June 20, 2015

i'm mad

I've been trying to formulate my thoughts on the recent events in Charleston, South Carolina, but I can't seem to find anything worth saying.

I keep coming back to feeling mad.

I'm mad that this happened. I'm mad that someone felt like it was their right or job to take the lives of others. I'm mad that hate runs so deep that a person would feel justified in harming others. I'm mad that nine beautiful lives were taken. I'm mad that not even churches are safe. I'm mad that there is so much brokenness and racism in the United States. I'm mad that there are some people who aren't devastated over what's happened. I'm mad that we live in a time where these things continue to happen.

I remember the first time that I realized that the world was not a safe place, it was about one week before my tenth birthday. A girl who lived not far from me in Southern California was found brutally murdered in her bedroom. It took me years to get over this, and that's not an exaggeration. I remember being so shocked that someone could hurt an innocent girl, in her own home. She was about two years older than me and there was something about the closeness in age and the proximity to home that made this so real for me. It really was the first time that I was afraid of murder, harm, and death.

One year later, on my little sister's 9th birthday, the Columbine shooting happened. Twelve high school students were murdered that day, twenty one were injured, and the two shooters committed suicide. I didn't understand. How could something like this happen at a high school? I was eleven years old and remember thinking that maybe school wasn't a safe place. The Columbine shooting stuck with me for a while as well. I remember reading "She Said Yes," the story of Cassie Bernall, one of the murdered students. I remember thinking about what I would have done in her specific situation and what I would have done if I were at that school that day. I was eleven years old and my thoughts were occupied with these types of questions- questions about why people hurt others and why the places I always considered to be safe weren't.

The massacre at Virginia Tech University happened in April of 2007. I was 19 years old. I was one year into college and working at a golf course. I remember being inside the golf course grill when someone told me to go look at the televisions. Thirty-two people were murdered that day. I sat there with customers, watching the horror and devastation unfold right before our eyes. We sat in silence, our eyes glued to the television. It made no sense to me. How could this happen?

I'm mad that I had to see those things as a child, but more than being mad about seeing it, I'm so mad that it was reality for others. I'm mad that people had to live that. I'm mad that there is such terror and hatred in the world. I'm mad that one day, I'm going to have to explain these events to my children and that I'm going to have to be afraid of what could happen to them.

I'm mad that, in this time and place, mass shootings are not uncommon to hear of.

University of California at Santa Barbara. Century Movie Theater in Aurora, CO. Columbine. Virginia Tech. Santana High School. Sandy Hook. Seattle Pacific University. Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church

I'm so mad and my heart is broken. I'm mad that children have to grow up being afraid that they could be hurt, whether it is because of their race, where they go to school, where they worship, or just because someone decides that they will harm them. I'm mad that this keeps happening yet it seems like our devastation, as a society, decreases every time. It's almost like we're calloused to the brokenness and the sorrow, whether that be because we don't want to feel the pain or we just don't know what to do with it.

I'm grateful that I serve a God who knows more than I do, that loves in a way I can not understand, and who values all life. There is comfort in that, but the sorrow remains. I hate platitudes and when people try to make beauty in situations where the brokenness needs to be felt and grappled with. All I know is that one day, wrongs will be righted and brokenness will be mended: everything will be restored. I cling to that hope. I wait for that day, but my waiting does not allow me to sit idly by as my brothers and sisters are pain. Lord Jesus, equip me to respond to this brokenness in the right way and please, come in glory.

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