I’m not sure how to pen these words then and even now only to say I am shocked and heartbroken upon hearing the news about Chattanooga.
I was silenced because it was too painful to bring myself to do it.
This wasn’t just another city (it never is), but this city hits home. Literally…
Truth be told it’s not every day you get “Breaking National News” of a city where you went from the beautiful Tellico Plains mountains down to that steep 6% incline to youth camp growing up (shout out to Signal Mountain!!!), and to the best malls (Hamilton Place) or even take funny pictures on the Market Street Bridge or even the River Park while you did your homework (or not).
I watched in horror as the report came out of the shooter and the originally 4 victims and one man who fought for his life. I instantly started praying for the brave soldier, Naval Officer Randall Smith, who later died the next day. He was only 26 years old.
My hurt turned into anger, if I’m completely honest. Is there any justice to be done for the lives of these men? Shortly afterwards, a response from the President was given, mindless chatter with no emotion and If the tragedy wasn’t gruesome enough, a week later the flags were lowered. I felt nauseous from the lack of respect shown to our brave service men. Newtown received more attention and support than Chatty.
I later went to a single’s ministry meeting that night and the message griped my heart. We’ve been studying the Sermon on the Mount and tonight’s topic-Forgiveness.
The illustrations were given and I stewed the whole time. This was the last message I wanted to hear at this time.
“Forgive??? Heck NO!!! I want justice!! I want them to pay for what they did!! Get the missiles out!!
Let’s let them have a “practice” party in a room all to themselves so that they could blow themselves up…..” How does one make sense of these crazy animals who think of nothing but the smell of blood?
I’ve heard it said that you cannot make sense of crazy. I’m starting to believe it…
I guess I feel like the disciples when Jesus said, “When someone asks you to walk one mile, walk two.” He was speaking of the Romans who would force the civilians to carry their gear all because they wanted a break. God’s chosen people became a slave to carry whatever the Roman soldier desired to unload.
“Love your enemies.” Man that’s such a hard pill to swallow, especially when it hits close to home.
I am reminded of how Jesus washed Judas’ feet. How in the world could He be driven to wash a man who would betray Him? At that moment the speaker gave a mind numbing reminder, “We’re Judas.”
I guess as a white young adult living in America, it’s hard to view any Judas in my grass roots neighborhood, much less me be a Judas. I went to a Christian college and majored in missions.
“Typical religion major answer”
I guess even in these times in order to extend forgiveness out to others, we must first remember how we’ve been forgiven. Because in truth? We forgive because we’ve been forgiven.
This is hard. And I really don’t want to write this. In fact I’ve had to swallow the lumps in my throat the entire time while writing this as my shaking fingers touch the keys. And if I’m completely honest sometimes I think the things we as Christians say are detached from our brains in order for it to be “okay.” Because when there is no one else in the room, our hearts tend to want justice and not mercy. And yet Papa is both.
How is that even possible???
In all this, I just want to encourage you. I know this hits painful places in many of our hearts. It hurts and it’s hard. I cannot imagine the families who will now have to face their dinner tables empty of key members of the family. Another son and daughter will have to face the tragedy of fatherlessness in their home. My heart truly breaks for you. I pray for your crushed spirit and the nightmares you have faced in the horrible reality that your husbands are no longer with you. I pray for your sons and daughters. Please don’t allow the enemy to be the cause of the bitterness that has a chance to fester in your heart.
May healing flow through the tears you cry. May you see justice in ways that are unconventional?
Sometimes the “why questions” are unbearable. And it is okay to not be okay. I think all the sane individuals out there can agree that this tragedy is NOT okay. Not that you need it, but I give you permission to grieve and allow Papa to heal those hurts and honest outbursts.
I think we hold ourselves together to perfection to the point where it hurts.
I’m not sure how to end this post. There is never rhyme or reasons good enough for something like this.
May we always remember these 5 honorable men?
We may be Chattanooga strong, but I pray we allow our hearts to be mended and not grow into concrete to break.
That truly would be a tragedy.