Just over one week ago, thousands of people went to an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. None of them knew that their lives were going to change forever.
I’ve had a heavy heart this past week; I haven’t felt myself. Today, I want to talk to you about the Manchester Attack.
I usually feel very detached from this sort of thing. Whenever I hear about a terrorist attack in the UK, I feel scared, but never particularly emotional about it. This one I felt in my bones. I still do. On Tuesday, when I read the news, I had to try very hard not to burst into tears numerous times throughout the day at work and I was fixated with catching up on the latest news update.
The attack hit me hard was because I was at an Ariana Grande concert only four days before, in Birmingham. If this had been a different night, a different city, that could have happened to me. It could be me looking for my little sister in the crowds; or it could have been me lying helplessly on the floor; or it could have been me rushing to help young children who had been separated from their groups. My family love going to concerts so this was very close to home.
I know this is not about me, but I am extremely lucky and thankful to be alive. But my heart is hurting for those who have been affected. My chest physically hurts because awful things have happened to innocent people, innocent children.
There’s not a day that’s gone by since that I haven’t been upset about it. I haven’t cried but I feel the sting in my eyes whenever I think about it. Thankfully, no one I knew was affected but I can only imagine what it must be like for the families who have lost loved ones. Children who said goodbye to their parents before the concert and were never seen alive again; people who became separated from their groups; children who were rushing to the merchandise stand before the mad crush of people; families and friends that didn’t even see the concert but had come to collect children; Ariana, who will have to live for the rest of her life that her concert was the target of a terrorist attack. I’m trying to understand the immense pain that those who are left hurt must be feeling.
What hurts the most is that no amount of words, prayers or tears will ever bring any of those people back. They are gone, and what for? Nothing.
And I feel completely helpless.
For those of you who don’t know, I was involved in a car accident 10 years ago this October. A fatal car accident. The person who lost control of their car and crashed into my family’s car at 70mph passed away.
Life can change in a moment.
Our car, a large 4×4, was so damaged that it’s left my family wondering how we all survived. One of us, at least, should not have survived it. Scientifically, it just doesn’t make sense. But God chose to save all four of us. Why? Since the attack in Manchester and now reflecting upon this, it’s got me wondering: what really is the value of my life?
I cannot, after having a near-death experience myself, sit here and do nothing. Life is too short not to share that I was saved by a God who I didn’t know at the time; life is too short not to use my life and the resources I have to help others in need. It is too short to sit back and feel detached simply because the attack didn’t happen in a place near me or because I thankfully wasn’t there.
I lost the feeling of: ‘something like that will never happen to me’ after the car accident. While I adopted the approach of: ‘it’s happened to me, so it will never happen again to me’ for a little while, I’ve learned to let go of that one too. Because something like that could happen to anyone. You don’t need to be a good or a bad person for something like that to happen to you; you don’t need to be of a certain religion or faith for something like that to happen to you. There isn’t such a thing as a ‘near death experience card’ that once it’s been used up, that’s it, you’re safe. No. Anything can happen, it can happen to anyone, and it can happen at any time.
I’m terrified of being involved in another car accident. I’m terrified of driving. I hate it. It took me almost two years to learn and I had a break halfway through because I had spoken over myself that I would never be able to do it. I’m terrified of my family being involved in another car accident. I’m terrified of Joel being involved in a car accident. When I hear about an accident on the news or drive past one, I automatically feel involved. I have to know what happened, and I have to know if whoever is involved is ok.
But has it stopped me driving? No. Will this stop me from going to concerts or traveling to big cities? No.
But no one should go out and not come home again. No one should not be able to say goodbye to their loved ones.
I keeping thinking to myself, what if the bomb hadn’t have exploded? Really, would anyone have been any safer? And what if those people hadn’t have been there at that exact time? That one is hard because I know the answer – it would have happened to other people. And that’s not any better.
So, what can I do? I’m safe myself, but I’m heartbroken. And I feel a twinge of survivor’s guilt even though I was not involved and I wasn’t near the concert. Why should I be allowed to live when other people died? What is special about me? What is the value of my life?
I know that God is, too, heartbroken that many of His children died that night. I don’t understand the tragedies, why God may ‘let’ them happen but I do know that He is a God of love and that He promises to equip us for the battles that we face.
I don’t want to waste my time thinking about who did this. As a Christian, I should forgive. And I will. But it doesn’t let them off the hook. Instead, it sets us free. The perpetrator is not my focus, the victims are.
So what conclusion did I arrive at? What is the value of my life? Everything, and nothing.
I can’t preserve it and I don’t want to. It’s worth everything because while I am living on this Earth I have a duty to put it to use. I have the power and influence to change people’s lives and making tomorrow a little bit better. And it’s worth nothing because if I die, I die. To put it bluntly. As long as I make each day count, and remember to smile (sometimes), then that’s all that matters.
So, I can’t sit back and do nothing. I want to be proactive, not simply reactive.
The attack in Manchester has really put things into perspective for me and this past week I’ve had a long think about what I can do and how I can change myself to help make the world a better place.
10 PROMISES I’M MAKING TO MYSELF SINCE THE MANCHESTER ATTACK
- I promise to give more of my finances to the church and to people in need.
- I promise to love harder.
- I promise to try to forgive a little bit quicker.
- I promise not let my fears hold me back.
- I promise not to be afraid of death; because death has been beaten.
- I promise to try to not to get caught up in the little things.
- But I promise to remember that the little things matter too.
- I promise to be strong about what I believe in.
- I promise to be more grateful for what I have and the people in my life.
- I promise to carry others in need.
One thing I can say about the Manchester Attack is that I am overwhelmed by the response of the British people. I have never felt patriotic or particularly proud to be British, but the way that we have pulled together as a nation warms my heart.
Knowing there was nothing I could physically do to help, except raising awareness on social media, I thought that there must be somewhere to donate money to help the victims and victims’ families. The Evening News in Manchester had started a Just Giving fund. I found it and donated. The donations won’t take away the pain or the trauma, and they won’t bring loved ones back, but they will immensely help to support the families in need right now. I couldn’t give much, but I gave something. When I donated on Tuesday, the total was sitting at around £310,000 and now it’s at almost £2,000,000. How incredible. How encouraging. If you want to donate, you can do so here.
After everything, Ariana Grande will be returning to Manchester for a benefit concert to raise money for all the victim’s families. How strong and brave of her. She is a force to be reckoned with. I don’t doubt that she is traumatised by this, but she is putting the needs of others first. I think we can all learn from that. We need to carry the weak, embrace the broken and stand together as one body.
I don’t know how long it will take for me to no longer feel sad about the Manchester Attack, should it ever pass. But I will always remember it. The lives lost and the people who are suffering will always be in my prayers.