Friday, December 14, 2012

Too Many Children Gone

I woke up this morning to the news that a man with a knife attacked 22 innocent children at an elementary school in China. I sat stunned. All those children... children who were simply going to school.

Hours later my news feed would explode with the news that a man with a gun killed 20 innocent children (plus others) at an elementary school in Connecticut.

I cannot comprehend the pain and anguish being felt right now. Less than two months ago I lost one child and have seen the domino affect pain and anguish can have on a family; on the ones who survived; on a community. Multiply that by over FORTY CHILDREN.

Our world is hurting.

I cannot make sense of any of this. I cannot begin to make sense of the tears and nightmares and panic and anxieties that are washing through thousands of people.

I live so far physically removed from both China and Connecticut - and yet these tragedies rocked me to my core. What on earth do I do now?

I don't know.

The only thing I know is right now it isn't about gun control or administration in a government. It's not about blaming guns or blaming knives - I once had a boyfriend who picked up a skillet of boiling Hamburger Helper and threw it at my head. Should we ban frying pans, too? It wasn't the frying pan that did it; he consciously made the decision to hurt me. We need candid discussions about what we can do as a society to stop this from happening -- but not now. Now is not the time to hop on your platform.

Because right now it's about choosing to help. It's about choosing to take your confusion and your anger and your opinions and purposefully deciding to do something good instead. It's about opening a door. Being more patient. It's about using kind words, smiling and saying Thank You. It's about being someone who is caring so that you make yourself available to those who are hurting. And right now, there are a lot of people who are hurting.

So very many hurting people....

We could decide to watch that person, sitting on the side of the road, head in their hands, weeping until they had no more bones to hold them up, and pity them. We could decide to feel sorry for them. We could decide to get angry at how unfair it is that they are hurting. We could decide to hate the person who did this. Hate the school who failed to protect all those children. Hate the government that decided to allow weapons or ban weapons or hate the weapon makers themselves. We could decide to hate the family of the attackers for not knowing they were going to do this. We could decide to rant and scream and cuss!

And yet, what good is any of that to the weeping mother who has just lost her child? She doesn't want to hear your anger. She needs to feel your love.


While there is much evil in the world,
there is even more that is good.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

AVERYday: Connecting the Dots - Part 14

This is just one of those things that is so cool that I can't even find the right way to explain it. I've started writing it fifteen times and it's just never right. So, my plan is to blurt it out, which, incidentally, is what I do in most social situations since I'm incredibly awkward and uncomfortable actually speaking to other human beings. But that's a story for a different day.

This is the story for today:

I got an email from Beth which included an apology. She felt like she should have asked my permission to share my blog with others. (For future reference, share away, people!) She just so happened to be in a bible study that was discussing heaven and I just so happened to post a little entry comparing our time here on earth to summer camp. She shared the blog post and then the pastor at her church asked if my blog could be shared with the congregation. Beth felt she should ask me but just kind of felt funny about it and couldn't quite figure out what to say and so never said anything at all, but now - after the fact - felt the need to write to let me know about it.

And I laughed. Because I knew exactly why she was unable to tell me about the upcoming sermon. Because the Sunday of that sermon I was sitting in my own church, wiping away tears and choking down sobs because every lyric to every song, every prayer, every child who got up to read the scripture, reminded me of Avery. I was missing her so much. Too much. Church is not helping me heal, I told myself. It's hurting me. I decided to grab my purse and get out of there.

Just when I looked down to pick up my purse and run away my phone lit up, signaling a text received. Now, I don't normally check my messages during church for fear of being struck down by lightning... but this time I did. One of my dear friends (who doesn't know Beth: the lady who would send me the email a week or two later) wrote: "Sitting in church the pastor is speaking of Revelation and my mind wanders to Avery. Then the pastor is quoting your blog. Avery lives on in your words, dear friend."

You see, the reason Beth couldn't find the right words/time/way to ask/inform me that her pastor would be preaching about Avery was because God knew that wasn't the right time.

God was all, "hold on there, Beth. See, in a couple weeks, Bridget is going to be having a rough time. She's going to start feeling like she can't handle going to church because there's going to be way too much Avery Love surrounding her... and it's gonna hurt her real bad. So, I'm gonna need something in her weak moment to restore her faith a bit. If you just hold off saying anything to her, I promise I'll nudge the right person, at the right time, to say the right thing." And that's exactly why my friend sent that text at that moment.... which was when SHE was sitting in church (and she NEVER would EVER send a text message during a sermon, but felt she needed to right then.)

Of course, I stayed. I want to get to know this God better that my daughter so richly loved.

I suppose that could be the end of the story. Except it's so not.

See, I was telling this story - about the email that shared my words, that were spoken at a church, that was exposed in a text at just the right time - the other day to my friend, S. She's special to me. I can't exactly explain why... just that since the day I met her I knew she would be someone important to me. And she is.

So, I'm sitting there talking to S about these amazing God Moments. About how they're all around us. And about how we need to talk about this stuff. That we need to get over this feeling of embarrassment or awkwardness or silliness or whatever it is that stops us from saying something - sending that email, writing that text - that will help us connect the dots and SEE all these God Purpose Filled Moments. Just imagine how many more God Moments we could share with the world if we would just TALK!

And that's when S told me something she has only told a couple people. Something that she keeps close to her heart... probably because too many people in the world would think she was crazy. But she was really sick once. Very, incredibly, scary sick. And one lonely night in the hospital she felt the presence of God. She knew exactly who it was. And she knew that no matter what was to happen, she would be okay. Not that she would necessarily live but that if she were to die, everything would be okay. God was with her. She told me with such conviction that she had experienced God... and yet she hasn't really told anyone.

And so I told her that I absolutely believed her because of the man at the funeral.

You see, after Avery's funeral we all gathered for a luncheon in the school gym. There were tons of people and I didn't eat and all  these people were hugging me and I tried to stop crying and then Brody threw up everywhere and Matt had to take his shirt off because vomit got on it and I was afraid he'd get naked in the middle of the chaos so I asked his friend to take him to the bathroom and then it was over and everyone was gone and I was staring Being Alone Without My Daughter straight in the face and I hated it...and we had to do something with all the flowers and then decided to keep all the pictures up on the walls for Avery's classmates to see and then there was leftover food being put into containers for us to take home... and through it all an elderly man sat by himself on the bleachers. Just sitting.

As I went to walk out he stood up and touched my arm. "I am so sorry for your loss," he said quietly. I smiled a sad smile at him. "Thank you." He looked around uncomfortably. "Uh...I wanted to tell you.... I've been to heaven." Okay. I wasn't expecting that. "I know I sound crazy. I haven't told many people. I was only there for a short time... I was very, very sick and, well, I went to heaven. I know you're going to think I'm crazy..." He looked down at the ground for a second before looking back up at me. "....but it's beautiful." He looked straight at me with tears in his eyes. "I need you to know how  perfectly beautiful it is."

I told S that I didn't know who this man was but I've felt such a strong desire to find him. "More than anything," I explained, "I just need to tell him I believe him."

We sat together, S and I, trying to think about who this man might have been and talking about how it's sad that people don't talk more about these experiences. Why do people feel silly or embarrassed? People should be proud to share these experiences! Personally, I feel that my faith would be strengthened if I had more evidence of these God Moments, not just working in my life, but working in the lives of others.

As S and I walked out together I remembered another lady, J, who was with me at the funeral luncheon; would she remember the man in the bleachers?

It just so happened that at that moment we passed Jen. "Hey, J!" I blurted out. "Do you remember after the funeral and we came back to eat and at the end there was this old man just sitting by himself on the bleachers?"

"The one who told you he went to heaven?" She remembered?!

"Yeah!! Him!! You wouldn't happen to know who he was, would you?"

She glanced over and pointed at S and said, "yeah, it was her father."

*********

We were just sitting there talking about TALKING ABOUT GOD... and we learned that Father and Daughter had BOTH personally experienced God in a way that most people don't. And they weren't even AWARE of it. If that isn't God using Avery to bring a family together to talk about what's truly important, I don't know what is.

See, if Avery hadn't died that day, I wouldn't be writing about it, and my words wouldn't have been meaningful enough to be shared at a Bible Study, that was shared with a congregation, that was texted to me at one of my weakest moments,  that made me connect the dots when Beth sent me the email RIGHT before I was to sit with S and so she was the one that I shared this with and she was the one that needed to hear it because it moved something in her heart to want to share her experience with me, which made me tell her I believed her because of the man at the funeral who took a risk to share with me his awesome God moment... and the man just happened to be her father and she NEVER KNEW THAT HAPPENED TO HIM!

God is awesome.

Those tugs you feel to say something? Write something? Send something? Just do it. It might not make sense. You might feel silly. But know they're the dots... and they need to be connected. And when we connect them: man, are they glorious!