If I Could Talk to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev…

I would have quite a few things to say to this man. While I do not live in Boston, and thankfully do not know anyone who does and therefore I was not personally affected by this tragedy, I still feel unbelievable amounts of sadness for all of those involved. And yes, that includes Dzhokhar and his family. No matter which way I look at this situation, I feel tears in my eyes and hurt in my heart.

So much hurt in my heart.

On Friday, as I watched the “manhunt” unfold on television, I also watched a little of bit of who Dzhokhar is (or was) unfold. I think the most telling statement came from his uncle, the brother of his father, when he said, “Dzhokhar, if you are alive, please turn yourself in to the police and ask for forgiveness.” I was standing in front of the television, gaping at this desperate man while he plead for his nephew to do the right thing. It was then that I realized, and prayed, that Dzhokhar would surrender to the authorities and would ask for forgiveness.

My hope and prayer was not that he would commit suicide because he wasn’t “man” enough to face the consequences of his actions (like I feel so many do). My prayer was not that he would be killed in a firefight as his brother was the night before. My prayer was not that he would be found dead somewhere. In fact, it was nowhere close to that.

While the rest of the world was cheering, and the people of Boston danced through the streets when he was finally captured, all I could say out loud was, “Oh, thank you God that he is still alive.” (And great that they found him, of course.)

Yes. You read that right. And no, I am not supporting what he has done by any stretch. If Dzhokhar had died, we would be left with absolutely no answers. There would be no one here to tell us perhaps why these brothers did this. There would be no real conclusion to this horrible story. His family would have to bury two children (as if one is not enough already) and live the rest of their lives knowing two of their children went down the way they did. The Tsarnaev family would have no peace and neither would the families of any of the deceased or injured victims.

If Dzhokhar died, that would have been it for him.

And that is so, so incredibly sad to me.

According to what I’ve watched/seen/read over the last few days, Dzhokhar and his family came to the United States in the early 2000s, perhaps to get away from a life that was so full of violence, fear, and terror. And ironically, those three things were exactly what they both brought to America one week ago by their own choices and actions. They came here to have a better life (most likely) and what they ended up with was not that, despite the seemingly “good” track they were on for so many years.

I have been trying to give Dzhokhar the benefit of the doubt and believe that he was in fact coerced into this entire thing by his older brother. A huge part of me believes that is exactly what happened specifically because he just does not fit the profile of someone who would be capable of doing something like this. He was popular, charismatic, funny, social, and smart. He wasn’t like his brother who has been reported as quiet, estranged, deeply religious, and a loner. His brother appears to fit the profile of these types of people — similar to other recent mass murders such as Adam Lanza, Cho Seung-Hui, Eric Harris, and Dylan Kleblod. I’ve yet to hear any person who knew Dzhokhar say that they now, in hindsight, can see him doing something like this. That’s because no one can believe that he could do something like this. I absolutely support the notion that his brother brainwashed him, forced him, whatever you want to call it — to carry out this horrendous act with him. However, Dzhokhar has a brain of his own and has his own free will, and he chose to not do the right thing, despite perhaps being told otherwise. I wish so badly he had turned his back from it, but he didn’t, and still hasn’t, and that is so unfortunate.

He could have said no if his brother was trying to talk him into doing this for whatever sick reason he had in his head. He could have planted that bomb, walked away, and turned himself in. He could have surrendered to cops when they spent an entire day searching for him. He could have done so many things differently, but he didn’t, and therefore he does need to be held accountable for his chosen actions.

He is so, so young. I think about myself at age 19 and how incredibly stupid I was and the ridiculous things that I did. (And didn’t do.) Things I thought were right certainly were not right. I was still so naive about the world and yet frankly thought I had already been through so much. But now I realize that I still do have so much to learn. And I feel like Dzhokhar is in that stage of life of doing stupid things and making stupid choices. His stupid choices and decisions were more extreme than those that most 19 year olds make (obviously) and have far more repercussions. He is obviously a smart person and had a lot going for him.

Now, the best I can hope for him is that he is not executed.

Yes, you read that right. I pray that he is not executed because I do not believe that will solve anything in this case. An eye for an eye, yes, but I truly believe the person who deserved to die as a result of this entire thing has already died. And that is Tamerlan. Unfortunately as I type this, though, news is breaking that he may incur the death penalty for his charge of “using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death and one count of malicious destruction of property by means of an explosive device resulting in death.”

What he did was so, so wrong. But my heart hurts so much for this kid. Because I pray that he can be spared from death so he can turn his life around. I pray that he will come to know the Truth. I pray that the Lord will work in his heart. I pray that he will repent from his actions and ask not only those he harmed for forgiveness, but ask God for His forgiveness. Because the Lord will and already has forgiven Dzhokhar.

The bottom line is, Dzhokhar, if I could talk to you, I would tell you that I will be praying for you. The Lord created you in His image and He loves you so, so much. I pray that you will come to know His love and you will repent because you have been spared by an all-knowing Father. The Lord could have chosen to allow you to die (if you did in fact attempt to take your own life on that boat), but he didn’t. He spared your life and I pray that you know that. He spared you for a reason and I hope you come to know Him and seek forgiveness for your actions.

Until then, I’ll be praying for you.

“Hey unfaithful, hey ungraceful, hey unloving. I will love you.” [underOATH]

11 thoughts on “If I Could Talk to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev…

  1. I also feel very sad for the situation and for the choices he made. Maybe his parents partly are to blame because they were not present and at 19, you need parents–NOT an older brother who is mentally unstable. I have no idea what the family dynamics were but obviously there is some major failure here. My kids are the same age as these two and it breaks my heart even more that this is what they chose to do with their lives. I also pray that the remaining one will repent, turn his life around and realize even though he royally screwed up, there is redemption available through God. He will either be executed or in prison for the rest of his natural life–he still has a life of choices left–something his brother and their victims never got. It would be amazing if this does turn out to be a story of redemption–a testimony to God’s power of saving grace. But in the meantime, the victims, their friends and families should of course be our focus of prayer. Adjusting to life without limbs, with shrapnel forever embedded in your body and the mental agony will take many many days and years to overcome and they will need God’s grace.

  2. Well said! While I agree that if our system tries him, finds him guilty, sentences him to death, and he is executed,that this would solve nothing for those that have lost so much, We should not expect to reverse what has been perpetrated by further perpetration of our own deliberate, lawful undertakings. That said, I think much more is at stake here. Consider those that may entertain evil actions of this kind. Part of the system that we collectively sanction against those that have done us harm is that that system should also serve to provide those with evil aims pause and potential reconsideration. If effect, provide a deterrent to those that remain in the realm of reason and can still weigh potential consequences against actions they might contemplate. Keep thinking critically and sharing. You go girl!

  3. I felt sorry for him laying, hurt, for so long, hiding and probably scared. He is only 19. I hope this serves as a lesson to other stupid young men who are dabbling in anit-social and anto-American ideologies.

  4. Thanks for checking out and commenting on my blog. I’m returning the favor. 🙂

    I obviously really like your post. I’ve been wishing so much the past few days that I could just talk to Dzhokhar, but obviously, that’s not happening. But I can pray for him, and that can have a powerful impact. I’ve prayed for him for almost an hour five straight days, and it’s amazing what God has done in my own heart, as I’ve asked Him to change Dzhokhar’s heart.

    I’m like you; I want so badly that they don’t give him the death penalty. Does he deserve it? Yes. But, in a sense, we all deserve the death penalty—not from the American justice system but from God. If they kill him, that gives less time for him to repent and receive the forgiveness and grace that comes from the cross. Unless being sentenced to death would make him desperate for mercy… But with all the love that I somehow feel for him—it’s all straight from God—I don’t want them to give him the death penalty. I’m hoping for a life sentence.

    Keep praying. “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16).

    1. Oh yay, I am so glad I’m not the only one praying for him like non-stop and just constantly hurting over it all. I pray the exact same thing — that the Lord will stir his heart and make him realize what he’s done and that there IS forgiveness within God. And you are so right about him deserving the death penalty just like all of us. “The wages of sin is death” and to the Lord, what Dzhokhar has done is the same as you and me telling a lie or whatever we think is a “smaller” sin. God sees it all the same and because of that we do deserve the penalty of death. But I pray that it will be God who takes Dzhokhar’s life (at the right time), not someone else.

      1. And likewise, it’s nice to know that I’m not the only one, haha. I posted on my Facebook and on a Facebook group of mine asking people to join me in praying for him. A lot of people liked the posts, but I told them to comment if they wanted to join me. I just really want to raise up an army of prayer warriors for Dzhokhar, and it’s been really discouraging that other people don’t share my heart in this. But man, the power in a bunch of believers choosing to radically love the “unlovable” and pray relentlessly for his salvation… Maybe he’ll never repent, but as Spurgeon said, “If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our bodies. If they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees. Let no one go there unwarned and unprayed for.” It’ll be hard to passionately and continuously pray for him as the days, weeks, and months go by, but I must. If he’s not going to run to God on his own, I’m going to lift him up to the throne of grace personally and plead with God for his redemption.

      2. I totally agree with you. I also applaud you for asking your Facebook friends to join you in prayer for him. I feel like most people think I am crazy, but I really don’t care at this point. No true Christian can really deny what we are saying, but I think for most it is easier said than done. Can we email? Maybe we can share prayers and thoughts with one another. God has placed this love in both of our hearts for a reason and you know what He says? “When two or more are gathered in His name, He is present.” Let me know if you’d like to email! I would feel better sharing my thoughts and feelings with someone who doesn’t think I’m psycho for it all!

      3. I know most people would think I’m crazy. My blog entry actually is an opinion column I wrote for my Specialty Writing class in college, and it’s due on Tuesday. Well, we often share our stuff out loud in front of the class. That should go well. I’m pretty sure there’s an atheist in the class, and I don’t know if there are any authentic Christians. So now I’ll be that crazy girl who prays for and loves terrorists. Yep.

        We can definitely email. Does my email address show up in your dashboard? I am SO glad to finally have someone who shares the same heart for Dzhokhar. We can be crazy together.

  5. This is so ridiculous. A complete write-up on a suspected terrorist and only a few sentences about the innocent victims who died, are now legless, maimed and mentally damaged for life. It’s insensitive, unpatriotic, deleterious, delusional, and regressive! This kid, in unison with his brother, made bombs, exploded them at the feet of innocent humans, shot at police, and then hid like a coward. If this doesn’t deserve the death penalty then I don’t know what does.

    I understand a sentiment where one might find the human side of Dzhokar, the youthful innocence wrapped up around a rebel heart, and an unfulfilled, wanton desire to be led by a mentor (which it seems he attempted to gain from his brother) but he killed people with intention! If he isn’t completely soaked up by the irreconcilable dogma of Islam that, not only justifies this evil act, but encourages it (Islam is under attack, death to the infidels) then he can understand his grave mistakes and own up like a man. Otherwise, his lonely thoughts will be of paradise where 72 virgins await him and Allah (the same God that you as a Christian believe in, only interpreted differently) will pat him on the back and say, “good job.”

    Do you see the absurdity of your tweet?: “I’ve never prayed so hard for a defense attorney in my life. In fact, I’ve never prayed for a defense attorney, PERIOD. #jahar #dzhokhar” – this is currently the most notorious religious nut we have in custody! And you want to focus your energy “praying for him like non-stop and just constantly hurting over it all”?!

    This is one of the major stumbling blocks of society: religious extremism. Yes, you are a religious extremist when you announce to the world your undying empathy for a suspected murderer based upon your Christian beliefs. Where is reason in all these superstitious dogmas? Do you realize that the same conviction you have enforcing your belief in a great sky-daddy is on the same level with the motivation for these Islamic brothers to kill innocent people? Have you ever considered the logical option that you are both wrong!?

    I admit, you are uniquely brave for posting this blog entry and tweeting about, especially considering the sensitivities that are now reaching new heights on this topic. But if you need to “pray for Dzhokar,” then I need to “think for you.”

    Those bombs went off because two brothers believed in an invisible man in the sky and a crowning book of stories. And you want to bear insufficient malice against him because you too believe in centuries old, fantastical stories that have no function in the modern world. As soon as humanity can relieve itself of the boogeyman, then science, reason, and technology can direct us to maximize the health and well-being of Mother Earth and all of it’s inhabitants.

Please, challenge me!

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