Whew. Life is getting ugly these days, isn’t it? All you have to do is scan the news for 5 minutes for the suffering to take your breath away. The air seems thick, inescapable. It feels wrong to just go along with life, but sitting in the desperate places doesn’t work either.
As a nation, we share our outrage and helplessness when it comes to international crises, the death of a beloved icon and the multitude of societal and health issues we face as a nation. We try to make sense of things, point to the help and pray for those who have none. We chat about it. We try to respond. We know we can’t control these things, but there is no escaping a response of some kind.
There are tears, questions, statements of faith, reflections and even Executive Orders. There are prayers and memories flying across my Twitter feed. There’s a lot of hurt.
Today, my emotions are very similar to the way I felt post 9/11. It was as if reality slapped me in the face. For a few moments, it felt like the world woke up. We saw what was really out there. We saw the deep deep suffering of so many people and felt the helplessness of not knowing how to fix it.
We fought back. We stood strong. We looked into each other’s eyes instead of blankly through robotic faces. We saw each other. We cared.
Last night I set my alarm to get up and run before everyone else woke up. It’s something I have tried and failed at countless times this summer. I’ve fallen off the running wagon big time, but I am determined to get back on.
This morning as my alarm went off for the third time, I heard Robin Williams’ famous voice in my head, “Seize the day!” It seemed like the least I could do was honor his memory and keep my word. So I got up and I ran.
A few times as I looked up at the tree line, tears came for those who are so desperate that they can not find the light. They are rich, poor, young and old. They are right in front of us. The valleys exist for us all. We can’t do this alone.
If I could choose a word to describe how I have tried to tackle 2014, it would be gratitude. Last year, I read Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts. It was an amazing book that illuminated my need to make having a grateful heart a priority. It’s something I have gone back to again and again over the past few months and has helped me climb out of some pretty dark places.
In the midst of sadness and tragedy, I have to cling to the light. I have to respond. I’m not saying there is no room for grief. We have to allow for that. But when a response is needed I pray that we will wrap it in gratitude.
Even in the little things, like an old kitchen in need of repair, we can respond with gratitude for what there is instead of what we lack. Last night I read and loved Glennon Melton’s post on this very thing. Today I am emboldened by Erin Lane’s response and commitment to gratitude.
Like those weeks and months after 9/11, I pray we will see each other again and lift up our neighbors and friends. Let’s hold doors open, let cars change lanes in front of us, take meals to a family in need, send a note to a soldier, look into each other’s eyes and really communicate. Are you tired of running on empty? I believe God leads us through our darkest valleys so we can recognize those valleys and walk through them with others in strength and hope.
This is my response.