“Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as you ever can.”
The courage to be. It is the title of this blog. It is the mantra of my life. And it is taking quite a few of us all of the courage we can muster to be who we are created to be in these current moments…
I was created for love, for kindness, and for good. I was created for kingdom work. And while it is more than okay — while we SHOULD be moved — while I am angry, saddened, disgusted, depressed, overwhelmed, and discouraged by all of the evil incessantly increasing all around us — it is not okay for me to become paralyzed by it. And I’ll admit, some days I have. There have been many sleepless nights spent in tears, in prayer, bleeding out, pouring out pain to God. Sometimes, if I’m honest — screaming at him. Why? Why, for the love, why?!?!? But this is what free will looks like. This is choice. This is sin. And I must continue to be who I was created to be for something, for someone, for a love so much bigger than myself. I must get up and walk.
Because this isn’t about me. This has never been just about me. This has, and always will be, about US.
And that is the root of this problem.
There is the camp of ‘I’ – well, this isn’t directly affecting ME. And there is the camp of ‘us’ — where there is injustice for one, there is injustice for ALL.
And it seems really easy and super convenient for us to throw labels around to make these atrocities all the more comfortable and palatable for us too, doesn’t it? To make it an “us” versus “those people” issue. Labels like democrat, republican, pro-life, pro-choice, feminist, immigrant, Syrian, Muslim, Christian, Jew, liberal, conservative, (there.are.so.many–feel free to add your own), that proficiently categorize everyone oh so perfectly and throw them into a neat and tidy little box that we can check “yes, I agree with that” or “no, I disagree with that” and we may even chose to vehemently hate them. I detest labels. I thoroughly resent them. Because while they, on the surface, may be created for the intention to do something good — to give us a glimpse into some one’s theology, background, upbringing, presence — as a society, they have made us abhorrently lazy. They have made us superfluously stereotypical. They have made us think we don’t even have to listen to each other anymore, because in our ignorance and egocentrism all of a sudden we have become “the experts” transfixed on one word set to describe or characterize a person. And we have forgotten this simple truth– That we are all just people.
And that is both extremely humbling AND powerful, isn’t it? Same beating hearts and blood coursing though our veins. We all need oxygen to breathe. We have the same capacity for good or evil. The same propensity for choice. People. We’re the ones who decide to take it to the next level. To judge each other. To hate each other. We take it there.
And I have been labeled a great many things in my life time. Most of them have been yelled and screamed and beaten into me. I’m still picking at some of them that are annoyingly sticky. People think they get to decide your labels. Because sometimes labels determine our value too. There’s big words full of all kinds of meaning and associations in labels, isn’t there? But that’s the funny thing. People really don’t get to decide these things about us. No one gets to define you or me or the person next to us or even half a world away. We’re not that powerful really, or that all knowing about anyone. It’s a form of hubris I’ve never understood…
And maybe that’s because I’ve never been a ‘neatly fit into boxes’ sort of girl. It pisses so many people off. What to do with THAT one? And that frustration and anger creates more labels and violence and so many other names that get thrown at you. So interesting. Our fear of not being able to define and label. Why can’t we just accept each other as people? Sure, it’s messy. And it takes more time to get to know one another. And so much more listening. And we might just have to make actual, real connections instead of just assumptions. And we might have to get over ourselves a little and what we think we know. And then, dammit, what would we do with all of our ignorance and bias and bigotry? We just might have to unlearn it…
I have to bash through my labels every day. I am NOT who they say I am, and I never was — one at a time — usually practicing yoga — BAM — one by one they go. And I am free. This girl is a beloved daughter of God and I am who he says I am. And that girl is love. And that girl is pro-humanity. All of us. That neighbor thing doesn’t have borders. It doesn’t have creeds or sex nor is it defined by religion. I’m pretty sure by the state of our nation that Jesus would not be allowed into our country. I often wonder if he would even be warmly welcomed into our churches these days. He was the most radical and revolutionary inclusionary of all time. And I’m walking in his footsteps. And that is all I’m expected to do each and every single day of my blessed life. Walk. To get up and walk. For him and for the love of every single child of God. Which, in case there is any confusion, is every single one of us. And in the words of my beloved sister Cole Sako, “I must have missed the scripture in the gospel where Christ said, ‘Screw ’em.'” We belong to each other.
So turn off those people who keep posting all those annoying ‘political’ posts and blogs in your Facebook feeds. Most of us aren’t posting political, friends. We’re just posting humanity. But go to your notifications and do just that. I keep seeing so many people posting this comment, and I understand — it’s getting to be overwhelming — it is. But do you know what I think? HOW INCREDIBLY BLESSED WE ARE! How blessed we are that we GET TO DO THAT! They are reminders to me — in my face reminders, and I am constantly praying for those people who don’t get to hit that “turn off” button. Because this is their LIFE. Every single day they are dealing with the horrific ramifications we get to “turn off”, ignore, or “turn away” from. How privileged we are that we get to tailor what we want to see and hear in our daily lives! We get to choose it for ourselves and tell ourselves we’re going to ‘decide to be positive and not let that negative garbage affect us. Those people are just whiners and complainers. I’ll take care of that! Done and done!’ And we kind of feel altruistic about it, don’t we? Like we just did something really amazing and kind of righteous?
The truth of the matter is that evil IS happening in our world. And even if we decide we DO NOT want to SEE it or HEAR it, it’s still out there. We don’t make it GO AWAY by shutting our eyes or editing our Facebook notifications. But we also don’t make it go away by screaming f*** Trump every other word either. That doesn’t make it stop and only adds gasoline to his fire. Rage and anger have their place, but after so long — they only become noise. Noise lost in all of his noise. And they, personally, make me stupid and incoherent. There has to be a balance.
That balance is in love. That balance is in hope. This is our path to resistance. And this resistance is displayed by action. It is displayed by what we DO.
We have to get out there and DO. Not just yell and scream. Yes, we need to draw attention to what is happening because it is so stark raving ridiculous and awful. We have to keep speaking out and speaking up. I am NOT advocating silence. Because the apathy, the apathy that this nation is displaying is just as stark raving ridiculous and awful. I’m actually not sure which is worse. So we draw attention to what is. We speak up. And we resist.
And part of that resistance is hope. And that hope is in the giving of love and the doing of good. Supporting the good. Drawing attention to the good. Being light in the blackest of darkness. Giving all the more. Loving all the more. Extending the very best of ourselves to each other in ways we may never have before.
How? There are so many ways. For this family it means donating to women’s shelters, love bombing those that are the encouragers and the supporters and the givers that do NOT get the love and support THEY need to do their jobs (love on your teachers, the activists in your churches, your police officers, your community support staff that are doing so much to BE THE GOOD!!!), giving to organizations that support children with disabilities and give them opportunities they would otherwise not be given (check out DWOL), giving to local and international organizations that are helping stop sex trafficking and supporting the victims of these crimes — this vicious slavery trend that is sweeping our country and the world, donating to the local food pantry, donating to this AMAZING organization called Help One Now (so many ways to get involved — from organizing your own garage sale, to a lemon aid stand, to supporting a child — just look into it, and please, please read Chris’s ‘Doing Good Is Simple’ and get involved — life changing, friends — life changing), to waking up each and every day and doing every good we can in every way we can for a hurting world. It is simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. We have to be tenacious about this — in our jobs, for our families, for each other.
And pray. God, yes, pray. This verse in the Bible always brings me to tears because it reminds me of the power of prayer and just how much Jesus LOVES us and how he encourages us, “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” Luke 18:1. And he tells them the parable about the persistent widow. A woman who does not give up. A widow. A woman. Catch that, girls…
We can’t give up. This kingdom work is here. Now. It is why we are here. “Once having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, ‘The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17:20,21 And as we say in this house, BOOM! Now, let’s get to it!
I want to leave you with a little something from Chris’s book, “Doing Good Is Simple”.
“Imagine what the rest of the world would think of Christians if we fought hard for those who suffer, if ordinary people like us lived a life that is in fact not ordinary at all. We can love deeper, give more, serve together, and feel a sense of mission. We belong to God, we belong to one another, and each day we do our best to capture the opportunities right in front of us. The kingdom of God will be found when we choose to leave the comforts of the Christian subculture and experience joy of life in the middle of the world’s mess and sin and devastation. It may not look clean and tidy. We may not have nice, pat answers to all the world’s questions, but what we will have is far greater — a story about a God who is willing to lay his life down, and stories about his people who are also willing to lay their lives down.” (Marlow, 201)
This isn’t political. This isn’t about labels. This is human. This is life. This is love and hope and despair and about all of us. Not us versus them, but we. The human story. And some of us have bled the same chapters. And some of us have not. But we shouldn’t have to bleed the same history to know right from wrong or good from evil or to have the ability to extend ourselves in love and grace.
And we don’t have to wait for others to get on board or to figure it out. We can. Right now. We are able. Little by little. We can’t do it all, but we can always do something. Find out how you can do YOUR something. Little by little. I keep saying this to myself. Little by little. Just do something. Wake up every day and do your best in love and in hope. And that, that’s the resistance. Louder than screaming. In fact, it’s the loudest protest. To.be.love. To.give.hope.
Little by little. We can make a difference.
Love you. So much. ❤