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STARE FEAR STRAIGHT IN THE FACE

Most times when I sit down to write I have no idea what I am going to write about or where my words may take me. Tonight was no exception, until I learned about these two teenagers, Bailey Holt and Preston Cope; two precious lives that were taken this past Tuesday in Kentucky. I don’t know what it is like to drop your child off at school and then later learn they were killed during a shooting. I cannot even fathom this pain that so many parents in our country have had to bear.

Really, I am at a loss for words. And now I realize it – words are useless right now – because our country is grieving. And what I know to be true is that words, during grief, are not helpful. 

We grieve so many different things in so many different ways, both on an individual level and as a collective nation. There are broken, cracked window panes everywhere. There are big, jagged, sharp pieces of shattered glass strewn about and little slivers of small shards underfoot. Call it a spiritual crisis, a spiritual emergency, a national mental health crisis – call it whatever the f*** you want. I’ll leave the labeling up to. I honestly don’t know what to call it and I honestly don’t care to name it any one thing. All I know is we are wounded and we are grieving. 

We are grieving the loss of our children, our siblings, our parents – our families and friends. We grieve what was taken from us.  We grieve what once was and never will be again. We have swiss cheese holes in our spirit and a sieve in our heart. We grieve what has so quickly slipped through those holes. Gone is our childhood joy. We desperately try to fill the holes, plugging them up by attaching ourselves to food, drugs, booze, sex, video games, or social media. We isolate ourselves and fall victim to playing the victim.

It’s not us versus them people. It’s we. We are grieving. Words are not helpful. What is helpful is action. Kind action. What if we all slowed down and contributed a little more kind action in this world? I’m going to be honest here. Almost every weekday I drive by a young guy walking down the busy main road towards the center of town. I notice he doesn’t look particularly happy. I’ve made up this story in my head about him. You know how that goes right? You start judging someone by what they are wearing, how they carry themselves, and the look they have on their face. So I’ve made up this story, I have no clue if any of it is true, and I want to help him by giving him a ride but I’m too nervous. I am afraid. I’ve made stories up about what might happen if I pull over to offer him a ride. It’s totally fear that has paralyzed me from making a connection with this human being. I have been choosing fear over compassion. Ugh I feel icky just typing this. I’m not proud about this, but it does help to stare this one straight in the face.

Will you join me and stare fear straight in the face? Can you choose compassion, kindness, and love over fear? Tomorrow, in memory of Bailey Holt and Preston Cope, I will stop and offer this gentleman a ride. It’s going against what I was taught when I was a little girl. So much of what we have been taught has been based upon fear. It is time now to unlearn, shut our mouths, take kind action, and choose love. We can do this.

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