All twenty-year-old Patience Carter could hear was her own heart pounding in her chest. This was how she knew she was still alive. She sat shivering in fear, huddled beside others on the floor of a bathroom stall with two bullet wounds in her legs. The shooter, Omar Mateen, paced outside the stalls divulging his plans for attack. And, as she sat for three torturous hours in gut-wrenching fear, she “made peace with God.”
She began to feel certain that this was the end, even wanted it.
“I was begging God to please take me…to take the soul out of my body, because I didn’t want to feel any more pain,” she explained in an interview with Fox 29.
Police worked to break into the bathroom. Pipes broke and water spilled into the stall. Unable to move, she thought she was drowning. But her stubborn heart kept beating. The gift of life God gave her was not ready to be defeated.
Today, Patience heals in Orlando Medical Health Center writing poetry about her experience to offer comfort to the other surviving victims. She reminds us of the human face of this tragedy—of the lives cut short, the pain inflicted, the dreams crushed, the loved ones left to mourn. She reminds us that what was taken in Orlando was something of immense value—the precious lives of 49 people.
Looking back on the last week it seems that we’re losing sight of the human tragedy. We’ve seen the nation erupt into a social media frenzy of debates, arguing politicians, and “us” vs “them” tactics that have reduced the loss of 49 beautiful, precious lives into a mere political issue. But we, as champions of life, must focus on the sanctity of those lives lost. We know God holds them in His hands. We know our faith moves mountains.
Helen Keller said, “Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into light.”
We may be tempted to think our prayers are a trite offering when faced with such a heinous crime against life, but we are no strangers to their boundless power.
In the face of an evil attack on human life, we can find hope in the extraordinary resilience of the human spirit. As people who value life at all stages, we testify every day to the tragedy of lives rejected and discarded. We also celebrate the miracle of newborn life and the healing that can occur in life’s last breaths. We recognize the hope present in every moment of life when, as a united community, we can lift each other up in times of difficulty and seek understanding through difference.
In these moments God’s tender hands guide His children, He breaths life into lives deemed unlivable. We are His witnesses of what is truly blessed, worthy, and sacred in those lives seen otherwise.
When we face impossible odds, when we’ve lost all hope, when we’re ready to give up, God shows us He truly has mastery over the lives of His children. We look to Orlando to see evidence of His handiwork—the volunteers who drove strangers to the hospital, the love and support shown to the hurting, the story of Patience Carter’s resilient beating heart.
We unite our hearts, our faith and our hope in the beauty and dignity of every human life. Let what occurred in Orlando be a catalyst for good. Let us remember and pledge unity. Let us choose love.