It’s not every day a man gets shot at your work place. But it happened tonight and it just so happened to be my work. Usually these sorts of events happen elsewhere; usually the scary events happen elsewhere and to other people. Like when the Towers fell on 9/11; I was scared, but not as scared as the citizens of New York City or Washington D.C. Tonight, however, I was shaken up because it was so terribly close to being me lying on the ground with bullet holes through my body.
I’m fine; I was in the kitchen making food when the man was shot outside in the parking lot. And from the details gathered by the police, the shooter seemed to have been targeting this man and no one else. So no, it’s not like the bullets barely escaped me. But still; I’ve never been so close to a shooting before. I’ve also never seen a wounded man before. I’m used to the blood being fake and no one ever really being concerned for the wounded men because they always seem to survive beyond the end of the movie. But the blood was real. The worry for this man’s life was real. And the reality check for what actually matters in this life was real, too.
As my readers are probably well aware, what happens next in my life has been the prominent question on my mind lately. Oftentimes it’s driven me to worry and even anxiety. I know I shouldn’t worry about this stuff and that God will take care of me, but there is so much uncertainty with where I might be going that the things I should be doing and focusing on become blurred. An event like tonight, though, brings me back down to earth – refreshes what matters most in my life.
No, God did not intend for this man to get shot just so that I’d have a much-needed reality check; it just happened to be the way it all went down. A man tried to kill another man and all the innocent bystanders were left to reflect over what it all meant. When I started thinking of how it could have been me, I thought of my grandpa. I thought of my brothers and sisters. I thought of my mom. I thought of all my friends past and present. And I thought about how I spend most of my time focused on my life instead of theirs.
I’m not trying to guilt-trip myself and beat myself up with shame; I’m just pointing out an area I desperately need to work on. At any moment our lives could be taken from us; be it a shooting, a car accident, cancer, or something else entirely. According to John’s Gospel, Jesus’ most important commandment was that we love each other – not our money, our cars, our fame, our deeds, our images. “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. … This is my command: Love each other,” (John 15:12-13, 17).
As we were closing up Putters early tonight, I overheard a little girl crying. Don’t know if this little girl was the daughter of the man who was shot or what, but I imagined what that man’s kids were thinking now. I wondered if they’d ever get to see him again. I wondered what their adult lives were going to be like with this in their memory bank. I wondered if they’d learn to love properly or be so scarred from this event that they’d turn away from people – learn not to love so deeply in order not to be let down later.
It changes things, this knowledge. Realizing that at any moment I or a loved one could be gone. It changes the way you approach them. It changes the way you go about your day to day lives. It changes the way you meet new people. It changes how you love.
Tonight I will most likely lay my head down to a good night’s rest only to wake up and do this whole life thing again tomorrow. What I hope will be different, though, is how I treat the people around me. Even if they’re the most annoying person on the face of the earth, someone in this world loves them deeply – even if it’s just God who loves them; someone loves them! And since I’ve made up my mind to follow Jesus, I must love as He did. I must carry the heart of compassion He did. I must open my eyes to the precious things; the lives around me.
I must love… Plain and simple…
P.S. Please pray for this man’s health and his family and friends’ emotional well-being. They were pretty distraught tonight.