Monday, June 13, 2016

LOVE trumps HATE

I am sure that by now everyone has heard of the tragedy in Orlando. It is on every news station and all over social media. You know, the news about the coward who went into the gay nightclub, Pulse, and killed 49 people, injuring another 53. I have been dealing with such an array of emotions since hearing about what happened. (Many emotions I cannot even quite put into words yet.) Even though I did not know any victim personally, I feel a strong connection to that group deep down in my being. I know I am not the only one, though,  as it isn't just focused on a "group," but on humans, individuals, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, friends, etc. 

See, Tina - my wife - and I were enjoying a quick getaway for the weekend. Since we don't break away that often, we joked that we should be adventurous and search for a club to go to... mingle, listen to music, relax. We would have chosen a gay club. Why? Because that is where we could be ourselves. Our guard could be let down. We wouldn't have to deal with the opinion of others, the hate, the discrimination, etc. because we would be among those who feel as we do and who have faced the same challenges we have. It's safe. Little did we know that God had placed a beautiful Inn in the heart of a beautiful city with so many awesome distractions in our path so that we did not give another passing thought to finding that club to go to.

It took a total of about 5 hours after learning about this horror for the reality to hit us before we were both in tears... in the middle of China Panda, at that.

Pulse was on the list of clubs Tina had initially looked up for us to possibly go to on Saturday. The likelihood of us actually going was beyond slim, but the what ifs that filled our head was too much to think about.  

Because this was a "gay" club, the victims were likely being carefree, enjoying themselves -- guard down -- accepting everyone, including their killer, into their vibe. It hurts my heart so bad to think of this. 

Since the news of this tragedy has surfaced, various groups, churches, and individuals have voiced opinions. Some of the comments are not even worth repeating. But, what has sparked my attention is the amount of churches that have been posting on social media -- asking folks to pray and support the victims and their families. Churches that I know personally do not "accept" members of the LGBT community. Churches that have told me "you can attend, but you cannot serve." 

I will admit that, at first, I was angry. Who are these people to pretend to act like they care about the very same people they turn away and wouldn't welcome? I felt like they were doing right on the surface without sharing true colors. But then I realized something: Maybe this can be a turning point. Maybe this horrendous tragedy wouldn't be worthless. Maybe something good could come from this. Maybe lessons on acceptance and love can be born. Maybe those folks who say "you can attend, but you cannot serve" will realize that we are all the same. We are all children of the same God. We all were born from dust and we will all return to dust. 

Ephesians 4:2 reminds us to "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love." Even when we are hurting and especially when we are angry, LOVE trumps HATE. Period. No matter the situation. 

A little girl gets a toy thrown at her by a little boy... she could throw it back or she could get up and hug him. A customer at work could be demanding and difficult... the employee could react harshly or remain pleasant and shower the customer with kindness. A man kills 50 people of a "different" lifestyle ... we could turn a blind eye as the victims were "not worthy" or were "sinners" or "deserved it" OR we could mourn the loss of the victims who died, pray for those struggling in the hospitals and thank God for those who escaped. As for the killer? Tina reminds us of what Jesus says as he is high up on the cross: Luke 23:34 (NIV) "Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing..."

I know its easier said than done, especially when you speak of something so harsh, cold-blooded, and disgusting. But, I will leave you with this: "Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs." Proverbs 10:12 (NIV). 
Do you really want to fight fire with fire? I am no genius, but I believe water is much more effective. 

SPEAK and SPREAD LOVE.


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