For Mollie…

For weeks the people of Iowa – in fact, people across the country – have become familiar with the smiling face of Mollie Tibbetts. Yesterday we learned that Mollie will not be coming home. Her lifeless body was found in a field, the victim of evil and violence, which seems to pervade our world more deeply each day. What do we say and think of such a loss; such a manifestation of evil and suffering? As Christians who worship God revealed in the suffering of the cross, there is much to say, really. In summary I’ll quote a colleague, Arthur Bergren, a pastor in Waverly, Iowa: “In the field where this young woman was recovered, the cross of Christ stands. Mollie was never alone.” Her tears, pain, terror – whatever she suffered – was suffered in the very heart of God. That God will not let this suffering be the final word for Mollie, for her family, or for us.

Sadly, Mollie is fast becoming a footnote to this story. Instead of grief and honoring the dead, political leaders, media outlets and many others have jumped on the fact that the alleged perpetrator of this crime was an immigrant who was in this country illegally. The death of a young woman is being used for political purposes and scapegoating. The young man who stands accused of the murder is in custody and charged. The system of justice is in motion. If convicted, he will pay for his crime in ways that have been mandated by the people.

Will using this woman’s death to rally people to purge our nation of immigrants ensure that this kind of violence will never happen again? Hardly. If we hunt down the illegal immigrants (and in the process every person who speaks Spanish or is a little browner than we are) will we be able to sleep in a deluded peace, sure that violence cannot touch us? Hardly. Should we look at common sense immigration practices that don’t throw the “baby out with the bath water” as we act? I hope so. Should we, in this moment, mourn Mollie, comfort those who grieve and try not to objectify this young woman any more than she has been for our own causes? I pray so.
Here’s the thing: In 1986, Mark Smith waited for his ex-girlfriend to come home from school after he had broken into her home. When she arrived, he stabbed her 66 times. Mark Smith was not an illegal immigrant; he was not unusual. He and his family lived in a house just adjacent to my parent’s home. Jenny Crompton died for no real reason. Simple human brokenness and sin were at the heart of the act. Mark Smith was convicted and is in jail to this day – a recent appeal, denied.

My point is that we cannot live in this world and believe that senseless violence and suffering will not happen if we can identify the “bad people” – be they illegal immigrants or our normal neighbors, or even us. You know the down-deep, center of your soul truth, don’t you? Every one of us is capable of becoming Cain or Abel, perpetrator or victim. That is why we need a God who enters into our existence – even the suffering and death – to transform us and share our pain.

So, I’m just asking us to keep this loss, this tragic and senseless murder, focused on Mollie and her family. That we pray for the justice system to work. That we set aside our agendas and our need to pick up our torches and search for the monsters – because they are all of us, friends. I’m asking that we keep our heads, watch our mouths and open our hearts – for Mollie. That is this Beggar’s Take on Mollie’s death.

copyright 2018 – Timothy V. Olson

21 thoughts on “For Mollie…

  1. Donna

    Very well thought out, It needs to start somewhere, and pointing fingers, wont fix any problem,, this family needs prayers, for healing, courage, and strength, to get through such sadness. Our world needs better guidance, and leaders, that truly look at where the problems lie in wait..Prayers to her family and community.

  2. Janet Wee

    Thank you for posting this. I have already heard people use the illegal immigrants card to stop immigration and build the wall.

  3. May God be in our hearts and minds as we gather together and support the many family, friends and college classmates who are mourning and suffering such a tragic loss of a sweet young lady who deserved so much more. She is now an angel of God and I want to be someday where she is now. Let our hearts heal and give praise to God that he continues to guide and watch over all his children. Amen.

  4. Melissa

    Thank you for posting this. I was one of those people who was so angry that Mollies life was taken, that i said some of those same things. After taking the time to really think this though cleary, god has delt with my heart. I pray that Mollies family gets though this tragedy and God helps to heal their hearts.
    Thanks for helping me see things in a different way.

  5. Kathy McFarling

    Thank you for reminding everyone the focus is Mollie and her family. They all…still need prayer don’t stop praying for them. Amen

  6. So well put. Hate begets hate, regardless of color or race. When tragedy occurs we always look to assign blame and focus our anger on someone. Now we need to turn that hate into forgiveness as Jesus told us from the cross. Pray for her family and friends that are so filled with sorrow. Pray for each other that God will replace the hate with love and peace.

  7. Barbara Rego

    This is so well written. This is about Mollie and her family. I know a young lady who knew her and she posted that this would not be what Mollie would have wanted. Let’s remember her and her family, not the killer.

  8. Patricia Williams-Smith-MacLaughlan

    Thank you for this post. When I was 10 and my brother 10 months older was killed by a drunk driver who swerved off the road and hit my brother’s bike. It forever changed my family then, my children, and now their children. We kept telling the story and kept the focus on my brother and the. Short, wonderful life that he lived. Even early on when kids stood up on our school bus and started to yell at the younger boy as he got on the bus about his father killing my brother, my 12 year old sister stood up. And took his hand and said it was not his fault and his dad is sick. I was so proud of her that day. I so try to follow her example to keep the emphasis on the blessed life we were able to share. It was not easy for my mom and dad, but every geration was made stronger by the story of Uncle Denny., 1946-1959. The drunk driver was not an illegal alien, but there were a few Hispanics that helped work some of the harvests. Thank you for helping me to 1-remember the good things. Pat Williams-Smith-MacLauglan, Oklahoma

  9. jennifer

    I knew Mark Smith from my church youth group, never would’ve believed he would of taken someone’s life. RIP Jennifer and Mollie

  10. Lori

    I do like this, and I like the sentiment. But I’m curious, did you feel the same way about the school shootings and the public’s desire to turn it into gun control legislation?
    I think it is human nature to want to “fix” the problem, and it is our current culture to fix it instantly. We want to DO something in reaction to a horrible incident. And we expect our lawmakers to “do something” or we vote them out.
    It is a conundrum. 😦

    1. Thanks. Using the dead for political purposes always rubs me the wrong way. In the case of school shootings, the move to blame it on the mentally ill, or some other group is what is most appalling to me – it is scapegoating to give us a false sense of “doing” something. Just because something is “human nature” does not make it right – in Christian theology, human nature often = sin (our alienation from God, creation or one another). I really don’t think my post was about gun control, so I’m not going to engage that “curiosity.”

      1. Lori

        I agree…. I was not suggesting it was right. But I do think our country wants the “quick fix” on every tragedy.

  11. Jane Elizabeth Shu

    Jesus sets the rules: “Whoever comes to Me, I will in no way cast out.” Justice is hopefully done in the courts, forgiveness is always available at the Cross. We each have a choice to make about our eternal destiny. Thanks for sharing your insightful and personally heart rending thoughts. We all stand stand on equal ground at the foot of the Cross.

Comments are closed.