There are a million things going on in the world just now. There always has been and I suspect there always will be.
If we think back over the decades, over the centuries – there are injustices, atrocities, divides, splits, anger, backlash – multiple times over in every generation.
In every country there are massive issues. In each city, atrocious events. In schools, constant contraversy. In homes, hurt. In our hearts, tension.
We can ask smart sounding questions. We can argue over social media. We can highlight one particular area of devastation for a time. We can get riled up, and rightly so, but where does that leave us?
Right now in our area, in our social media feeds, in all of the news it’s children at borders. Also right now there are children wearing numbers being chosen from a menu to be bought for sex. And women having their genitalia mutilated because of cultural tradition. And there is genocide. And civil wars. And millions displaced. And bloodshed over drug turf. And earthquake devastation. And contaminated water. And corrupt leaders. And nuclear weapons. And guns in schools. And scars left on skin and hearts.
It’s all too much.
Devastation and hurt has been a part of our world since the beginning which tells my heart it isn’t going away anytime soon. We can lobby for change (and we should!), we can give our money, we can raise awareness but at the end of the day there will only be more – so what then?
My heart hurts with the weight. My cheeks soaked from the tears.
What are we called to in it all?
So far this morning I’ve read slander and name calling, condemnation and vindication, I’ve heard threats of justice being taken into human hands. Mud-slinging, intimidation, aggression, defence, excuses and accusations on every side.
Where are our hearts? How are we operating? What in the name of it all do we even do?
My faith is tested in massive ways in moments like this. Who do I believe in and what does that mean? I think it’s a question we should all ask ourselves in times like this.
How are we to behave in the face of all tragedy, not just close tragedy? How are we to use our voice and not add to the chaos? How are we to gain knowledge that is true? Whom are we to trust? How do we process things we disagree with? Are we arrogant? Opinionated? Right? Are we lazy? Out of touch? Complacent? Ignorant? Do we trust the Holy Spirit? Do we believe in a sovereign God? Are we making use of our time? Are we using our talents for the good of those around us? Are we lining our pocket books? Are we sharing what we have? Are we being merciful to all? Are we praying for those who harm us? Are we seeking truth? Do we know what freedom even is? Are we walking with the Lord? Are we easily swayed? What is worthy of our stake in the ground? Where have we found our roots? When pressed on every side what comes out? Do we even care?
My heart wrestles with all of these. I’ve seen battered faces with my own eyes. I’ve sat with girls weeping as they remember hiding every time cops came to the door. I’ve brushed the hair of one who couldn’t do it herself – the trauma so deep this simple task an impossibility. I’ve seen the flinches at touch. Heard the weeping of loss. Seen the fear deep set in eyes. Heard the wavers in voices as memories of regretful choices bubble to the surface.
I’ve seen pupils so dilated from all of the drugs taken trying to numb the pain, dull the noise. I’ve seen the cut marks on arms. The vacant stare of loss. The sobs from fear. The withdrawn looks from betrayal. I’ve sat in prisons, held orphans, and cried with both. I’ve sat across kitchen tables with both the harmed and the harmer and agonized with both.
Trauma isn’t a new word.
I promise you one thing, when we really care life gets confusing and hard.
When we walk alongside actual people, not just a news story, there’s no forgetting.
When we look into eyes it changes us.
When we recognize we are no different, that’s when the whole story changes.
When we can say:
Yes, I’ve been hurt and also I’ve been the reason for much hurt.
Yes, I’ve been betrayed, and I’ve also been the betrayer.
Yes, I’ve been hurt by arrogance and also I’ve been arrogant.
This is where our posture changes. This is where it goes from not just accusations on “them” but becomes also about us. This is where our voice becomes one that can be heard, our hearts begin to operate from the places they ought and it’s when our hearts and our voice and our story and our understanding intersect that we can even begin to think about becoming a place of help.
And so I plead with you, seek faces to look into that challenge the very core of what you believe. Sit with people who disagree completely with everything you know to be right and good. Advocate for people right in your neighbourhood. Allow really hard questions to be raised without thinking you have to know all of the answers. Listen and listen well. Stop judging without being willing to enter into the story. Ignore the rumours. Get into lives. Share stories. Look into eyes. Stop thinking you know everything. Believe there is hope. Remember every single person was made in the image of God. Repeat that as you sit across a diner table and listen to what they’ve endured. Repeat it a thousand times as you look into the eyes of someone you think is completely wrong. Now go and care and care big. Because you have a heart and a mind and a voice and beliefs and you’re willing to listen and actually enter into the journey with your time, money, and talents.
It probably means you’re going to be tired. It definitely means you must sacrifice. And I one hundred percent assure you that you’re going to want to walk away a thousand times because it’s hard. Do it anyway. Because what else are we even here for?