I'm so easily distracted at the moment. I didn't use to be like this. I could sit at my desk, work and stay focused, but those days appear to be gone. I’m really trying to get a handle on it as I have an important deadline approaching and need to crack on really. This week I put in place a self-imposed Facebook ban. It was while ignoring my self-imposed Facebook ban (which lasted about an hour) that I came across a performance by Kelly Clarkson during the final season of American Idol. Fighting back tears she sang a beautiful song called “Piece by Piece” that tells the story of the difficult relationship she has with her father. He walked out of her life when she was 6 years old but got in touch when she became famous and made lots of money. Not exactly a good reason for a reunion! If you haven’t seen it then please hunt it down on Youtube, it’s one of the most honest, real performances I’ve seen in a long time.
I’m aware that this Sunday is supposed to be a celebration of the men in our lives but for many, it will be a day of full sadness. There are fathers who will spend this weekend visiting their children in the hospital as they continue their long recovery after the Manchester bombing. There are fathers grieving the loss of their adult children after they went out for a night with friends in London and never came home. My mind cannot even begin to comprehend the number of fathers and families impacted by the horrendous events at Grenfell Tower. Images of fathers searching for missing family members and children who will never snuggle up with Daddy for a bedtime story keep going round and round in my mind. My thoughts turn to exhausted fathers returning home after a long night of repeatedly entering a flaming building to rescue others and dads reassuring their little ones that mummy will be home as soon as she’s "helped the people in the flats". The news has been difficult to watch these past few weeks but there are no words to express the pain that the families directly involved must be feeling.
In the midst of all this devastation, there has been a father who has stood out for me. A father who has tried to turn what must be one of the darkest experiences of his life into something positive. A year ago Jo Cox, the Labour MP for Batley, was brutally murdered leaving behind her husband and two young children. After such a mindless act of violence it would have been easy for Brendan Cox to be consumed by anger and hatred, but instead, he decided to honour Jo’s memory, bring people across the country together and write a book about his wife ensuring that her legacy lived on. This weekend many people have been involved in the Great British Get Together championing Jo’s belief that, “We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than the things that divide us.”
At this point writing the blog I’ve handed my laptop to my husband, asked him to read what I’ve written and explained that I don’t really know what my point is…but I think maybe that is the point! I can’t tie this one up in a neat bow and I’m not going to. I feel genuinely conflicted in all of this. Brendan Cox has done an amazing job to turn something so horrible into something so filled with hope, but I’m sure he’d much rather be spending this weekend with Jo by his side. The community spirit in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire is inspiring but couldn’t it have been achieved without such an unspeakable tragedy taking place? There are many questions that I have for my Heavenly Father about recent events. There are endless Bible verses I could quote about the sustaining love of our Heavenly Father (and I believe every one of them) but sometimes I look out into this world and genuinely wonder what is going on. It’s not a case of blaming God for what’s happened, or questioning who He is or why He “let this happen”, it's just one of those moments where I’m grappling to understand and acknowledging that I maybe need to let go of something that is beyond my understanding.
I know that there have been lots of times where I have looked to my own Dad for a quick solution to a problem and he has purposefully left me to work through the answer myself. I remember going for my A-Level results as a teenager and not getting anywhere near the grades that I needed to get onto my physiotherapy course. I was absolutely gutted and couldn’t stop crying. In my mind, the world had ended and because I was a teenager I was adamant that no adult in my life had any concept or understanding of the pain I was feeling. No one in the history of the world had ever been through anything anywhere near as bad as what I was going through. No one understood! That day Dad came home from work early, hugged me and then in the nicest possible way told me to pick myself up and get myself back to college to find a different Uni course (which is exactly what I did). My dad had a much wider perspective of life and knew that this one moment was not going to define me and, contrary to what I believed at the time, my life wasn’t over because I got a grade N in Psychology. Throughout many “crisis” moments in my life, a calm (for those who know him yes I definitely meant the word calm ) has descended over my dad and he has been the one that I have turned to for a measured response in the middle of a chaotic moment. It’s only now that I am a parent myself that I have a true understanding of how difficult that must have been for him at times. Thanks Dad, love you and all that!
So, I suppose my point is this, the world seems just a little more broken than normal at the moment and I don't know what on earth is going on. I would ask you to resist the temptation to throw Bible verses at me (or others who feel like I do) as I’m not convinced that lack of faith or a lack of biblical understanding is the issue. This can’t be neatly tied up in a bow and I don’t think God wants it to be. From my teenage Christian vantage point, I struggle to grasp why such upsetting things are happening, but I believe that my Heavenly Father is in all of this and is just as heartbroken as I am.
In these situations, I believe that He puts His arms around us, while slowly and gently helping us to pick ourselves up again.
"So don’t be afraid. I am here, with you;
don’t be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, help you.
I am here with My right hand to make right and to hold you up."