I remember the many words written about what happened last year at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. I remember the questions—so many questions and so few answers. Whether we were directly or indirectly affected by the Sandy Hook shooting, we could all relate through the pain. As a community, as a nation, we were lost. Tears and sleepless nights consumed us, and love took on a burden: fear.
I wish I could give voice to the lives lost. But I can’t.
However, this past weekend, I was fortunate to be a part of a group of people who attended MOVE: FOCUS in Newtown, CT. And now I hope I can give voice to them.
The day was about awareness of people—their stories, their desires, what they had to share. Teenagers and adults alike talked about their experiences, asked questions, and posed thoughts. Heavy conversations focused on hope, love, and healing. We discussed brokenness, depression, anxiety, and suicide, but left with the knowledge of recovery and community. Fear was right in front of us—but it had no place among us. It was absent from the room.
We entered the day as strangers, with diverse backgrounds, divided by what we did not know and the questions we had. We spent the day uniting through hope and love, relating through pain, peering into each other’s souls. We left as a community, grounded by a sense of purpose and determined to create a brighter future, for ourselves and for the communities we represented.
I spent much of my time in Newtown just looking at people. I wrote over and over in my journal to be aware of their purpose; I’ve written over and over again since about the same. The high school students, adults, volunteers, counselors, and TWLOHA staff who gathered there want to be like a rock dropped in water, carrying ripples of hope and strength out to the world around them. They didn’t come just for personal recovery, healing, or understanding; they sought to take with them a message of love. “Love is the movement” has never been truer.
That November day was about new beginnings. We took time, held each other’s hands, looked at one another, and gave each other permission to want something more. Something powerful happens when we give people license to ask questions and respect them enough to help them get the answers they deserve. The questions can be tough— questions of mental illness, hate, pain, potential, love, hope. The answers can sometimes be hard to find. But we can all join in the conversation, and that is where hope breathes life.
We live in a hard world, a broken world. But if you’re struggling, you are not alone. If you’re hurt, lonely, afraid, grieving, you are not alone.
I want to tell you to be aware of people and of their stories. Everywhere around us, people from amazingly different backgrounds grant us the opportunity to seek help, to have a healthy conversation, to want better, just by wanting the same for themselves. The fear, pain, and grief that has ingrained itself into the memories of so many can be combatted. We can rise above them, through connections, relationships, and a sense of love. And in the darkest of moments, hope is present.
You can learn more about our MOVE Conferences and how you can bring one to your community here.