I went to bed last night without checking into Facebook or any news site. When I woke up this morning, I had a notice on my phone letting me know about the shooting in Las Vegas. I wanted to climb back between the sheets and cover my head with a pillow. I just couldn’t. Not again. Not senseless violence again. Why? Why?!
And maybe by the time you read this, it will have been a different tragedy or natural disaster, political unrest, or crazy racist rally that is in the news and on our minds. Recently, there have just been too many to count, and unfortunately, there are probably more to come.
I’m very sensitive to these kind of things. Tragedies around the world like this profoundly affect me. Replaying difficult images in my mind and worrying for others can cause me to lose sleep for weeks following disaster and tragedy. Anxiety is a constant visitor of mine. I’ve become better through the years of sending anxiety on it’s way after a short visit, but it doesn’t seem to get the memo that it is unwelcome. Anxiety is constantly trying to move in permanently. When crazy world-events come up, I find myself in my own head, managing my own feelings, putting all the energy I have left into my family and the daily routine, to find the new normal. I don’t tend to post about my feelings on social media much, if at all. I don’t change my Facebook profile picture with an “I support …” filter. I just can’t. I just can’t surround myself with reminders of the grief and sadness. I’m already feeling all the feelings. I already think about it enough, maybe too much.
This may surprise you, after all I am a blogger, but I don’t like living “out loud.” I’m actually incredibly private, especially about how I’m feeling. It simply doesn’t occur to me to share all my emotional ups and downs with politics, natural disasters, and violent tragedies.
But maybe Sunday night was a final straw, maybe the catastrophic devastation and senselessness is just too much to stay quiet this time, because today it has been on my heart and mind to share my feelings. For one thing, I can’t shield my children from the insanity – we have family and friends in Las Vegas. I must be present for them. I must come out of my head this time, for them and for you. All day while they’ve been at school, I’ve been rehearsing my thoughts to share with them tonight over dinner. Where to start? What to say?
There is injustice in this world that is senseless. We can try to find reasons, motives, answers, but none of them will lead us to truly understanding why these things happen. When we try to reason or rationalize, we get stuck in a cycle of blame and anger. This is a trap – our hearts can’t find peace there.
I will explain the events to my children, but I will not try to rationalize it. It is senseless, there is no logical reasoning that will make it make sense.
I will focus with my children on what I can and will do, which is what they can also do.
This is what I will do.
I will weep with those that weep and mourn with those that morn.
I will meet anger with love.
Where I see sadness, I will show kindness.
When I find despair and broken hearts, I will offer hope.
I will be a safe place for victims of racism, violence, and injustice. But, I will not add my anger to their anger. I will not hate my enemies or your enemies. I will not hate anyone, only evil itself.
I stand firm in my testimony of Him. It is His light that can shine into the dark places of the world. With the Lord as my foundation, I need not fear.
How Firm A Foundation
One of the strategies I’ve found helps with my anxiety at times like this is to immerse myself in good music. Music has a way of lifting my soul in a way nothing else can.
This is the hymn that has been on my mind today, especially the third verse that begins with “Fear Not.” Here is a version performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by my righteous, upheld by my righteous,
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.
We must wake up tomorrow and keep moving forward. We must continue to create homes that are sanctuaries. And we must know that our effort is enough. We will hear about so many terrible things, and when called upon by the Spirit, we will know if there is more for us to do. Until then, and even after, the most important things we do will be in our own homes – creating homes where peace can live.
I hope at least some of this can be of some comfort to you as it has been to me.