It’s easy to get overwhelmed in this world of 24/7 media. With our constant connectivity, we can feel the heartache of loss half a country away through the tweets, blogs, videos, posts, texts, etc. sent in real time. As Christians, this overload should move us to love our neighbors and become better intercessors, benefit organizers and story-sharers.
But after a while, all the victims’ faces start to haunt us. Whether we are writing the posts or reading them, we forget things that we should not – that tomorrow isn’t promised us, (James 4:14) – and remember too much – the seemingly overpowering hold Evil has on this world (Psalm 24:1). Though we do move on to other topics in the external world, we are never really the same internally.
How do we get “back to normal” once our innocence is shattered that our movie theater, or school, or church is not immune from tragedy?
Australian theologian Sarah Bachelard says that crises, times where we lose a piece of ourselves, are like a “wayless way.” Healing is a pilgrimage, though sometimes we aren’t sure where we are going or the road to get there. “The destination towards which the pilgrim walks is wholeness,” she writes in “Experiencing God,” “but the shape of that wholeness is not specifiable and does not exist in advance. It is knowable and it is realized only in the making of the journey.”
We don’t know how to get back there, to wherever “normal” was before the crisis hit, and image after image, headline after headline, reveals the suffering from across the world, country, city. We want to seem like we have arrived at normal again, found our destination. All the while we aren’t really sure if we can even pinpoint “normal” on a map with masks of “everyone’s alright” firmly in place.
But we have to step out on the journey. It doesn’t matter that we don’t know how to get there or what it will look like. Only when we choose to take the first step, pray the first prayer, confess our hurts to the first friend we can trust… can the journey begin.
Even when we are drowning, we can turn to God and He will hear us. As Psalm 130:1-6 says,
“Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;
Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy.
If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
so that we can, with reverence, serve you.
I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning.”
Sometimes healing from brokenness requires re-breaking our poorly mended wounds. When we have left things untended for too long, it hurts all over again. But is it not more fearsome to put off the journey? To never arrive at a “new normal” for fear of starting, not knowing what the destination will be? Stepping out into the light requires much courage, but surely it is worse to remain in the dark alone?
Bachelard says this is what brings us together as Christian community. We bear each other’s burdens and give what we can, every thirsty one of us coming together to drink of the Living Water (John 4:13-14). Through daring to journey back to wholeness, we bring wholeness to others alongside us.
“We become signs and agents of reconciliation for others. So in the same way that Jesus’ life and death and resurrection could be given back to his disciples in such a way that fuller communion with God and with humanity was made possible, so our lives, brought into deeper wholeness through costly pilgrimage through crisis, may become an offering for the healing of the world.”
We may never get back the old normal, but through the journey towards new wholeness, may we draw closer together, restored through the love of our Creator, Healer, Comforter, Redeemer.