The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.
They shall build up the ancient ruins;
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations.
This is what courage looks like. To shine the light in the darkness. To speak kind words and listen when you want to prove your point. To see the health of the relationship as more important than being right. To walk justly and love mercy. We are called to love one another.
Sadly the events in Charlottesville did not surprise me. They did not shock me. They didn't tear me up and mess with me like others have. Because sadly, this type of violence and outrage has come to be expected in our broken and fallen world.
The literal only hope in this world is Jesus. Plain and simple. I'm clinging to Him and asking how He can make me an agent of change right where I am, because that's all I know to do.
I posted the above on Instagram and Facebook yesterday because I didn't really want to write this blog post. I'm tired of writing blog posts like this. I am very tempted to throw around blame and shame and point fingers, and I don't want to pretend like the world we are living in is anything but crazy, either. There are countries heralding the termination of Down Syndrome, a foster care crisis in our state, and the Syrian refugee crisis is unprecedented and heartbreaking.
So when I heard about the events in Charlottesville, I was surprised for a hot second, but then reminded of the world we are living in. It is one of fear. Of very clearly drawn lines. Lines of intolerance. Lines of hatred. It is sadly a world of violence. And when I remembered those things, the events of this past weekend did not surprise me, but rather incited a deep sadness, which in turn incited anger.
Throughout the weekend and into Monday, I attempted to avoid the news. I didn't want to be depressed or afraid. But then I remembered that I have a responsibility as a citizen of heaven to know what's going on in my world so that I know what to say when I'm praying to the Most High God. And while I have greatly limited my exposure to news in the past few days to protect my fragile heart, what's amazing about all of these events is that God is never shocked by them, because He is omnipotent. He knew the way things would change in our country and how the climate would shift and escalate to these unthinkable heights. He knew that we would turn on each other in the midst of placing feelings and the desire to be right above relationship and genuinely loving others. He knew that we would be deceived by slick political agendas that don't seem "that bad" and that we would fall prey to thinking that we were victims of someone else's plans. He knew.
And while I know that He is not surprised, I know that this behavior- this senseless pride, fear-mongering, hatred, cowardice, and injustice both saddens and enrages Him. And it is the same for me, too. My heart aches knowing that it's only going to get worse. My heart aches knowing that our future children will be brought into this world. My heart is enraged with the senseless pride of those who refuse to call sin what it is and rationalize the violent behavior of others. My heart is heavy knowing that this will not end this side of heaven. My heart is maddened by the silence of many of my Christian brothers and sisters with a voice who could shine a light in the darkness.
But what's really scary? What really makes me want to curl into the fetal position and live in a compound with my best friends and never venture into the public space? The darkness in my own heart. I found that as I read the news yesterday- even thought it was for a brief moment- hate was in my heart. Misdirected, misguided, wrongly placed hate. Hate for another person. Hate for someone that is created in the image of God, even though they may not know it or act like it. And that scared me, friends. It scared me a lot.
"I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear." - Martin Luther King, Jr.
Here's the thing: there is darkness in all of us. There is big bad scary hate deep down in us whether we acknowledge it or not. There is bias and there are micro-agressions and there are perceptions and there are past experiences. But there is also grace and mercy and love and peace and kindness and forgiveness- all at the foot of the cross. We find His tender lovingkindness there, because His Son bore our sin and shame and said it is finished. All of that hate and fear? Conquered. That prejudice and bias and pride? Overtaken by the blood of the Lamb.
So where do I go from here? I remember that God is good at being God. I encourage my soul and ask myself how I love the mess out of the people in front of me-even those who think differently. Especially those who think differently than me. Why love those who are different than me? Because I'm getting reallllllly tired of being around people just like me. Like really tired. I need a shake-up. The Christian bubble is starting to feel claustrophobic and suffocating. I love my Christian friends. But I come alive when I can be with others who are different than me, because they challenge me to stand for what I believe in and put some action behind it. They challenge me to have an answer for what I believe in and to not just speak in Christianese and hope that they catch on. They challenge me to love no matter what.
Anyone else tired of the fake crap, or is it just me? There's a broken world out there, and every single one of us has the power to do something about it. The question is whether you'll be content to sit where you're at and just pray about it or if you'll do something. Wake up, people. We only get one shot at this thing; this isn't the dress rehearsal. Let's go love like there's no tomorrow, because there very well may not be one.