Not my town not my town not my town

We say that God is good all of the time. And we say that we believe all things work together for the good of those who are called according to His purpose. And we say that what Satan means for evil, God uses for good.
And so what happens when the bad thing happens?
It happens every day. To other people. In other places. On those days I can’t pretend I don’t wonder. A lot. The promises of God never change. When evil knocks right on your front door? When he kicks it down and smashes all that safety and warmth. When it sits next to you in a theater and robs a city of beautiful young souls.
What do you believe?
Not my town. Not my town. Not my town. Isn’t that what lurks in the recesses of the mind when tragedy strikes? Sadness and even tearful sympathy when you see the bad thing unfolding miles away and then in that dark place a hint of relief. But, it wasn’t in my town, we say.
Until it is.
Sweet Lafayette. We are not the first. And we will not be the last. But, this place. It’s the place I call home and it feels big.
It feels huge. The bad thing happened right here in our precious city where we take our kids downtown without thinking twice. Right here where every other person has ashes on their forehead one Wednesday in the spring. And where Mardi Gras is a family affair.
A year ago we were named the happiest city in the country.
Today we are crying. Our hearts our breaking. Souls crushed.
Lafayette is not a small town. But, it’s a special place. It’s a microcosm of culture and faith, of tradition and progressive thought. There is no place like Lafayette.
This place has long felt insulated to me. Even when we sit smack in the middle of that “cone of uncertainty” all too often during hurricane season. You know the one they show on the national news and your family out of state is repeat calling and texting … “You’re in THE CONE! COME NORTH NOW!”
It feels a lot like the shooting has left us in a cone of uncertainty.
And I’m going to do the thing I do every year since I moved here in 2005 just months before Hurricanes Katrina and Rita arrived. I will refuse to be shaken.
We will not be shaken.
I will be wise. I will be vigilant. But, I will not live in fear.
I will go to the park. And I will shop. I will go to that Mardi Gras parade. And I will even go to the movies. And I’ll hold Wilder tighter. I’ll remember that much of what is paralyzing me with fear or angers me beyond reason is pretty petty and fleeting in the light of what matters most. And that what happened on Johnston Street is the sort of thing that really should send my blood boiling.
I will love with more intention and less reservation. Something I should have been doing anyway. And I’ll be thankful.
And we will not stop living.
Lafayette is not like other places. This is something the world will see when they peek into our windows even in the midst of tragedy. Tragedy has visited here before. And we didn’t let it stay.
It’s been evicted time and time again.
This will be no different.
Lafayette has a beautiful resilience. A way of turning what is ugly into something beautiful. Of showing the world that we are a community in the ways that matter most even when we are as different as a person can imagine.
The coming days will be living proof that our big hearts make us less vulnerable not more. Because we will not be shaken.
I never have liked being labeled “the happiest city in America” nor do I subscribe to the idea that we should all just do what makes us happy. Happiness feels too fleeting a concept for what I want. And for what Lafayette is.
Happiness feels like something that changes as quickly as our weather. Happiness feels like something that can’t survive July 23.
Lafayette has far too many storms to stand up to the flimsy banner of happy. Instead I find this city to be a joyful one. A deep, abiding joy that lives under the surface of beads and boiled crawfish and plate lunches and properly cooked gumbo.
There is a unique substance that makes up our city and it cannot be marred or diminished by the hand of one man. We may see sorrow, but we will not be shaken. Our hearts may be breaking but we will not be broken.
So, what do we do when the bad thing happens?
We do the things that bring us joy with more purpose. We live each day on purpose. We never forget. We celebrate and we mourn and we love love love on the memory of these beautiful women and we form our own little Lafayette army of comfort around those closest to the victims.
We choose faith instead of fear. We keep living and keep loving with a new sense of intensity.
We will be scarred, forever changed and we will be stronger for it not weaker.
We stay what we were before July 23 and what we will be long after the national news forgets our name again — Lafayette strong.

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About Amanda Jean Elliott

I am a joyful believer in Jesus Christ, a mother, a sister, a writer, a maker of gluten free roux and a style editor. I love my son Wilder and the wild life that comes with a 4-year-old who has the energy of a pack of wolves. I also love naps (a lot). I love to cook and create my favorite dishes without gluten not because I'm trendy and anti-gluten so much as it makes me feel like I've been run over by a pack of wolves. I teach 5th and 6th grade girls Sunday School and have a classroom of the greatest girls I could imagine. Girls who often teach me more than I teach them. I believe these girls and many others are the spark to start a fire for The Lord the likes of which this world has never seen. I see more and more girls learning about more than just who God is ... but, learning about who God says THEY are. It is my prayer for every woman to know without doubt that we have a good good Father in heaven and whatever is not right on this earth, He will make right in this life or the next.
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27 Responses to Not my town not my town not my town

  1. Kelly says:

    We will. We will continue to be the Lafayette that we are known to be and we will live more purposefully. Thank you for the beautiful words.

  2. Jenn Mouton says:

    Just. Beautiful.

  3. THIS is what it means to be
    #LafayetteStrong

  4. Stephanie mann says:

    I don’t know who you are but you must be a cool person…..love & live every word. It’s how life should be!

    • Thank you! Words seem small at a time like this. But there is power when people connect and there’s no time that is more needed than in the midst of pain and heartache.

  5. Robin Racca says:

    Amanda Jean…you rock.

  6. elizabethandmarie says:

    Standing with you in North Louisiana. We love Lafayette and our hearts are broken for you. Anywhere is too close to home, but especially our beloved Bayou State. #LouisianaStrong #LafayetteStrong

  7. Pam says:

    WOW! How beautifully said!

  8. elizabethandmarie says:

    Reblogged this on elizabeth burgess & marie hewes and commented:
    I will likely be sharing many post like this one…the Lafayette tragedy has hit too close to home. This lovely city is the heart of Acadiana, and this blog painted a beautiful picture of its tenacity, its strength, but most of all its hope to carry on. #LafayetteStrong

  9. Therese says:

    Beautifully said.

  10. Debby Tadlock says:

    Thank you Amanda. You have expressed what so many of us feel..Thank you.

  11. Louise says:

    This is spot-on. Thank you.

  12. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! You have captured our essence and our resilience! Thank you! I found great comfort in this.

    • Words can seem small in the midst of something so big. But the connection they can bring matters. Thank you for these kind words. The Lord is able no matter the circumstance. Finding hope in Him for our community

      • This has shocked all us true southerners, Louisiana,This has shown me we are Overcomers, strangers are our friends,we grieve, pray,hurt, for these victims and family. We are known for all our crazy ,having fun,dancing in the streets, wrestling them GATORS,GIGGING THEM FROGS, can not name it all.And when push comes to shove we will stick together .We may have the worse roads in the nation, trust me it is worth your bumpy ride,we Have the best hospitality, food, WELCOME TO CAJUN COUNTRY MOTTO , IN GOD WE TRUST. DON’T BRING TROUBLE . WON.T BE NONE. LOVE AND GOD BLESS OUR FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS ,RELATIVES IN LAFAYETTE
        LOUISIANA

  13. margaretsmn says:

    We cannot choose fear. We cannot let the bad guys win. We are strong. I love that the new icon for Lafayette is the word “Love.” As it should be. Wednesday nights at the horse farm this summer is proof of the strength, the family, the love. We will rise again. But in the meantime, we have to grieve and honor the lives lost and the ones forever changed.

  14. Adrienne Ruth says:

    I lived in Lafayette for 8 years and fell in love with the town, the people, the atmosphere, the sense of family; even though I had no other family members living there. I was so sad to see this happen in “my town”. To me, Lafayette is home. I will goo back there to live one day very soon. The resilience of the people of Lafayette will prevail! God Bless Lafayette, Louisiana!

  15. Christian says:

    Nailed it, nice job.

  16. Christina Nemetz says:

    You express my exact sentiments. Lafayette has been home all of my life, and the comfort and tranquility of home has been desecrated. I feel deeply shaken, but I know the stubborn spirit of Lafayette can’t be broken. It will take a while to shake off the feeling of violation, but we will rise above this tragedy and be stronger. I appreciate your words so much. Thank you.

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