I am ashamed of my first split-second reaction to the shootings yesterday. I didn’t want to pray for the injured. The hurt their party’s legislation and policies have caused people who I love is tremendous. For me, it isn’t political. It is good vs evil. And I have been really angry!
Now Jesus demonstrated that anger is not wrong unless it keeps us from loving those who we are angry at. Anger is not wrong when it is an expression of unconditional love. But in that split second I didn’t want to even pray for the injured, because I was letting anger flow into unforgiveness and I realized I had stopped loving them.
When I heard the news, I was standing in front of the TV in my kitchen in the same place, watching the same TV, when just days earlier a little child I was caring for begin to cry. The leader of the injured party had come on the screen. She saw him and immediately covered her face and shook. She cried, “He wants to separate families.”
No child should live in this kind of terror. Do these people not understand what they are doing to her and thousands like her? Do they not understand they are complicit in afflicting her pain? She has already watched on as her father was taken away. Is her mother next? Her sibling? It broke my heart into a million pieces to watch her — wanting to comfort her and knowing I am as powerless as she is. I had no promises to make to her that I could keep – except that I would do everything I could to keep her family together.
But also in that split second, I realized my anger had taken me to a very dark place not fitting for a follower of Jesus. At the heart of my faith — the heart of what Jesus taught is forgiveness – even of my enemies – even of people who rip apart the heart and dreams and family of this tiny American citizen.
In the process of being nailed to the cross, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). If Jesus could forgive in the most horrific situation ever, then I certainly could forgive too. So I prayed.
Even though I didn’t want to, I placed my hand on the television screen on the picture of one of the injured and I begin to pray. Of course in a split second, the Spirit overwhelmed me and transformed my heart into one that wanted to pray – into one that desired only wholeness for the injured. I no longer had to try to forgive or to love. The Spirit filled my heart with love until it simply overflowed.
I will work hard until this child’s and her family’s needs are met. Until justice is done, I will not stop. I will speak truth to power. But I will do it with love that the Spirit will produce within me.
“Dear God, Please heal those hurt yesterday in the shooting! May they feel your love and arms wrapped around them. Amen”
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