Life Will Go On
I have often times refrain from spouting my particular views and beliefs on certain hot topics on my Facebook page for a number of reasons. I do use it as a means of staying in touch with people, albeit a sterile kind of contact, the likes of which I can deal with easily. As I get older, my social skills are starting (continuing) to resemble a three legged ox with ingrown teeth trying to safely navigate an antique store while chewing a bushel of apples… cores and all. I don’t play well with others. Perhaps it is my desperately intolerant logic that rivals Spock and Sheldon, or perhaps my inherited DNA code that has me trapped inside a critical view of even the cracks in the sidewalk. Whatever the root, I find it much easier to “like”, “comment”, “edit/delete” and sometimes “block/report” than to sit in a room with people and attempt decency. Of course, if you know me, you know how painfully accurate, and still somewhat exaggerated this really is. So, to that end, I socialize via the safety of the keyboard. One thing that I try my hardest to do is to not alienate any of those on my friends list with polarizing banter about subjects that may or may not matter, and more importantly, may push people away when I genuinely am trying to NOT do that, at least in the cyber world. Which brings me to the subject of this ramble- Sandy Hook.
While it is past the hyper activity stage for the world at large, the community of Newtown is still reeling. The timing, the holidays, the details we’ll never know (and don’t need to, thank you very much), the mistakes, the regrets, the questions… those are the storylines that play out for years to come in the families and community. My opener- life will go on- is true. It will. It has. It does. Chernobyl, WW2, neighborhood house fires, stubbed toes… yes, stubbed toes. It’s all relevant to your placement concerning the event. Total strangers cried over Sandy Hook, and that’s understandable, but would those same folks cry over kids dying in Cambodia? Not likely… and I don’t mean that to be harsh or cruel, there’s just no relevance. Some, of course, have a deep compassion, and do weep over the plight of others as a means of intercession and travailing, but I’m talking about the average Joe. I did not cry. I was sickened, like most were, but even that was relative. I have six kiddos, and even though they are all well past the ages of the children that were killed, I still see children that age and younger every school morning. My wife hugged and kissed our boys that night, and I followed up with the “why” when they looked at her like calves at a new gate. They understood, and had some questions, which we answered as any parent would- unsure but honest. And then we ate dinner, and played video games and carried on like nothing had changed, but it had. A pastor friend made the statement that the end of the world is a recurring event. It’s true- the world as we know it ends when events like 9/11 and the Murrah bombing and Sandy Hook take place. A new world has formed before our eyes, and it is not the same as before, and yet, life will go on. Want proof? You’re reading this. Sure, you were affected on some level by the events, but you are likely doing your day-to-day things, had holiday gatherings, still lamenting the bills and lack of sleep and the fact that the well intentioned young man at the drive-thru didn’t count your change back and left the cheese off of your burger…. Because life goes on. For some, life as it was will never be again. And yet, life goes on. Ecclesiastes basically says it- life goes on. I often tell my wife after I’ve done something annoying “you’ll be fine, look you feel better already!”. Of course, that is sarcasm at its highest, but it contains truth. Nine times out of ten, she volleys back a retort, and she does, in fact, feel better. I know that’s a trite example, but it bears the weight of comparison. Life goes on.
I have to pause and offer my best efforts to assure those reading this that I am not a cruel person that simply sluffs off tragedy, especially one with this depth of sorrow. I am deeply saddened to this day when I think about the parents and families. And, I also have to say that I am aware that other tragedies have taken place, but for the sake of scope and (some) brevity, I am focusing on the Sandy Hook events. Here’s a serious note on how I know that life goes on- those parents not only had to wait to even be able to identify their children, but then had to go home and perhaps put cereal bowls in the dishwasher…or pick up dirty socks left in the hallway. Move toys out of the way in the garage so they could park their cars. Or, even more sobering, return presents they had purchased for Christmas. Life goes on. That may seem rather callous in light of the previous statements, but “life” as a process, will carry on. I am not immune to various tragedies and woes, as most of us have experienced some level of sadness in life, but as more proof that life goes on, here I am writing about life going on. From my warm home, on my decent computer, full belly from a hot breakfast, coffee cup within reach. Pondering my friends and family, past, present and future.Trying to balance outrage and compassion. Aware of the bills I need to pay. Not wanting to go to work tomorrow, yet thankful for the time off I’ve had this week. Life, all around me, is going on.
This is rather serious, rather somber and perhaps somewhat morose, but it is meant to be. I don’t want to forget what tragedies take place, but I also want and need for life to go on. We can get crushed under the heaviness and chaos, which is why life MUST go on, so that we are preserved to carry on and strengthened to face the next challenge, no matter how mundane it may be, or horrific. Jesus came to give life. He came to make sure that life goes on. His life was marred by betrayal, torture, and eventual death on the cross. And yet, because of Him, life goes on- and think about this- even in the face of hell and death, His life went on! He not only conquered death, hell and the grave, but actually made it to where we can too! Life, say it with me- goes on! I certainly don’t mean to be glib, or to try and offer some candy-coated glossed over gospel that tries to convince people that everything will always be roses if you simply believe, but rather to offer a realistic take on it all- life goes on. I have wrecked cars, lost loved ones, been hurt and abandoned, ruined my first marriage, hurt loved ones, nearly lost my home, been fired from jobs, and in all that, here I sit.. life going on. It’s not an unstoppable machine, as the murderer in Newtown proved, but it is a force to be reckoned with. I have never lost a spouse or a child, and I know that the depth of that sorrow is unimaginable, but I have been close to people who have lost ones that close, and their lives have continued. Damaged? Sure. Different? You bet. Continuing? Day in and day out. The parents in Sandy Hook, or any relationship and in any place where tragedy has struck, will experience the phenomenon of life going on. It is perhaps the hardest sermon to preach- life after so much death- and yet it needs to be preached, it needs to be taught, and it needs to be learned. Life goes on.
My earnest prayer is that while life is going on, we can engage rather than spectate, including encouraging someone else to do the same. Life will leave you behind if you let it… but it will go on. The choice, the power we have, is in our response and acknowledgment of life. So please, embrace life, engage it, participate, and most important- share it. And when it seems like the world is crashing down around you, and it may actually be, life will go on. It can’t be said any better- “everything will be alright in the end, so if it’s not alright, it’s not the end”. While somewhat whimsical, it is nonetheless true. We can and should acknowledge that bad things happen, and even in that is the progression of life going on, but it’s when we don’t allow ourselves to get back into life that the real tragedy takes place.