I promise I'll get back to the Advent series after this post. I intended to post one today but there is something pulsing in my veins to write.
Four words keep beating in my heart. Lay our weapons down.
Friend, I'm not talking about gun control.
I am talking about a heart shift and movement.
Yesterday I cried three times. The first was at the gym, when I saw the headline and footage on the TV.
The second was while listening to a sermon podcast. The pastor kept talking about miracles and how they are real, how God is capable of them, but how sometimes it's going to cause us great pain.
I kept thinking - God, we could really use a miracle right now.
The third time was when I crawled into bed and began to pray. This Advent, prayer is at the forefront simply because it hasn't been in years past. And I believe in the power of prayer.
So I cried from the sheer terror of what happened, what keeps happening. But I also cried from our response, from my own response.
You see, as I perused online and read the comments [I keep saying I'll stop doing that] as I dug deep within my own heart, I saw name calling. I saw us vs them. I saw debates where words were thrown at each other like daggers.
All I saw were more bullets.
I saw more attacks, more shots at one another. More comments and statuses that made my stomach turn. My reaction to some of these made my own stomach turn.
I rarely saw remorse for what actually happened.
Truth is, when we read something that counteracts what we believe or value it can make us upset. I am not above this. I can become frazzled, frustrated and angry.
I've even felt the urge to retaliate and fight back, write outlandish, harsh things to make a point.
See that's the messy, broken human part of who I am.
As a lover of words, I know they aren't something to use lightly. Words are heavy and weight filled and sometimes rough. Words have the ability to uplift and encourage or tear a person apart.
It's why I pray before I hit publish. I'll never take this little space lightly.
And what a gift we've been granted to use words. What a simple, wild gift to be able to say things that have the capacity to change the directory of a persons day or life.
I'm not against heated discussion or conflict. I'm not against letting out some steam in the kitchen about what frustrates you among trusted family and friends.
And what I want so badly is a softened heart. I want a heart of understanding and encouragement. I want a heart of forgiveness and affirmation. I want a heart that loves my family and friends well. But even more, I want a heart that notices the pain and responds. And this starts with the small.
It starts in the homes and communities we live.
It starts in the grocery store checkout line and Target and your favorite little coffee shop. It starts with choosing grace when a server messes up our order three times.
It's a heart for opening doors, buying coffee for a stranger, noticing the quiet teenager with their eyes downcast and making a point to walk over and smile.
A heart that asks their neighbor if they need milk before heading to the store. A heart that asks again and again.
It starts with sharing your story with someone who has completely different viewpoints and beliefs. And sitting around long enough to hear their story too.
We must lay our weapons down.
You might be thinking - this is small, it's way too small. We've got big, HUGE problems to fix. This isn't big enough to tackle any of this.
And I hear you, on a day like yesterday, a tiny part of me might agree.
But the part of me that believes in miracles and the power of human connection has to disagree.
Because I have to believe the moment we start fixing our eyes on each other verse attacking what we think people believe - we create honest, loving relationships that thrive.
We create communities that don't leave anyone out. And the less people we leave out the less people feel alone.
It's a movement and heart shift. It's a choice I have to make every second of everyday. A choice that doesn't always come easy and one where I mess up a lot.
But I believe in a God who makes things new. A God who genuinely loves every single person on this planet.
A God whose saying, "Lay your weapons down."