I usually have a blog post on Tuesday mornings about the fun Etsy finds I’ve run across recently. But if you’ll let me, I’d like to skip that segment this week. Tomorrow I will be back to normal with Rewind Wednesday, but the swirling scenes of the Joplin tornado are still very fresh here in Kansas City…as well as all over the world.
Scott and I woke up yesterday morning and read through the Facebook posts regarding the tornadic weather in one of our Missouri cities. Joplin is about 4 hours from where we live, but many of our friends had loved ones they were concerned about and talking about on Facebook. We have a friend, Craig, who lives near Joplin and whose security firm worked St. John’s Hospital – the hospital damaged and evacuated following the ef4 tornado on Sunday evening.
(Craig’s camper shell that was next to his house but is now impaled high into a tree top limb)
Both Scott and I ‘liked’ the Joplin Emergency Response page that was set up on Facebook. It gave news coverage throughout the day yesterday about the situation. It was fascinating to follow along. And amazing to think about how that social avenue has become an immediate resource for disseminating information to massive amounts of people.
We looked at our week ahead, had a quick pow-wow meeting together about planning strategy, then called Craig to see if he needed a few more pairs of hands and chainsaws, etc to help out. Craig was still in a daze, but had managed to repair the open places on his house…moved his wife and daughter to another city with relatives…and was beginning to attempt to find most of the stuff that was gone from his yard. They didn’t have electricity but he had a generator and said they were in better shape than others. He kept saying it looked like a bomb had exploded all around him. As have many others throughout the past 48 hours, he used the most applicable word to describe his emotions: ‘surreal’.
It appeared we weren’t needed yet. We left him with directions that if he needed supplies from Kansas City, help cleaning up, whatever…to let us know.
News of the tornado reached from Diane Sawyer reporting live on the evening news to Andy Cohen mentioning it on the Real Housewives of NJ. Everywhere you turned, images and stories were emerging. I watched an extended report from our local news crew covering the disaster. This morning, as I write this blog post, Good Morning America is interviewing survivors and showing more pictures of the devastating natural horror. President Obama is on his way.
Yet I find myself reaching the same point I often do when things like this happen around the world: devastation overload. I feel it bubbling up inside. I can see it in my reactions to people I deal with in my little world. An inevitable part of the internal process that happens inside emerges – I begin to feel guilty about what I will do next.
I turn it off…
I stop listening…
I come to the realization that the best thing I can do is pray for those surviving as well as their grief over lost lives and anything resembling the story they have been living to this point.
The Joplin Emergency Response page on Facebook began posting names of people who were missing: what they were wearing, where they were last seen, physical descriptions, who to contact if you find someone matching that identity.
One by one they begin pouring into my Facebook Newsfeed.
It was terribly uncomfortable and I began to think, this is a great opportunity to pray for someone specific. Someone with a name. But in reality, I guess I’m not that strong. Not that…’good’.
I couldn’t keep seeing those names.
So I went to the Joplin Facebook page and ‘unliked’ the page to stop the Newsfeed. There just wasn’t anything I could ‘do’ to help. I could pray for people…but I didn’t have to know their specific names or what they were wearing. I knew that I couldn’t help locate them from here in Kansas City.
[Enter guilt process.]
I knew that people in the middle of the horror would think to themselves, “Oh how easy! If only I could ‘unlike’ this situation and get out of it!!”
The thing is, it has been a part of my self-monitoring process as I have aged. People. Movies. Conversations. There are areas of life of which I don’t have to be a part. I can’t fix those areas; so therefore, I don’t need to push through and endure it just because it’s there.
It sounds heartless. And many times I feel that way. But there are a few people in life that I have had to ‘unlike’. Friends who, when we are together, becomes a toxic situation for me and for them. It’s simply not a productive relationship, so it is much better to just keep my distance. To just walk away.
Movies are a classic example in my life. Baird and Hannah and Scott know. They’ll often tell me, “No….that’s not a movie you would like.” I trust their judgment. I love action movies! And of course I’m a sucker for romantic comedy. But sad movies? I don’t have to watch them just because they’re there. Just because they’re popular. Just because everyone else loves them. I don’t have to. I get too emotionally wrapped up in sad movies. My mind is way too imaginative and goes to other levels, rarely taking in a movie at the face value of its intended cinematic entertainment purpose.
Self-monitoring. I don’t have to watch sad movies.
Self-monitoring. There are some relationships I need to walk away from.
Self-monitoring. There are other ways (praying) that I can help a tragedy situation other than watching non-stop news coverage about it.
Self-monitoring. I’m learning that it is okay, if not healthy, to say to yourself, “This is becoming unproductive for me and is not helping the situation overall. I am becoming more emotionally involved in this than is effective. I need to step back and/or completely walk away.”
Are you learning that in life? Do you feel the need to ‘fix’ all situations or are you developing the ability for discernment about your own emotional/mental/physical limitations? Has it been a hard lesson to learn? It has been for me.
But sometimes…in caring for yourself properly…you need to unlike parts of life. It won’t be easy. But I think it’s an effective method of living a whole life. Love everywhere you can. Give and give and give all that is possible.
And then know when the giving needs to be a gift to yourself. Embrace the ‘okay-ness’ of that decision.
Pray always; but sometimes, without action and from a distance.
Give yourself permission to ‘unlike’…