Let us be activists, not slacktivists. Let us put our money where our mouths have been, and let's get dirty doing the work. Let us put our boots on the ground, our hands in the mud, our hearts on the line. Let's get serious.
A few thoughts in response to Charlottesville (and the whole last year, really), and a few book recommendations if you don't know where or how to start listening and engaging.
It’s sickening, but it isn’t surprising, and that wrecks me.
He did not look like me, but that does not mean I cannot mourn and grieve the loss of his life. His life mattered. He mattered.
It isn't always easy to get real in this space. It's safer to talk about the books I read and the coffee shops I visit than to talk about my heart or hot topic issues.
Sometimes, I don't even think I want to. I don't know everyone who reads this, and while I'm so grateful that you stop by here to read what I share, there are some things that feel too scary or unformed to just release to the world.
What's the line? What's too much, and what's not enough?
I don't know if I know.
What I do know right now is this:
My heart is aching for the injustice I'm seeing all around me. There is so much I don't understand and never will, because I am white, I am female, I have never had to worry about money or safety or my wellbeing in the world. That breaks my heart. I don't know how to reconcile the feelings in my soul of this is wrong, this injustice is disgusting, I am outraged, I am burdened and sickened and so frustrated with the fact that the issues are deeply rooted and so widespread and I'm just one girl with two hands and one heart that just feels heavy. What can I do? I don't know. But I'm listening. I'm reading articles and posts and tweets, and they are hard to hear. It's hard to hear that this is happening on college campuses and in churches and in cities I've visited and all around me. It's hard to hear the reality of the hatred. But I'll never understand if I don't first listen. I'm praying, endlessly. I am so small, but He is so big, and only He can bring the healing we need.
I hear the news of tragedies around our world (not just in Paris) and my heart feels heavy. There is so much evil, so much brokenness. It's sickening that lives were lost like they were, and I carry the weight of that loss on me like its my own. I hear talk of closing borders and turning people away and nothing about that feels right to me. Yes, there are evil people, and the terrorists come from a certain part of the world. But that doesn't mean everyone from that part of the world is evil. That we would even assume that infuriates me. I want to LOVE. I want to welcome refugees into our land and offer them safety and protection they can't find in their own land. There has to be a better way than closed borders. There has to be a way we can protection our nation and our people and also provide for people who need our love and compassion and hospitality. I have to believe there is a better way, a way that looks like Jesus.
And then loss hit closer to home, in the abrupt and shocking way that a head-on car crash can, and my heart broke again, this time for my family. Even when distant, loss like that stings. My heart aches for his sister (my grandmother) and his children and wife who is still fighting to recover herself. I'm so grateful for so few experiences with death, and so grateful for peace and hope that surpasses understanding when the grief is overwhelming.
And then, in the midst of all this pain and heart ache, a different sort of feeling stirs up in my heart too-- the one that reminds me I'm on my own without somebody by my side through it all. Being single isn't easy, and it isn't always a blessing. I never talk about singleness here. So many people do, and I appreciate their posts and perspectives, but I've never wanted to add my voice to the mix. Here's the thing though: sometimes it just really sucks. There's a pressure that starts to weigh on you as more and more people get engaged and married and you're still left with a bare ring finger and no prospects. So there you go. There's that.
I'm also feeling too addicted to my phone and to social media. I know that my writing requires that I have a presence online, because if I didn't, who would know that I wrote something? But the constant scrolling? The feeling of needing to check my feeds every few minutes just so I don't miss something? The keeping up with tragedies in real time? Trying to capture every good moment for an Instagram? Feeling sick over ever new horrible headline bearing bad news? It's wearing on me. I need to disconnect. I think I'll start with a phone-free weekend and see how it feels. Something's gotta give.
So there it is. Maybe I've said too much. But maybe I haven't been saying enough. Maybe I've been playing it safe instead of getting real, because getting real is harder and scarier and takes much more from me.
What I know is this: i want to have conversations that matter. I want to talk about things that will bring about change. I want to be honest and I want to always hold on to hope, and I want to share what the Lord is doing in my heart and my life as it happens. May these words reflect who He is and may my heart look ever more like His as I earnestly seek Him more and more each day.
In the spirit of a classic Friday freewrite, here is what has been bubbling out from inside of me in fifteen minutes of uninterrupted, unedited writing.
- Christians-- we do not always have to vocalize our opinions about the things we disapprove of. Our silence can be a more impactful protest. The more we feel the need to publicly bash or attack or condemn something, the more we build it up and inadvertently promote it. If we just kept our mouths shut and let our actions talk for us, we might all be better off. If you don't approve of Fifty Shades of Grey, don't read it and don't see it. We all know what it's about and we don't need a million blog posts about it all.
- Love should be celebrated every day, not just on Valentine's Day. The chocolates and Cupids are sweet, but also very cliche. Find out the love language of the people close to you, and use that to serve them and love them well constantly. It doesn't take much to make others feel loved, but it makes such an impact when we do.
- Our world is broken. Equality is not our reality. The headlines make that very apparent, and it's devastating. This is something we should be speaking out about. This is something we should be using our platforms to shine light on and start meaningful conversations about. Nothing will change if we turn a blind eye to injustice and ignore that it exists right where we live.
"Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” --Martin Luther King, Jr.
Having big dreams, goals and strategies is remarkably important. Having a grip on reality and the present is equally important. Partnering dreamers and doers is necessary, unbeatable, and brings about unbelievably better outcomes.
Fostering strong and vibrant community means loving people when they're at their best, when they're serving well, when they're active, when they're present and contributing, and also when they are distant, when they disengage, when they aren't around, when they take a step back, when they are struggling. It's a beautiful thing when communities love well in all seasons, despite everything life brings.
We are blessed. We may not have the lives we envisioned or the possessions we desired, but we are blessed. We can choose to dwell on what is seemingly lacking or less than ideal, or we can choose gratitude. One is depressing and exhausting, one is freeing and life-giving. Let's choose thankfulness, appreciation, joy.