It’s a dreary day here in North Carolina.
Not as dreary as South Carolina where residents are facing another day of unprecedented flood conditions. Not as dreary as the Bahamas where residents are cleaning up the mess left from Hurricane Joaquin.
Not as dreary as Oregon where families and friends are mourning senseless losses.
All of that dreariness dampens my spirit. Writing about it floods me with guilt. There’s enough sadness in these stories without me bringing attention to them in yet another blog. But I am compelled to write.
I see the bad news on television, the reporters perfectly dressed and prompted to present the dreariness with poise and professionalism. Their program is dotted with commercial breaks advertising products that will make our skin prettier, our bowels more regular, and our sex lives more active. Later in their program those same reporters will laugh about the entertainment headlines or show us the latest decorating trends to maintain their ratings and lift our moods.
They transition us into another day of living. Yes, bad things are happening. But if they’re not happening to you, then it’s just another day. Don’t worry, be happy.
I doubt that we are unaffected by the dreariness. We may appear not to be, and even reject the idea that we could be with all the great things happening in our own lives. But we are not wired that way.
We are human beings, capable of compassion and empathy. Depending on your beliefs, you may even call yourself your brother’s keeper. How can you look at these stories without feeling the dreariness of these situations?
I bet you do. And, if you’re anything like me, a sense of helplessness follows the sadness found in empathizing with these victims. What can I do? My own obligations require my time and attention, and I wouldn’t know how to help these people even if I could.
I know of something. How about starting with not forgetting about them? How about recognizing that your day is a little sadder because someone else is hurting. They didn’t wake up in the comfort of their own bed. They didn’t have the luxury of stumbling into their kitchen and making the coffee they way they like it. They don’t have to go to work, but that’s not a good thing in their situation.
How about taking a few minutes throughout the day to acknowledge how bad we feel for them, and to pray for them? How about asking God to remind them that He is there with them, even though you can’t be?
How about being grateful for your blessings and asking God to bless those in the dreariness? How about remembering in the big scheme of things that having to deal with traffic, or maybe a job that is not exactly what you want it to be, or your kids fighting with each other as you rush out the door are all things to cherish, not to complain about.
How about honoring those lost in the dreariness by recognizing all that we have instead of what we don’t have?
We may not be able to help those people whose homes have been washed away by the floods, or damaged by the hurricane. And God knows how few of us can even imagine the pain brought on by a senseless massacre. But we can acknowledge our feelings about it, and empathize with those around us affected by the same stories. Deep down each one of us is feeling the dreariness of these situations. Why not use that connecting point as a tunnel into each other’s hearts, a place to build a foundation of hope and strength in the community that surrounds us.
In the wake of these dreary stories the reporters inevitably find evidence of miracles, heroes in the chaos, and confirm the power that compassion has to heal the dreariness. Doesn’t it always come? So can’t we stay focused on that? Can’t we see that for them and ask a high power to let them know that we do?
It’s worth a try, don’t you think?
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” — 2 Cor 2:3-4