By Alana Stephenson Phillips
SODDY DAISY, Tenn. (June 14, 2106) -- If you want to focus on the negative, on the hate, on the evil, it will be all you see.
If you shift your focus, you can see love instead.
When I lived in New Orleans on Aug. 29, 2005, the day that Hurricane Katrina made landfall, my world was shaken. A storm took lives and a flooded city took even more. People were forgotten and were dying, and the media was focused on the politics of it all.
You know what I saw? The people who donated blood, money, supplies, and time. I saw the helpers who saw people in need and did what they could.
When my daughter was diagnosed with a brain tumor on Sept. 30, 2014, my world was shaken. A disease had set up its home in my child’s head, and there was a long list of scary possibilities that went along with that.
You know what I saw? People I knew and many I didn’t, rallying around our family. People prayed and loved and gave and cared. In doing so, they made our journey, their journey.
When a gunman ran around our city on July 16, 2015, shooting our military -- the ones who were our protection against evil -- my world was shaken. Chattanooga has always felt like home and felt safe. On that day, we didn't feel safe. Schools and hospitals were on lockdown, and details were difficult to piece together.
You know what I saw? A city that rallied together. We said we were #noogastrong, and we said we had each others’ backs. We came together.
A few days ago on June 12, a shooter went into a nightclub in Orlando and killed 49 people. As I look at my Facebook newsfeed from friends this week, you know what I see? People who care. People who want to support a community that hurts, a city, and the LGBTQ community.
If all you see is the negative -- or if all you are posting on your social media is the negative -- shift your focus. Find the love. It’s there every time.
Alana Stephenson Phillips is a writer and wife of the Rev. Joe Phillips, who begins his new appointment at Norwood United Methodist Church in Knoxville, Tenn., on July 1.