Our nation is hurting, deeply. What each of us does next can make us stronger or break us apart. Do you know what you'll do?
The events that have happened across our nation since the death of George Floyd are frightening, historic, overwhelming, powerful and distressing.
I sit and watch, read, and listen and I am overcome. How did the nation I love come to such a place of division, hatred, bitterness, divisiveness, and pain?
I get still and I ask that question of my God, who I know loves everyone, no matter what they look like or what they do or don't do. I ask why. I ask what can be done.
There is no quick answer, no lightening bolt of inspiration.
But I know He is more distressed than I am.
This hatred and divisiveness has been brewing for much longer than it ever should have been allowed to. Injustice and inequality and intolerance exist in multiple areas of our lives: between genders, between sexual orientations, between races, between haves and have-not's, between the left and the right.
No side is entirely right or entirely wrong. But until we actually learn to listen to one another and choose to put the issue at hand in front and stand in solidarity with each other against the issues with the hope of building a mutually respecting relationship, we, I fear, will be lost as a nation.
This divisiveness was never part of God's plan for any of us. He sent Jesus to teach us wholeness and togetherness through loving God with all our strength, all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind, and to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-39).
“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ~Jesus Christ
Someone once asked Jesus who his neighbor was. His answer: that person you hate most, fear most, believe is on the wrong side? He is your neighbor. Go and love him as yourself. Read Luke 10: 25-37 for yourself. Exchange "Samaritan" for yourself, and insert the name of a person who despises you, or whom you despise, and you'll get a strong understanding of what Jesus means when he says you are to love your neighbor.
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” ~Jesus Christ
We have not been doing this.
Instead we have allowed that hate, dislike, intolerance, and judgement to cloud our vision that everyone is human, made in God's image, like us in every way on the inside where is matters most.
It's time to start acting like we believe in that truth.
How? I have no clear idea, but that doesn't mean I don't want to be part of the change that brings us together, that honors all life, that focuses on acceptance rather than condemnation.
We can ALL do something about inequality, injustice and intolerance. Here's one perspective on a place to begin:
It begins with our hearts. This is where I believe the healing of our nation can begin. Not end, but begin. Asking God to help us sift our own hearts and listen for His direction is essential, and it is a first step of many. Taking time to sit and really listen gives us an opportunity to hear with deeper understanding. Listen for His voice among the blogs, op-eds, podcasts, social media feeds and newscasts. Really listen for where He tugs at your heart. Then, ask Him what He's trying to tell you.
Taking time to really listen to your heart and process all you are hearing may be unfamiliar to you. My cousin-in-love Kate McMahon has written a fantastic piece on her own heart-check. Check it out, and be sure to check out the resources she includes for taking a next step.
Next comes our minds. What do we really think when it comes to race, and what are those thoughts based on? We have all grown up in a culture of bias; are we aware of what biases we have agreed to? Do you understand how your thoughts actually shape your mindset, causing things like a limited mindset vs abundance mindset, or a bigoted mindset vs one of love and acceptance for all people?
Dr. Caroline Leaf is a leading neuroscientist on the power we have to actually change our brains by thinking differently. Imagine how our nation could transform if every person, starting with you and me, rid their brains of biased mindsets! Check out her latest podcast: How to begin unwiring racism from our brains and society: a conversation with my two African American son-in-laws. Be sure to check out her list of ways to get involved as well.
Last (for today) is taking one step. One thing has become clear over this past week; it is no longer OK to hide away from the issues of inequality, injustice, and intolerance. What we do is unique to each of us, but it starts with us. Here's a few ideas to get you started:
Make the time to listen and allow God to sift your heart.
Learn how your brain is wired and begin the work of rewiring it as needed.
Check out the ways you can help listed in each of the links listed above and reach out as God leads you.
There is no right way to take that one step; there is only following where God is leading you. For me, I am continuing to listen and learn and allow God to sift. One thing (so far) is becoming clear: I have been given a platform within the field of education and the ability to speak into it in various ways. I am not sure yet of what that may look like, but I am listening and watching and learning and looking for how God may call me into the next step in this area.
Join the Conversation: What are you doing to move forward in battling inequality, injustice and intolerance?