Lately, there have been a lot of political issues that I’ve felt strongly about, but out of fear of the reaction of those around me, I’ve kept my opinions off social media. I’m non-confrontational, a people-pleaser to a fault, so the idea that I could be a source of tension or discord in a relationship is terrifying to me. I’ve stood instead on my soapbox in my empty living room, ranting to myself and my husband and my God.
I can’t anymore. This time, I’m too angry and too sad. This time, the feeling runs too deep.
I’m done with the silence, praying with the cries of my soul. Now, may the world hear my heart.
A few years ago, I started praying every time I sat in a low-lit theater, waiting for the previews to start: Please, God, don’t let there be a shooting here tonight. God, please, please don’t let me die during Zoolander 2.
I wasn’t worried about ISIS or Radical Islam. I was terrified of the one-off white guy who snapped.
Now, my prayers have changed: Please, God, take me in a shooting by an American. And God, if I get to choose, let him be anything but Muslim. Show those who love me that anyone can cause terror. Teach my family and friends that Radical Islam is not synonymous with terrorism, but simply one — albeit effective — example of it. Use my life to open even one person’s eyes to the idiocy of claiming an assault rifle is a weapon of defense, when the very name implies attack.
Take my life, Lord, that even one person’s outlook may be changed.
And God, remind my family of your forgiveness. And if I die at the hands of a Radical Islamist, remind my father of the lesson he drilled into me since I was small: that he could be the only Jesus the Muslim community knows.
Remind my loved ones that Jesus represents love, and forgiveness, and acceptance. That as Christians, these are the traits we are called to show to the world. Jesus asks us to turn the other cheek, not turn our backs on the suffering, the sinning, the potential risks, the unworthy.
I, too, am unworthy. I, too, have held hate in my heart.
They call these attacks on America a jihad. Holy War. Well, I declare a Holy War, too. A challenge to those who follow Christ. A war fought by loving our enemies, doing good to those who hurt us without exception or conditions, without “if” or “unless.” A war led by a Savior who cried for the children to come to him. My Jesus laid down his life when he could have fought back. My Jesus is disheartened by those who put the ease of gun ownership above common sense and the safety of our children. (Because we are all someone’s children)
So use me, Lord, that even just one person may learn that hate breeds more hate. Only love conquers all.
And remind them, God, that Love chose to die. The victory does not go to the last man standing; it’s in the peace that follows.