I've been planning a post about the peeps turning 11 and how overnight they seem to have morphed into responsible, mature people that I'm excited to watch continue to grow, change, discover and explore. Yet, at the same time, I find myself sentimental than ever about them growing up.
And then, Parkland, FL, happened yesterday. Another school shooting. This morning, I dropped them off at school just like any other day. I know in my heart they are as safe there as anywhere. But still, it was hard. At the same time, I was grateful to have another day with them on a morning that so many parents in Parkland didn't get to do that today. They will never get to do it again. All the excitement they felt yesterday morning about watching their son or daughter grow, change, discover and explore was taken from them in the cruelest way. Just thinking about that crushes me. And I have no words. Only fear, sadness, helplessness and even a guilt.
Ironically, just days before the shooting, I started reading Finding Jake, a book from the perspective of a father whose son has been accused of shooting up his school.
And then my friend Heather, who truly tries to live happy every single day, summed up everything I'm thinking and feeling, everything I can't eloquently put into words myself, into a Facebook post that spoke not just for me, but for so many others. She has a way of doing that with words. She told me I could share the post, so here you go.
"I couldn’t quit crying tonight during Ash Wednesday service. Some days, it just feels like the world is so broken. School shootings. Car accidents. Cancer diagnosis. Broken relationships. Lost dreams. My arms and heart don’t feel big enough to surround all that hurt with love.
Our pastor tonight talked about love’s sorrow. That being open to love, even giving our love away, also means we suffer hurt and sorrow and unspeakable pain. Sometimes they are a package deal, which really freaking sucks. I love the fire burning bright and beautiful, not the ashes, soft and lifeless, so easily blown away. The cracks in this world scare me. Tonight I cried for how big those chasms can be.
Do I believe love can fill in these cracks and holes? Yes, I do. Without a doubt. I find that I have to refocus on the little things before the big picture comes back to center. I listen more carefully for the sound of laughter and feel the security of a heartfelt hug from a friend. I soak in the words of an encouraging note, then read them one more time for good measure. I express gratitude for every single scar, listing them one by one, and then the abundance of blessings that always pile up way higher.
Sitting in the pew tonight, I kept thinking...I WANT LOVE TO WIN! Damnit, I do. Not just a little, but in the biggest baddest way ever. And it will. We just might have to hold each other a little tighter until we get there. Big hugs tonight, dear friends. Hold tight to the love."
I plan on holding tight to the love and focus on the little things. I hope you will, too. At home, that's pretty easy. Out in the world, thought, it's a little tougher. I came up with a few ways I can show love to complete strangers that take less than 10 seconds and cost nothing.
- Let someone merge in traffic or change lanes.
- Hold the door for someone and make eye contact.
- Let someone go ahead of you in line.
- Put a filter on your thoughts so the words you speak are kind and respectful, even if they present a counter argument.
- Make eye contact on the street, in the hall at work, and in public in general. It's a quick and easy way to say, "I see you," to someone who may be feeling invisible.