Four days ago, I woke up to the same news you did, that Russia had invaded Ukraine. Although we’d been warned this was coming, the actual news hit me in a physical way. I felt it like cold fear down in my belly. I winced, closed my eyes, took a deep breath and held back tears.
We are a connected people. What matters to one, matters to all. We’ve seen it with the global pandemic. We’ve seen it with climate change. We’ve seen it with the racial and social unrest in our world. We’ve seen it in the divide in our own country, communities, churches and homes. I feel it spiritually.
Since July, I’ve been something I’d never been before, the mother of a soldier. I’ve found parenting in general to be very challenging but especially the part where your heart and soul are walking around outside of you, interacting with this not-so-friendly world and subject to the ups, downs and difficulties of real life.
But having someone you love on active-duty military service, takes it to a new level. Our son has felt called to this since he was in high school. He’s very observant and understands the world far better than I do. He’s been worried about Russia for some time (and China). He learned Spanish in high school and then, on purpose, minored in Russian in college. His degree is in International Affairs, and he is now a Second Lieutenant in the US Army. I believe he feels as called to the military as I am to ministry. We understand each other on that level. A couple of years ago, he studied Russian all summer in Kyrgyzstan, I thought that was hard on all of us. Now I can see it was only practice for what was to come.
The news of Russia invading Ukraine hurt me on the mom level. We have skin in this game. I also feel for every other soldier out there, feeling called, committed and serving and every military family out there feeling what I’m feeling.
It hurt me for Ukraine. We have two families from Ukraine that live in our neighborhood. I’ve always enjoyed waving to them on my walks. One family often flies the blue and yellow Ukrainian flag on their house. I noticed it was out this morning. The two families are related. Certain times of the year, the grandparents come and visit for several weeks, walking happily back and forth between the two homes. Right now, the grandparents are still in Ukraine. Can you imagine how those two families are feeling about their homeland and their parents? We are all connected. This invasion isn’t happening far away, it is right in my neighborhood and right in our family.
Kenyan born writer, poet and teacher Warsan Shire wrote, I held an atlas in my lap, ran my fingers across the whole world, and whispered, where does it hurt? It answered, everywhere, everywhere, everywhere.
Maria Shriver reflected this week on this poetic line and about the terrifying situation in our world. We are becoming numb to the violence that is all around us. We scroll past school shootings…. Our social media platforms are rife with verbal violence thrown at each other. Our political disagreements are violent and threatening.… there is pain everywhere–in every home and on every street corner. So, what can each of us do? Her answer? We can at least not turn away. (From Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper 2/27/22)
In the last few days, a few friends and relatives have reached out to see how I’m doing. I guess they know how hard this can all be on a military mom’s heart. I told one of them I was doing all I knew to do, I’m praying, doing yoga, looking up, walking my dog and making soup.
One of my neighbors told me she asked our Ukrainian neighbors what we could do. The mom there said pray. We need you to pray.
When it hurts all over what helps? Not turning away. Praying for peace. Acknowledging that things are not as they should be. Darkness is trying to win in this world. I’m praying for Light instead.
A couple of days ago, I read these words in Jesus Calling by Sarah Young Your gravest danger is worrying about tomorrow. If you try to carry tomorrow’s burdens today, you will stagger under the load and eventually fall flat. You must discipline yourself to live within the boundaries of today. (Jesus Calling 2-27)
When it hurts all over, stay in this day. It is all we have.
Today as I walked my dog under our crisp February Texas blue sky, I heard a song, and this line jumped out to me: We don’t know what to do, but our eyes on are on You. A little research reminded me that this line is from the Bible, 2 Chronicles 20:12. It is spoken when a giant army is advancing on the little guys. Also spoken that day were these words, Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s (2 Chronicles 20:15.)
We are all connected. This is a physical and spiritual truth. When it hurts all over, when your worry feels high, look up, call on God.
I’m sure you’ve learned in the last few days what I did, that the sunflower is the national flower of Ukraine. Different flowers signify different things. The sunflower is a sign of happiness, optimism, honesty, longevity, peace, admiration and devotion. When I learned that, I realized that is my prayer for this day, this season, this time.
God, we don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on You. Amen
Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three, breast cancer survivor, Mosa to Keller, Pace and River. To read more blogs, to see Cindy’s speaking schedule, or to sign up for Cindy’s Inner Circle monthly Top Ten List, go to http://www.drcindyryanblog.com.