I didn’t know about the school shooting in Florida until a co-worker mentioned it the next morning.
OK, that’s not entirely true. Before falling into bed the previous night, I did see something on social media about a shooting, but I didn’t click to read more. I brushed by it — perhaps partly because of a growing cultural insensitivity to shootings and tragedies, but probably largely because of my preoccupation with my own “hard” life.
And it took my ignorance the next morning for me to realize just how much I’m focused on me.
But I’m so busy!
I started a new job a month ago. I just bought my first house and am juggling all the renovations and coordinating paid labor and free labor (thanks, family and friends!). I’m writing up lease agreements for roommates. Then I said yes to side work. And have I mentioned that my Sunday is usually full of church services and family time and doesn’t feel like a day of rest?
I’d argue these are legitimate, good things which do need my attention. But is it OK that I’m so preoccupied with my own life that I don’t take time to know what’s going on in the world and stop to pray about it?
But my life is stressful!
Only a couple days after I bought my house, things were breaking faster than we could fix them. My dad helped me replace locks, but then the next day the latch wouldn’t catch. A newly installed set of blinds broke the first time I tried to open them.
Making decisions is hard. It’s a reminder that I’m single because all the house decisions and responsibility are ultimately up to me, which is overwhelming.
I’m exhausted, so my emotions are running wild. I start thinking friends don’t care if they haven’t offered to help. I’m always there for them! Why haven’t they offered to help?
But am I really always there for them? Sure, sometimes. But when I get busy, when I’m struggling with something hard, I forget that everyone else is dealing with something too.
When I pause to look around …
My dad’s truck is in the shop, and it’s essential for his job. My sister’s kids are sick, and she’s pregnant. A friend is struggling with his work. Another friend showed up at the airport for her international flight, only to find the travel agency somehow didn’t actually get her a ticket. A drive-thru coffee stand my friend works at was robbed while she was working. A relative lost a custody battle for his daughter, so now he’ll see very little of her.
Everyone’s dealing with something. Maybe it’s small, maybe it’s big, but just about all of us have something going on in our lives that has us feeling anxious.
And then there are devastating tragedies, like a school shooting. Seventeen children died.
I’m reminded that my life really isn’t that hard. I’m reminded that I’m a little too wrapped up in myself and my little problems.
So what do we do?
By no means do I have this figured out. But here are three things I’ve been reminding myself this morning.
1. Remember that suffering and trials are to be expected.
God doesn’t promise us an “everything’s butterflies and rainbows” life. There will be hard stuff in this life. This world is fallen, so daily work has its frustrations. And sometimes evil shows up in incredibly sad tragedies resulting in the deaths of children. But even in the midst of all the hard things, God is there and He’s sovereign. My pastor talks about how suffering makes us depend on God and yearn for eternity. He said, “God loves us too much to leave us content with this world.” So expect suffering; let it point you to Christ. And pray, “Come, Lord Jesus, come.”
2. Remember all the blessings God has given you, both in this life and the life to come.
Most of the things I’m currently stressed about are really blessings. Having a house is a blessing. And I have the ultimate blessing of being a loved child of God. So look at your life and look for what blessings God has given you. Do you have a job? Family? Friends? If the hard things and sufferings are so consuming that it’s hard to see the blessings, then remember this: No matter what hard things your life holds, none of them compare to eternity in heaven.
3. Remember others.
There’s no specific, daily plan I can give you about how to love your neighbor and perfectly balance your life between work, church, family, friends (if there is one out there, someone share it, please!?). Everyone’s life is different, and I do think God places us in different seasons — sometimes we will have ample time to minister to others and sometimes we’re the ones who will be ministered to. But no matter what my situation, I never want to be so preoccupied that I’m unaware of my friends’ struggles and the tragedies in the world. And if we’re too busy to even pray for those affected by a school shooting? Well, that’s not OK.
Today I’m reminding myself that as stressful as my life might currently feel, my problems really are small and insignificant, and my blessings far outweigh any suffering. Yes, I’m single, and I wish I wasn’t. Yes, I wish the new house didn’t require nearly this much work. But I have family, friends and a heavenly Father who love me.
Today I’m reminding myself to think about others and see their struggles.
And today I’m praying for those affected by the shooting in Florida. I can’t imagine your pain.