I haven't met a person yet who wasn't overwhelmed, irritated, heartbroken, bitter, or burdened by any or all events that have surfaced this year.
We are all likely aware of the hardships that have brought heated discussions - whether it be new or re-surfaced truths. There's been a lot to take in, weighing heavy on all of us - some experiencing certain things in deeper ways than others.
Personally - when I'm at my end with whatever news article pops up on my feed that starts with "rising cases", "defund", "looting", "fires" or "murdered" - I'm automatically triggered to scream into a pillow, proceed to yell at God and doubt His grace, presence and mercies which I proclaimed earlier in the day were new every morning.
There have been personal losses this year that have torn me in ways I didn't know possible. And there are debilitating hurts of incredible people I know I wish they never had to endure.
We all have unique circumstances amidst the collective hurt and anxieties.
And that's valid.
You are allowed to mourn alone and in community, just as you are able to rejoice with those who rejoice.
I think it's important you know that.And you certainly don't need permission to do either.
What I don't want out of this year is having participated in a "trauma" competition.
Rather to say I and those around me took these trials as an opportunity to sit with one another in each others burden's - as best as we are able without assuming we know better - because in all honesty - this year has shown me I don't know much of anything.
During a morning chat with a dear friend of mine, we talked about how useless we have felt lately.
"What can I do when...?"
Never have I ever felt like I had so little control over something. Numb and left to watch cities fall apart and people beat at one another.
"What can I do when...?"
We closed the heavy topic with this pondering thought: one lesson God is teaching us out of the many is that we don't have as much control as we like to think we have.
And we don't need to do something all the time. Sometimes the best thing to do is listen, learn, and lean into the grace and good that is still there somewhere.
Oh, the "bubbles" we lived in pre-2020. The safe spaces. The comfort zones. The close circle of friends and family with little thought to people outside. The world was what we wanted it to be. What we deemed it to be.
How our eyes have been opened to see how little control we actually had.
And how grateful I am to have experienced that.
Through my attempt to find answers in the headlines, I've learned there's no solution to be found there.
Sure, there are actions we can take like raise awareness on pressing issues, listen to one another, acknowledge our privilege, and more. But beyond the steps we take and the progress we are making - there are still hurting people.
There is still damage done that can't be fixed.
Consider the things that are beyond our individual ability. How do we move forward in this when natural disasters occurred? What can we do when we hear another person has needlessly died and we ache for justice?
We turn to the Word of God and we pray.
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
We are building endurance. We are producing character. We are shifting our mindset to see the good (believe it or not) in the midst of this suffering.
How? Because God didn't offer us a spirit of fear - that's what the world offers.
God gave us something better and what the world could never offer.
Don't be fooled, friends, to believe God is "doing this to us".
We are born into a world that is full of both love and hate - it's not perfect.
Because of that, bad things happen. Does God allow it? Sure. Does He commit the acts himself?
Remember that you have the choice of loving or hating someone today.
To be glad or bitter. To hope or to doubt. To apply grace or cruelty.
To have faith or have fear.
Out of the wreckage, and the continuous battles we fight this year and the ones that follow, my prayer will continue to be that our hearts remain open to growth. That we don't run to ourselves more - what good can come of that?
You are becoming resilient through these days - believe that.
Run toward God, even when you start to think "God doesn't care, if He did this wouldn't be happening".
Pray fervently, daring and boldly, even if every bone in your body is telling you it won't matter.
He does and it does.
You matter here - where you are, as you are.