Via our Israeli correspondent MC, here is an account of the current situation along the border with Gaza as experienced by a resident of Sderot named Yaeli.
I am at war.
The conflict has caused massive damage. The missiles don’t stop. Every time I call for a ceasefire, I hold to it and the other side doesn’t.
The missiles I shoot down with my defense system are designed to hurt and maim me. When I shoot down one or two, ten are sent at once so that I can’t possibly shoot them all down. When I stop responding, no-one tells me ‘well done’, it is simply expected that I keep silent, but the missiles are still being sent. They are still damaging me.
I try to tell those who condemn me that it is not fair. I know I haven’t always behaved in a way that is above reproach, but I don’t want to damage anyone. My cause is about finding a way to live without conflict, while the other side is so filled with fear and anger that the only way to feel better is to send missiles towards me.
They accuse me of being too sensitive — they’re only missiles, and I should be grateful that they helped me build my almost perfect missile defense system. What’s the problem with running for shelter a couple of times a day, anyway? The other side is hurt much so more by my disproportionate response.
Then the tunnels started. I was shooting down too many missiles; I was having too much success deflecting the blows; I had invested too much in shelter from that form of attack. So the tunnels were built.
Instead of investing in building the positive and useful, the investment went into fueling the anger and the fear. Talks were rejected, ceasefires were broken. The aid and fuel that I sent were accepted without question, but never mentioned. I was accused of being weak, of being the cause of all the problems.
I couldn’t understand how I was the cause when the other side sent the missiles first. I couldn’t understand why I was expected to just brush the missiles off, when the other side shouted loudly to everyone who would listen about how awful it was when I responded. Why was it that only I was ‘too sensitive’, why is it that only my actions are an ‘over-reaction’?
Now I understand. This is a war that I cannot win.
The attacks will never stop. They will continue, because as long as anger and fear rule the other side, they will need to try to damage me in order to satiate the hunger that anger and fear create. You see, negativity feeds off of negativity. So I need to expect the attacks, to prepare for them, to know that whatever I do will never be enough for the other side and those that support it. That I will receive condemnation every time I respond, but no praise when I stay silent.
My only choice is to turn to my creator, to accept that I will be seen as a religious weirdo by the others. But now I have the best defense system out there. My creator has promised me his protection, if I only turn to him and seek him out as my first priority.
So this is what I do, I turn to the light that is YHWH. With his protection, the conflict rages on outside, but in here, there is quiet. I believe in my decisions when he guides them. I can smile as I blast the missiles out of the sky and collapse the tunnels into the ground. I know that when the other side finds new ways to attack, my protector, YHWH will help me stave those off, too.
The other side can rail and rant, tell stories that barely resemble the truth and leave vital information out of the narrative. I know that I will be blamed for the whole situation, and I don’t mind. When the other side tries to shift the responsibility for the conflict onto me, I will answer to YHWH for my part and it will no longer damage me. I am saddened that the other side will continue to be damaged by an inability or by no perceived need to accept responsibility for the hurt that anger and fear cause to all around. I am saddened, but I have YHWH, so it does not affect me anymore.
YHWH has shown me that if I trust him, I don’t need to respond, and I do not need to want a pat on the head for my silence and restraint. He can take the anger and that fear that made me respond with ever increasing firepower, and show me how when I allow him to protect me, anger and fear are ineffective weapons and I have no need for them.
The attacks still come, but now that the burden is shared by YHWH, it is easier for me to deflect them. It takes up less of my precious resources, for he is always filling my cup until it overflows.
I am at war, and it is the best thing that has ever happened to me, because now, I have felt the quiet that comes from walking the path of YHWH’s Torah, and I am glad.