The sad news of Friday morning's Sandy Hook shooting in Connecticut is everywhere. The nation is brokenhearted. A community is mourning. Families are devastated.
I too was rocked by this tragedy. As a mother of young children, the day's events hit especially close to home. On Friday night, I cried myself to sleep.
My mind was consumed with thoughts of the twenty families that were missing a beloved child. That night, I pictured their empty beds. Dark closets with small hangers of dresses and button up shirts. Favorite toys left out on the floor. Art projects waiting to be finished. Wrapped presents under the Christmas tree that no longer had purpose. I imagined the siblings crying for their taken brothers and sisters, asking questions of 'why' and 'how' to parents desperate for those same answers.
I wept for those families.
My tears were also for all the Sandy Hook school children that saw and heard and felt things more horrific than I can imagine. For the brave women that were killed as they protected the innocent. For their grieving sons and daughters and husbands made widowers.
It's all so incredibly terrible.
I cried for my own children. I want to shield them from all that is ugly and unjust and unsafe but I can't and, on days like today, that terrifies me. Right now my children are small and wonderfully ignorant of the darker realities of this world. But their childhood naivety can not last forever. One day I will tell them this sad story. They will learn of this tragedy and many others. They will inevitably see tragedies of their own.
These are the thoughts that have haunted me all weekend.
The truth is, sometimes life scares me.
In these moments, this is what I try to remember:
1. The world, though cruel at times, is a beautiful place made for us to explore. It is filled with amazing places to see and, more importantly, amazing people to love. The world is a very big place with endless opportunities for adventure and learning. Each day is rich with possibilities. The world is also a very small place because ultimately we are all connected. Wherever you go, you will find good people with kindness in their hearts.
2. Life is unpredictable. Little will ever turn out the way you plan. Life will often surprise you in the best of ways. It will sometimes unfold better than anything you could imagine. The unpredictable nature of life will also at times break your heart. You will face disappointments. You will get hurt. You will be cracked open and turned upside down. The uncertainty of circumstance teaches us to cherish what we have, to focus on where we're at and who we're with, because we never know what lies ahead.
3. Love people well. It really is what's most important. The world is full of distractions. Our attention is pulled in a million different directions - school, work, friends, fun, our own worries, all the things that must get done in the day, the things we want to do/buy/experience. In the end, nothing matters more than the effort we put into our relationships. Showing compassion to strangers. Being loyal to friends. Taking the time to not only tell but also show the fullness of our love to our family. People matter most. Always. I don't want a day to go by without my loved ones knowing just how much they are loved.
4. You're not in this alone. Life can be unbearably hard but we are not meant to face the challenges of this life alone.Without getting into the details of my personal faith, I can not mention tragedies such as this without sharing this simple conviction. I know that God loves us each perfectly. He knows our sorrows. He understands our broken hearts. He stands ready to ease our burdens and one day He will balance every injustice, right every wrong and heal our every wound.
This is what I am holding onto - my anchors for these stormy seas.