In one week, Chad and I will be getting on a plane and flying across the ocean to Europe, to France. We are so excited to revisit the beautiful Alsatian city where we studied abroad, where we began our romance ten years ago. We love France. And we watched with grief and sorrow and fear as the news reported about unthinkable acts of horror took place in Paris almost two weeks ago.
We’ve watched with grief and sorrow and fear for months as tens of thousands of Syrian refugees fled their country, seeking safety from similar acts. We’ve watched with grief and sorrow and fear for years as people take the lives of others, with airplanes and bombs and guns. And we’ve watched with grief and sorrow and fear as the news and our social news feeds fill with rage and backlash and panic.
I get it. I’m scared too.
You can ask my husband, I’m a what-ifer. I’m afraid of all the worst things. I’m acutely aware that anything can happen at any time to any of us and I fear that. It gives me anxiety and panic and sends me ducking under the covers. I am afraid of our world and the people in it. I have seen buildings fall under the weight of airplanes and children discarded as if they don’t matter and women abused and ripped of the dignity. I have seen bombs go off in subways and girls kidnapped from school and too many gunmen entering malls and schools and taking lives without regard. I’ve seen the claws of hatred dig down deep, bearing raw the marks of racism, sexism, nationalism and religion gone wrong.
I get it. I’m scared too.
But I have also seen meals prepared and families supported and hurting healed. I have seen people rescued. I have seen the cities rebuild and the victims forgive and the doors flung wide. So I am both. I am afraid and I am not afraid of our world and the people in it. And every day I get to choose which one to be, which one to let direct me: backlash or compassion, anger or mercy, fear or Love.
I am getting on a plane in seven days, and anything can happen and nothing can happen. For many, France feels like the most dangerous place in the world to be right now. I don’t believe it is, but I am scared too.
The thing about fear though is that it can be overcome. I can choose to get on the plane anyway. The fear doesn’t necessarily go away, but it doesn’t tell what me to do either.
Which is why I still think we need to welcome in refugees– because we can choose Love over fear. I wish choosing Love meant that everything would be okay. It doesn’t mean that though. But these people are running from the same enemy we fear. They are far from home, with children dying, with uncertain futures. They are scared too. And we can’t let fear prevent us from caring for our neighbors and helping those in need. We can’t.
We can’t stop bad things from happening, no matter how hard we try. It’s scary, but it’s true. But let’s not stop the good things from happening, the welcoming and sheltering, the feeding and holding, the arms outstretched and the heads lifted up. Let’s show our mercy in the face of the darkness. Let’s let the world know us by our Love.