It happens more often than I really want to think about. Tragedy strikes and we’re left in its wake, checking news feeds and waiting for updates. We call friends, making sure they weren’t there, and pray… having no idea what to say other than, “God, please help!”
I remember exactly where I was when I heard about the Columbine shooting. I remember the radio station that informed me about September 11th. I remember sitting in my college lecture halls in the wake of Virginia Tech, and getting emails about loved ones lost in the Aurora theater shooting. I remember crying at my desk in the wake of the Newtown shooting, and throughout all of those moments, I haven’t ever figured out how to handle them.
Our office got silent as news of the Boston bombings flooded in. I sat on my bed by myself as I watched the video of the explosion in Waco. I’m checking for updates on the Boston manhunt in my pajamas on a slow, Friday morning.
Every time I turn on the news, I wonder what’s going to happen with North Korea and what kind of destruction I can’t even begin to prepare myself for.
Everyone posts statuses on Facebook – “Praying for those involved.” But praying for what? What do you pray for in the wake of death and destruction?
What do you pray for when the worst things imaginable are erupting all around you?
With headlines like these, I want to stay in my bed – curled up under my covers, avoiding the dangerous world in favor of a life that’s safe. I want to give up – the destruction seems like too much to fight, too much to conquer. I can’t run into the fire and save someone. I wasn’t there. I don’t know how to help.
I pray prayers that seem to die out halfway through – they come out of my mouth and then fall short in the air – the hurt and pain and fear swallowing my words whole.
But the word I keep coming back to is celebration.
It seems irresponsible to celebrate in times like these.
“I want every brand and blogger to stop tweeting meaningless, chirpy recipes and style post right now. Just stop,” someone tweeted this morning.
We don’t know what to do in the wake of such death, but celebration feels cruel, joy feels irresponsible, sunshine feels insensitive.
But it’s the thing I keep coming back to. In the wake of the death and tragedy and destruction, I need to celebrate.
John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
In a world that is so dark at every turn, I want to cling to that second part with every bit of strength that I have. I want to cling to the good things, to the life, to the joy, to the love.
The more that death and pain and destruction rip their way into the top headlines, the more I want to fight for headlines of my own.
I’m not at all advocating for turning our faces away from hurt or pain – I’m advocating that we run right into it, beauty flying and love on fire – delivering hope to anyone we can find.
I want to celebrate because to me, it seems the best way to fight back. I want to celebrate life and love and beauty because it seems like the best, most proactive thing I can do in a time like this.
I want to laugh and kiss and snuggle and tell my friends that I love them. I want to find a bunny and smoosh my face into its soft fur. I want to create and celebrate beauty and I want to soak them in – shouting from the rooftops that the flowers are lovely and that the rain smells like heaven.
New life is abundant and I want to celebrate with a toast.
There is anger in the world – anger and death and destruction and horrible things beyond comprehension or explanation.
But there is also beauty in the world – beauty beyond comprehension or explanation.
And I choose beauty.
I’m not going to ignore the hurt and pain in the world, but I’m also not going to give into it.
And so today, I pray that we celebrate.
I pray that we love the ones close to us with everything we have. I pray that we’re selfless and giving and that we invite people into our homes to nourish and feed them. I pray that we’ll laugh really hard and swing at a playground and take a walk in the rain. I pray that we’ll pop a bottle of champagne and toast to life abundant – fighting for love and joy and celebration and beauty with everything we have.
Today, I’m praying.