My dear, sweet boys,
Right now, you're so little, one in preschool and one just starting to walk. I know that you aren't old enough yet to understand everything I want to say to you, but one day, you will be, and I want to make sure it's said.
There are some sad, scary things going on in our world. The older you grow, the more sad, scary things you will learn about and see. It's nothing new. There have been sad and scary things happening since not long after the beginning of time, and because we live in a world that is not Heaven, there always will be. It's so easy to get lost in it - the news stories and politics, taking sides and blaming someone, anyone for the atrocities that we see happening.
Right now, there are arguments about things like guns and religion and who gets to tell whom what to do and how to do it. There are some very bad-intentioned people who have hurt a lot of people with guns, and there are lots of very good-intentioned people who want to protect people with guns. Except what a lot of people are failing to realize, is that both those doing bad and those trying to do good tend to have the same motivation: FEAR.
Fear is like a wild animal. It hides just under the surface, and comes out when we least expect it. And just like a wild animal, it sometimes looks like other things: self-preservation, power, protecting a family, attacking others with weapons or words. When we think of a bear, we think of these kinds of things. We don't think of fear. But ultimately, that's why a bear attacks; it's afraid. It's afraid of being hurt, or its cubs being hurt, so it in turn hurts whatever it is afraid of.
But, my dears, we aren't wild animals. We are people. People gifted with emotions and intelligence and souls. ALL of us. The people who are hurting with guns are doing so out of fear. The people who want to protect with guns are doing so out of fear. And in the end, one way or another, what happens is that hurting people will hurt people.
I'm not asking you to not be a protector, and this isn't even about whether or not you want to have a gun. You're both all boy, everything becomes a weapon to you, no matter if I try to steer you away from that or not. You want to be brave, you want to be strong. And I want you to be so. But sometimes bravery and strength look strikingly different from what we think they should. Sometimes being brave and strong means looking for solutions rather than confrontations. It means being quiet rather than being loud. It means laying down our weapons and seeking to love first.
This isn't natural. It's not easy. We want to defend, to be in the right, to be the protectors. Especially men. And there are times and places where you'll have to be, and I want that for you. However, when our first instinct is to defend ourselves and attack our attackers, that isn't motivated by love.
When we're more concerned about our rights to brandish our weapon of choice instead of loving our neighbor who may disagree with us, that's not just arrogant, it's wrong.
Love isn't just when we feel like loving, or when someone agrees with us, or when they are in a situation we feel badly for.
That's not love, it's pity.
Love, PERFECT love, chooses love when it's hard. When it's messy. When it's downright ugly and doesn't make any sense and we maybe look a little crazy to the rest of the world. But it's that love that drove Jesus to the cross for us, and it's that love that we are called to.
We are so very, very blessed to live somewhere where we even get to have these discussions, where scary attacks make huge headlines because they aren't a daily or hourly occurrence for our entire nation, like so many others are facing. But we are just ONE country in a world full of countries, and contrary to what you may hear or what may be implied, God doesn't love America most. He loves people. And we're called to do the same.
I don't have the answers to things like gun control or terrorism or anything like that. They're not black and white, as very few things are. But what I do know is this: if you are motivated by fear, it will rule you, and you will make bad decisions. They may not always appear so, but it's what's inside that matters most, and fear is never, ever a good master. But if you are motivated by LOVE, you may stumble and you may falter, but I promise you'll be going in the right direction.
Because perfect love drives out fear...there's not even room for it.
I love you both to the moon and back! (and you know it's real, because I love you even when you wake me up at every hour of the night)