Some days I try to slow down as much as possible.
I pause. I sit in silence. And I go over war stories trying to see how they’re influencing my perspective on life.
This is probably a strange thing for a day off but something I’ve become accustomed to while living the life that we do.
Every event in our lives has a way of tinting the filters through which we see the world. Sometimes it’s for the better, to see the best in humanity and development, and sometimes… simply put, it’s not.
I remember driving through Iraq a few weeks ago and local friends pointed out the window, “Over there we used to have a factory; over there as well—because of the war though, they are destroyed. Over here are the remains of an ISIS base… same with here on the left.”
Empty buildings lay in ruins, telling the story of destruction. I closed my eyes for a second remembering a similar experience in Congo, driving through the jungle, grasses taller than our car, “…a village used to be here. Before the war we had many people living along this road.”
From one corner of the world to another, war leaves its mark. And why am I searching for it? For a moment it was like I was having an out of body experience watching this blonde girl, a long way from LA, driving towards an ISIS held city. What was I doing?
The silence is rarely without noise. Sitting in Congo I hear drums in the distant, my dog freaking out at a stranger passing by... but it’s quiet enough to hear the hard thoughts.
Have I fully felt Syria? Have I fully gone through the stories? And now coming to Congo, the poverty and war, feeling just as bad if not almost worse at times. Am I self-protecting so it doesn’t hurt as badly? At the end of the day, what are the thoughts I’m left thinking and why?
My greatest fear circles around again, “If I fully feel it, then what if I can’t fix it?”
Sounds silly when I say it. Of course I can’t fix it. I’m not expected to.
But in the midst of ongoing war, if I feel it enough for it to break my heart, and the sounds of the cracking and shattering from within me makes its way back to the west, back to the churches in America, what then if nobody answers?
Everyone is called to love. And we can’t judge what someone else’s expression of love looks like.
But sometimes I wonder. Would we love louder if we stopped long enough to feel it a little greater?
What if we had all met the child who tried to play soccer in the schoolyard in Syria only to find the ball wasn’t a ball after all but someone’s head, now missing it’s body, that had been left in the playground.
Would we be quicker to lower our walls and build a bigger table if every night we also went to sleep listening to the explosions of bombs and wondering if they would crash on OUR children and not just on theirs?
My heart struggles to pull out the files of fear stored in the cabinets of my mind and lay them at the feet of Jesus.
I’m not the savior. You are. You felt it first. It was the breaking of YOUR heart, the shattering and the cracking that YOU experienced that called me to war zones in the first place.
I’m simply responding to the love that I saw in You first and then trying to reflect that love back to the world around me.
Sometimes poorly; sometimes really poorly.
But it’s not my job to fix it. It’s my job to feel it. Because You do. And then respond in love. Because that’s what You did.
Love is so messy; so uncomfortable and so costly.
But it calls to us. Deep calling unto deep. To fill up and be poured out.
Love sees all things and hopes all things, believes all things.
That means it sees murders, the mass murders, yet still believes in the goodness of humanity because we have a good God. A perfect God. Whose love trumps evil, every single time.
So what does the silence reveal? A bizarre excitement. Even if our filters become soiled with the experiences of life, His goodness still washes it clean.
Even though we can give everything, laying out our lives until we have nothing left to give, His response will always be to give back and to give more than we even thought we had the capacity to hold.
So in the silence, I’ll feel it, sometimes fearless and sometimes through my fear. Because I’m called to reflect the Son and that’s what He did first.
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