****I'm preaching to the choir here! So, when I say "you", know that I'm talking to myself as well. I include me in this!!!.****
When a tragic event occurs, it usually takes awhile for me to connect emotionally with the situation. It becomes all "business" for me. I watch the news and read articles about the event, trying to get information about what exactly happened. As I do that, I begin seeing pictures and videos of the people involved. That's when I begin to feel emotionally connected to the event. Suddenly there are faces connected to the reports. Suddenly it is more than information. These are real people with real emotions. Real people who are scared. Real people who are sad. Real people who are hurting. However, it usually takes two or three days before the emotions hit me.
So, when my husband called me at 2:30 PM today and told me of two bombs going off, resulting in the deaths of two people and the injuries of many more, I said all the right things and had all the right thoughts, but I felt no sadness or hurt or anger or anything else. It was as if he had told me we were out of milk. I felt nothing. I hung up with him and went back to bathing my children. In between Chase coming home from work and feeding my children dinner and washing sheets, I watched the news - as much as I could while trying to keep my 2 year old and 3 year old from seeing disturbing images or hearing scary things on TV. Eventually we turned the TV off so we could spend time with our children and not have to keep them "locked" away in their room.
After they went to bed, we didn't turn the TV back on. I had gotten as much information as I was going to get for the night, and Chase seemed distracted by other things. I hadn't yet emotionally connected with the event so I was casually scanning Facebook and Pinterest, feeling rather bored with the evening, ready to go to bed just for a change of pace, but not at all sleepy. Sitting on the couch in the silence of an evening without children climbing on us and talking to us and bringing us things to look at, Chase began telling me how he felt about the events of the day. Based on our conversation and some of the things he pointed out, I began to emotionally connect with all that took place this day. It has never happened this quickly with any event before, and it comes with a heavier heart than I usually experience.
I am grieving for those who lost loved ones today. I am sad for those who lost limbs because of shrapnel. I ache for those who are going through surgery and those who are laying in hospital beds in pain. I question God as to "why" this happened, though I know the only answer we'll probably ever know is that we live in a fallen, sinful world. I have anger toward Satan for deceiving someone into thinking this would be the answer to everything. And I have deep hurt for the person(s) responsible for everything that occurred today.
I'm going to chase a "rabbit trail" here, but, I promise, it has to do with everything I've just said! In nine days, on April 25th, is the 8th anniversary of the death of my father. He was depressed and committed suicide. Although he didn't leave a note or any indication of what exactly made him make that choice, in looking at the events in life at that time, depression is the only thing that fits. I remember the day and everything I felt just like it was yesterday. It will stay with me as long as I live. I remember the pain. I remember the hurt. I remember the gut-wrenching agony I felt with every fiber of my being. I remember arriving at his work (where he was found) and leaning against the back of his car as sobs wracked my body. I remember the anger and not knowing what to do with myself. I remember wanting to hit something or hurt something. I remember biting down on my blanket so hard my teeth hurt. I remember needing to try to direct the pain somewhere besides my heart. 8 years later, I still miss him, but that pain has dulled significantly. But that day . . . that day it was so real and hard. And yet, even with all of that, I never hurt bad enough to carry out an event like today or Newtown or Columbine or Oklahoma City or 9/11 or any of the other events that have taken place during my lifetime.
And so tonight I ache for the person who carried this out. With all the pain I felt 8 years ago, I cannot imagine hurting so bad or being so angry that I could be convinced to carry out a deed like this. Nobody knows who this person is or where they are. No one knows what this person is doing at this moment. I want to cry when I think of all the things they had to have endured to make them so hard-hearted toward the world. When I think of all the things they must have experienced in their lifetime to make them so angry and bitter and hurt toward others that they could carry out a senseless act of violence to hurt/kill so many, it makes my heart very burdened.
Then I think of the people around me. See, this person, whoever they are, was - before the bombs went off today - just another person like you and me. They lived and breathed and worked and existed right here. They had neighbors. They had a job. They had a car. They bought groceries. They stopped at the gas pump. They got their haircut. They went out to eat. Yes, I'm making some assumptions here, but you get the idea. They were just a regular person. What about the people around me? Is there someone I walk past at the grocery store that is hurting so bad they could pull off an event like this, thinking it would help them to feel better just to be able to redirect their pain elsewhere? Is there someone at the gas pump beside me that just needs an encouraging word to keep from hurting someone else? What about at the restaurant the next time I'm out to eat? At work? At school? The doctor's office? We come into contact with hurting people all the time. Are we willing to offer a smile to those we pass in the aisles of the grocery store just so they know someone has recognized their existence? We don't know who these hurting people are. Are we willing to step out of our comfort zone and reach out to people?
Then I think of the little people in my own home. The person who did this today was a regular person like you and me. He had a family at some point. Whether it was a traditional family with a mom, dad, and siblings or it was non-traditional, made up of random people (I can't even begin to think of a scenario right now!), he had people that should have been a family to him. Was he hurt by them? What about a spouse? What about children? At midnight tonight, 3 of my 4 children were awake and crying. As I met the needs of each of them and felt their small hands on the back of my neck or their sweaty hair sticking to my cheek as I carried them to another room, my heart hurt for this person. I can't imagine my precious children hurting so bad or being so angry that they could carry out something like this. I pray that they never experience something so tragic in their lives that would make them want to cause others this kind of pain. I pray they never feel so separated from their family that they cannot come to us and receive comfort for their hurt and anger. I feel saddened that this person may have experienced something so traumatic as to separate him from family.
Lastly, I think of God. I have been angry at God. I have questioned God. I have been bitter towards God. I have ignored God. In all of that, I have never wondered whether God loved me. In all of that, I knew I could trust God, and when I finally got right, I always knew I was able to run back to His loving arms. I cannot imagine being so far from the love of God that something this tragic could seem like the answer instead of crawling to Him for love and protection and peace and help.
In spite of all I've suffered and all of the depression I have dealt with myself, I cannot imagine the darkness consuming this person night and day. I cannot imagine the hurt filling their heart, their soul, their entire being. When this person is found, instead of rejoicing over whatever sentence they are given, pray for them. Pray for them to find the love of God. Pray for them to find peace from and forgiveness in Christ. And notice those around you. Those who live in your home. Those who are in your circle of influence - relatives, friends, acquaintances, etc. Those you come across in the store, restaurant, etc. Notice people. Don't be of the world. But definitely be in it! We may not all have the "gift" of encouragement, but we can all be an encouragement just by offering a smile in passing.