I didn’t change my Facebook profile picture to the French flag.
I didn’t tweet #prayforParis and didn’t Instagram a picture of an Eiffel tower peace sign.
I heard the news on Twitter, which has sadly become my frontline news source these days. It took me a while to piece together what was happening in another part of the world. There was an hour where I laid on my bed and wondered if Chicago was next. I wondered what it would feel like. Then I went with some friends downtown to ice skate.
The next day I saw more pictures, saying there was also an earthquake somewhere and a bombing somewhere else and another heartbreaking, life shattering event somewhere else as well. Probably four somewhere elses. And a woman from my hometown was shot, and a little girl not from my hometown was kidnapped, and I went to brunch with a friend and we ate pancakes and apple jam.
And I didn’t change my profile picture. Not because I don’t pray for Paris. I have, and I will. Not because I don’t stand with Paris. But mostly because I don’t understand.
I stressed tonight about an interview I have tomorrow and how my mom talks to my sister more on the phone than she talks to me. I have no concept for what it would be like to be involved in such terror. And it almost feels belittling to color my face red, white, and blue as a sign of “solidarity”. Yes, yes I am against such violence and disregard for human life. I’ll stand with you on that. But does the color of my profile picture really mean I’m standing with you on that?
We’ve read about social media “slacktivism”, I don’t need to say that all again. I’m not offended by my friends who did change theirs. I’m just declaring that I am completely ignorant. I never have felt that kind of hurt- I want to sympathize with you, Paris, and you, Beirut, and you, Japan, and you, Baghdad, and you, places in the world I’ve never touched or understood- but I don’t know how.
I’m just saying I don’t know. I don’t know if changing the colors of my social media each time the world has a crisis means anything at all. I don’t know why the world is full of terrible things, or how I got a life that is not full of terrible things. I don’t know how to use where and how I am blessed to make a difference that is more lasting then a temporary tri-colored filter. I don’t know how to make sense of the brokenness, or if you even can. I don’t know how I can say my belief system has answers when I have so few answers.
I’ve always refused to pray “come quickly, Lord Jesus” when we said it in church, because I was never ready. I secretly held that prayer inside because there’s so much life left for me to experience. But today I walked alone to church on sunny city sidewalks and I prayed it from my soul for the first time in my life. “Come quickly, Lord Jesus.” Come quickly, come into this hurting world and my life and our lives and this city and those cities and be here. Come and get us, or come and work around us and dwell inside us and be among us powerfully. Come.