Life’s overwhelming events—with all their headlines, judging, heartache, and confusion (does anyone tell the truth anymore?) —can weigh heavy, especially when a kid traveling alongside asks “why?” The youngest of my five asked why this morning. A radio show teaser prompted his question: Tune in as we reflect on the 17th Anniversary of 9-11.
He doesn’t remember 9-11 since he wasn’t born. We had three kids at that time – ages 5, 3 and 1. I had flipped on the television that seemingly regular morning while scrambling to feed kids and get one off to school. Hearing screams, I turned to see what was happening just about the time plane number two hit its mark.
Seventeen years ago. His why headlined then and still lingers today.
“Why would people do that?” he asked. “Why is there such evil in the world?”
He’s eleven. Though I have an opinion, I don’t have the answer. Which can sometimes be the case in overwhelming situations. But even in the midst, Truth stands ready to inform. Truth that:
Always, and regardless of events, people matter.
Tragedy ignites heartache. But tragedy can sometimes help us see.
Streams of people running from the crumbling buildings dots my memories of that day. Covered in ash and soot, nothing distinguished one person from the next. Clothing labels, ethnicity, political party, education – nothing but the fact that human beings were in it together ruled the conversation. People running alongside, helping the person next to them – people encouraging each other, crying together, living the extreme together. Together prevailed.
Why not apply a little of that togetherness to the less extreme, though often disrupting events (including headlines) today.
Though tempted to believe otherwise, we’re not alone.
Talking to the person walking alongside, we may discover that they are feeling the same way we are. Fear, frustration, sadness, anger – nagging heaviness that threatens to steal the moment in hard times. Seeing it and saying it helps diffuse and frame such times by outing what we’re all thinking even in hallways and carpool lines.
Good is in the midst of bad.
Fred Rogers’s reminder never gets old: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” A great reminder to look up and see beyond.
People are resilient.
Resilience is part of the package, so lean into it.
Story after story of simple to fantastic efforts kept us going that day and all the days-after can inform today. The self-sacrificing efforts of firemen, policeman and civilians still inspire. It’s called grit.
Grit comes in all shapes and sizes. I share a story about a little kid at a swim meet in Not the Boss of Us, where I first thought about this list. I watched him from the side-lines swim his heart out. His tiny body and determined windmill arms looked like a Happy Meal windup toy as he literally inched along the length of the pool, back-stroking his little heart out while everyone else finished. Head bobbing up and down as he gasped for air, he finally made it to the end of the pool amid the loud cheers of the crowd. Some kids might have cried, given up, or been embarrassed. He just got out and walked past the crowd unfazed, ready for the next event.
He inspired all who saw to keep going, regardless of the circumstances, to finish the race.
It can be been hard to allow moments to matter with life’s heaviness loud and proud. But Today matters.
During a another carpool ride, my why-kid asked another question. This time, deep and profound. “Do you know why we can’t see tomorrow?” he asked then answered himself. “Because we can only live today.”
Truth. Truth that tomorrow’s worries and yesterday’s happenings don’t get to overinform or steal from today.
It’s good for life to go on.
Life’s heaviness, in the form of circumstances or stress or pressures, just can’t be given any more reign than it already has. Maybe it’s in life going on that life’s heaviness doesn’t win.
Two years ago in Dallas, two US presidents, despite their different backgrounds and ideologies, stood together in an overflow memorial service grieving another horrific tragedy, and purposed to inspire.
President Bush encouraged people to: reach for “the unity of hope, affection, and high purpose,” avoid “judg[ing] other groups by their worst examples, while judging ourselves by our best intentions, . . . practice empathy, imagining ourselves in the lives and circumstances of others. This is the bridge across our nation’s deepest divisions—divisions that often overwhelm.”
This bridge is supported by the secret sauce of life: loving others— walking alongside rather than against, today and every day.
Thanks for walking the road with me.
Obligatory shout-out – AND – ask for help…
Having finished his copy of Not the Boss of Us: Putting Overwhelmed in Its Place in a Do-All, Be-All World, Mitty went to write a review (you know those mean a lot to an author – like A LOT :) but his account has been blocked! Something about impersonating a human and a very rude “no dogs allowed” – as if! He has reached out to get some resolution and will keep you posted. But until then, he’s hoping that if you have enjoyed the stories about being overwhelmed by TRUTH rather than all the life’s do’s & be’s & circumstances (even headlines) – maybe you’ll write a review until he can. It’s simple and easy and fast.
Thanks to ALL of you who have been so encouraging on this road. The underlying message is powerful and not ours. We’re simply the car wreck & bless your heart side-bar through which the message that Truth is as available to overwhelm us as any of life’s pressures or stress or circumstances tend to be :)