Finding Strength to Heal a Broken Community
October 4, 2015

A year ago, on this very morning, my husband Russ and us I held each other as the sun came up over the surrounding hills. Our serene valley turned beautiful shades of orange as the light hit the autumn trees.

We were basking in the glow of the night before. We had renewed our vows in front of family and friends, promising to love each other well.

This morning, we held each other again. As the sun began to show it’s light we prayed for strength to find hope. We vowed to love our community well.

Both mornings we were tired. The first was an overflowing and peaceful tired. This morning was the exhaustion from feeling poured out.

We have relief workers coming in tomorrow to help our community navigate the hairpin turns of this scary winding road. A path that is is dark and unknown.

These are the folks I trained with to become a Disaster Relief Responder myself.

We have both grieved and walked others through grief. What makes this unique is the sense that no one here is truly objective. No one is untouched and no one will come out unscathed. We are all aching and even the strongest among us are so very weak.

We can only hold each other.

We are lighting candles because Roseburg is our home. We are feeding each other because that’s what you do at times like this.

Still, I’m just not hungry…I feel sick.

Scripture tells us that we are to “weep with those who weep” and all of us are taking turns weeping.

This is the first Sunday since our the first news of our tragedy and we will gather with our faith community to comfort and grieve together.

We gather. That’s the important thing. We come together in the same space to breathe the same space and wipe eachother’s tears.

When dealing with her mother’s cancer, Jen Hatmaker said that she went to her office to quietly ask God if He was still good. The answer was yes. He is still good.

Evil is still evil. Darkness is still so very dark. The only thing to get rid of darkness is light.

A reporter asked me on Friday if I can forgive the shooter. I replied “I have to.” When he asked why I told him that I can’t hold that place in my heart for darkness.

We can get angry, yes. We should be very angry. However, if we allow ourselves to hold the anger until it turns bitter, we give up a place in our soul and it does nothing to punish the evil.

Forgiveness doesn’t release a person of their responsibility. It only releases us from our own soul from the bitter prison in which we hold the key. It also takes strength to hold onto the anger and my strength is needed to love and comfort because loving through the pain is hard.

This morning we will release tears.

On this day we will seek peace.

In these moments we will find a way to the next moment.

For me it will be standing in the midst of my church family as we raise our hands and cry out to the God of mercy and grace because right now we need both.

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