This morning I woke up to the news of the terrible tragedy in Las Vegas. This particular tragedy wasn’t something that was far removed from me. While it was thousands of miles away in Las Vegas, it was still a tragedy that hit people close to me. A man opened fire from the 32nd floor of a hotel into a crowd of fans attending a big country music festival. Were my fans and friends among the crowds? Yes. Among the people performing at that event, were drummers, guitar players, and friends that I have toured with, and spent hours on the road with. My Aunt called me this morning to make sure I wasn’t there. The first thing I did when I found out was make sure that one of my good friends and biggest supporters, who lives in Vegas, was not at the event. By the grace of God, the folks that I know who attended the event, or were close by are ok. However, there are at least 50 other people who are not ok. Who will not be going home to their families, or saying goodnight to their loved ones tonight. And whether bullets hit the others or they got out physically unharmed, that event will remain a wound on their hearts. What they saw and heard, they can’t unsee or unhear, and what happened is done. So where does that leave us. This morning, this is the thought it left me with, we need to be a people that stops living on paper, and starts living out loud. How many of us have lives that look so good on paper, or social media? So much of society lives with plastered on smiles, pushing down pain, frustration, or anger, and trying to live a “good life” that looks right on paper. But is that how we’re really called to live? When Jesus walked among us, he constantly broke what the religious leaders considered “religious law.” He healed people on the sabbath, He befriended those who others would not speak to. He called out hypocrites. Jesus did not live a life that looked good on paper. He associated with prostitutes, adulterers, and tax collectors, and he called out the people who sat high and mighty preaching religious law, and yet He is the One who lived a holy, and righteous life. Because Jesus didn’t just live a life that looked good on the outside, He lived a life that felt good and right on the inside. He listened to his heart and soul when they spoke to Him. He recognized anger and sadness as directional markers when they came up, and He didn’t ignore them. He helped people who had a desire for change, and He rebuked those who believed they were above others, and had lost sight of the heart of God.
I can’t help but wonder what life would be like if we began to live a life that felt good on the inside, just as Jesus had. What would happen if we were true to our hearts and our emotions, and spoke up when we felt something that hurt us. The more we push down our feelings and replace them with a smile, the less we feel. The more we pretend, the less becomes real. And the more we shut out the truth, the less we see it even when it’s in front of our faces. If we could just allow ourselves to feel more, maybe we could also be more open to see others hurting. Perhaps we’d better be able to recognize those around us who are holding on by a mere thread and on their way to a breakdown. When we shut down our own emotions, we close ourselves off to our own hearts and souls. We shut off our ears to the voice of God, and we close our eyes to the truth around us. We stop feeling the good moments as much as we stop feeling the hard ones. That is not living at all. Life is far too long to live a life that looks good and doesn’t feel good, and it’s far too short, to go another day without making a change and taking a chance to live fully in truth, and strive for a life that feels good on the inside. So in the wake of a great tragedy, take time to grieve, and get sad and angry at the loss. Take time today to listen to your heart, and listen to it’s desires. What do you want so much that you’ve been putting off. What have you been pretending is ok, when it hurts. Is there a part of you that a part of you that knows you aren’t fulfilled, but has kept quiet. Who have you not spoken to in ages that you can reach out to and just catch up with. Give yourself nurturing love today, and the permission to feel, and reach out to those around you in love. Look around, and notice those who seem to be hurting. Hold the door for a stranger, and smile genuinely at someone who needs it. Say the loving things that come to your mind. You never know what a difference the smallest of gestures can make. Don’t live on paper, live out loud.