They call it the deadliest day for law enforcement since 9/11.
On July 7th, a twenty-five-year-old former U.S. troop opened fire, sniper style, on a peaceful protest on the streets of downtown Dallas. Injuring over a dozen law enforcement officials and killing five, his mission was clearly stated: “I want to kill white cops.”
For us locals, the names and faces of the fallen police officers have become familiar. Not knowing where to go or what to do, North Texans made their way to Dallas Police Headquarters on S. Lamar St., where a makeshift memorial had sprung up.
On Thursday, July 14th, I took my two children to see it.
My plan was simple: show my nine-year-old son and eight-year-old daughter that God trades beauty for ashes.
They had seen it on the news, but none of the pictures could prepare them for what we saw.
We saw a mountain of flowers, stuffed animals, posters, and crosses covering and surrounding two police cars.
We saw people holding hands and praying.
We saw the Red Cross on hand passing out water.
We saw a divided people uniting in love.
Perhaps the most profound thing I noticed was the grief etched on the face of every single officer we spoke to. The men who died in the line of duty were their brothers and friends. They were lunch buddies and confidants. Real people with real stories; who left real families behind to mourn.
There is an oft-neglected ministry that we are inclined to forget about, and that’s the ministry of simply showing up.
We shook hands, exchanged words, and hugged necks, and each officer said the same thing.
Thank you so much for coming. It means so much. Thank you for your support.
A verse of Scripture that I’d memorized years ago began to play through my mind:
He heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds.
When we rally around our wounded, we become a part of the binding process.
My children and I talked about the ways we saw God working. We discussed the ministry of showing up; how presence comforts when words fail. How signing a card says far more than our name, and how a hug or a handshake heals wounds.
You see, God works miracles of healing all the time, and His favorite instrument is us.
I want in.
I want to be a part of the solution, and I want to plant that desire in Caitlyn and Nick.
We learned something else that day. Something beautiful and life-giving and hope-filling. Something true then and true now, because our hope runs deep no matter how dark it gets.
When you squeeze our city, love pours out.
So we mourn our fallen, and we pray for their families. We back the blue and agree that life matters. We strive for unity and fight for peace. We show up. We speak out. We don’t quit.
We. Are. Dallas. Strong.