Senseless. Horrific. Shocking. Just a few of the words that I've heard people use to describe the viciousness of the bombs in Boston. Sad. Scared. Angry. Words people have given to their feelings of these events. Hateful. Detailed. Bold. The terms others have given to those involved with setting these devices. For the runners and the rescuers and the everyday citizens that ran to help, opened their homes to scared cold strangers to shield them from the openness of the street: Brave. Loving. Courageous. Helpful.
I can't describe this tragedy in a word. I am heartbroken by the state of our world. Bombings and war and school shootings and bullying and hungry and homeless and the sick and the hurting. I am also hopeful because our God reigns. He knows and sees and heals and comforts and it is in Him, I am at peace.
In the moments after the incident yesterday I watched things unfold over social media and for the second time in a matter of weeks was blown away by it's influence and speed. I recognized the danger of it first; the opportunity for false reporting and rumors, feeding the insatiable hunger for drama and the 'if it bleeds it leads' mentality. I can tell by the images we post that there is a level of desensitization that makes me cringe. But that same vehicle allowed hundreds to locate and know that their loved ones were safe within minutes of a disaster that 15 years ago may have taken days to accomplish. It also had a country, a world, praying for everyone involved within a minute of the first explosion. I believe that mattered. I believe that it made a difference.
As someone with a background in Sociology, it is interesting to see the reactions of people in moments of fear and shock and see the texts, tweets, FB posts and instagrams that we now have the opportunity to post before our brains have really even had time to process what has happened. This ugly display of cowardice and hate was answered by many on social media with the same kind of anger that breeds such hate. Some are quick to blame. Maybe it's an ethnic group or our government they point to. Some just ask for peace and prayer. Others just sit shocked, saddened.
I had a friend run the marathon. A friend that has been like a mentor to and a huge part of our oldest daughter's life and her walk with Jesus. I knew she had finished earlier but was unsure if she'd hung around. I immediately text her and held my breath and prayed. I prayed for all involved. For friends of friends that hadn't been heard of yet, acquaintances . I asked others to pray on FB. I prayed for those whose name I would never know. I prayed my friend was safe and that she had not heard or seen anything that would haunt her. After a few minutes another friend shared that she heard from her and that she was okay and just a few seconds later I got the text:
One of the things that is frustrating with such tragedy is the fact that one person or a few can ruin so much for so many. Unfortunately, I don't think that is something we can change. 26,839 people qualified for the Boston Marathon. Do you know how difficult that is? Do you know how many of those people have had to fight through pain and adversity and a myriad of issues to make it to that day. Instead of hearing their stories and their victories we have to focus on something horrific. The celebrations that should have been happening weren't. The feeling of accomplishment was smothered by hate. The success of so many was hidden in the shadows of a cowardice few. That breaks my heart. But people died and so many were injured and it does need to be covered and we do need to know. It has always bothered me deeply how the actions of one can ruin the lives of so many. It is why I am so very thankful that I believe solely in the One whose actions Saved the lives of so many.
This country is currently debating gun control and how to stop school shootings. We talk about terrorism and what we can do to stop it. I'm not saying these aren't important. They are and I am of the belief that there needs to be change but in the midst of the dialogue on gun control, some kid stabs a bunch of students on a college campus. And in this day and time where our large national events have more protections over them than ever before, there are still bombings. Our world is broken. This is a heart issue. I can't solve the gun debate or offer a solution that hasn't already been offered. I can't solve terrorism. I cannot offer up a solution to all of this that every American will proudly support and agree with. I can't prevent bad people from doing horrible things. Not today.
Today, I can work on my heart. I can work on the heart of my children. I can make sure I and my family are prepared if it is ever our time to leave this earth, whether by natural disaster, God's design or at the hands of someone set out to hurt others. I can love my children and my husband so that if ever anything were to happen to them or me, we could be at peace with how we loved one another. I can show my friends and loved ones how important they are to me in the way that I value their presence in my life. Today. I can do that today. So in times of disaster, that is one less burden to carry. I can tell others about the impact God's love and His son Jesus have had on my life. I can live a life of faith that others can see. I can offer that to them. Whether they do anything with that information isn't up to me. God simply commands me to tell them about Him, to show them. The rest isn't in my control. For that, I know we are all thankful:) I can love those that seem unlovable, unworthy. I can love the stranger next to me because it may be the only time in his day he is shown love.
In that spirit of authenticity, I also have stunk at loving lately. I mean, I love my family. I tell them all the time and if you asked, they know I love them but I haven't been the easiest to love back lately. When I feel stress or am struggling emotionally, they are always the lucky ones to feel the weight of my craziness. I've been less patient, less accessible, less able to find joy through the struggles. So when we prayed as a family last night, I asked God to forgive me for that, in front of our children and my husband, and prayed I would do better. I prayed to be the momma they need and the wife he needs because at the end of the day, it's all that matters. I can do better.
My sweet friend knows I love her. I've told her before. Freakishly often. It's how we roll. She does the same. She knows the impact she's had on my daughter's life because we've shared that with her and have shared our appreciation for her before. I think that is why I didn't cry until I knew she was okay. The relief that she was still with us....such a huge release of thankful tears. Who haven't I told? Who do you need to tell? Who needs to feel your love?
We can all do better. We can all be better. We can all work on our hearts and if we're all working on our hearts and truly loving those around us, surely the ugliness of the world won't seem as scary. If we can show our families this crazy kind of love in our lives, if we can pile on the love so thick than maybe it will make the sting of the pain of this world less. When the ugliness intrudes on our lives, we'll be able to have a peace knowing that we loved as big as we could. And maybe, maybe if we just love big enough...some of the people filled with ugly will feel loved too...and the world will be a different place.
*Continued prayers for those that were touched by this tragedy.