On January 6, I wrote a blog post about a girl who lived her life in such a way that she left an impact on the lives of everyone who knew about her, even after her earthly life was cut short. I didn’t know this girl, Lauren Bump, and I had no right to write something about her as if I knew her in anyway, but I wrote about her anyway. I wrote about what I thought I knew about her from the things her friends, family, and personal blog posts wrote about her. Within a week, nearly fifteen-hundred people read that entry, including my best friends who were very close to Lauren, and Lauren’s best friend.
A month and a half later on February 15, I was hanging out with my best friends, Allie and Holly, at the Passion Conference in Houston and Lauren’s best friend, Gabby, was there. She came over to say hello to Allie and Holly and I thought she looked familiar, but I wasn’t sure who she was. I was wearing a t-shirt that I bought in memory and honor of Lauren, Gabby saw it and said she liked it. Allie told me she was Lauren’s best friend and I realized why she looked familiar. I saw her in one of the videos in the news, talking about Lauren. Allie introduced me as “the girl who wrote the blog post about Lauren.” I didn’t know Gabby had read my blog, so I was shocked and honored to know that she had not only read it but liked it. I sat in a seat listening to Gabby, Holly, and Allie talking about Lauren and was struck with awe. What I knew about Lauren had affected me enough that I was willing to write a blog post about her and buy and wear a shirt in her honor. How much more had she affected these three young women whose lives she had personally poured into? It was very humbling and inspiring to listen to these girls talk about Lauren. I could see in their eyes and hear in their voices just how much Lauren had meant to them. That day I was more inspired by Lauren than I was before. Even more proudly, I wore the pink shirt with her name and quote on it.
Another month and a half later, on March 28, I was riding the Mega Bus headed to Austin to hang out with Allie and Holly again. I sat next to a mother of two kids, one about my age and another a few years older than me. We started talking and started a conversation about running. I told her that I had always wanted to start running but didn’t finally start until January when I was inspired by the life of Lauren Bump, a runner who was murdered at O.P. Schnabel Park on New Year’s Eve to finally start running. I explained that I wanted to run a 5k in her honor. We were both leaving from San Antonio, so I thought maybe she had heard about it in the news. She had and she told me she and her running friends ran in Lauren’s honor. Once again I was inspired by the impact Lauren’s life has left on the community in San Antonio. In a city with a population of 1.38 million people, it was so inspiring to know that I was sitting with someone who had not only heard about Lauren’s life but also ran in her honor. I knew a few people who were personally affected by Lauren’s life when she was still on this earth, so it wasn’t so unusual that knowing about her death and the life she lived would affect me in one or another, but the woman I sat with told me she hadn’t been connected to Lauren or her life at all and she was still affected enough to run in her honor.
Almost every day I think about Lauren, the life she lived, and her quote, “Seek peace, keep a joyful heart, and in all things do with love.” I wonder what it would have been like to actually know Lauren, but in a weird way, I’m glad I never knew her, because I don’t think her life would have inspired me in the same way that it has without knowing her. Knowing me and how I react toward people like Lauren, I’m sure her life still would have inspired me had I known her, and I probably would have driven my other friends and family crazy with how much I talked about how awesome she was, but I don’t think her life and death would have meant the same thing to me that it means now.
Had I known her, I would have cried and mourned her death for sure, but because I didn’t know her, I didn’t have the right or the emotional attachment to mourn her death. It was tragic and I was heartbroken to know that a twenty-four –year-old girl had lost her earthly life so soon, but I didn’t cry for her. I did cry some, but not for her; I cried for the tragedy of the situation and for the lose that her friends and families had to deal with. For Lauren, I rejoiced and celebrated. God was finished with her physical life in this world and now she gets to spend eternity with him in heaven, looking down on the lives of everyone she knows and loves, smiling and enjoying the view. I imagine she sees the way her life is still affecting people, people who never even knew her, and I imagine she’s smiling a humble smile, in awe of how God is still using her.
I celebrate the life she lived. The more I hear about her and analyze her blog posts and the things people say about her, the more I know that she lived a life that matched her quote. She kept peace with everyone around her. She always had a joyful heart, even when things were stressful, and she constantly strived to do everything with love. I’m sure that nearly everything she said and did shined with God’s love. I imagine that just knowing her brought anyone who knew her closer to Him, because that’s how much she loved him and wanted to honor him. Heck, I know in some ways I’ve grown closer to God just by knowing of Lauren, so that has to be true for those who actually knew her.
Lauren Bump is and was a truly spiritual and inspiring person and even though her physical life may be over, her spiritual life is still alive and working in the hearts of just about everyone who knows her name. God may have chosen that he was finished using her in a physical way in this world, but He is still using her in an emotional and spiritual way today, three months and one week after she was taken from this world. I can’t speak for everyone who knows her name, but I can speak for myself. She has left a potent and eternal mark on my life and I can’t express how grateful I am to know her name and to know people who personally knew her so that in a way, I knew her by hearing what people had to say about her and by reading what she had to say about herself in her blog posts and personal quote about peace, joy, and love.
“Seek peace, keep a joyful heart, and in all things do with love.” ~ Lauren M. Bump