911 for love

i remember most of the day. some parts are a little fuzzy...others i remember like they were yesterday. i remember sitting in my classes at school with a tv set to a news stations, watching and listening. it was silent all day as we all walked to our classes. in and out of rooms with a tv on various news stations. i got home from school that day and i remember going straight into the living room where the windows were open and the wind was blowing the curtains around. the weather that day was gorgeous. sunny blue skies in my personal world. i turned on cnn and cried. it breaks my heart to think about the people who were more personally impacted by all that happened that day. the people who lost family, friends, loved ones. to relive it year after year i am sure doesn't get any easier. i pray for everyone impacted in whatever way.

it's hard to talk about forgiveness in situations like what happened on september 11th ten years ago. i recently heard a sermon by james macdonald on the radio on forgiveness and it was really convicting. he referred to Ephesians 4 and how it talks about being kind and compassionate to others, and forgiving them just like God forgives us. in Proverbs it talks about how we're not to pay back someone for the wrong they have done to us and in Leviticus it says for us to forgive, do not hold grudges, and to love your neighbor as yourself. i remember being a kid and thinking that the term 'neighbor' was literal. "oh, all i have to do is love my neighbor as myself? that's easy...i love mr. and mrs. ringger...they're like my grandparents!" then i got older and learned...."oh,, everyone in the world? well that's harder..."

first and foremost, i do not want to sound like i'm taking sides with anyone ever (especially in a situation where people have lost loved ones). all i want is to share the conviction i have been feeling lately...and it is to forgive, even though forgiveness is hard. like, really hard! i'd like to say i could forgive anyone for anything. could i? i pray i can.

when emily and i lived down by st. louis we lived about ten miles from a church where the pastor was gunned down during a service. i remember about a week after that tragedy hearing the amazing story of forgiveness when the pastor's wife was talking about praying for the gunman and forgiving him. i saw on the news a couple months ago a lady who's son was shot and how she ended up helping the gunman get out of jail and now lives next door to her...and she is like a mom to him. these are a couple of stories that i can think of off the top of my head. of course there are a ton more like this.

the fact that these are people like you and me is encouraging, right? the fact that it takes normal people doing radical things to get my attention is sad. why can't loving others and forgiving others be normal? more always comes back to love. love for everyone. loving everyone like you love yourself. treating others (everyone on the planet) like you treat yourself. what if the world looked like this? can you imagine? i can. i want it to be that way. all cheesy quotes and sayings about changing the world's not impossible to love other people!

the following is an excerpt from shane claiborne's book Irresistible Revolution. i found this book really interesting, his words are something i am still processing. you may also find it interesting...or it might anger you. either intentions are not to upset anyone. i just want to share with you my conviction to forgive even when i am irreversibly wronged and my desire to love even though it seems hard.

"I saw a banner hanging next to city hall in downtown Philadelphia that read, "Kill them all, and let God sort them out." A bumper sticker read, "God will judge evildoers; we just have to get them to him." I saw a T-shirt on a soldier that said, "US Air Force... we don't die; we just go to hell to regroup." Others were less dramatic- red, white, and blue billboards saying, "God bless our troops." "God Bless America" became a marketing strategy. One store hung an ad in their window that said, "God bless America--$1 burgers." Patriotism was everywhere, including in our altars and church buildings. In the aftermath of September 11th, most Christian bookstores had a section with books on the event, calendars, devotionals, buttons, all decorated in the colors of America, draped in stars and stripes, and sprinkled with golden eagles.
This burst of nationalism reveals the deep longing we all have for community, a natural thirst for intimacy... September 11th shattered the self-sufficient, autonomous individual, and we saw a country of broken fragile people who longed for community- for people to cry with, be angry with, to suffer with. People did not want to be alone in their sorrow, rage, and fear.

...The tragedy of the church's reaction to September 11th is not that we rallied around the families in New York and D.C. but that our love simply reflected the borders and allegiances of the world. We mourned the deaths of each soldier, as we should, but we did not feel the same anger and pain for each Iraqi death, or for the folks abused in the Abu Ghraib prison incident. We got farther and farther from Jesus' vision, which extends beyond our rational love and the boundaries we have established. There is no doubt that we must mourn those lives on September 11th. We must mourn the lives of the soldiers. But with the same passion and outrage, we must mourn the lives of every Iraqi who is lost. They are just as precious, no more, no less. In our rebirth, every life lost in Iraq is just as tragic as a life lost in New York or D.C. And the lives of the thirty thousand children who die of starvation each day is like six September 11ths every single day, a silent tsunami that happens every week."

- Shane Claiborne Irresistible Revolution