So. This has been a week.
Today while I was scrolling through Instagram, I was struck by how my own posts really don’t accurately reflect the state of my heart. And all of a sudden, I felt this bizarre and urgent need to ask how everybody’s doing. To ask how you’re doing.
Or maybe it’s not so bizarre. I guess I’ve been asking that question a lot this week.
On Tuesday, the public transportation systems in Brussels were attacked by terrorists and just like that, 31 lives went out like candles. That was halfway around the world, and yet most people I know felt it hard, like we were reliving 11/13 Paris or 4/15 Boston all over again. Then the next day, just as we thought we could wake up to a better world, a woman was fatally shot outside my workplace in Skid Row.
I went home early and sat in front of my open laptop, thinking I could be okay enough to edit a few pages of hail the pumpkin king before I left to meet a friend for coffee—and I wasn’t. All I could do was sit there. Staring.
Isn’t this supposed to be Holy Week? Because I can tell you that, from my perspective and the perspective of a lot of people around the world right now, this week feels pretty far from “holy.”
People are grieving and 140-character hate is flying across political lines and press headlines, and all I can think is, Aren’t we weary enough?
Aren’t we broken enough without breaking each other?
I’ve been reading through the SheReadsTruth Holy Week devotional series, which is taking us through what Jesus did on each day of the week before his death in “real time.” On Wednesday, the reading was about Mary, the sister of a man Jesus raised from the dead, pouring expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet in front of an entire roomful of men who didn’t want her there. And while these guys shook their heads and said, “What a waste of perfume,” Jesus said something radically different.
In the midst of a dark walk toward the cross, Jesus slowed down to gather the ones He loved into His arms. The man of sorrows told a broken woman who laid down everything at His feet that, in the midst of her vulnerability, she had done a beautiful thing in slowing down with Him.
Yesterday, when my boss broke the news of the shooting to me, I switched into work mode immediately. We all had jobs to do. We had a responsibility to respond quickly and calmly, as social service professionals.
So I asked, “Are you okay?” over and over. I asked it of our clients and my coworkers who were shaken in the aftermath, and I asked it of my intern this morning who is stronger than I ever was in my senior year of college. Never once did I ask it of myself.
Do you ever feel like the hits never stop coming…? I feel that so hard this week. And yet, in peeling myself off the couch and driving to have coffee with a new friend last night, I felt something in me lift, even as I sat across from her in a Pasadena cafe and confessed to her that I was not okay.
This morning I sat with my broken pieces at the feet of my Savior, and He whispered, You have done a beautiful thing, and I didn’t fully believe Him. I want to be courageous. I wish I were. But all I can do when I see the hate flying back and forth, turning tragedy into spectacle, is cover my eyes and ears and smile and say, “Can we please talk about something else?”
I want to be courageous when I write, and say the scary thing that we all are too afraid to admit to each other. At work today, my boss asked me how I was doing and I said, “Fine,” then proceeded to talk about everyone but myself. And she looked at me and said, “You don’t have to be okay.”
It’s the exact same thing I’ve been telling my friends, coworkers, clients. You don’t have to be okay. Somehow in the midst of the Instagram aesthetic and the I-don’t-have-the-right-to-be-traumatized-by-this, I forgot to include myself in the mercy I’m poorly attempting to pour out on others. But in this Holy Week, there is something to be said of remembering that we are held by a good God even in our not-okay. That there is still beauty in our not-okay.
A few days ago, I told someone, “You are not designed to save the world.” I haven’t been taking my own advice this month, or really any month.
The sad reality is that 16-year-old me decided she was going to save the world, and 23-year-old me is still trying.
So here. I’ll do it. I’ll say it, because if I don’t, how can I expect you to say it back?
You guys, I am wilting, and I am wilting fast, because I’ve chosen to shoulder a burden that I was never meant to carry. I don’t feel brave and I don’t feel confident. I feel lost in the midst of the unholiest of weeks that seems to have no end.
Today it is all I can do to believe that the good God who loved me at my darkest and loved you at yours will deliver us. But even if He does not, as long as I can run to the feet of Jesus and pour out my broken heart—you will find me there.
And I am praying and praying that on this Easter weekend, my risen Savior will lift my chin and murmur to me, “Talitha koum.”
Rise, little girl. Rise.
“why should we stand with a king who would lead us into the end of our days?”
“perhaps we should give the Witch what she wants!”
“enough.” the Fae grew quiet as Solyndria rose. “i have witnessed his highness scour the world for the Witch. she has no soul left to speak of. she delights in our torment, and is consumed by revenge. and it is true that we are creatures of darkness with little to separate us from her, but we are also honor-bound where she has none. it has taken two centuries for another Seer to be born, and now that she is here, i have all faith that she will break the Witch. but even if she does not…” Solyndria’s golden gaze haunted me as she solemnly finished, “i do willingly go.”
—Excerpt from hail the pumpkin king, Ch. 19.
This week is hard. How are you doing?