every person in the world hated this man, actively wished him harm, it doesn’t affect him one iota. It affects those that harbor those feelings of hate and anger. The words we write and say about him affect his wife and his family. I understand it is human nature to be angry. It is instinct to be mad and to want to fight, to want to do something, anything. It is a hopeless, helpless feeling when we see this innocent baby murdered. However we need to move past our instincts and think and make a decision to forgive and to pray. Instead of posting hate online do something productive. Contribute to a charity, any charity, in Maddox’s name. Donate toys to shelters. Just do GOOD with Maddox’s spirit in your mind and heart. Pray for her. Have a mass said for her and her family. Sitting in your house and posting hate online just breeds hate. Hate is what eventually leads to ugliness, pain, and horror. Stop the cycle and instead of responding to his horrible acts with horrible words, respond with love and forgiveness and positive actions. Forgiveness doesn’t mean acceptance or agreement. It just means you are able to move past this action and respond with love, even if you find the action as disgusting as Ryan’s actions were.
Ryan Lawrence is in his own personal hell, I’m sure of it. Even if he doesn’t have the mental capacity to regret what he did, the very fact that he was capable of doing it indicates that his mind is a dark, evil place. That his mind is already a type of Hell. Praying for him and forgiving him WILL help. Be positive, take positive actions. Pray for Maddox and her family. Pray for her father. Pray for the police that had to investigate this case, pray for the attorneys that must represent him, pray for the DA that must convict him. Pray for positive things, pray that they have comfort. Pray that they heal. Pray that Ryan Lawrence can see what he did clearly and that he can repent. He is every bit as important to God as you and I are. His deeds are ugly. Hate what he did. Don’t hate him.
Think, for a minute, about Morgan Lawrence. Morgan is Maddox’s mother and she lost her daughter. She is also Ryan’s wife. She conceived, gave birth to and shared her daughter with Ryan. They, together, as parents, traveled to NYC from Syracuse every weekend for cancer treatments for Maddox. I have a daughter that was critically ill as a baby and I know the stress and how you need to lean on your partner for help and support. Morgan Lawrence lost her child but she also lost her husband. The very person she should be able to lean on and share her grief with is the man that caused the grief and the man who can’t possibly help her through this unthinkable pain. She needs to grieve him too. How do you think it must make her feel to read the horrible names people are calling Ryan? How do you think she feels about having married and lived with and had a child with this man? No matter what this man did, you can’t just Un Love someone. She may hate his actions and she may think she hates Ryan right this moment, but it still has to sting to read what people are calling him terrible things. Have respect for her if nothing else. I’m not saying anyone needs to say anything positive about him. I am not defending him or his actions. I am just saying that the name calling and negativity should end. She doesn’t need to hear all of that on top of all her grief and confusion. Right now there isn’t anything nice to say – so just don’t say anything at all.
I realize not everyone is a Christian and I know there are many paths to the same destination. To mis quote Dan Brown ” they are telling the same story in different languages.” Every peaceful religion generally says the same thing. Forgiveness begins with intent, it is a process and it is what eventually brings peace.