This morning, as I write this article, I am sitting in the family room of our house, drinking a cup of tea, working on a state-of-the-art computer.
I realize that in so many ways I am living a blessed life, one that is far more fortunate than many, if not most.
The painful dichotomy of this situation is that as I write, my heart and my mind are on the people of Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, whose lives have been altered in ways that few can ever understand.
There is no lack of sympathy for grieving families and hurting cities, and yet at the same time there is a strange sense that seems to be overtaking us, and that is what I want to address today.
Some years ago a term came into usage that expressed much of what we often feel, and that term is, “compassion fatigue.” It is real and it affects all of us at some time and in some way, and that is especially true in these days and times.
One of the concerns that I have is that with acts of violence and loss of life becoming an all-too-frequent occurrence in our nation, there is the possibility that we become both indifferent and even anesthetized to all we see and to all that is happening around us.
One of the traits that make us human is the ability to care, to show compassion and to connect at real and even deep levels with others and to enter into the pain that they feel.
The question we must ask and answer is: How do we avoid a loss of caring and at the same time enjoy our lives and live them to the fullest?
Let me suggest three ways I believe we can do that:
1. Resist survivor’s guilt syndrome. This emotion and experience is real, and as we see people lose loved ones and parents lose their children, we can begin to feel guilt that we have our loved ones and our children.
This sense and emotion is real but it has to be managed, even as it is acknowledged.
2. Remember to give grace to others. These are hard and challenging days for everyone, and so everyone we meet is in need of grace and kindness — in these days particularly. We must commit to giving grace, even when it is challenging and difficult.
3. Recommit to live a life of gratitude. Right now, if you are like me, there is the tendency to see only the negative, the wrong, the evil that is in the world. And while these are true realities, the fact remains that there is good in the world and there is good in us.
These are difficult days and each of us feel the weight of it. Someone has said that grief is like the weight of wet sand, and we have all felt burden of that reality.
We can make it and we can emerge from this season better, but we must continue to have faith in the innate goodness of others, faith in our own gifts that we can give and faith in the God who guides and governs and never leaves us alone.
Bishop Timothy Clarke is the senior pastor of First Church of God on the Southeast Side.
Keeping the Faith is a column featuring the perspectives of a variety of faith leaders from the Columbus area.