It’s Not About Guns, It’s About Hate

stopthehate

My husband is kind of a shy guy. He doesn’t feel the need to talk (unless it’s in the car with me). He has opinions, but doesn’t feel the need to share them and when he does speak, it is usually to make a joke or say something witty or funny. He’s a serious guy, but he doesn’t take himself too seriously. Which is one of the things I love the most about him.

Which is why, when earlier today he was typing away on his phone, I asked him what he was doing.  My curiosity was piqued even more when he replied, “ranting.”

Last night, 50 people were murdered. Fifty. Five. Zero.

And why were they murdered?   

…one word.

Hatred.

My husband’s “rant” was posted on Facebook and centered around this ugly, heavy, ridiculous word. In it, he says,

I’m absolutely DISGUSTED to see people ON BOTH SIDES of the 2nd Amendment using the tragedy in Orlando to push their agenda. It hasn’t even been 24-hours since FIFTY people were MURDERED and yet all you can do is salivate at the mouth to say, “told you so.” Whether or not you believe this country has a gun problem or a mental health problem, this country DOES have a hate problem. Until that is solved it doesn’t matter how folks will hurt and kill others, they’ll find a way.

And I’m not just talking about the killer hating homosexuals. Folks hating him not for killing these innocent people but because he’s a radical Muslim. Pro gun hating the anti’s and visa-versa.

What if I told you you could disagree with someone, with their values, with their religion, but not hate them???! What if I told you that when people who disagree with your opinions it doesn’t mean they hate you??!

Guess what, I don’t agree with gay marriage. But guess what, I don’t hate homosexuals. I love them. I am privileged call many of them friends. We just happen to disagree on an issue that’s very important to them. Guess what? I don’t agree with how Muslims practice religion, because I am a Christian. But I don’t hate them, I love them. I have several Muslim friends, we just disagree on how we practice religion. Continue on and on with anyone who is different than or thinks different than me. GREAT. They have an opinion and a belief just like I do. I’m not perfect, but it’s how I strive to live.

Those differences of ideas and opinions SHOULD be what makes this thing we call humanity great, but instead we chose to hate and use them to bring humanity where it has come to today.

Jesus said the second greatest command is to love your neighbor. Excuse the language but he never said to hurt people or be an asshole to them because they think differently than you.

So in the wake of today’s tragedy, I say this. Shut up about your ideas and feelings on Guns, homosexuals and Muslims. Leave your hate at home. Go hug someone you love and be thankful you still can. Today, thanks to hate, the families and friends of more than FIFTY people can never hug that special someone again. Think about that for a minute. Let it sink in.

If you pray – pray for the families and friends of those killed in this senseless act. Pray for those that witnessed it and will face trauma for the rest of their lives. Pray for the physicians treating the many wounded. Pray for the family and friends of the killer as they wrestle with what he did. Pray for this country and this generation to turn from a people of hate into a country of love where people can express different ideas back and forth and be ok with someone else disagreeing with them.

If you’re still reading this, whether we disagree on issues or not, I love you and respect you.

Rant over.

This isn’t about guns, people. It’s not about guns or words or knives or bombs or gas or rope or scissors or pencils or cars or fire or anything else that is used as a weapon against another human being.

This is about hatred.

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And until we can snuff out hatred, innocent lives will continue to be snuffed out by hatred-fueled violence.

You wanna stop senseless killings?

You wanna make the world a safer place?

You wanna raise your children in a world with less violence?

Stop the hate.

Learn to love people who are different than you. Learn to disagree with people who are different than you (without getting angry about it). Get over yourself, take responsibility for yourself and learn to get along with others.

You don’t have to like everyone in the world, but what’s the harm in loving them?

The Safety Net of Truth

“Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…” Isaiah 49:16a (ESV)

A few years ago, while on an eleven month long mission trip, I was walking a field in the Philippines. It was a makeshift soccer – or, should I say, fútbol – field and my squad was clearing out rocks and debris that would make it difficult for the kids at the children’s home to play. A squadmate of mine and I were having a conversation. She was asking a little bit about my life – my family, my childhood, siblings, parents, pets, college, work – basically all of the normal conversation topics that might come up after four months of traveling the world with the same 60+ plus people.

I remember voicing something to her in that conversation that I’d never really voiced before. Something that surprised me as I said it but was undeniably true once I heard it.

Even though I had experienced a chaotic childhood and had continued to care for an unpredictable mother until her suicide the year before, I had never hit the proverbial “rock bottom.” There had never been a time when I had felt completely helpless with nowhere to go. I had managed to keep from using destructive things like drugs, alcohol and sex to numb pain or escape the chaos or calm the confusion. And I had never even entertained the thought of ending my life.

My friend asked me why I thought I’d managed to handle things so well. And, as we walked a few more paces in silence, stooped over so we could pick up the rocks and put them in our buckets to clear them from the field, a quiet but confident thought stirred in my soul.

 Because of the Lord.

Because He has always been my safety net.

It was a sweet, sweet revelation and one that I was humbled to admit. My God had never left me. He had never forsaken me. He had always been there to catch me.

Ironically, in the three years that would immediately follow my return from that mission trip, I would finally find myself in the deep, dark places of depression. And the memory of that conversation would fade away leaving me to feel completely alone, fully helpless and not at all safe.

But, just as the Lord was my safety net through childhood and early adulthood, so was He three years later and still on through today. My feelings don’t change Truth; they just may make it harder to believe. [pullquote width=”300″ float=”left”]My feelings don’t change Truth; they just may make it harder to believe.[/pullquote]

Friend, what are you struggling to believe today?

If it is that God is for you and not against you. If it is that He has a plan for you, one to prosper and not to harm you. If it is that He will never leave you or forsake you. If it is that God has not forgotten you. …then let go and fall safely in to the waiting arms of God.

He is there.

And He will catch you.

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I am thrilled to be featured in Sweet to the Soul’s #GodsMasterpiece series today! Go on over there and check out all the great posts!

A Message Laced with Grace

When I was growing up, my mom would often say to me, “I’m about to knock you off that pedestal you’ve put yourself on.” It was her way of telling me that I had crossed a line and become “too big for my britches,” acting like and believing that I was something special. More special than someone else because of a talent that I had or how well I was doing in school or how athletic I was when it came to running. She didn’t want me to think of myself as being better than anyone for any reason. And, though her methods in teaching me were a bit rough and her words were harsh, it was a good lesson for me to learn. To this day, I hear her message anytime I feel like I might be better than another person.

But, I also hear another message.

I hear my Father’s message. And His message sounds a little bit different than Mom’s. His message still warns of His disapproval, His dislike, His opposition to prideful people, but it also reminds me that He will not cast me aside, tear me down or knock me off of my proverbial pedestal. Instead, He will extend grace to me, that I may see my faults and run to Him in repentance.

It is a message laced with grace.

[pullquote width=”300″ float=”left”]A prideful heart cannot accept this grace because it will not accept that it is sinful. (click to tweet) [/pullquote]

A prideful heart cannot accept this grace because it will not accept that it is sinful. And the Lord will not force His grace upon anyone. But a humble heart can – even when tempted with pride – welcome the gift of grace that He extends and walk through that temptation with His help.

I pray, today, that you and I are always humble enough to accept the Father’s grace, whether we think we need it or not.

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I am thrilled to be featured in Sweet to the Soul’s #Grace series today! Go on over there and check out all the great posts!

Love God. Love People.

A few years ago, while managing a local coffee shop, I sat down to put together the schedule for the upcoming pay period. I was in my late 20s and had just moved back to my hometown after living in a different state for a year. I had no idea why I’d moved home, honestly, except that I felt like it was what the Lord had led me to do.

In those days, I often wondered what the purpose of my life was.
Frequently, I would ask myself two questions:

Who am I?
What am I doing here?

To say that those two questions haunted my early twenties would be an understatement. I could not get away from them. In my waking and my sleeping. In my resting and my working. In my crying and my laughing. In my everything, they were there.

Nudging me. Poking me. Pestering me. Perhaps not every day, but a few times a week and multiple times each month, I would sense theses questions lingering on the edges of my mind.

That day in the coffee shop was no different.

Except that it was.

On that day, I felt an answer come in reply to the questions. It was one of those out-of-the-blue, you-know-it-didn’t-come-from-you type answers. I wasn’t praying. I wasn’t worshiping. I wasn’t even reading the Bible. I was working. I was just doing “life” and, still, my Father chose to meet with me and speak to me. He said, “…love the Lord your God with all your heart…” and “…love your neighbor as yourself….”

[pullquote width=”300″ float=”left”]“…love the Lord your God with all your heart…” and “…love your neighbor as yourself…” (Matt. 22:37-40, ESV)[/pullquote]

I’ve been a Christian all of my life. I’d heard this verse many, many, many times before that day, but I’d never heard it directly from Him. And when I did, I understood three things. I am His (otherwise, I would not be bound to follow His commands). And my purpose here is to love Him and love others.

That’s it. That’s all I am ultimately here for. And if I can focus on those three truths when life doesn’t make sense, I can find myself and my direction again.

As you go through your life, I hope that you can find comfort in those same truths as well.

You are His. Love Him and love others.

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18 Matthew 22 37 (1)

I am thrilled to be featured in Sweet to the Soul’s #LoveIs series today! Go on over there and check out all the great posts!

#write31days: walks with the family

Today I went for a walk.

This particular walk involved my husband and two of our furbabies, Willow and Oscar. Willow is our four year old white German Shepherd. She’s the matriarch of our little brood of furries and an old hat at long walks, but Oscar…well, he’s a bit of a different story. Oscar’s our 10 month old Boxer and, as embarassed as I am to admit this, tonight was hist first official walk. We live on land and tend to substitute letting the dogs run free on the property for half an hour for leashed walks, but tonight Scott and I decided to do something we love to do but just don’t do. And walks are always more fun with dogs! Oscar did, overall, really well though he still hasn’t quite gotten the hang of walking with the pack. He’d prefer to bound in circles around the pack, run in front of the pack, lag behind it or just flat out walk into the pack. But, we’ll get there.

I also took Pickles, my foal, for a walk of sorts this evening. He let me lead him by his halter today! Small steps, for sure. But steps nonetheless.

It always amazes me how these intelligent beings – whether dog or horse – choose to forego their own wants, their own instincts even and submit to the wants of a human. And, it is most certainly a choice that they make. I watched Pickles teeter on the decision block as he pulled back slightly on the halter while I tugged slightly in the other direction and called to him. Then, in a moment, he just agreed with me and moved forward.The same thing happens with Willow when I ask her to sit. Nine times out of ten, she just does it. But every now and then she hesitates and processes the command that I’ve given her, deciding whether or not to obey it.

I honestly wouldn’t want it any other way. I wouldn’t want my animals to obey me because they are unable to decide not to. That’s not a relationship. It’s a dictatorship.

[pullquote width=”300″ float=”left”]God is not a dictator. He is a Father.[/pullquote]

I suppose that’s why God allows us to choose to obey Him. He’s not a dictator. He’s a Father. His desire is not to rule over us but to commune with us. We are not slaves in His kingdom. We are heirs to His throne. He will never force us to serve Him. He will only ask us to love Him.

where faith comes in

“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord. Be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord.” Psalm 37:13-14, NASB

It is difficult for me to trust what I don’t understand.

Surprisingly, though, I would not describe myself as a natural skeptic. I don’t question everything, but neither do I accept everything as truth. It’s exhausting, at times, to search out the truth. So, many times, I simply choose to not make a decision one way or another in order to reserve my energy for other endeavors. I suppose I would say I accept everything at face value.

Except for God.

I don’t accept Him at face value. I don’t accept what He freely offers to me. Instead, I question every single thing He says, does, offers and rejects. I spend enormous amounts of energy trying to understand Him. Only understanding God is a futile pursuit. Because the more I begin to understand about God the more mysterious He becomes.

I will never understand why the Lord’s answer to my prayer for Mom to find freedom was to allow her the choice to leave me forever. Or why her life was so deeply riddled with pain, deception and defeat that she believed her only way out was to stop breathing.

I may never understand the purpose of an emotionally difficult year-long mission trip where I literally followed the Lord to the ends of the Earth.

And I will likely never understand why He chose to create mosquitos (seriously, what is their purpose exactly?! Except to annoy, bite and spread diseases?)

[pullquote width=”300″ float=”left”]I was never called to understand God, only to trust Him.
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But, here’s the thing.

I was never called to understand God or the events He allows to happen in my life. I was only called to trust Him.

Understanding God limits Him and eliminates our need for His authority. Trusting God, however, embraces the truth of Who He is and admits our utter and desperate dependence on Him. God is incapable of being untrustworthy and His steadfastness is not reliant on my belief in it. It is Who He is. All of the time. Without fail. I only have to choose to agree with His identity and, in so doing, replace the quest for understanding with the quiet of believing.

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That’s where faith comes in.

Faith bridges the gap between what I believe and what I do not understand. It does not mean that I blindly trust or stop seeking to understand God. It only means that I trust the relationship that we have and my place in that relationship.

It means that I accept that He is God and I am … me.

God is not required to reveal the “reasons why” He does, asks or allows the things He does in this world to a child of His. But that does not mean that He is not worthy of that child’s trust.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding…” Proverbs 3:5

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