It was a little after noon on Friday.
My phone buzzed with a text message from the dad of the little boy I babysit.
“If you are at your apartment, stay there and turn on the news.”
Just a moment later, another text showed up on my screen.
“Are you okay?!?!?!”
I was confused. What was going on?
Clearly, I was missing something important.
It was Thanksgiving break, so I was spending the weekend up in Denver with my brother.
I wasn’t at my apartment. I wasn’t in Colorado Springs.
Quickly, I jumped on my Twitter feed to see what was going on. Sure enough, a quick search showed me there was an active shooting going on in my town, in my community and a mere half mile from my apartment building.
I wish I could explain to you the feeling you get when you watch the news and know your home is in close proximity to the media images being shown, and that your neighbors are being forcibly locked down at the grocery store where you do all of your shopping.
Your home is supposed to be a haven, place of security, place of belonging and place of self.
You never think your home could be within walking distance of severe acts of hatred.
Then, on Monday, I was struck with another dose of fear.
I was getting ready to go return a crockpot to a friend at her place of work, when I was told she was under lockdown because two hospitals were being investigated for security concerns over suspicious and threatening behaviors.
I was never in any danger the day of the Colorado Springs shooting attack that occurred at the Planned Parenthood building because thankfully, I was out of town.
Even if I were home, my apartment building was not in the line of fire. I wouldn't have been able to go anywhere because my street was quickly blocked off.
But does that make any difference? This attack shocked me to my core because it quite literally hit too close to home.
Why does this keep happening?
Why do innocent people keep losing their lives?
Can anyone feel safe anymore?
Gone are the days when we can put a stereotype on the location where shootings occur.
Colorado Springs is considered to have a strong Christian community, and is home to both an Air Force and an Army base. If someone can come here and pull out a gun to prove a point, he or she can do it anywhere.
So, when will enough be enough?
When are people going to start realizing love is the most powerful weapon in the world?
Love is stronger than any act of evil, and has the ability to conquer the whole world if we let it.
The world is changing.
People are celebrating their differences and speaking out and expressing their individualities.
Humanity is getting closer to reaching equality. But instead of finding ways to live together, we keep finding ways to drive us apart.
In even more terrifying circumstances, some people are taking it upon themselves to load a gun, find their cause and “handle” it.
When is this going to stop happening? When are people going to come together to finally put a stop to all of this?
When are people going to just start loving?
I have faith in Jesus Christ. He is my savior and my rock. I learned to love because He first loved me.
So, while I may not agree with everything going on in the world today, I choose to love everyone, no matter our differences.
Isn’t there an old saying that goes, “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar?”
Hatred should never be the answer, no matter what someone believes.
Being a part of this generation excites me every day.
We care about this world. We explore it, we learn about it and we make our voices heard.
So when things like this continue to happen, we have the power to do something about them.
Choose to love no matter the cost.
Choose to stand up against the hatred, and choose to be the change this world needs.
While that change could lead to a discussion about gun control laws, mental health issues or other important political and social topics, that is not the change I'm talking about.
I'm talking about what you can do, and what we can do, as a group of people and a generation right now.
We can love and be kind.
My community needs love right now.
We need prayer, we need kindness and we need proof that we are not going to let the evil win.
So, as a resident of Colorado Springs who still has to drive past the police cars outside the attack building every day, I am asking for help.
Be the change.
Seek out random acts of kindness, smile, open the door for someone, say hello, pray, buy someone's coffee, volunteer, give, lend a hand, have a conversation, listen, educate yourself, call an old friend and just show love to anyone who needs it.
For me, I will be the change for my neighbors, Officer Garrett Swasey, Jennifer Markovsky, Ke’Arre Stewart and all those who were injured during the attack.
Who will you be the change for? Who will you love for today?
Be the change. Be the love.
Please don’t let this happen right in your backyard before you finally make a difference.