We just got home from a beautiful vacation in Tulum, Mexico. It was seriously incredible, but I have to admit that I was a little anxious about going. (My husband would probably interject here by saying, “a little?!”) I was worried about a few things: We got word a few months ago that the Zika virus was growing and those who were pregnant or within child-bearing years and planning on having a child soon were advised to avoid areas were Zika is prevalent. Even though we haven’t “planned” to have our next baby, since we practice NFP and are always open to the possibility of becoming pregnant, it was quite worrisome. I was also worried because I just got home from a trip to New Mexico where I flew by myself with my two babies. If you know anything about flying with toddlers and babies, you know it is vital to have as many hands (ahem, help) as you can find. Although people are generally nice to unassuming disheveled, sweaty, and on-the-verge-of-crying women toting two children by themselves, the only “help” I really received was pity. (Awe, you poor thing—that looks hard!) It was hard. Really, really hard. Though I made it through and we got home safe and sound, I was not ready to jump back on a plane with my toddler and little bald, non-paci taking, jump-on-your-head-the-whole-flight monkey of a baby. On top of all that, the weather while we were there called for 80% chance of thunderstorms every single day. Reading into it a bit, I convinced myself that the possibility of a hurricane hitting us was ever-so real, and that we were absolutely nutty for heading into the eye of a week long storm.
In the end, where my anxiety lead me on these crazy worry-filled delusions about how our trip was going to go (I’d contract Zika, we’d land in Mexico and be detained because of our nutty children, and then we’d get ravished by the largest hurricane to hit the Caribbean coast, ever)…it wasn’t just an alright trip. It was an incredible one. The weather was just overcast enough that we didn’t have to worry about our kids swimming all day. The home we stayed in was the most beautiful place we could have ever imagined. (Thanks M&D). The flight went well. And wouldn’t you know it: I didn’t even contract Zika.
I write all this because despite all my worrying everything went beautifully.
Yet, when we got home we were barraged by real and truly worrisome things. Soon after landing we heard about the young talented and beautiful artist from the Voice who was violently gunned down at her own concert. Then, not 24 hours later, we woke up to the devastating news that 50 people were targeted in a hate-crime and act of terrorism that left the Nation mourning the largest mass-shooting in our Country’s history. I believe we all feel the weight of the pain and suffering of our fellow brothers and sisters. It is truly a tragedy.
That same day my family and I went to a family friend’s son’s birthday party. It was outside, and the weather called for sunny skies with a warm breeze. We arrived to a really awesome and pinterest-worthy “robot” party, the theme being “Flash, Boom, Bang!” We grabbed ourselves some beers and plopped down on the ground to enjoy some friendly conversation. We weren’t there long when a few clouds appeared in the sky and the temperature seemed to drop a bit. I casually asked my husband if the weather called for rain. He said, “No it’s supposed to be sunny today and tomorrow.” Then all of a sudden the winds shifted, and dark ominous clouds covered the neighborhood we were in. I saw a real look of concern hit my husband’s face, and looked around to see the same look on a few men around me. I got this dreadful feeling. A tornado?? Out of nowhere I heard a huge crack and locked eyes on what they were looking at. A huge live tree branch snapped from a tree and was falling down, on power lines! To top it off, under the power lines was a swing set with a little girl buckled in. Everyone scrambled, and a loud POP of an explosion occurred. I screamed internally, and grabbed my sons arms literally dragging him out of the yard while holding my baby and saw my husband turn to try to help the little girl out. There were two more small explosions in the midst of all the chaos, but we all made it safely across the street. It was probably the most terrifying thing I have experienced while having my children with me. I think we were all a bit in shock. PRAISE JESUS, everybody was safe and everything turned out ok. (Talk about “flash, boom, bang!”)
All of this leaves me with this feeling that is terrifying and completely comforting at the same time: Our lives are not in our hands. Our lives do not truly belong to us in the way that we just daily assume that they do. Our lives—our very breath—are in the hands of our very good and merciful Savior’s. Most of us are daily conquered by worry and fear, whether it be over trivial things, or because of really truly serious things. Yet Scripture says: “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Is 41:10)
While this is true, it is equally as true that you just might find yourself in the midst of a hurricane or on the ground after a tree branch has hit you over the head. (That’s actually happened to me too, btw.) None of us are exempt from suffering physical pains, because we are both spiritual and bodily beings, and let’s just say it: shit happens. We might get in a car wreck, get attacked by an aggressor, or face more quiet pains like cancer or yes, even Zika. We are all human, and our mortality is interwoven in the fact that we are fallen created beings. Yet, even the physical pain you experience here on earth cannot tear you away from your bond with the one who created you. He is always with you.
We never should cease trembling in the reality that what can tear us away from Him is the failure to respond to his call, and the direct denial and turning away from Him towards things that are of this world, and so lacking in Him. Our true worries should be focused on this reality: on the reality of dying in a state that is anything but grace.
In the midst of all chaos, God continuously calls us all to turn back towards Him with all of our hearts. He has done this out of love of his people, since the beginning of time. Embrace Him and do it now. Do it today. Don’t wait until you think you’re ready, or until you find the “right” means of praying. Sit down, and make time for Him. Devote your day to Him: all your fears and anxieties, all your joys and exultations. Confess your sins and repent of all the times that you chose the things of this world over Him. Lift up your heart to Him so fully, on a daily basis, so that when you face tribulation (be it spiritual, physical, or both) you know with certainty that you are not alone and that He is by your side truly present with you. Don’t let fear overcome you, but rest assured in the One who not only loves you, but loves you so much that He willingly took on unfathomable pain and suffering for you, so that you might have eternal life and rest easy and worry free in Him for all eternity.
Pray today for the repose of all those lost souls:
Lord God, we humbly entrust to you Christina Grimmie and all the shooting victims in Orlando, as well as their assailants. Deliver them now from all evil and let your perpetual light shine upon them.
We look with hope to you, that you will welcome them into your Kingdom, where all sorrow, pain, and worry dissipates, and peace and joy in your Son and the Holy Spirit remains forever.
Lord God, we pray also for those mourning the loss of loved ones. May you let us find in your Son comfort in our sadness, certainty in our doubt, and courage to live through this hour. Make our faith strong through Christ our Lord. Amen