Outside of the small space we Brenners take up in this big world, 2016 has pretty much sucked.
With the ongoing and perpetual tragedies of Aleppo; the division and pain of the election; the many black bodies hurt or shot only to be justified and explained away without mourning or empathy; natural disasters and disasters not-so-natural ruining homes and people; the refugee crisis; and so many miscarriages, stillbirths, deaths, diseases and diagnoses, and near-deaths and so. many. things... 2016 feels like a giant punch in the gut of humanity.
I haven't quite known how to tactfully write about it.
I haven't known how to share my heart without sounding like just another person shedding tears and putting the spot light back onto ME. Because that's all my tears actually do - reveal how deeply I feel. What good does that do? How does that help anyone? How twisted is that? And how could I even relate or begin to understand the overwhelming tragedies that are covering the face of this earth? I can't. And I won't pretend to.
As the tragedies continue to pile high, the list elongates with reasons to feel the weight of this world, I don't know what to do about it. It all feels so lame. And "lame" feels like the pettiest word. Most of the time it's hard to even wrap my head around it all, if even just half of an idea.
I feel weird and confused that this year, 2016, has brought me more joy than I knew I was capable of experiencing. With the birth of our first born son the first week of January and our second born son joining us less than 5 months later...my heart can hardly stand the goodness of life. The growing by 4 feet in 2016 was fulfilled and my heart bursts at the seams of this reality.
I am here in rental duplex half, crying gratitude over poopy diapers and pee-splatters on the mirror and first teeth because: babies. Rejoicing over His graciousness and the story I get to live.
And yet tragedy continues to burn, lives are being stolen, safety and security is stripped from human beings across the world... while we are over here sobbing over the goodness of being parents. As we celebrate the joy of family-growth this holiday season, a mass amount of humans are barely surviving, barely able to get up and breathe through the day.
In counseling this week, I was processing about the trauma and loss surrounding Ira's birth [one day I'll write about it...maybe..] and smack dab in the middle of my blubbering, I stopped cold to say, "And while I am here feeling angry and pain-filled over this experience, children are being bombed in Aleppo. What is wrong with me?" The two aren't even comparable. But the two are both very real. *Temple rub.*
I just don't know how to process 2016.
How can there be so much goodness in one home and family and so much irrevocable loss in another? Why can I complain about how cramped our home is while too many people sleep without shelter? Why is this world such a mess?
Why do babies die in the womb or during birth? Why can people in power choose to bomb their own countries, without being taken down? Why do people continue to defend deaths/injuries and explain away "how they deserved to die" when we should really just shut our mouths, stop thinking we know everything, and mourn? How can people actually say they are grieving the tragedies of Aleppo when just two months ago they were complaining about people seeking refuge? WHY ARE WE SUCH A MESS OF BROKENNESS?
I feel the earth groaning. Do you? It feels like the earth itself is crying out, is groaning for the suffering to stop. And yet the suffering continues.
Suffering on a scale so large, none of it is comparable, but all of it is tragic. The thing about irrevocable loss is that it is not comparable; you cannot quantify pain and loss.
I'm constantly reminding myself that brokenness and suffering is not the way it's supposed to be.
I don't buy into the "God is in control" mantra because I don't believe He is controlling this. I don't believe He is causing suffering; I believe suffering happens in creation and has been since Genesis chapter 3. (Sorry to you non-Bible nuts for the reference). He did not and does not intend for loss, death, suffering...but here we are in a fallen, imperfect world. Awaiting true renewal. [I do believe He causes miracles, He could control but chooses to let us make decisions, and I believe He is all-knowing and many other things, but this is another topic for another day.]
Just as you and I are waiting in eager expectation for healing, for Heaven, I believe the entirety of the earth is too. And as we wait, as the earth waits to be made new and whole, we sit in the tension of suffering and pain.
Death still bites.
Oh how I long to see creation, humanity, liberated in perfect love and actual freedom.
As I long for liberation, I don't know what to pray or how to pray for the absolute tragedies of this world, but I am choosing over and over again to trust the Spirit of Jesus to pray on my behalf. I am trusting that His Spirit converts the earth's wordless groans into perfect prayers, articulating the pain and suffering, the requests of the world to Him. Prayer is what we can do. Prayer is a real thing that is often forgotten or used as a gloss-over-answer without actual follow through.
I am trying to dance the necessary dance of not glossing over tragedy with Christian-cliches while earnestly praying for and being aware of the brokenness while still living in the dailyness of my life. It's a tricky dance, isn't it?
I'm holding onto C.S Lewis's words as Hope: everything bad will be made untrue.
I'm doing my best to believe that He will take the senselessness, the death, the pain, the ashes...and sit with us in the ashes, using them to bring Him glory. I don't think He will dismiss any of the suffering, but instead use its burnt brokenness to reveal something new and beautiful. Through it. With it.
And that's something I'm holding onto.