Today, for some reason, life seems much more complicated than I ever thought it was. I know I’m supposed to enjoy the simplicities of life. In fact, I remember really connecting with Henry David Thoreau’s famous words, “Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!” in high school. I’ve tried to live by those words as much as possible but days like today simply confound me instead. Today I woke up to news of a shooting. Another one. This time at Sandy Hook Elementary School just 1.5 hours away.
With a heavy heart I went about my day, but because no details were released in the morning, I was mostly unaffected by the news save a couple of passing conversations. I still had meetings to attend and people to see. Then I came home around 5pm to find out that 27 were confirmed dead, including 20 children. I was in utter shock and tears. I wanted to keep watching but I had to run off to a friend’s birthday celebration. Yes. Celebration occurred; and though my heart was deeply troubled, I genuinely felt happy to celebrate my friend’s 30th birthday. Then it suddenly dawned on me. This is life.
I used to go around with a heavy heart all the time. For more reasons than one, I chose to focus on the brokenness of life and defaulted to a state of sadness. It seemed to me that suffering was unavoidable so something inside me decided it’s better to live in it, through it. Breathe it in and out. I made it a point to connect with all of life that was broken. I strove to see beauty in brokenness. But now I see, brokenness isn’t beautiful at all. It’s ugly. Sometimes, it’s terrible. And sometimes it kills 28 people.
About a month and a half ago, Hurricane Sandy devastated so many people’s homes in this area. I remember feeling a similar sense of turmoil inside. My heart ached for those who lost everything. Just around that same time, and in stark contrast, my parents purchased their first home. While some people experienced their worst nightmare, my parents’ lifelong dream came true. My grief for those affected by Sandy did not overshadow the joy I felt for my parents. I held both experiences and emotions together, awkwardly but both intact.
Joy and pain are not mutually exclusive. This is a part of life that I’m just beginning to realize and accept. I can live life trying to numb one part because it’s difficult to balance both but I’m starting to think that my growth as a human being has a lot to do with learning to fully embrace both. For me, because I err on the side of sadness, it’s been quite a process allowing myself to be happy. I have to intentionally extend grace to myself in order to feel joy. And I never thought it would be like this, but I feel much more whole, and even more human. Because as much pain and brokenness as I have in my heart, there is just as much joy and life bursting through. And it doesn’t make sense to push any of that away. They all join together and create a unique melody that is life.
Today, that melody turned into a lament for Newtown, Connecticut.
We’re with you in thought and prayer. And we will be with you when you rise again.