"Language, as well as the faculty of speech, was the immediate gift of God." ~ Noah Webster

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Sara - In the Aftermath

She was beautiful; but more than outward beauty, she had inner beauty and I could see it from the moment she began to speak. She was polite, and reserved, yet quite articulate. She appeared comfortable, and sincere. She had a smile that obviously radiated from deep within her soul, outward to her audience. She was dressed in a bright, red shirt that accented her coal black hair. Adorned with jewelry of a Native American influence - most likely from her time in Montana - a love of that culture was apparent and it seemed so natural to her. What a beautiful, amazing woman she had become.

Sara Weaver Balter
I first learned about Sara in 1992. Ruby Ridge, Idaho was the setting. Her family’s story made National headlines and continued to do so from the beginning to end. I was captivated by it from the start. Of course because it was so tragic and startling that something like that could even happen, but also because it was so close at hand - in my beloved North Idaho. I don’t want to write about all the politics of it, or all the horrific details. I’m sure most have heard. I have strong, distinct, unchangeable feelings about all of it, but for now, I just want to write about Sara.

I had heard she was going to be on the Biography channel, so I made a point to mark my calendar so I would be sure to watch. There was an article in the local paper the day before and I was all the more captivated once I read part of her story there on the front page. William Shatner would be interviewing her about all that happened those many years ago on Ruby Ridge.

I had read the book that she and her father, Randy, had written some time ago; I picked it up and read it again just recently…last winter, I believe. So I knew their story well. I had followed headlines about all that had taken place before and after the dreadful events.

Sara was 16 when these events took place and I honestly don’t know anyone that has gone through anything more horrendous. Only her dad may have suffered more. As she would comment during the interview, that now being a parent herself, she understands how traumatic it was for her own parents to loose a child. And then her dad would also loose his wife.

She seemed so well-adjusted, incredibly strong, with no trace of bitterness as she told her story to Mr. Shatner and his national audience. I cried with her, as tears streamed down her face when she came to the parts that were still too difficult to bear even all these years later. Mr. Shatner, to his credit, was kind and patient as she told her story; listening well and asking the pertinent questions. I don’t think he was trying to get even one political comment out of her. Indeed, he just wanted to help her tell her story and I saw tears of his own well up in his eyes. At one time, I saw him wipe them away. And, no, I don’t believe that was contrived. How could any one not be affected by such a traumatic story!

This young woman had seen her younger brother and his dog killed for no reason she could understand. Her father wounded by gunfire, and then as Sara stood inches from her, her mother was shot, with the same bullet that would also wound a trusted family friend. She watched this loved one suffer, begging to die; she watched her grieving father; and her family mercilessly tormented by strange voices that surrounded them.

She was raised in a “religious home” with strict, Old Testament teachings, but these teachings and values had become her own and when this tragedy was all over, these values and life style were suddenly ripped from her, in much the same manner her family was taken from her. She spoke of the culture shock, she experienced when she and the rest of her siblings were moved from their family home in the mountains of North Idaho where she was homeschooled, to a public school setting in a suburb of Des Moines, Iowa. Yeah, I would say that was a radical change. But she endured it all, mostly alone. She endured it all, mostly without answers. She lived in darkness, depression and despair. She lived that way for 10 years, she told her audience.

But then, One came to save her - a Knight in Shining Armor, if you will. Though raised in a religious home with Old Testament teachings, she and her family were not Christians, she had said in the interview with the paper. It was much, much later she came to know the One that would set her free. I will try to stay away from doctrinal issues here too, but I believe her salvation was not born out of her adversity. I believe her salvation came by the heartfelt cry of a nation of believers that prayed for that family from the time their story hit the news. Her salvation came because of One that is not willing that any should perish. He wooed her, and loved her enough to bring her home. Evil can no longer destroy her. Evil did not destroy her and if there is anything this woman demonstrates it is this. The Holy Spirit lives within her to testify of a saving grace available to all who willingly accepts it.

She has forgiven her offenders she said, and I believe her. She prays that the man that shot her mother will come to understand the freedom that she has come to know. She is strong and she is whole. She loves her daddy and she loves her kids. She loves her Lord, and she has found life. I learned that all, well…maybe in the hour it took for her to tell her story; but in truth, I knew it from the moment I saw her speak her first words. She has an amazing, powerful story to tell. We watched as a nation, the beginnings of her story, and I pray we never forget it. It will happen again, if we forget. But more than anything I hope what is remembered most is the grace she has shown in the aftermath and the Grace that she has received.

Please read her story here:

The Interview with William Shatner, should be available here soon:  www.bio.com/aftermath 

1 comment:

  1. Wow. That was beautiful, Jan. And a glorious ending to a very inglorious moment in our nation's history. Praise God that He still brings joy for mourning and resurrection from death. Thanks for writing this, Amie