And although I'm not all that consistent here - especially in the summer - I actually had written most of a fun 5 Things on a Friday post last week. I didn't post it because generally most of those five things are somewhat frivolous. Which is fine on a lot of Fridays. But didn't seem fine on that Friday.
Dallas is where I was born and I lived in and around Dallas until I left for college. Much of my family is still in the Dallas area. And in my heart, Dallas's people are my people. So for me, the fact that shooting and killing and chaos and tragedy happened in my city as opposed to somewhere else made me feel that posting about a summer recipe or a cute pair of shoes or a fun, new song would be all kinds of wrong.
And honestly, while I felt that was an appropriate decision in light of what happened, I wonder if my hesitance to post that day was even more of an indication that often we simply don't let pain register with us until it happens to the people and the places we consider our own. Would I have kept the 5 Things on a Friday in the draft folder if that tragedy had happened in Seattle or St. Louis or Philadelphia?
Because before the horrific events in my hometown happened, there was an exceptional amount of violence elsewhere. And I was sickened by the images I saw earlier that week. Maybe it would have been more appropriate had I gone the other way completely and instead of posting 5 Things on a Friday, written a political or cultural commentary. But I didn't and I won't. I would contend that there is plenty of noise out there already. And just because I might have a blog and a thought or two in my head, it doesn't mean I need to rush to the computer and spew that all out. It seems to me that what social media creates in us is a feeling that we absolutely must comment on every event that occurs, and often before we've really even thought it through. I don't think that's necessary for me. I don't think that's necessary in this space.
What happened in Dallas jolted me into realizing that hurt in our world is happening not only to my people or to your people or to their people. Suffering and brokenness and grief are happening to our people, no matter who we are or where we live and we must acknowledge that.
A post by Anna Whiston Donaldson last week put it perfectly:
"We can shut down and say we don't want to hear about the hard stuff any more-- the ugly stuff in our neighborhoods, our country, and our world. We can cover our ears and think, "Nope. Only that which applies to MY FAMILY and MY STORY is important." We can be in denial and refuse to acknowledge pain, racism, and injustice if it doesn't touch us personally.
It's a luxury to be able to live that way, complacently putting our trust in the walls that separate our experience from others, but I don't think that's how we are supposed to exist. Your pain should be my pain, your story, my story.
One aspect of the verse, "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit" is that sometimes WE are the way that closeness and help comes, from being called to seek justice and mercy and step into each other's lives, in letting God use us in love."
(see the whole post HERE)
What Anna wrote resonated with me on Thursday afternoon. What Anna wrote convicted me on Friday morning. I think that existing with the understanding that our people are in pain requires something of me. I'm pretty sure it requires a lot of me. I can assure you that I do not even remotely have a fully formed answer for what this requirement entails. All I know now is that there is deep pain and deep suffering in the hearts of all of my people in all of my country.
So for me, I won't be writing a long cultural commentary on my blog. I won't be pontificating on Facebook or tweeting with all manner of hashtags and slogans because I don't have an answer. What I will do is think on these events and pray on these events and talk with my children and my husband and friends about these events, in person. And then, maybe some of what is required of me will become clearer. Until then, I'll start with the words from my Bible and I'll ponder what these words call me to in my home, in my neighborhood and indeed, throughout His kingdom.
"He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you?
To do justice, to love kindness
and to walk humbly with your God."