It happened again. Another horrific terrorist attack. And words do not adequately express my grief. Grief for the deceased. Grief for the mothers, fathers, husbands, wives and children that have lost their beloveds.
For those that lost their lives. The babies. The elderly. And everything in between. Sweet New Zealand.
So I sit here in my American home with all the comforts I could possibly ask for. And once again I am forced to move from ridiculous knee jerk reactions that are usually based in fear, to the truth. And just as a friendly reminder, fear is a liar. For those of you in the back…
FEAR IS A LIAR.
Today is one of those days that wine would be amazing. And then I remember I’m a recovering alcoholic. If only I made better life choices. So if you are looking for a circus act of emotional over reactions to bad news, you’ve most certainly come to the right place. These atrocities occur and my life shuts down. I’m starting to feel like I’m just living between the chaos of each new event with an impossible death total.
I go through every possible question and emotion a person can.
Should I feel guilty for being white? For living in America? Why am I even thinking about myself? Should I be doing more because I am a Christian? Why isn’t there more outrage? Where are the saturated news headlines on every station? It’s barely been 24 hours. Where are the social media status pictures adorned with the flag of New Zealand? We cared when it was Paris. Why does it seem like white terrorists survive but black or middle eastern terrorists end up being shot on scene? And now the gnawing question in the back of my mind that I dare not ask…Is it because it was a mosque? Because they were Muslim? Does a white man garner less press?
Too many questions in my already foggy mind. All the while judging myself for not having the answers. This intense sense that I should be helping or getting involved somehow. Right. White suburban stay at home mom with serious mental illness to the rescue. Everyone wait a minute while I go grab my cape.
Every. Single. Time.
Keep in mind that I struggle with pants most days and I take enough psych meds to medicate the whole block. Instead it usually ends up with me looking up pictures and videos that I will never be able to unsee. And then me in the fetal position crying the ugly cry at 3 in the morning. Because now the face of a precious four year old is stuck in my head . Totally productive.
With most situations I encounter in life I am learning that emotional reactions will generally pull you in one of two opposing directions: 1. You don’t care at all and therefore do nothing. You folks are the ones that talk big on social media like you're an expert that might actually change someones mind. News flash. You won’t. And you might be an asshole. Or 2. You care too much and allow the situation that has nothing to do with you, invade your life and mind to the point where you are not taking care of yourself. It becomes a distraction from your own family, life and issues. Both of these are no bueno.
I am a solid #2. Lord, hear my prayer. Neither reaction is healthy. Neither reaction works.
Earlier today I found myself looking up all the mosques in the Twin Cities area because I thought I was going to go to all of them and do I don’t know what. Bring flowers. Apologize on behalf of stupid white people. Invade their personal space with awkward hugs. Welcome them to the United States, when they have probably lived here longer than me. Stand there and cry. Like a lunatic.
Pull it together, Sarah.
Instead I called my mentor who reminded me that how we react to situations like this is different for each person. We have to follow what our own convictions and callings are. I go to a local YMCA where there is a heavy Muslim presence. In fact, there is a corner underneath one of the stairwells that has been set aside for their prayer mats so that employees and guests can pray at specific times.
So here’s what I did. I bought flowers and wrote a card of love and hope. This also became a learning opportunity for my boys. When they asked what I was doing I was able to explain that some bad men killed a lot of innocent people just because they were different. And this was our way of letting people like them know that we love them. That we welcome them here. That they are safe.
Enshala. God willing.
Not too much. Not too little. I hope. When I left I thought, “If that gives even one person who goes to pray, some peace, then it will have been enough."
Where does that leave me now? Somewhere that requires time and patience. To step away before we react. A place that doesn’t seem to exist much in our current culture. Introducing, moderation. A healthy place where empathy AND rationale are able to abide in peace. Where one can simultaneously have opinions and emotions without swinging too far in one direction or the other. When that happens we just end up knocking each other out. And this applies to more than just terrorism. For me it’s become a beacon in the dark. When I am struggling with Politics, Religion, Social Issues, etc… Moderation leads me away from fear. It brings me back to hope.
I am a Christian. I want to be involved. It’s my job to be involved. I want to love. I want to BE love. To others, regardless of religion or political leaning. I am more interested in people's hearts and building relationship than opinions and grandstanding. I am too old and too experienced with the pains of life to be in an argument with anyone about pretty much anything. So fair warning, if you don’t agree with something I’ve said or written, congratulations. There is a fairly good chance I was napping during your speech. Have your moment. Now let’s move on.
Move on to what matters. And you DON’T have to be a Christian to do these things. I would rather be hated for loving too much than loved for being full of hate. What if love was the thing people were getting worked up about? Let’s be those folks. Unstoppably loving. Like Mother Theresa.