When life hits home, it can certainly leave you reeling. That’s what the past few days have been like – almost surreal – maybe you’ve felt it too. While I haven’t directly suffered from racism, I have friends and family members who have. Does this anger me, disappoint me, make me want to make it right? Yes. I know I cannot take on other people’s offenses. It’s simply an unhealthy response to even do so, and these fragile moments feel like we’ve taken offense to a whole new level. I fail to understand, but I want to lean in anyway.
It’s not because of ignorance, at least I don’t think it is. And maybe it’s part of the way I grew up, but I fail to understand how so much ugliness lurks inside the hearts of people going undetected and then being violently projected. It’s not as simple as all that either, but I want to lean in, listen to stories, and help bring about reconciliation. Even if it makes me uncomfortable, I want to make space for other people’s experience so I can know how to pray, be a light, spread hope, and love. I don’t want to take up residence in their pain because that’s NOT what I’m called to, rather, I want to weep with those who weep, rejoice with those who rejoice, and bear the burden along side them. I don’t think God meant for us to carry these heavy burdens (Psalm 55 and 57) for prolonged periods of time. They a way of ruining us when we don’t learn to release them to Him.
I’ve been muddling my way through the 12th chapter of Romans, and it’s fascinating that its message coincides with what we’ve seen happening in Charlottesville and our nation overall. Perhaps this is another wake up call to which more of us are listening and choosing to do the work of reconciliation. I hope so. I desire to live out God’s way, but I don’t necessarily need human instruction on how to be a person who loves without condition. What I do need and want is open communication with people in my sphere of influence. Shoulder to shoulder. Arm in arm. How can we love each other to wholeness? How can I serve you? If you never tell me, I’ll never know how to be in relationship with you. And that’s what I think we need a whole lot more of – people willing to ask “how can I love you well?” Imagine how disarming that could be!
If you ask me how you can love me well, it moves me from defensiveness to at least being willing to go the distance with you. Maybe this going the distance can be the catalyst we all need to heal our country. So I’m going to challenge myself to ask, and with the help of the Holy Spirit, I believe I’ll be able to do it. After all, it is God who continues to empower and enable me to do good works and love well. Are you willing to go the distance and take the risk? I believe we are in a critical time in which God wants to show the world what love and reconciliation really look like, and I think it’s going to make the difference.
Tell me your stories. I want to hear them.
Today’s verse was number 18. And oh! How fitting it is for a time like this!