Had to throw in as many positive things to this post as possible. Got to spend the past two weekends with these fine people. Multiple things to say about this photo. First, great to spend time on the University of Missouri campus again. Miss that place. And Columbia in general. Proud of my younger (obviously not little) bro for getting two degrees in four years. And doing it with #madsteaze. Four people in my immediate family have attended college. Between us we have eight degrees (seven from the University of Missouri). No pressure, Lydia. Later that evening I had a good friend tell me I looked homeless. Now I know what he was talking about. Have a feeling all of that hair will be coming off soon.
The rest of this post won’t be as dramatic as the title. Just had to let it out. All of my Steamboat friends have heard the news. For those outside of the bubble, if you don’t want to click on the link (I don’t blame you), a third-grader’s life was taken by his mother early Wednesday morning. More details will come out regarding motive and what actually happened soon enough. For now it just doesn’t matter. This type of situation sucks.
I realize children (and others) lose their lives in unjust and unfair ways daily. But in a small ranching and ski town in northwest Colorado, everyone is affected. Everyone cries. Everyone is connected. Steamboat’s crime is usually someone doing drugs or getting drunk and either starting a fight or doing something equally stupid. The police blotter during ski season is always entertaining. Children are not murdered here. So this hurts the entire community.
Working at a youth serving nonprofit, it stings even more. Everyone in this office loves kids. We have a wonderful, brilliant, caring, loving, passionate mentor full-time in the elementary school affected. Cannot imagine how she is feeling now, but if I know her the way I think I do, she is being strong for the rest of the kiddos.
After the Boston Marathon bombings, I had a post about tragedies. I had the opportunity to address a question I am asked about my faith more than any other question and avoided it. “Nathan, why do bad things happen?” Or, “Why does God let bad things happen?” It is an incredibly touchy subject and one I am nowhere close to being qualified to answer (I haven’t had truly tragic situations in my own life and I am no theological scholar). When I am asked one of these questions, three immediate responses usually come to heart and mind.
1) I don’t know. I just don’t. This was part of the Boston post, so I won’t spend too much time on it, but I don’t know why bad things happen. In one of Don Miller’s books (not sure which one), he compares us trying to understand God to a pancake trying to understand us. I think it is true. If we are to believe in a Devine Being, it is impossible for us to expect to understand this Devine Being.
I think a lot of Christ followers get caught up on trying to justify and explain God and why things happen and our individual reasons for faith. Here’s the thing: it isn’t our responsibility to justify or explain God. God doesn’t need us to do that. Admitting not knowing how God works is fine. Admitting you are not completely sure why you follow Christ is fine. So, what do we do then?
2) Jesus wept. My favorite part about the miracles Jesus performed is not the actual miracle. Although they were awesome. It was the compassion behind the miracle. Jesus was full of compassion and His Heart would break for people. When bad things happened, Jesus mourned with those who mourned. Jesus showed compassion, empathy and an unfathomable love towards everyone.
It is one of my favorite qualities of Jesus. He understood sometimes all there is to do is grieve. And that is OK. We don’t have to try to fix things immediately. We don’t have to insist things will be better. There is a time when it is good to just sit next to someone who has had a loss and weep with them.
3) Beautiful things are created from the ashes of a tragedy. They are. People are often bonded through tragedy. It does take a decision to allow that to happen, but it can be there. And while I do not think God “causes” or “allows” tragedies, I do think He is there ready to embrace us and weep with us. If we allow it. And then He is ready to create gorgeous things with our lives.
We live in a world where evil is as prevalent as Beauty. We have seen both. But, if we mourn with those who mourn, share burdens and allow tragedies to bond us together and to a Higher Spirit, gorgeous things happen. It is not easy. And I still do not know why children (or anyone) are murdered, enslaved, oppressed and bullied. I never will. I do know hearing the high-pitched, uncontrollable laugh of a small child being pushed in a swing by a parent as I run by a park in downtown Steamboat gives me hope for the Good in people and the Good around us. And one day, all things will be made right.
*Editor’s note: Super pumped about getting to spend this weekend with good friends and my brother. Two of the subjects of #AffirmationMonday posts will be in Steamboat this weekend. #Blessed Yampa River Festival, some running races and sunny, 70 degree weather is going to make this a special weekend. Hope all of you enjoy yours as well. Be sure to spend as much of it as possible outside. Because…
*Editor’s (second) note: Sometimes (often?) people get greedy and do not respect or appreciate our Natural World. I am biased, for sure. Four out of the eight degree in my family are from the School of Natural Resources at Missouri. But through the greed of some, a scary world is being created for future generations. Obviously there are multiple sides to every story. I studied journalism, I get that. And I often do not condone the tactics used by Greenpeace. But deforestation is a real problem. And if you think it is OK because it is another country. This world is getting smaller and smaller. Everything is connected.