I spent most of my Sunday on airplanes flying from one end of our country to the other. At some point, far too early in the morning, I glanced up at a screen in one of the airports and saw the news about Orlando. Later that night, I sat at my kitchen table and read some of the details on various news sites.
For the past 2 days , I’ve experienced a bit of jet lag. My body and my brain have no idea what time zone they are in. So forgive me if my thoughts seem a little foggy as I struggle to find words to articulate my heart.
Fearful and Weary: I wonder how many more terrorist attacks we will endure before our nation’s leaders find the resolve necessary to fight this enemy into extinction. You see, I stood at the 9/11 memorial one week ago. I traced the names with my fingertips, raw emotions, fighting back tears that welled up in my eyes. 3,000 people that day. 3,000 sons, daughters, wives, husbands, brothers, sisters. 3,000 innocent people of different races, religions, and sexual orientations. Murdered by radical Islamic terrorists. And today we face another enemy with the same convictions and the same resolve to kill, conquer, & destroy. They won’t discriminate on the basis of our race, sexual orientation, gender identity, or socio-economic status. If we are not their brand of Muslim they want us dead and the more horrific that death befalls us the better for their cause. They want us dead. Period.
Burdened: How much more of this can we endure…will we endure? How many more nations and people will they maim, kill, and terrorize before they are defeated? When and how will the hatred finally cease? How will these families wake up day after day and eat breakfast, accept phone calls, go about their “normal” lives when there is nothing normal about what happened Sunday? How will the mothers of those massacred in Orlando continue to breathe in a world where their children have been senselessly and violently ripped from their lives? My heart aches for all the mothers who will have to bury their children as casualties of this radical, religious “cause.”
Heartbroken, Grieving, and Anguished: For the LGBTQ community as they endure what so many others have been forced to endure. A building full of people who had walked in feeling safe, loved, and accepted. A place that offered them freedom from a world of accusation, ridicule, & judgement. They did not attack this enemy first nor did they engage in any direct action against him to provoke his form of “retaliation” against their lifestyle choices. And yet there are families around Orlando and scattered throughout our country that are grieving the loss of their loved ones. Senselessly murdered. Horrifically injured. Lives forever traumatized. A community and a city sufficiently terrorized. Again. And I sit here mourning for every one of those souls. Grieving their loss. Overwhelmingly saddened at the agony they now endure.
Angry and Frustrated: Because we have lawmakers who refuse to acknowledge that whether or not we wage war against them, they are indeed at war with us. Boston, Ft. Hood, San Bernadino, Paris, London, Madrid, and all over the Middle East. The actions of these zealots are proof that all acts of terrorism are rooted in deep hatred and are perpetrated by a people who will not go gently into the good night simply because we once mistakenly (or not-so-mistakenly) dismissed them as the “JV team.” They are fueled by a cause too few of us fully understand. I am frustrated at politicians who use this vicious, calculated act of hatred to fuel the fires of their personal and party agendas; at those who slither in front of cameras and seize the opportunity to continue their rhetoric of name-calling and finger-pointing and flap their lips about wall-building and people-banning. I am angry at the ideological calls to take away the rights we were guaranteed over 200 years ago as if relinquishing our rights as citizens of this Country will somehow make us safer from this type of violence and stop terrorists from coming after us. And perhaps what frustrates me more than anything is reading the duplicitous Facebook statuses and tweets from prominent Christian leaders who have made it their very business to rain down judgement & condemnation on the LGBTQ community for years. The same people who just months ago were calling this community an abomination, warning them of God’s judgement, and urging Christians to be careful of who they let in their churches <insert dry heaving and eyeroll> are now suddenly “praying” for them and peddling some insincere brand of empathy. I apologize if this is blunt, but I must say that even Stevie Wonder could see through that pile of BS?! Is the LGBTQ community supposed to receive their crappy apologies and accept their condolences as heartfelt? Do we really expect a community that has had the doors of the church slammed in their faces for years to find peace, comfort, and hope in the outstretched arms of those who were too holy to hold them before this tragedy occurred?
I stumbled upon a website today that tracks radical Islamic terrorist attacks around the world and the numbers I read made me want to vomit. Since January 2016 they have documented 1043 Islamic attacks in 48 countries. Those attacks left 9,865 people dead and 12,001 injured in countries all around the world. The victims include the rich and the poor, men and women, gay and straight, Christians and (by a staggering majority) their fellow Muslims. Those who plan and carry out these attacks do not discriminate. Now, I’m not a politician or a theologian…I’m not an expert on anything, actually. But it seems to me that the only way to fight this enemy we face is together. We speak together. We stand together. We fight together. We stop paying lip service and we start actually listening. We repent and seek reconciliation with those we’ve ostracized. We stand, united against terrorism and terrorists, with every blessed person who will join our cause because each of us are fearfully and wonderfully made–created in the Image of God–regardless of our race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, or socio-economic status. We acknowledge that we all belong to each other…we are not each other’s enemy and we share a common enemy who will stop at nothing to destroy us. As long we remain divided and make room for hatred in our hearts, the enemy will continue to terrorize us. Together we are far better and we can be a global force with the power to stop the spread of their cancerous ideology dead in its tracks.
I hate to speak for God, because I’m quite certain that He is more than capable of speaking for Himself. The Jesus I know has always been in the business of forgiveness, mercy, grace, and unity. So I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I believe with all my heart that few things would give God a bigger rush than to see the Body of Christ rise up, take the hands of saints and sinners, and lead the way. The question is, are we brave enough to do so without first reaching for the hand sanitizer?