I don’t think of myself as an obsessive person. But every now and then, and it seems to come more frequently these days, something horrific happens and I cannot stop thinking about it. I have had some significant growth opportunities over the past few weeks that I planned to write about today, but as I said, sometimes I get fixated on something that consumes my every thought, and today, I can tell that if I don’t reason it out in a blog (the way I have 500 times in the past to help me get perspective on the challenges of life), it will pull me under.
2 days ago, 4 senior girls at Pepperdine University were struck and instantly killed by a car, driven by a 22 year old male, while standing on the side of Pacific Coast Highway.
Just innocently standing there. They were heading into a mixer event for their sorority and a fraternity.
My daughter is also a senior at Pepperdine.
I am sure you understand that not only is it distressing and disturbing when I think of the girls’ families and friends, but is hard to not let images of my own child, also a senior female who has stood on that exact same stretch of road over the past few years, heading to a party or the beach across the street, add extra turmoil and grief to my mix of emotions.
I know enough to know that It is probably not healthy to continuously revisit the scene of the crime via social media and news clips, but I cannot seem to stop myself.
Last night I stayed up way too late watching anything I could find. Sometimes 2 or 3 times over.
My daughter knew one of the girls and was familiar with the other three. Pepperdine is a small campus, so it touched almost every student.
I didn’t know any of them and can hardly focus on life here in Illinois. I can’t begin to imagine the grief of those who were touched directly.
This morning I realized that I am going to need to shift my spirit if I am going to move on and get a handle on this obsession. There is literally nothing practical or physically helpful I can do from here.
So what? Do I just shove down the sadness and act like it shouldn’t effect me?
That doesn’t seem healthy either.
Now that I am willing to consider another solution, here’s what I know to be true about what I can do from here.
I can start by being grateful that for now, my little world and the people in it are OK, at least in comparison. I can say “thankyouthankyouthankyou God” a thousand times today.
But there’s much more that I am going to need to practice if I am going to be able to not get back online and ingest more of this story.
I can pray for everyone. I know, I know, I know — that sounds trite and dare I say, shallow in some respects. A pat, canned, weirdly Christian and aloof solution.
I guess it can be.
Or, it can be an opportunity to practice what that guy Paul from the Bible says: “Do not be anxious/worried about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Jesus.”
Like I mentioned, I have been obsessed. Whatever I am doing, I am always allowing this to scroll through the backside of my mind.
But I cannot live like this any longer. I need a reprieve. I need hope. I need comfort.
The people who knew those girls need those things as well. So, instead of obsession about something I cannot change or even effect directly from here, I will turn it over to an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-everywhere God who can.
Sometimes I struggle to remember to pray because I am going too fast through my day, focused only on me and routine life-stuff. But now, because I am feeling haunted by this tragedy, I can use the images of this horrific event and all those it impacts to pray.
Pray that God heals their hearts, helps them forgive and lavishes on them the “peace that transcends all understanding”, because no one can ever understand this.
I can also pray for that 22 year old boy. After I stopped raging about him, I started thinking about how, if I were him, I would wish I were also dead.
Who can live with what he has done? It will take the power of the almighty God to give him any glimpse of hope and purpose for the rest of his life. Same for his parents. They too will need that to recover and not crumple under the dashing of all dreams they had for their little boy.
I also have 2 sons, and again, it is difficult not to imagine what that boys’ parents are experiencing right now.
And so, I will be praying without ceasing from what I can tell.
Yesterday I was talking to my daughter while walking around Lowes, looking for wind chimes.
While I can’t do anything for the people grieving in California, I can do something for my friends who are grieving here. I know a couple people who have lost loved ones recently and when my husband’s dad passed, his work gave us wind chimes. They are hanging in a hall bedroom doorway so each time we walk down the hall, we lightly brush them and remember him.
When we feel like David did in Psalm 22:14, “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me”, we can begin to heal by serving someone else who is also hurting, suffering, grieving.
We can call to God as David did in verse 19 and 24: “but you oh Lord, be not far off; O my strength, come quickly to help me…for he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.”
I invite you to practice praying without ceasing today.
Whatever is haunting you, that you are tempted to worry or fret or obsess over, let it instead prompt you to turn it over to a God who is ready to comfort, soothe and provide inner strength, hope and peace beyond your comprehension.
Do what you can.