Editor's note: Portions of this have been previously published on the author's website.
Sometimes it is hard to watch the news — attacks in Paris, the recent shooting in California. Tragedies remind us all how powerless we are. We hurt for the wounded of heart, of spirit and of mind. We mourn for the loss of those who have fallen, for their families, and for a safety we once took for granted.
A few days ago I kept getting dark thoughts about "why?" Why do these terrible things happen? Bitterness and anger began to build. I could not snap out of the agonizing feeling of chaos that filled my soul.
By late afternoon, my 4-year-old had gotten his feelings hurt and was going on about how his sister wouldn’t include him. Finally he said (with added breaths for effect), “Maybe I should hate her too.”
I took his hand and tried to think of ways to distract him. An idea came. I said, “When I don’t understand something I open my Bible to a random page and read."
So we did.
We opended to 1 John 4:18, which reads, "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love."
I almost burst into tears; it felt like those words had been written for me. I had been living in fear and hadn’t even seen it sneak in.
With that awakening, the day began to feel brighter.
That night, I stood in the hall as my 6-year-old daughter’s voice echoed through its walls as she sang: "I am a child of God, and He has sent me here. Has given me an earthly home with parents kind and dear. Lead me, guide me, walk beside me, help me find the way. Teach me all that I must do to live with Him someday."
The whys of my fears were again hushed as I was surrounded by the truth of his love.
Fears are the lies that surround us now. Fear that we are all prisoners to terrorists, power, and hate. Chaos and turmoil are tools to make us live without faith. We have to fight for grace.
God is there. It is hard to imagine that it is his sons and daughters he is watching hurt each other.
I used to believe that this world was divided by religion, social classes, countries, states and cities. I used to think that we were all divided — by waters.
But we aren’t. What divides this world is not oceans and borders. We are divided by lies, secrets, hate, pride and fears. Politically, emotionally, physically and spiritually — we don’t want to be wrong — and we sure as heck don’t want to lose.
But what we are losing — as we fight to be right — is our faith. What we are losing as guns sound to show power is our courage. It takes courage to live life in a shattered world we cannot control. And it takes even more courage to let others believe differently than we do. But it is when our beliefs blind us — and make us think we are better — that courage is lost.
We are all fighting the same war and it isn’t about who is right or who is better. It is about finding love for ourselves, for each other, and for our Creator. If we found a way to unite against the real enemy, our world could find peace.
So today, whatever our religious beliefs, we are on the same team. This world is only broken because we have lost sight of the truth that we are all connected. Maybe we don’t all share the same skin color, or language, or religion, or continent, but we are all one.
We are connected in the fight against evil.
Others can try to take away our sense of safety — and unity — and even our lives. But they can’t take away our faith. Be strong. Have courage. Look for the light, for even though he cannot take away the storms around us, he can calm the storms inside.
Ashlee Birk is the author of "The Moments We Stand," the blog and book series of her healing journey after the secret infidelity and murder of her husband in 2011. She is a graduate of Utah State. Her webiste is themomentswestand.com