All right guys, I’m weighing in. God give me grace in my words. Yes, I meant to spell “guerilla” like that, because this kind of grace is rough and tough and unkempt and difficult, but beautifully successful when done well.
If you’re mad at that mom for her kid falling into the gorilla enclosure, I get it. She should have been watching him more carefully. There are a million tiny things that could have gone differently that would have yielded better results, or at least less heartbreaking results than a beloved gorilla’s death. But you really need to understand that the mom most certainly feels enough guilt on her own. We fret and freak and worry and blame ourselves for everything that ever happens to our kids, and we don’t need the entire world’s blame added to that. We spend some much time completely petrified, and that fear is often justified when our kids get into dangerous situations or don’t make the best choices. Trust me, her guilt is punishment enough, and there is no need to crucify her.

I’m very sad that anyone was put in a position where they felt the need to kill the gorilla Harambe. It is so, so sad, and infuriating, and sickening. But the situation was also an accident. Kids are sneaky and unpredictable and honestly very stupid at that age. Their brains haven’t developed enough to understand how to keep themselves out of danger. And moms get judged when kids that old are in strollers and when kids that old are on leashes or being worn. Or if they are on leashes or being worn or in strollers and are screaming, we get judged that we aren’t a good enough parent to keep our kid happy, so yeah, she was already going to be judged anyway. You can’t say “I would never have let that happen” because you can’t control everything and terrible accidents do happen. If nothing like this ever happened to your kid, it was your lucky stars, or the grace of God, or however you want to think of it. It wasn’t because you are a superior parent.

I am saddened by our society’s constant need to find someone to blame when something goes wrong. This was an accident. A million tiny things could have prevented it, but it happened. It still happened. And there is no point getting all worked up about what “should have been,” because what “should have been” isn’t what happened. What happened is what happened. And now let’s please extend some grace to a person who I’m sure is feeling worse by herself than even the whole world is trying to make her feel.

When Ellie was 10 months old, she fell down our entire flight of basement stairs because I left the door open when I went to change out laundry. It was horrifying – she completely flipped over 3 times like a rag doll and landed hard on her back. I held her and cried my eyes out for 30 minutes after I made sure she was okay. There was no gorilla to drag her around (whether playfully or violently) at the bottom, and there was no one watching to tell me a million times how horrible of a mom I was being. And I’m still sick to my stomach when I think about it. I could’ve, I should’ve, I would’ve – it doesn’t matter because it happened. 

We have to learn how to call an accident an accident, or a terrible dilemma a terrible dilemma, instead of finding the need to place the blame on someone. It wasn’t her fault, it wasn’t the zoo’s fault, it wasn’t Harambe’s fault. It happened.

Now Christians, remember how I said “crucify her” above? You know where that phrase comes from. Someone was already crucified, someone who never did anything wrong or worth crucifying. He did it for me – so that I don’t have to be blamed for all the terrible things that I do – not the accidents even, but the terrible things I do on purpose. The times when I choose myself over the needs of others. The times when I do or say the nasty thing instead of the kind thing. He died for me, and he died for you, and he died for that mom. So these words are especially for you if you are a Christian, because you’ve already come face to face with your sin and shame and chosen to accept the grace extended to you for no good reason other than love. So please consider choosing to extend that same grace to this woman that was freely lavished upon you. We can choose kindness and grace and love even in our sorrow. Kind of like what God did for us.

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