On Friday morning, I logged onto Facebook to see what was going on in the lives of my Facebook friends. I saw that someone got engaged, a few friends were celebrating their birthdays. Another friend was commenting on music, another commenting on their “Year in Review.” Then I saw a friend’s post about a shooting. I had seen many similar posts from him about gun control, and thought it was related to the mall shooting earlier this month. I checked his page to see if he had posted anything else, but I saw nothing so I kept on scanning Facebook. And my Status Feed got updated, and… suddenly, I saw dozens of friends posting on the shooting. “Heartbroken and grieving over the loss of children’s lives this morning.” “I cant believe this terrible shooting that these poor babies had to encounter.” “27 people dead at elementary school shooting?! wtf?!” I finally followed a link to the story, and was shocked to see the story. There was a live news tracker, so I went back and saw the story developing piece by piece. A man in a mask. Children being escorted to the parking lot. Parents waiting in fear. An entire class unaccounted for? As I read these stories, tears welled up in my eyes. My face grew warm and my heart grew cold. The chatter of students around me in the cafeteria became a meaningless buzz. All I could think of was the faces of these parents, not knowing if their children, their reason for living, were dead or alive. And I saw the face of a little boy, overwhelmed by the whole thing, bawling, crying out in pain and brokenness.
I sat there in the cafeteria, feeling weak, knowing I could do nothing but pray in this moment. Food lost its taste and everything else seemed meaningless.
Eventually, I returned to Facebook, trying to lose myself in a mess of photos and status updates. And as I sat there in heartache, I read more posts. Posts about a hard semester being over. A post describing a movie a friend recently saw. Another post thanking a friend for his collaboration in a project. An ad from Roku. And I had another feeling of meaninglessness.
As I write this, those parents are still waiting, holding their breath, holding their loved ones, holding on for dear life, waiting to find out if their dear ones are dead. And life seems to go on. People see movies, take finals, take photos of their lunch.
Isn’t it so cruel? I saw a post by John Piper as I was scanning the Status Feed, and it read: “The glory of being human” followed by a link. I clicked on the link and it went to a video about how amazing it is to be alive, to be created by God and given the breath of life. I knew he used this phrase true to its meaning, but the more I thought about it, the more that this phrase seemed to describe this day, merely in a more bitter tone. “The glory of being human.”
People kill little children, destroy families, break hearts, divide nations. Other people sit at home, watching TV and eating Fritos, not a care in the world. The glory of being human.
We sit here in between the hurting and the apathetic, those who know terrible secrets and those who are oblivious to it all, people upon the verge of collapse and people at the peak of their lives. The glory of being human.
I sit here and write about this pain, this ordeal, trying to sort out and piece together this shredded document called life, trying not to moralize and benefit from the situation, trying not to demonize others, trying not to make myself look good, trying not to wax poetical about the whole thing and draw out some fancy point, trying to point to something higher than myself. The glory of being human.
We are frail, we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Forged in the fires of human passion, choking on the fumes of selfish rage. And with these our hells and our heavens, so few inches apart. We must be awfully small and not as strong as we think we are– Rich Mullins
The glory of being human.
The King of Heaven bowed low and humbled himself to take on the flesh of broken humanity. A little boy grew up and was murdered by people who couldn’t understand. His mother wept for him, face in the dirt, for she couldn’t understand…
The glory of being human.
And now, as I finish this piece, I must return to matters of the day. A paper must be finished. Dishes are sitting in the sink. The dog needs to be walked. And all the while, families are standing on the edge of collapse, in the middle of life and death. And somehow, we stand together, for our humanity is linked by divinity, our daily constructs and our dying souls sewn together by a scarlet thread, our hearts beat together as life goes on. The glory of being human.