How many is a lot?

I had an extremely humbling conversation with a friend the other day. It’s amazing how sometimes it only takes a few brief words to change your outlook…

We were discussing the devastation in Japan. It was in the early stages of the goings on there, and, in the context of the size of their island, and the population, and the earthquake, and the tsunami, I made a stupid statement.  The death toll was “only” at about 250-300 people. What I meant was – I expected it to be higher… Which it is now… I meant it could be worse, and that given the nature of what happened – 300 lives seemed like a… small number. And what I said was: “That doesn’t sound like a lot.” My friend’s quick response? “How many is a lot?” The question stopped me dead in my tracks.  How many is a lot? How many is too many?  The answer before my mom’s diagnosis probably would have been a flippant 1000.  1500. My answer Friday though – One.  One is a lot.  One is too many.

It’s easy – of course we are all sad by the situation on the other side of the world – it’s heartbreaking.  But the truth is, we don’t mourn more just because the death toll is higher.  It was more uncomfortable and painful watching CNN and listening to a momma talk about losing the grip on her daughter’s hand when the waves hit, than the thought of so many many people being gone.  I guess because we can not escape the reality that we are made to love one another, and fellowship in community – and it’s only when it seems like it happened TO somebody that we really grasp the pain of it.

It was a strange dichotomy yesterday – our pastor was in prayer for only two things from the pulpit yesterday – the tragedy that is Japan right now, and my mom.  Nobody came up to console one another over the people lost there… But I received so many hugs, and prayers, and words of affirmations because everybody felt for Laurel and I sitting in our pew. We hurt for one another when we are real with one another…

It’s so easy to wall up our hearts.  It’s so easy to shut up our eyes and ears to what is going on around us – to avoid the pain that is Japan’s reality.  But also to block out the hurts that happen to those across the street from us. My encouragement to you today: Don’t be afraid to hurt for someone today. Don’t be  afraid to think on someone else’s pain, to be real with someone, to share in someone’s grieving – whether they live in Japan, or down the street…

‎”To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” ~ C.S. Lewis

Be vulnerable today.

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