You are beautiful. You are the home I longed for when oceans separated me from you for three years. You are unique, majestic, diverse, and welcoming in a special kind of way. I learned to ride a bike on your streets, grew up running your trails, and have learned to appreciate that when I go shopping at the grocery store, I will be shopping alongside the nations of the world. I have lived in East Muldoon and South Kincaid, with quite a few homes in between. Little did I know as I was born into this city on a cold winter day, that I would call the most beautiful place on earth “home.”
This year, I have seen a darkness descend that the snow-capped sentinels guarding our city could not ward off. The jolts of violence have shamed our infamous earthquakes. We are reeling from it all. I am deeply saddened to see my home in such a state, and everyone I have talked with shares the sentiment. There is a pain present that runs deep and will not heal with the change of the season or the passing of this terrible year.
In times like these, how easy it is to fear. Some fear is reasonable and causes us to take safe precautions. Some fear causes us to cower and close our doors, to look for ways to protect our own and forget about others.
As I have pondered these ideas over the past months, a truth as crisp as the fall air has invaded my heart, its message a battle cry for our grieving city:
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18)
The spirit of overwhelming fear that our city is just not what it used to be, that it tops lists of crime rates in the U.S., these messages paralyze us and are not from God who claims the earth and all therein as His.
Our city is human, full of people like us. People who are in desperate need of the transforming love of Christ—the kind of love that changed the direction of everything in our lives. That turned ugly into beautiful, broken into healed, miserable into joyful. A love that is for perpetrator and victim alike.
Now is not the time to close our doors, shut our blinds, and strap new weapons to our hips. We should step towards our neighbors instead of away from them. Invite a stranger in for dinner, or bring a meal their way. Get to know that kid who we see walking home from school every day and call “trouble.” Feed the hungry. Love the youth of our city. Foster the abused and neglected. Respond to cries for help. Welcome the refugee. Be someone’s family.
Love loudly. Love humbly. Love people in ways that shock them.
May people in our city start asking for an explanation for this kind of love.
And may we be ready to give the beautiful gospel answer. The one that does not make sense because it’s just that good. That acknowledges pain, but refuses to let it determine the direction of our lives. The message that finds us sitting in the mire, even sits with us, but sets our feet on high and safe places again.
The only stories I know in which fear wins, more life is destroyed than saved. May this not be the story of our city.
Anchorage, these days will not be your legacy, because love lives here, and we are not afraid.
A lover of this city and its people