I’m sure most of us are aware of the tragic situation that transpired in Connecticut yesterday. Therefore, I will spare a description and simply share a few raw thoughts.
Today, I am sad. Very, very sad. Yet at the same time I feel a lot of joy. I did not previously know these two emotions could co-exist so strongly.
I feel joy amidst sorrow, and I have no idea why, except maybe for the fact that there are so many people around me who I love and care for deeply, and they are all still here. I can definitely say that I am hugging people a bit tighter today.
I went to the bookstore this afternoon and bought 10 books. I’m not sure why I did this; I already have 50 unread books in my office with another 7 or 8 partially read. But I feel better when I buy books. I feel different and better about myself because I have added to my collection of knowledge. I am aware that this is a problem. Some people turn to drugs or alcohol to numb their pain; I go to the bookstore. Of course, I do a million other things as well, as all of us tend to do. But today, I went to the bookstore.
I was at church tonight and one of my pastors, a guy named Kevin, asked how I was doing. I just shook my head. “Not good.” I said. “I am still quite shook up. And I never thought it would affect me like this. It seemed silly at first, since it’s so far away, but then I realized that other people were just as affected as myself, and so now I feel normal.”
We talked for a few minutes and I could feel the tears beginning to well up behind my eyes, but I did not try to force them to stay in. My voice cracked as I spoke, “I just have to process all of this. I can’t just suppress it and move on, you know.”
He nodded. “You can’t. You have to give it time. You have to fully process it all.”
And then during service another of my pastors, a guy named Randy, got up on stage after worship, and there was this heaviness in his voice that is not normally present. “In our country yesterday, we had a tragedy that there is no explanation for.” He said. “But we serve a God who is a Wonderful Counselor. He is an Everlasting Father. He is the Prince of Peace. In His presence, our hearts are encouraged and strengthened.”
I have been to church the past two nights. And I will be there much of tomorrow. I just can’t get away from it. I can’t bring myself to NOT be there. And I know that God is everywhere, but there is something about coming together with my church family, especially right now. I don’t think it’s good for us to isolate ourselves when we are suffering or processing complex emotions.
I heard a story last night about a girl who goes to a high school in the town where I live. She was apparently stirred by yesterday’s events as well, because she used Twitter to organize a prayer vigil in the school parking lot. And over 100 students showed up on that cold, rainy Friday night. Somehow, the local news found out about it as well, because they also showed up, and the small prayer rally ended up making its way into homes all across North Texas.
I have cried more in the past 36 hours than I have all year. That’s not saying a whole lot, because I don’t really cry that much, but that changed yesterday. There have been times where I couldn’t finish a news article or turn on the TV without crying. And I think that’s okay. I think that’s good. I think that’s one of the ways we can process and deal with the pain.