Can you feel it? That dull ache in your stomach? The slightly heavy head? The shallow breath?
Sunday morning we all awoke to news of the deadliest mass shooting in US history. 49 people were killed. 53 injured. This came on the heels of a week of news stories surrounding a rape sentence that was all but a mockery of the woman who survived. And really, no one knew what to say. So what did we all do?
We looked for our symbols. Our one word slogans to stand behind, define us, define them, explain it away and dissolve any involvement. Guns. Gays. Consent. Terror. Hate. Them. Us.
We sought reasons….
the shooter was an extremist. the club was gay. she was drunk. he’s an athlete. the religious right. the liberals.
We sought solutions…
bomb ISIS. ban guns. protect bathrooms. dress modestly. don’t drink so much. ridicule the right. mock the left.
And we never said, “I’m sorry.” I didn’t see you. My eyes are clouded. My fear is ruling. I want to promote and protect myself. I don’t care about you. I only care about me.
What if we all stopped? What if we all closed our mouths, turned off our screens and walked outside. Walked to our neighbor, our enemy, our community, our stranger and looked them in the eye? We’ve seen the videos of refugees and Europeans meeting face to face and just sitting in silence together. It’s moving. It’s powerful. Because they SEE each other. They are forced to reckon with the OTHER.
That person that hurt you, irked you, scares you…..guess what? She is just like you. Hurt, irked and scared. He faces the same day you woke up to. She wants to be seen. He wants to be loved.
It feels so senseless, but I know it must be true – all of this violence comes from a deep desire to be loved, or a deep disappointment from NOT being loved.
The hateful memes. The slanderous blogs. The prayers of vengeance and destruction. What if, before you hit send, before you uttered amen you looked up. You saw the eyes of the man you want to destroy. You wiped away the tear of the woman whose soul you wish to steal. Would you stop? Would you be moved?
I dare say we are all terrorists. We are all murderers. We’ve all done damage. And it’s time to say we are sorry. We want to change. We don’t want laws that make us look better. We don’t want the right story. We want to be known. We want to be loved. And we really can’t until we lay it all down.
Let your face be cupped by the hands of the One you’ve murdered. Let Him look you deep in your eyes. And as you see his tear-stained cheeks, red, puffy eyes shine love back at you, you will melt. You will know you are forgiven. You will know that even though this world is filled with trouble and sorrow, there is hope. Because there is a Savior who conquered death. He loved the unlovely. And I don’t mean THEM. I MEAN ME. AND YOU.
Repent. For the kingdom of God is at hand. It is ready to be received.
Jesus tells us to come. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Do you know what his yoke is? His yoke is love.
Put down what you are doing. It’s time.
I am so sorry. Please, please forgive me.