The world seems much nicer at first glance than it does when you look deeper into it.
It looks like a fairy tale when you first see it. It feels welcoming and loving when you're a child, and then the older you get the more you recognize the evil that inhabits it.
When I visited Thailand on our vision trip, I saw that evil for the first time in my life. I was around eleven.
I remember walking into the Buddhist temple, having left my shoes outside as they were not allowed to be worn indoors. I walked quietly over the cold marble floor through the dark room and lowered myself to the ground, looking around me in awe. I came as a tourist, but others came to worship.
What did they worship?
A green statue. The Emerald Buddha, it's called. All around me Thai people bowed low to the floor as medieval peasants would in front of a king, their hands palm-down on the floor in front of them in worship of an inanimate object that couldn't help them with any of their troubles or sorrows. Looking at them, I found it easy to ignore the mosquitoes buzzing around me. A cold and empty feeling filled me. That was the first time I felt the bad of the world. The lies of Satan, who had convinced all those people of something so wrong. The sin of man, who followed Satan willingly.
I'd grown up in a small town, mostly surrounded by Christians. In fact, if they weren't Christians, I probably didn't talk to them much, nor did I know they existed. I was young and innocent enough that the idea of non-Christians was just that: an idea.
I'm not much older now, but I do know more than I did before.
When I saw those people bowing before a carved emerald statue in a glass case, I wasn't angry at them. I was just sad. I'd never felt that kind of sad in my life, because it was a different sad than most people feel when they get their feelings hurt. It was a sad realization that when those people died, they wouldn't go to heaven, nor would they reincarnate like they thought. That broke my heart, and it was what helped me know for sure that God wanted me to come here. I wanted them to meet God, and that is nearly impossible when nobody tells you about it. God could use me and my family, and I knew it.
Recently, however, I have felt something else entirely. Something else I'd never felt toward someone or something in my life. Something I never thought I would feel.
|Me and Suu|
I felt enraged. I feel enraged.
I read the news - something I've only started doing recently, as I'm only fourteen and hadn't found much interest in it before - and I see headlines like "ISIS gunned down pregnant women, babies, former Navy SEALS recalls," (this former Navy SEALS was a volunteer who survived the attack, thank the Lord) and I am enraged. Furious. Fuming mad.
One of those former special forces operative happens to be my best friend, Suu's, father, and she and her family often go with him to help the refugees fleeing from this horror around them. I never before knew that I would have a friend as amazing as I do now, or that she's had various close calls. That she could have died pretty much a hundred times over.
I have to trust God. Sometimes I don't even know what I'm trusting Him with - am I trusting Him to keep her alive? Trusting that His will be done? Trusting Him to let me hear from her at least one more time? What?
I couldn't be prouder of my friend.
. . .But I find that my hatred towards ISIS only grows. I find that the reality of the difficulty to love my enemies shines through, and the truth of my humanity is revealed to me. It's so much easier to say that you love your enemies before you see what monsters they truly are - until you realize that the evil in movies exists in real life.
They kill men, women and children for no reason other than their thirst for blood. They torture and kill people based entirely on religion, and they make those people's families watch.
Repeatedly I find myself crumpled in a heap on my bed, my hands clasped together as I call out to God the only thing I know how to ask.
How am I supposed to love people who do things like that, Lord?