The Importance of…

Understanding fear and our own blindness…

My husband calls me a humanitarian and while that is true I believe my desire to love humankind comes from my desire to love others towards Christ.  I also have a desire that all people feel the gift of Freedom that God offers.  I am writing today because I have a deep rooted struggle with fear.

I have been hiding behind the comfort of my own safe bubble for a while now due to this fear!  Today that fear was understood on a deeper level and I realized the importance of educating myself!  Education does not happen by reading the news or following trends on social media…in some ways this causes more fear because you never know if the source is biased.  Years ago I believed the term educated only meant acquiring a degree in a certain field of study.  Sure we can become educated by reading scholarly articles and books and achieve the highest honors and be experts in certain fields and that is great but it does not equate to much if you do not understand humanity.

This is hard for me to tell but here you go anyway…

I was sitting in a Doctors office with my children and a sweet lady chose the seat next to me.  We strike up a conversation with one another and I found out that she had just moved here to my town and had no family here.  She had only been living in the United States for a handful of years and her husband works at our local hospital.  When I asked where she was originally from she said Pakistan and my heart sank.  I suddenly felt fear and discomfort but I refused to let it completely control me.  We continued to talk and we even shared our information with one another because I had a sincere desire to show her love but after we left I was not intentional because I was afraid to get close.  Why? Because the fear I had felt that day was stemming from ignorance.  She shared that she was Muslim…that is all it took to keep me from pursuing relationship with her.  I did not mean to do this but I judged her.   If I were being completely candid…I felt a great connection with her when I met her but I had not really pursued an authentic friendship with her due to the aftermath of 9/11 and my lack of trust in those who share her religious upbringing and also because of the geographical location in which she calls home.  I also feared she would not accept me due to my being a Christian either. I went on a mission trip to Israel years ago with a focus to love the people there! I do love the Jewish and am very sad to say that I was just as afraid of Muslim people there as well. I was afraid of the extremists but since I had no clue who was extreme I found myself afraid of the Muslim population as a whole. 

Now…here we are…the world is looking at another ISIS massacre and we are fixated on France as they lay to rest several souls in their country and try to figure out what to do to pick up the pieces and move forward.  As I was praying for France and for the world I suddenly felt overcome with compassion for the sweet lady who chose to sit next to me a few years ago.  The question that kept going through my mind was “I wonder how she feels”?  I thought about her family and I wondered if she still lived here.  I thought about her family in Pakistan and asked God to watch over them and protect all of them. I was suppose to be working and all I could do was think about the most recent attack in Paris and all of the families hurting, her and her family.

I prayed for her and seriously felt compelled to be intentional and connect with her rather than just pray and move along.  I got on Facebook and looked her up and decided to write her a private message.  I did not want to bring up religion or anything about the attacks by ISIS…I did not feel comfortable talking about it at that time.  I simply wanted to share love so I asked “How are you and your family?”.  I was excited when she wrote me immediately.  She said she was struggling because of the recent attacks in Paris.  She told me she was so sad and that she feels she needs to apologize to EVERYONE because of what ISIS is doing in the name of the muslim faith.  She feels the eyes of onlookers when she is shopping in the store and can feel the fear. She shared a story about a school in Pakistan where ISIS attacked in December claiming the lives of 140 innocent Pakistani children! She said, “We want the same things as all of the other nations. Peace, freedom, easy and affordable pleasures of a good life…. we like to have fun too. I urge you to take a look at my family pictures that we took in Pakistan. Explore the profile of my sister. You will see average Pakistani/Muslim family who loves life. No hate for anyone there… but I feel like these scum bags have painted my peaceful religion with their big bloody brush.”

Oh.My!  My heart sank! I allowed this evil to paint a picture of hatred that I did not realize was even taking root in my heart.  I was overcome with shame for a moment but the LORD demolished that with LOVE and understanding of what needs to happen.  I wrote and told her that I was at our local coffee shop if she wanted to meet me there.  She showed up within 15 minutes.  I started by apologizing to her for not being intentional and told her I was so glad she came to meet with me.  We talked about her family and she showed me photos of all of her beloved relatives.  She talked about her childhood home.  She talked about her arranged marriage and how much she loves her husband.  (side note: the most beautiful thing about her marriage story was that her father asked her if she would accept her husband in marriage and she trusted her father with her life and it was such a blessing because he chose well for her. She talked about how she loves her husband and children so much!)  She shared her love for cooking and teaching!  We talked about our education and have very similar personalities and desires!  She also educated me on her faith and interestingly enough the word jihad has a different meaning than I thought.  She is just beautiful inside and out!  I cannot believe I was afraid.  I do not believe I am the only one who has been afraid.

I am sharing this story with you because I do not want fear to win.  I do not want the enemy to win and for fear to take root in your heart as well! It is time to break through the barricade of fear and allow LOVE to take over!  I realize this may seem too idealistic but what would happen if we would stand together and say ENOUGH!  ENOUGH fear…Enough power…Enough hatred…Enough negativity…Enough innocent blood shed.  We will stand UNITED in LOVE…The kind that is unconditional and has no borders!  I will love you no matter where you are from…no matter what your skin color is…no matter what people from your region of the world have done to people in my region of the world…no matter what happened in the past and even the evil that is still to come…no matter what…UNITED WE STAND against evil!

Take time today to write someone from a different place on the planet…even if they now live in your town and tell them you love them by being intentional!  Take time to cook for one another some of your favorite foods.  Share stories about different parts of the world.  Laugh about arranged marriages and laugh about love marriages (as my friend called it)!  Laugh about the differences in cultures and enjoy one another!  Enjoy life together!  Apologize for pride and for judgement and even ignorance! 

Sweet Bushra, I love you and am so sorry for the judgment you and your sweet family feel from those around you and for the judgment that I had. I am so sorry for the blood shed that has caused the tension in your chest.  As a Christian I am called to Love God and to Love you and I am sorry if I have failed to do so in the past due to ignorance and fear.  I thank God for using you to help me see and I thank you for being willing to share your heart with me!  I cannot wait to try the traditional Pakistani meal that you told me you want to make me!  I cannot wait to “try and make your husband smile in your family photos” lol!  I cannot wait to see your son learn music!!!  I cannot wait to see what path your daughter will take in school!!!  I cannot wait to see what the future holds for our families and our friendship as it grows!  I am praying for you and your family both here in the US, in Canada, in Pakistan, and anywhere else in the world. You are so beautiful!

I am Christian…She is Muslim…We are human…We are friends!

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The song below is a beautiful declaration of what we should strive for!  I love you friends!  Thank you Timothy Palmer for giving me permission to use your amazing song!

By: Timothy Palmer

CD: The Half-Boy

Song Title: March On

We will not be given to violence

We will not be given to war

We will not be given to silence

Like others who came before

But we will march on

We will march on

We will march on

Toward the shore

We will not be given to anger

We will not be given to might

We will not be given to anguish

For the new day will drown out the night

And we will march on

We will march on

We will march on

Toward the light

Another way is possible

A new reality

If we could learn to live as one

The new humanity

Then we would march on

We will march on

We will march on

We will march on

We will not be given to pleading

We will not be shoved to the side

We will not be given to fleeing

We refuse to continue to hide

So we will march on

We will march on

We will march on

We will march on…

Get the whole CD here IT IS AMAZING!!!

Connect with Timothy Palmer here!!!

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