When I was nine, I was traveling with my Dad from a Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox baseball game, on the south side of Chicago. We ran out of gas in a sketchy neighborhood, as the south side of Chicago has parts of. My dad filled up and went into pay. I look out the window and about 25-50 feet away from me, two guys pull guns out on each other. They both fire, one gets hit, and, they both run away.
When I was 10, I was told that God was going to go be coming back in the next 10 years (bad guess, as I’m 23 now) and that the anti-Christ was going to persecute me and kill me.
Also, when I was 10. A serial killer named Andrew Cunanan murdered his first victim in Minneapolis in April of 97′. With the effects of the events above me, there were nights where I was afraid that someone was going to come into my room at night and murder me.
This, upon other instances in my life teaches me the effects of violence and how it can implement trauma on a human being. And, deeper than violence exists deeper things such as control and power. The effects of these trauma’s left me feeling powerless and afaid for many years. Afraid and alone, I walked my teenage years, in deep fear that something was going to happen to me.
At 23, I’m 6’4 and can leg press over 650lbs. I’m quick and agile for my size and hit my punching bag for nearly 45 minutes to an hour every day, I throw devastating punches. How could I fear anyone? Yet, the stitches of my wounds come undone from time-to-time, and, I feel the powerlessness of these events, as well as others, triggering the thoughts and effects that powerlessness and betrayal can have a human being. The nine and 10 year old inside of me, peeks up, and, reveals himself in adult form.
I don’t think this stitch filled life was the life I was meant to have. There are elements of this in my existence that causes fear and anxiety. Guns and violent people cause me fear, but, the fear of death and powerlessness cause me anxiety. This isn’t abundant living, there isn’t freedom in violence, its about minimizing ones power to gain more for ourselves. There is a sense of false masculinity in violence and reveals to us a lot of who we are.
I don’t think this is what Jesus wanted for us when he said: Matt 26:”52Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 53Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”
Violence doesn’t always look like loaded weapons or punches thrown. Violence happens in our words, in our thoughts, in our actions and in our intentions. There is no freedom in violence. Freedom brings peace, brings life not enforce an anxiety of powerlessness and death. If we don’t have faith in peace, if we do not hope for peace, then we cannot love. And, if we do not love, no one will ever unveil the true image of Jesus.
The wonderful missional author Allen Hirsch wrote this “we are a product of those who have loved us and those who have failed to love us.”
How does violence manifest within us? Where can the hatred of others and ourselves end? And, where can it begin? What product are we producing with violence?