Where do we go from here?
So much hatred and division and turmoil and fear leaking out of us.
So. Much. Pain.
What matters most in all of it?
Unity. Love. Connection.
A heart that is open and listening. A willingness to see beyond the world we know, to the experience someone else has lived.
But it’s so hard to navigate the landscape in front of us when it’s filled with so many trigger points.
There are as many opinions and belief systems as there are people. Beliefs formed by family, heritage, history, socio-economic status, density and diversity of your city, and the region of the country in which you live.
How do we honor and understand each other when our vantage points are so vastly different?
One person wears a mask, yet is shamed by those who don’t believe they are necessary. Another person goes maskless and is shamed for not protecting others. Neither person has the data to back up their choice because it’s all so new and untested.
Into this tinderbox—self-quarantining, lost jobs, lost businesses, and our economy imploding—George Floyd is murdered by a police officer.
And our country incinerates itself.
My heart grieves for those who have been oppressed and marginalized, whether for their skin color or their gender or something else.
While we are to bind up the broken-hearted (Isaiah 61:1), we have to be able to see the pain before we can help heal the wounds.
Does the black community cry out over a current pain or a pain that has never healed? From the practice of segregation? Its earlier roots of slavery? Or from the rampant fatherlessness in their family systems?
There are black commentators who say that racism is not a systemic issue in America, yet others insist it is problematic.
Our beliefs invite experiences that reinforce them and ignore contradicting information. It’s called confirmation bias. It’s unintentional and we all do it.
We see and experience what our wounds tell us is “truth.”
We don’t live above our pain to find truth, we just look for what confirms it.
So if we aren’t looking for goodness, we’ll miss it.
The other day as we waited for our dinner reservation, my husband and I took a walk around a university campus that is re-designing their track stadium. A man was walking toward us with his dog. When we stepped off the sidewalk to give him space to pass, I said, “Beautiful dog.” He didn’t even glance at me. This is a pretty benign situation, but I still had a choice to make—take offense or assume goodness.
I gave a mental shrug and assumed he didn’t hear me. A minute later we turned around to head back toward the restaurant and happened to catch up to the man as he paused by a particularly beautiful section of the stadium. When we stopped to admire it as well, he turned and said, “Isn’t this amazing? It gives me goose bumps.”
It’s so much easier—more restful—to believe the best in others. Even when we’re wrong. Another’s anger, pain or offense is rarely personal. And it’s not our place to judge another’s motives. We can’t know what’s in a heart. We can identify the facts of their actions—but not follow that trail and make a judgment about why he or she acted the way they did.
But we do it all the time. “He did that because he thinks he’s better than everyone else.” “She did that because she’s jealous.” But we don’t know why they did what they did. We just don’t.
Jesus said, “Love each other as I have loved you.” This is New Covenant loving. We can’t love well under the Old Covenant which stated, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” I would venture that the majority of us don’t love ourselves well at all, so how can we take our lack and try to love someone else with it?
We need the love of Jesus in us, refreshing and restoring us and filling us so we can love others with that love.
When we work on what is broken in us—the wounds, the guilt and shame, the bitterness and unforgiveness—then it will be easier for Jesus to leak His love through us to others.
So maybe the better question is, “What is leaking out of us?”
Jesus, I repent for my judgments and bitterness and for holding onto the pain that resides in me. Teach me how to bring my wounds to you and allow you to restore my soul so I become the person you designed me to be: a vessel of hope and freedom and love to lost and hurting people. Make me into a giant in your Kingdom. An overcomer and an emissary of your goodness. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Fingerpointing by Gerd Altmann via Pixabay
Faith Love Hope by John Hain via Pixabay