For the last several years, I’ve chosen to let simplicity be my guide for living life. I have minimized what choices I make in a day by limiting my clothes, what I bring into my home, what apps I use, how much gear I have, etc. I’ve worked hard to bring peace through the systems I implemented. Last month, those systems were shattered when I survived a mass shooting. March 27, 2023, a shooter shot through the doors at my workplace, killing six people and forever changing the lives of the families that lost a loved one, everyone in the building, including children and adults, and the parents of every child at the school, and a whole community of people who call Covenant home.
Those first weeks were incredibly hard. My nervous system was blaring at 1000%, and I could still hear gunshots echoing in the halls and could not get what I saw out of my head. I still had to work, but I could not think. I still had to get myself dressed and get food in my body. I lost 15 pounds and could not sleep for weeks, but I kept going because really there was no other option.
The shooting occurred the week before Good Friday – the start of Holy Week. The time that represents the hope of Christian faith. I had been trying to get myself back into church for months but could not bring myself to walk through the doors with all the questions and doubts I had. That Good Friday, I found myself in church soaking in the hopeful darkness that Good Friday represents. Easter morning, I went again and listened to a message about hope but also about confusion and how it was okay to come to the Easter story from a different place. (listen below to the sermon from Journey Church in Brentwood, TN)
Over the past month, I’ve had a lot of time to think about what I could have done differently that day and have concluded there is nothing I could have changed. It’s hard to accept that, but I know it to be true now. All that is left is to keep moving forward. When everything is broken, it’s hard to pick up the pieces and start over, but that is where I find myself. Picking up the pieces of my life, asking questions of my faith, figuring out who I want and need to be after this, and how I make all these things fit together again.
What Has Not Changed (Simplicity)
Some things have not changed. I have always believed in gun reform and that mental health resources must be accessible to everyone. I will continue to vote and support people trying to make a difference. Seeing the young people of Nashville at the capital, along with three brave representatives, gave me hope for the political future. This could have made me see the darkness in the world, but I have seen so much good in people, and I’m going to choose to believe in that goodness.
I’m keeping my life simple. While simplicity was not enough to get through this alone, it helped me keep a calm environment and limited the number of things I had to worry about.
What Has Changed
I’ve always asked questions of my faith, but now it is different. I’m setting aside everything I thought I knew, all the easy answers, and searching for a deeper meaning in what it means to be a follower of Jesus. Some people call it deconstruction, and that word can be scary for some people, but at this moment, it gives me the courage and curiosity to explore new aspects of believing and that brings me peace. I’ve started regularly attending the church I’ve gone to off and on for several years – a church that invites questions.
What it All Means
I’m unsure about this part, but things have changed and will continue to change.
It can be very uncomfortable to accept the truth that some things are beyond our control. But we have to. Otherwise, we run into the same walls over and over and over again. Or we freeze up. Either way, we don’t move forward.Burnham from Star Trek Discovery