Trying to clear my head of some of the things I've been wrestling with for the last week... This one is definitely a downer...
One week ago I went to a memorial service for a young girl I had never met. I know her mother and I went to show support for her. There were hundreds and hundreds of people there and so I was seated in the over-flow. The speaker system had a short in it and so the sound wasn't working in there. I finally ended up in the balcony, but not seated in the balcony, sitting on the floor in a room behind the balcony, but at least I could hear. I couldn't see the pictures that were shown, but I got to hear such a beautiful and amazing testimonial of her short life.
Her uncle is one of the pastors at the church that she grew up attending and apparently he'd been her youth pastor. He told a story about a camp their youth group went on, and even though I couldn't see anything, I could picture it perfectly in my head. Their group went to a ropes course, and every year he found a way to avoid jumping off the pole.
Let me explain, because I have actually done this task before. You climb a pole, like a telephone pole, and you stand on the top of it and leap off reaching for a bar that is about 10' away. You are wearing a harness and there is another person on the ground that is holding on to the other end of your rope. They will belay you down safely. So, as I remember from my own experience, even if you love heights you are scared out of your mind as you stand on top of that post trying to gather the courage to actually jump off. I jumped, and of course I didn't make it, but my partner on the ground had a firm hold on my rope and they got me safely down to the ground.
Back to the service, the pastor was saying how every year he had avoided having to do this. The year that his niece came to the camp, however, he found that he couldn't avoid it anymore. She gave him a compelling argument about them doing it together and how it would be a family thing. So he found himself at the top of the pole, feeling the same terror I felt, and how he looked down and saw at the other end of his rope a teenage girl who weighed about 100 pounds and he wasn't sure if she would be able to get him down safely. He had to trust that she had a hold on him and wouldn't let anything bad happen to him. He gathered his courage and jumped, and I don't think that he made it to the bar, but he made it safely to the ground.
He used that as a really powerful metaphor for life. He asked the congregation at large, "What's on the other end of your rope?" He went on to say that the only answer to that question that won't let you down is "God." Too many people have the things of this world at the other end of their rope and when they jump off that pole, there is no one there to get them safely to the ground.
Since this memorial service, I keep thinking about his words. I also keep thinking about God's will, and His plans for our lives, and I am once again so overwhelmed by trying to make sense of it all. I am so incredibly thankful that I don't have His job. I can't even begin to fathom all that He has to do, and all the pain that He has to witness every second of every minute of every day.
I live such an incredibly sheltered life, safe in my cozy home and going about my daily life and only catching small glimpses of that pain. And then a tragedy strikes like the murders of the police officers in King and Pierce Counties last year, and I am forced to look at the larger world around me. And even then, it's such a small part of the world, and even though it's the worst tragedy imaginable for that family, it is still a small but horrific incident in the grand scheme of things.
Last night I watched an "Invisible Children" video and even though I have heard some of the stories of these children, watching the video made it so much more real. It was the story of a girl named Grace. Grace had been abducted from her family and forced to be a child soldier in "The Lord's Resistance Army." She was just a little girl, and she was repeatedly raped by a man 40 years older than her. Then, when she was escaping from that army, she was shot. The baby she was carrying strapped on her back was killed. She was shot in the leg, and also her back was grazed by bullets. She needed surgeries on her leg and has braces on it that are screwed into her leg. She lives with pain all the time. At the age of 13 she gave birth to a daughter. She decided to keep her baby and raise her, but even if she returns home to her village, she won't be accepted by her family anymore because of the use she'd been put to. And Grace was one of the lucky ones. It was absolutely gut-wrenching for me to watch this video and to have to really open my eyes and what goes on in the world, the things that I don't want to have to think about, the things that I had lived for so many years being unaware of.
And I don't know which is better, to know of these things and be so thankful for my life, and my family, or to be blissfully unaware of these horrors.