So much grief.
So much sadness.
So much shock.
It’s hard to wrap my head around the devastation in Orlando this week. A promising young singer is murdered at a concert. A terrorist opens fire in a dance club. A little boy is snatched from his parents in the blink of an eye by an alligator.
This is “Think Right Thursday,” we talk about the mental/emotional/spiritual side of health. How are we supposed to think at a time of overwhelming shock like this?
I don’t have easy answers. Only sadness.
But right now, I think sadness is appropriate at a time like this.
Numb shock is appropriate.
Anger is appropriate.
Disbelief and denial are appropriate.
Fear could be considered reasonable.
Even hatred, as crazy as it sounds. I can’t argue with someone who is feeling some hatred right now.
These are all just emotions. Emotions are real and appropriate, as long as we don’t let them choose our reactions for us.
Eventually, all of those emotions will give way to acceptance and we will all move on with life. But right now…I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way to think. We are who we are and right now, we are each going through trauma in our own way, at our own speed.
The Natural Response And The Supernatural Response
At times like these, our natural automatic response is self-preservation. Adjust your own oxygen mask before assisting others, as they say on the airplane. Could you fault the person who ducks for cover when shots are fired? Can you fault the parents who are feeling a little overprotective right now? Self-protection is just a natural thing to do.
That makes what first responders do all the more amazing. Every day, they cast aside their natural inclination to self-protection and comfort and run to care for others. The police officers, the EMTs, the firefighters, the lifeguards.
Each of them witnessed unspeakable horror this week. Blood. Death. Suffering. Wounds more typical of a war zone. Every morning, they wake up knowing that they could experience the end of someone’s life while at the same time trying to shake off the trauma they witnessed the night before. You can get trauma training, but no matter how much training you receive, nothing prepares you for this kind of evil.
I’ve had many friends over the years who have served as first responders. Most of them drink heavily…or have at some point in their career. I can’t blame them. The human mind can only process so much, and most emergency departments don’t have the kind of counseling required to process things like this. These people make $10 an hour in some cases, keeping their calm in the face of the unthinkable.
And yet, every time their shift starts, there they are, ready to serve the broken bodies, agents of healing in a time of trauma.
Because they value human life.
Above their own comfort.
Above their own safety.
Above their own opinions, prejudices, judgements, and fears.
I’d be willing to bet there were doctors in the hospital who don’t approve of homosexuality, and yet they put on their gloves and served the wounded, even though many of the wounded were gay.
Because it’s the right thing to do, and every life is valuable.
I read the account of Dr. Joshua Corsa, a surgeon who was on duty that night of the terrorist attack. His later published a picture of his shoes, soaked in the blood of 54 wounded people. You can read the Miami Herald’s account of his story here.
One thing that impressed me in one of the accounts I read was that he took the time to mention that doctors, nurses, and technicians of every stripe were called in to work in the middle of the night on their day off and they all got dressed and came in as soon as they heard. They responded to the need, at their own expense.
If there is something that can be described as “Think Right” in all this, that is it.
Some of them will experience post-traumatic stress as a result of their commitment to care for the needs of others, but they did it anyway. Dr. Corsa is keeping his shoes as a reminder of that night: the face of evil rising up and the face of good rising against it.
To my brothers and sisters who come to work every day and night knowing that they might not come home, they might be in danger, or they might witness something that will scar them for life…I salute you. May God honor your bravery, shield you, guide you, and keep you safe in all you do.
It’s hard enough to face one of the scenarios we witnessed in Orlando. To face one while you are still coming to grips with the one before it takes a special kind of courage.
My prayer is for all the first responders, wherever they may be serving.
If you were touched by the events in Orlando, you are welcome to share your thoughts in the comments on Facebook. No judgement here. No politics. Just grieving together. If you have a word of encouragement, please share it. I believe God can use our words to bring healing if we let Him guide us. We are a fast-growing community on Facebook, and all are welcome.
“At the end of your feelings is NOTHING. At the end of your principles is a PROMISE.” — Eric Thomas