I have remained very quiet in the midst of all the chaos that has reigned in my brilliant community of Thousand Oaks, CA. I have watched the news and read the social media posts with fear and sadness over the brokenness and loss so many are facing, and with so many thoughts running through me, I have failed to come up with any words that seem good enough to bring any sort of comfort or help. But, as a writer, I feel compelled to write, and so here I am, writing words even when I know they won’t be enough.
I have heard many words from others that have stuck in my mind, words that I hope will stay with me. Some of the most compelling words came from my pastor in his sermon on Sunday. He slowly and confidently said, “We – Do – Not – Lose – Hope.” He followed this by saying, “Can I remind you today that you come from a long line of the most incredibly resilient people who have ever lived?” That reminder is one that is so easily forgotten, and so true. He shared how we are to respond in times like this, which is something that I have been wondering since these horrific events began. How do I respond in a way that is helpful when I really feel completely helpless and incapable of shedding any light or wisdom on these tragedies? To very briefly share part of his answer, we should respond by sharing our story, and we should become gentler. We should not let our hearts harden.
So, if I am to share my story, I would say it isn’t much of a story. I have not lost my home in the fires or a close loved one in the Borderline shooting, and in some ways it doesn’t feel right to share that. Sharing that will not help the family we know who lost their son, or the friends I have who lost a friend. It won’t take away the nightmares of those who were at Borderline that night, or erase the loss of those who lost their home in the fires. My story is simply one in which I feel so very sad for those who have lost so much and truly don’t deserve it. My story is one that has caused me to hug my kids tighter and to pray even harder for those individuals I know and the community that has been my home since childhood. My story is one where I know my words aren’t enough, but right now, aside from donating money or items, are truly all I have to give.
The response of becoming gentler, of not letting my heart harden, is perhaps the reason why I was extra patient in a crowded grocery store, the reason I sent a mushy text to my kids, the reason I spent an hour on the phone with someone I hadn’t talked to in a long time, the reason I finally broke down and cried, the reason I am admitting all that, and the reason I am telling any friend, or loved one, or student reading this that I truly love and appreciate you in my life.
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
The words in that verse might be the words that are enough. Those words are the only way any of this can get better. They call us to be gentler, kinder, more patient, more humble, and STRONGER TOGETHER in the good we do. They remind us that EVERYONE has a story, and even if it feels small, it is worth sharing if it somehow tells others they are valued and heard and loved. So, although words alone are not enough, love is, and like the words of the song by Matthew West, “Grace wins, for a world that is lost……. Grace wins every time.”