What can I say that hasn't already been said? There have been many moments since the devastating news of the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, Gianna Bryant, John Altobelli, Keri Altobelli, Alyssa Altobelli, Christina Mauser, Ara Zobayan, Sarah Chester, and Payton Chester that I've had to stop and remind myself to breathe. For someone I only admired from a nosebleed seat once, and eight precious people I've never met, my heart breaks. Nine lives marked by the phrase: Gone too soon.
Like many people, I have questions. Dare I admit I questioned God. The short 30-ish years of life I've lived has taught me to stop trying to assign meaning to everything that happens in life because that would be leaning on my own understanding. When I think about the grief of the ones this tragedy affects the most, no meaning makes sense.
So what do we do when words aren't enough, when understanding fails us, and when there's no one to blame? We choose to stand on the Truth of who God is as our strength to endure this moment, and we honor the lives of those lost by how we live our own.
Friend, this is no small thing to process, and it's OK if you haven't been able to move on to the next headline in the media or life because your mind is still whirling. Be gentle with yourself. Look up and be reminded that God is your very present help. Be still. Turn your ear to what God might want to speak to you through this tragedy that has awakened so many. The only thing He might want to say right now is, "I'm close to your broken heart." It's OK to take the time you need to lean into His embrace and let His comfort be today's portion. Morgan Harper Nichols says, "You are free to climb these mountains one day at a time." Sit with your feelings, wrestle with them, and let the process of grief take its course. I'm so encouraged when I remember that God is patient with us as we sort through the mess that life brings our way. Again, be gentle with yourself and those around you.
When we've had time to process, and endurance has helped us to carry on, I pray we then have the proper perspective on how to live our lives in a way that honor those who are gone too soon. This is bigger than beautiful murals and social media posts. In my quiet time, I've been asking the Lord, "What do you want to say to us through this tragedy?" God is faithful. He will speak when our hearts are inclined to listen, and our feet are in position to move.
In Dear Basketball, Kobe Bryant said,
"I played through the sweat and hurt
Not because challenge called me
But because YOU called me.
I did everything for YOU
Because that's what you do
When someone makes you feel as
Alive as you've made me feel."
One prayer I've had since this happened is that our hearts are opened with this deep awareness of the call over our lives. That the thing He's put inside of all of us to do would be ignited in such a way that we can no longer ignore it. That we give it everything. That the tears of this moment would water the seeds of pain that will sprout into greater purpose. That we would become boldly committed to the thing God wants to accomplish through us. This is not to move past this moment too quickly, but I want to remember that everything has a season. After the mourning, comes a moment of peace and clarity to live our lives on purpose. Because that's what you do when something moves you deeply...you allow it to change you greatly. It gives you different vision.
I want to leave you with a few practical things that might help you today:
Pray- This might seem obvious, but pray for the families, friends, and loved ones of the victims so that they may have strength when prayers can't cross their lips. No matter how quickly the world moves on, this will never end for them. Pray for those around you, and pray that God would remind you of His comfort, strength, wisdom, and guidance to move forward.
Talk with someone- Whether you call it therapy, counseling, pastoral care, or grief support, Jesus knows. Friend, it's OK to talk to Jesus and go to therapy. Start with your local church or see if your employer has an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) which sometimes gives you access to some free counseling sessions. If you are in a small group at your church, speak up. It's not silly that you're grieving the loss of a celebrity and people you've never met. It's not silly.
Take a social media break- The gift of social media is that it connects us. We've been able to grieve together this week, and it's been beautiful. However, if you're like me and feel the pain of others deeply, then you might need to step away to pray, talk with someone, and breathe. And that's OK.
This is one of those defining moments that has marked more people than we know, but I'm so encouraged when I remember that God is big enough to hold us all as it awakens something deep inside of us. I pray that we would be reminded that this life is short, and at any moment, any of our lives can be bookmarked with the words: gone too soon. Knowing this, will you live your life on purpose?
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How has this begun to change you?
What encouragement have you found this week that might help someone else?
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Black Christian Influencers would like to extend our deepest condolences to the families, friends, teammates, and loved ones this tragedy has touched. May you feel the strength of our prayers and know that we are surrounding you with love. Vanessa Bryant announced that the Mamba Sports Foundation has set up a fund to help support the other families affected by this tragedy. If you would like to help, visit MambaOnThree.
Writer: Terasha Burrell, Co-Blog Director for BCI
Image Credit: Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant| Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images