Prov 3:5: Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
I’m not taking a break from recovery, and I’m also not going to get political but what happened in Charlottesville is far too high on my mind, and my heart this week. I’m reminded that it’s not political to have a response to tragedy, and furthermore to have a stance on hatred. I tried to move past it this morning but after the CEO of Merck announced he was stepping down from the President’s manufacturing council I was moved, and the Tweet in response very quickly sucked me back in. Hate can not have a place, and it can not be given a foothold. The number of places I see it at work and given a foothold or worse is growing. It’s sad, it’s disturbing and infuriating.
After a few days at the Global Leadership Summit hearing from people effecting change like Bryan Stevenson, Gary Haughen and Marcus Lemonis I’ve noticed my notes have a fairly consistent theme. Some of my take-aways’ (not all) are to be vulnerable, take your experiences to help others, be proximate, change the narrative, it takes courage (and energy) to be hopeful, be uncomfortable and don’t let fear win because fear is the killer of dreams.
This weekend’s events are an affront to dreams and I’ve been largely disappointed by what I’ve seen and read in response to Charlottesville, and their ties to larger issues around us. I’m disappointed in my response and I’m disappointed by our response as a church quite frankly. But I won’t let fear determine the outcome for me. For me to get proximate, for me to change the narrative means challenging my comfort. We can’t come at problems, we can’t address issues from a place of comfort. I couldn’t even come to know Christ from a place of *comfort* but had to be blown up completely. I’ve never been one to step out of my comfort zone and attend a vigil, or to go to a rally or a march but my shoes are laced and ready if God speaks that into me. Popeye moment, it just might be.
Admitting that is scary. It’s not a decision let me be clear, but it is an acknowledgement that I’m open to God working in me however He see’s fit. Now more than ever I need to lean not on my own understanding, but to trust in a loving Father who has plans for me. Has plans for all of us even in the wake of tragedy, and we don’t have the blueprint. It’s frustrating at times to feel like there’s nothing going on, or in those moments where it feels like I’m taking a step back. But there is a plan and my faith, my hope rests in Him. My response is to lean into God harder and declare with a shaky voice, ‘I trust You’. I need to decrease so that He may increase. In the past the things that made us different divided us, and made it *us against them.* It gave hate a foothold. If I’m focused on the things that make us different from one-another I’ll lose sight of the things we have in common. I won’t see what’s gained by being in community with those who are *different* from me. I won’t be restrained by the bigotry of my family, but I’ll be re-trained by the love of my Father. It’s not a declaration against my family, and it changes nothing about my love for, or my experience of them. In fact it makes me love them more. We’re all broken, living in community together trying to make sense of life and to do the best we can.
Marcus Lemonis was one of the speakers I was excited to hear at the GLS last week because he’s someone who has been successful professionally, but he also hosts a show on CNBC where he helps small-business owners. I appreciate the show because he goes out of his way to help the under-dogs, and man I love the under-dog! When I look at him I see success. But behind all the financial success and notoriety is a Lebanese orphan who was adopted out of a war-torn country into a loving US family but who struggled so mightily personally that he attempted suicide. Behind him, like each of us is a person with real hopes, dreams, fears and also a personal narrative that can get in the way. His vulnerability, like the vulnerability and strength I see in each of you creates real connections and draws us closer together. It doesn’t push us apart or divide us, it unites us. He reprimanded attendees who didn’t take a minute to get to know someone at a deeper level because of something on the surface, or because of a preconceived decision we’ve made whether consciously or unconsciously. For me it was a reminder of the Good Samaritan from Luke 10: 25-37 and in light of Charlottesville is prescient. We aren’t asked to help those who believe like we do, who look like us or talk like us. It’s all inclusive guys, and it’s not sufficient to wear it on a button or slap it on a bumper sticker. Love your neighbor as yourself. Love everyone always.
I’m not great at it, I’m not even particularly good at it but I’m not content to just sit idly by. To believe that I can’t make a difference is to deny a Father who is capable of moving mountains. To say it’s best left to someone else is to walk by the beaten-bloodied man on the way to Jericho. To say I’ll start fresh tomorrow is a bar slogan like *free beer tomorrow*, because *tomorrow* never gets here.
I did want to share a response I watched last night that broke my heart in the ways it needed to be. It reminded me of my role, and how I need to get more intentional about reaching across the aisle. It reminded me of a posture to take in light of Charlottesville, but also in our community here in Chicago or elsewhere. The link to the message is below, and I encourage you to watch as you have the time or inclination.
Grace, peace and love to you all!