Joy for the Broken

In light of the fact of the tragedies that have taken place in the past week, I don’t think I can share good news.

Even though I just spent a while all but (possibly including) jumping up and down.

And then I opened my facebook, and saw all the French flags, and my heart fell.

I was fortunate enough not to have anyone I knew harmed in Paris. Or Beirut. Or Baghdad. Or in any of the tiny tragedies that were much were closer–a close acquaintance had a family member die, but he was old and in pain and it is likely, in most ways better that he passed away.

And I am eagerly anticipating Thanksgiving. I’ve seen very little of my family in quite a while, and eventually phone calls just are not enough. I have already had on Thanksgiving dinner with friends, and I’ve got one or two more planned, but there is really nothing like going home, and sleeping in the bed that’s been mine since I was 12, and petting the cats that know all of my childhood secrets, then eating my grandma’s broccoli casserole and stretching out on the couch right next to the recliner where I know my dad will go to sleep during the football game.

And lest I forget, there will be no sleeping in. My younger siblings look forward the Macey’s parade all year, and are unwilling to let me miss any of it. My youngest brother in particular, will crawl into bed next to me and press his cold hands and feet against me to wake me up.

And then I think of the video I saw. The brother of one of the terrorists in France addressed reporters, and I won’t quote him at length. But he was broken-hearted, both for what his brother had done, and for his brother’s death.

I feel a little bit guilty–I’m not currently suffering, not on that kind of scale. But I was reminded tonight that we’re all a little broken. We all have our pains and struggles. We’ve not all had that kind of tragedy. But one of the friends I was with tonight had a close friend die this past weekend. Another one has spent most of the day with a migraine that’s a symptom of a past traumatic brain injury. Yesterday and today have been rough for me, as it often is when I’m under stress, and not managing my depression well or remembering to eat properly.

I think we’re allowed to be a little broken and hate it, and not feel guilty because we feel like like we aren’t hurt enough to be qualified to express pain.

We cannot let our problems overwhelm everyone else’s. We should feel horror and empathy and hurt over the acts of terrorism that we have watched occur in the past few days. On the other hand, we cannot let other’s tragedy guilt us out of dealing with our own.

There are always going to people who have it worse than us. If we assess our right to grieve based on other’s pain, we will always feel that ours is inadequate to allow us to feel it.

Also, maybe it is acceptable to share my good news. It would be inappropriate to go up to someone who had just lost a spouse or child or sibling or friend to a terrorist and tell them ‘oh guess what, this fantastic thing just happened to me. now you have to be happy for me, see.’ But in the grand scheme of things, why can’t I be glad? I have, in a weird way, earned it. I’ve suffered through my portion until this moment, so in this moment, I can rejoice in my good.

I guess I still won’t explain my good news. For one, it would be somewhat hard to explain to someone who is only familiar with my life in abstract. And abstract is the part of me that the internet gets. Also, it isn’t the content of it that is important, just that it is a spot of joy in the middle of tragedy and my own stress.

All I’ve got to close is a tiny little piece of the Psalms.

Make me to hear joy and gladness,
Let the bones which You have broken rejoice.

~Psalm 51:8

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