On this day, Sunday July 17, I casually picked up my phone and checked Facebook. It was out of habit and mindless. The very first status on my feed gave me pause. “Active shooter” it read. “Police down.” I quickly punched in “WBRZ” to see if they had a report to confirm. TRUE.
It couldn’t be. It was too surreal. Our city, our home, has been reeling from loss of life already. Five children had already lost a father and now more? When would it stop?!
At church we prayed. We prayed for the city and officers down. The sermon was about relational theology – relating one another. So timely as many of our problems stem from broken relationships. Jesus answered Nicodemus’s questions – one of the Pharisees, a Jewish religious group that opposed Jesus. Jesus spoke first to a Samaritan woman – a woman of a race that was deeply at odds with the Jews. Jesus went to Zacchaeus’s house uninvited – a man who was a tax collector, a hated government official, and also a sinner. What He said to each person could be a sermon in itself, but the point is that He defied social norms and expectations just by speaking with them. Not only did He speak with them, many times He initiated. I see so many parallels to our current modern situation.
After church I took my girls to lunch. They chatted happily while I tried not to stare at my phone looking for updates on the shooting. In the Facebook search box, I typed in the names of the officers’ wives that I know personally, praying for the best, and breathing a sigh of relief when the words “He’s okay” came across my screen. I saw updates from friends living near the area of the shooting. They could not leave their homes. Some were on lockdown inside their churches.
Then the inevitable. What I didn’t want to see. Pictures of a precious man lost. Pictures of his smiling face and pictures of him holding an infant. His son. Pictures of another officer with heart wrenching descriptions of the surgeries he was enduring while hanging on for his life. And then a third life lost too soon. I expect that more pictures and stories will come through my newsfeed before I lay my head to rest tonight.
To those who love Blue: I see you. I cannot pretend to understand what it’s like to worry for my husband’s life every time he leaves for work. When my own husband worked 12-hour night shifts an hour from our home, I worried that he’d fall asleep at the wheel, which is no comparison to your worry. I never had to worry that his life would be taken at the hands of those he’d been sworn to serve and protect. I never had to worry that he’d feel hate and disrespect because of the uniform and badge he wore. Today I didn’t have the thought, “Is it my husband?!” when I heard the news. It’s incomprehensible, and you live it.
To Baton Rouge: We’ve been through so much loss these last two weeks. Tensions are high. People are divided. Today it seems that it’s coming to a head. I don’t expect that every person reading this is religious, but I ask that we at least look at Jesus’ example from the sermon I heard at church today, this day of July 17. Let us not fear, but let us relate. Let us not hate, but let us love. We are at a crossroad.
Today my Facebook newsfeed is a mixed bag. Mingled in with updates and prayers from today’s tragedy are comments inciting fear and pointing fingers. The whole city is hurting from too much loss of life -black and blue- and accusations are only serving to drive a wedge. Will we be willing to step across the line and reach out to another so we can heal? Let us rise above and come out stronger.