Honestly, I don't know the whole story, although from what I hear it's on constant repeat on major news networks. As is expected. We are so connected and so overwhelmed by the onslaught of provocative and aggressive news coverage that I'm not sure we as a people are shocked by much these days. And the reality is that I don't need to hear all the details or see the actual footage (available on YouTube now--see above re: shocked by nothing and everything) to know that when tragedies like the one that happened today occur, I am overcome with emotion. I want to flee. I want to fight. I want to cry tears of heartbreak for people and families I don't even know. I want to see the person who was in the wrong pay for what he did. I want to know why, because nothing about it makes any sense. And I find that I, in my most vulnerable spots, am very, very scared.
I think it's the senseless nature that makes people search for answers the hardest. It's all the questions we have, the whys, the hows, the whats that get us the most, because there is no answer. No explanation for the taking of an innocent life, for the use of violence to make a statement, for the chaos that extends into the aftermath of tragedy. For a second, it bonds us as humans, as we band together as a united front, fighting for justice and looking for hope and truth in a world where hope and truth are so very hard to find. But then life goes back to how it was before, and our questions remain unanswered as we steel ourselves for the next catastrophe.
I found myself, as I often do, questioning everything I know this morning. I used to try to ignore my shifting, spinning thoughts, thinking them irreverent and mocking of the God I had grown up believing in. But the truth is, if God is who He says He is, and if I am going to believe in the God I say I do, then He already knows all the thoughts, irreverent and all, that I have. So hiding from them does no good. Pretending that I don't have them does no good. Acting like I have it together when I'm questioning everything on the inside does no good.
So I take those questions to God. I question Him. I question my faith and what I believe in and ask all the whys and hows and the ones that people are more likely to voice, like how could You have let this happen? How could You? Don't you care? How am I supposed to trust You when the world is so bad? How am I supposed to love other people when they are 100% crazy? How? Are you even there?
And on and on, around and around I go. I decide it's not even worth having a faith because I'm so flustered. But upon this decision, the hope seeps out of my body like a balloon sputtering around the room, and I know that without hope, and without faith, I have nothing. I simply cannot look at life with a hopeless perspective, because it gives me nothing. And after I have gone full-circle, renouncing my faith in God and all that is holy, grappling with the issues of bad things and bad people and faithlessness and hopelessness and life, and then seizing that faith back again, pressing it to my chest as if I'll never let go again--after all of that, I realize that I have no answers to the questions I ask. And I probably never will.
I believe that when you say you believe in something, you need to be prepared to fully believe in that thing, and not have one toe in, one toe out, just in case it doesn't work out. I was like that for many years of my life, and as a result, I bent whatever way the breeze was blowing. I didn't stand up for anything, because I had nothing I truly believed in. I wasn't committed. All I heard were the naysayers, swaying my faith and my system, revealing the holes and cracks in what I thought was a solid theory, until I was broken and bruised, having tried life on my own and getting a taste of the consequences that came with those choices. But at this point in my life, I've decided to choose, and what I've chosen and what I stand up for and what I rely on is my faith. And I can't apologize anymore, because I have nothing to apologize for. I'm in. With both toes.
Because I have chosen God, even though I have all these questions that I can't answer, and I wonder why He won't answer, I have hope where I was formerly hopeless. Even in the face of unfathomable tragedy. I need that hope, because without it, I know I will sink into a pit so deep and dark, so full of fear and anxiety and depression, that I might never get out. We all need hope.
I am still, as I sit here typing and thinking, backspacing and deleting and rewriting again, staring at fear and willing myself to not let it take me down. I said to a friend that I wanted to move away, and I was mostly serious. But moving oneself to another part of the world doesn't provide an escape from the brokenness of the world itself.
So when I come to the end of myself, and I've cried my tears, my hope still remains in Christ. In knowing that God is bigger and more holy than anything I could ever even try to imagine. That, as this song suggests, I have only ever stood on the shores of His vast ocean. That I, despite my bravado, know very little. That He knows, even during horrific events like the one that took place today, that we are scared and shaken. And it's also in accepting that I may not ever know the answers to many of the questions I've asked, that I'm not God and He is, that I'm not in control but He is, and knowing that He is still bigger and more holy despite what I think sometimes.
I don't have any answers. I can't offer any advice. All I can do is go back to what I know that I know to be true--that He sees our tears and knows our pain and our distress, and is yet holy still.
For You alone are holy.