I will never be a first responder.
My knees go weak at the mention of blood, let alone the sight. I have been known to get woozy over a bad paper cut.
So whenever I see photos of police officers running into smoky scenes, racing in when the rest of us are rushing out, I marvel.
At their courage, of course. At their selflessness. But above all at the proof of their training that rewires their instincts to trump our natural fears.
They do what I would be too terrified to do.
Here we go again, I cry to Boston. Another average Monday blown apart by bombs, another everyday event forever redefined by evil’s horror and violence.
I watch the footage and the photos and the Facebook feeds, and deep inside my stomach knots to one gnarled instinct: run. Grab your kids and go off the grid and head into the hills far, far away from this horrid world where children are blown apart at finish lines.
Would it be so hard to leave comfort and convenience behind if I could simply assure we’d be safe?
But I look at those men and women operating under instincts that are not my own, their knee-jerk reactions that run toward rather than away, their hands that reach out to help rather than cover their heads. And I remember that I, too, have to retrain my instincts towards selfishness and self-protection.
Because this way of Christ runs right toward pain and suffering and fear. It runs toward the blood and the brokenness. It runs toward the fear and the evil and the worst of what we humans can inflict upon each other in hate.
This was never a call to flee the world and run away, but a call to rush in where peace and prayer are needed most.
To remember that at every ground zero of human evil, God is somehow there, too - among the cries and the suffering and the death itself.
And I cannot run from that.