A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend a women’s conference called “Pursue the Passion” with one of my best friends and our little babies. The worship leader was Meredith Andrews and the keynote speaker was Jen Hatmaker (my blogger/speaker/author crush), so it was pretty much a dream come true.
I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror before heading to the conference that Saturday morning, and I smiled. I actually looked like a cute mom. I was wearing a cute outfit, my hair was curled, my makeup was done. I felt good!
Of course, about 20 minutes into the first session, Copeland spit up all over me. And I’m not talking normal spit up. I’m talking PROJECTILE spit up, like a waterfall. I was soaked in it. My shirt was soaking wet, and so was my hair. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure I heard the people sitting behind us gasp!
I took Copeland into the bathroom and tried to figure out how to take care of the situation. Of course I had an extra outfit for him, but not for myself. I cleaned him up, changed his outfit, and then looked at myself in the mirror, trying to figure out what the heck to do. I no longer looked like a cute mom. I looked like a wet, tired dog. That’s the image that came to my mind as I looked at myself. A mangy, exhausted little creature.
But as I stood there and looked at my reflection, this thought struck me: This is actually more true to my reality. My life right now is much more similar to a wet, tired dog than it is to a cute mom. My reflection suddenly communicated more truth about my heart and my soul than it did when I had first walked through those doors into the conference that morning.
10 days before the conference started, some of our upstairs neighbors were shot and killed by one of our other neighbors. We were home with the kids when it happened. We heard the gunshots. It was nothing short of terrifying and horrific.
I haven’t known how to process it. I haven’t known how to write. How do you get over hearing your neighbors get murdered? I’m not sure that you do.
It’s a strange thing seeing our condo on the news, even still. It’s hard living here. I’m sad and I’m scared and paranoid a lot.
One of the reason I have not talked about this much and haven’t really publicly come out with it is because it felt wrong at first. Jordan and I would remind each other “we are not the victims here.” We weep and grieve for these three beautiful lives lost, for their families, and for the brokenness of the world. But we did not dare want to make it about us.
But yesterday we met with a crisis counselor from the Police Department. One of the things she said to us really helped me to be willing to open this up and let myself process it more. She said, “Do not downplay this. You are victims here. Most people will go through their entire lifetime without coming even remotely close to experiencing something like this.” She gave us permission to claim our pain and trauma.
I really regret never getting to know these people who seemed so incredible and lived so close to us. I sometimes think about how my life may have been richer, had I gotten to know the victims. For days after the shooting, I would watch videos and read everything about one of the victims and I was constantly struck with the thought, “Wow, she was so beautiful.” Inside and out.
And then I freak out when I think about the shooter; about the thought that someone so dangerous lived so close to us.
I am paranoid over the fact that I cannot always protect my children.
I am baffled at the fact that God doesn’t always stop bullets, and yet sometimes He does.
If anything, this past year has really opened my eyes to the fact that belonging to God does not guarantee safety in this world. I have never so intensely had to look at the ugliness and pain of the world in its broken and distorted face. I’ve never so deeply longed for eternity, and yet struggled to be close to God in my current reality. It is a daily process to continue to trust God and walk with Him while constantly being reminded that there is no immunity for the here and now. Our security in Christ saves us from the ultimate destruction that our rebellious souls lead us into; but our security is not a material one on this earth.
I know that God is working in my heart through this, and that there is an invitation to trust Him in an even deeper way. I know that He is good, always. But I also know that life is not fair and His mercy does not always feel evident.
I don’t really have any resolution to this blog post, but I know it is good for my soul to write. I know that I need to process this, and I am thankful for my little space here where I can pour my heart onto a screen whenever I need that release. There is so much going on in my heart, this might become more of a raw space than ever before and I think I actually want to let it be that. Far too much of the internet displays the “cute moms” and yet I wonder how many of us actually feel more like wet, tired dogs. I wonder how many of us actually long for the freedom of the mirror projecting back an accurate picture of our souls. And how many of us need the permission to be honest about it.