Choosing to step out and try to write about something controversial is difficult. Through the written word, intent isn’t always known and body language is non-existent.
I still feel compelled to share some thoughts about recent events. I will get some kickback, I already know and I’ve seen it happening to other people who feel similarly to how I feel; though not all completely the same.
Recent attacks on Paris are heart-breaking and devastating. We’ve felt that kind of terror on our own soil and we know firsthand how it feels. Sadly, lots of countries know how it feels…
Being who I am – a pacifist and a peacemaker – I struggle. Can I just be honest about that?
“Kill them all!” ~ a sentiment read over and over on social media.
“Close the borders and don’t let anyone in!” ~ another read sentiment throughout social media.
“Let’s deal with our own homeless before we help everyone else!” ~ another widely read thought.
And so begins my struggle… as a believer and a Christ follower… “kill them all…” huh… What? Here’s the thing, in our minds we can believe any truth that is pounded into us for a long enough period of time. It doesn’t mean that that truth is actual truth, it means that it’s the truth we believe. So, if someone tells a young woman that she isn’t worthy, or beautiful, or smart she will begin to believe that truth after a period of time. In order to reset that truth inside of her mind, she needs people to rally around her, support her, and speak the real truth over her time and time again. After some time, and some prayer, she will begin to see the real truth – love.
Now, imagine living in a culture and society that for years – generations, really — tells us that so and so are evil people. From the time we’re born, that’s our whole understanding of those particular people – think pre-civil rights era. That is the truth those people know, their truth. We know it isn’t true or right, but they believe it to be true. In our own country, when we fought for civil rights, it meant standing up for the real truth and teaching people that what they’ve heard for their whole lives is wrong and untrue. We prayed for our nation, we walked in love with our brothers and sisters, and eventually the real truth emerged – love.
Friends, it’s radical to think we can love a culture of people who have a mission to kill and destroy us, but in my heart, I sincerely feel like that’s what we’re supposed to do. The radical extremists, NOT all Muslims, have been lied to for their whole life. They’ve been given a truth that isn’t real. They’ve been poured into with evil intentions. I sincerely feel that the only way to overcome that darkness is with light. Can we “kill them all!” I mean, I guess so… that isn’t what I want, though. God wants not one to perish without knowing Him. Not one. Not even them. How do we speak truth to those who want to kill us? I have no clue. None. I know there is a priest currently serving in the Middle East who opens his home and dinner table for people he knows are terrorists. He knows the risk, yet he does it anyway. When he invited ISIS into his home, they refused and said if they came, they would leave with his head. Needless to say, he didn’t invite ISIS again. The fact that he’s doing his very best to speak truth, even if just one person hears it, is amazing.
As Jesus Christ hanged on the cross, He asked His Father to forgive His killers for they know not what they are doing. They were given a false truth and they acted on that deception and killed Jesus. Too many people walk around with a false truth and when we don’t take the time to teach the real truth… it’s sad and hard and scary…
“Close the borders and don’t let anyone in!” – uhm.. okay? So, suddenly we’re a country of heartless people who don’t have an iota of compassion for refugees? Look, friends, that nonsense that’s been making its rounds about all the refugees being 18-24 year old males is false. It isn’t true. Please don’t believe everything you see on Facebook – do your own research so that you can learn the truth (as well as we can being outsiders). People in Syria are fleeing for their lives. Hundreds of thousands have had to leave their homes to go find shelter in a refugee camp with thousands of other people. Have you looked into the conditions of some of these refugee camps? It’s devastating. I’m sad for people to live that way and so grateful for my own home and comfort and the fact that I don’t have to flee for my life because my country is being torn to shreds.
So what do we do? Close the borders and not care about those people? Open our borders and conduct better screening to try and be responsible for who is let in and who we refuse? I get it. We are called to love our neighbors – those running from Syria and those living next door. How can we say we love the ones next door if we’re willfully letting in our enemy? I get it. It’s complex. Way too complex for my wee little brain. My friend, Jeremiah Lorrig, wrote a great piece on this very topic and he says things way better than me because he’s way smarter than me. Please go read it…
The sentiment about dealing with our own homeless is one that really just boils my blood. I have a heart for homeless people, I just do. I work to consistently offer food, supplies, take them out to lunch or dinner – I have NO extra money or income to do this, yet I do it over and over. I’m not responsible about it. I acknowledge that about myself… My light bill will be late if it means that someone got that money for a hotel stay that night. I’m in need of shackles on my spending and I know it. My heart is bent and broken and all sorts of messy for that population of people. Even the scammers, liars, and tricksters… I’m a mess.
I say that not to brag or boast about what I’m doing, though. I say that because I watch countless people walk by as if our homeless don’t even exist. I watch people spit at, talk down to, and ridicule someone sleeping on the street. I say that because how we’ve been treated, stared at, and talked to while sitting in a restaurant. People wonder why so and so is washing herself in the bathroom, when someone was finally kind enough to offer her a meal and thus make her a patron and thus allowing her to use the restroom. Please don’t rely on the government to save our homeless or to take care of them. The government is already taking care of enough people, probably too many and some they shouldn’t be. That’s not my place to argue today, though. The government is jacked up and I can’t fix that. However, I can offer a room, a meal, some soap, some clothes, some toothpaste, some deodorant. That I can do. And so can you. Instead of griping about what the government isn’t doing for those people, I ask you to check what YOU are doing for those people.
This is a long post. A post created from my own broken heart for the lies, evil, and deception throughout the world. I don’t know what we should do because I simply don’t have all the answers. I wish I did. The truth I want to walk in is love. And faith that nothing in this world is beyond the grasp of our knowing, sovereign God. I want to pray for those who don’t know the truth. I want to ask God to forgive them for they know not what they do.
Mandy Smith writes:
Father of All Peoples,
Giver of All Life.
When the world is in turmoil, we confess that we feel afraid.
We want to fix it with words: “Us” and “Them.”
We want to fix it with weapons: anger and hatred, fire and steel.
But we are a people of love.
We want to believe that perfect love casts out fear.
And although it’s hard to believe,
We pray in faith that you can work in the hearts of terrorists.
We do not know where they are.
But you know.
We do not know what they plan.
But you know.
And so we will reach down deep for the truest thing we know.
And pray for love to seep into places filled with fear.
Wherever an extremist has joined ranks to find meaning,
Fill his dreams with your purposes.
Wherever one has joined from disillusionment with his parents,
Fill his dreams with your Fatherly love.
Wherever one has fled to fight because he’s a misfit in his community,
Give him dreams of belonging in Your family.
Wherever one has joined from loneliness,
Find his longing and let him dream of your longings.
Whoever falls asleep plotting, fill their dreams with uncanny peace.
Whoever falls asleep hateful, fill their dreams with inexplicable joy.
And when they awake, may they wonder why this all seemed so important
As they open their eyes, let them see anew
As they look to the day ahead, fill their minds with doubt
As they step from their beds, give their feet uncertainty
As they rise to face the day, go with them into that day
Haunt them all day with those dreams
Give them courage to whisper their dreams to each other
Disrupt their hate with visions of your love
Undermine their fear with visions of your love
Fill their hearts with visions of your love.