I don’t watch much news. When I see something on twitter, I look up what’s happening in the world. Is that the best way to be alert? Probably not, but that’s me right now.
So I totally missed the goings-on in Charlottesville. But, facebook to the rescue. After being told what I, as a white woman, should be doing, I had to first read about what was going on. I read up and am appalled and sad. I in no way agree with what these protesters were doing. If I was a person who was in the right place at the right time, I would have been on the side of the counter protesters.
I wasn’t there. I was just returned from a trip visiting relatives in Florida. While there, my mother-in-law had emergency surgery and her life is hanging in the balance. I saw my grandkids off to their first days of pre-k and second grade. These children have friends who are “brown”. They do not seem to notice a difference; they never refer to their friends except by name unless they are asked to describe them.
I read this from a well meaning person I respect: “For all my white friends in different parts of the country, we must continue to chip away at the bedrock of this hatred in every conversation we take part in, and every action we take.” I understand his concern, but why must I do this in every conversation I have?
Michael Eric Dyson wrote this in The New York Times: “Now is the time for every decent white American to prove he or she loves this country by actively speaking out against the scourge this bigotocracy represents.”
I am speaking out now, but not because I love America, though I do like it an awful lot and I’m grateful to be one of its citizens. I’m speaking out because I love Christ. I strive to follow him in all I do including the way I treat everyone on a daily basis. I believe that in the Bible God has given instruction on how to live. Do I follow His instructions every day? No. Do I bend over backwards to consider the needs of others? No, not nearly enough. I do strive toward this end; I am learning more everyday what it means to serve others and to love my enemies.
I may not chip away at this hatred in every spoken conversation. I may be hanging out in a hospital waiting room, meeting my grandchildren’s friends, or hugging students when I substitute teach. An older, Middle English definition of conversation meant behavior or manner of living. This is the conversation with which I hope to chip away at hatred.
But as He which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation – I Peter 1:15
J. Gresham Machen lived from 1881-1937. He was a Presbyterian churchman, a New Testament scholar, a Princeton Theological Seminary professor, founder of the Westminster Theological Seminary and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Machen is considered to be the last of the great Princeton theologians. The quotes in this series come from his book, “Christianity and Liberalism”.
“It is usually considered good practice to examine a thing for oneself before echoing the vulgar ridicule of it.”
I’ve learned, and am still learning, the wisdom of this statement. I think this thought can apply to many different situations, not just religion.
Some other example where it might apply:
Homeschooling – often people want to put down homeschooling based on traditions. They are so used to the public school system, the way they were raised, that they jump to conclusions. I did this years ago when our friends were the first people I knew who had decided to homeschool. I thought they were nuts. Little did I know.
Outward appearance – the old saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover” applies here.
Vegetarianism – I am not a vegetarian, but I certainly see the wisdom in it.
Alternative medicine – Many of our nation of pill takers don’t question all the prescriptions they are handed. Many people think those who prefer natural methods are wackos. Not so.
…my faith is so frail and flawed that I fall away over and over again from my God. There are times I feel that He has withdrawn from me, and I have often given Him cause…
So I struggle with my theology of failure and the Noes of God.
from The Irrational Season by Madeleine L’Engle
These words resonate with me. But, I have to think that it isn’t that God has withdrawn from me but that I have withdrawn from Him. That’s not to say He doesn’t have reason to withdraw and leave me in the dust. There is no reason to keep pouring into me. But He does. He gives me more grace. And sometimes I don’t even realize it.
Grace comes to us at different stages in our spiritual pilgrimage, and it accomplishes different effects and evokes different responses. But it is all grace. – Steve Harper
I not only struggle with failure but with guilt and doubt. I long to know confidence. That No from God, His holding back of my confidence, must be for my good. I need to use that No to stay humble, but not to doubt. To draw near and to go on.
I wrote some thoughts on death a few weeks ago, and I wanted this to go hand-in-hand with that post.
We all come into existence as a single cell, smaller than a speck of dust. Much smaller. Divide. Multiply. Add and subtract. Matter changes hands, atoms flow in and out, molecules pivot, proteins stitch together, mitochondria send out their oxidative dictates; we begin as microscopic swarm, the lungs the brain the heart. Forty weeks late, six trillion cells get crushed in the vise of our mother’s birth canal and we howl. Then the world starts in on us. -from All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
I love this description of the beginning of life. Job knew all about life and death. Oh to be like Job; to learn how to accept when the Lord gives and the Lord takes away.
And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21
We always think there’s enough time to do things with other people. Time to say things to them. And then something happens and then we stand there holding on to words like “if.”
But we are always optimists when it comes to time: we think there will be time to do things with other people. And time to say things to them.
We fear it (death), yet most of us fear more than anything that it may take someone other than ourselves. For the greatest fear of death is always that it will pass us by. And leave us there alone.” – from A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
That last quote about fearing that death will take someone else is so true. I know I will die one day, and I don’t want it to be anytime soon. But, I also don’t like the thought of outliving all my loved ones. I have watched my mother lately as she has lost several longtime friends. I guess when you get to be 80 that is bound to happen. But, it still doesn’t make it any easier. In fact, it probably makes you think about death just a little too much.
John (the author’s husband) shrugs his shoulders… “Farmers, we think we control so much, do so much right to make a crop…You control so little. Really. It’s God who decides it all. Not us. It’s all good.” – from One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
There never seems to be a right time to cry, and then emotion builds up, and suddenly something inappropriate will cause it to overflow, and there I am with tears uncontrollably welling up at the wrong time and in the wrong place. – from The Irrational Season by Madeleine L’Engle
I am no expert on death. Yet, I have experienced it, as we all have or will. I know those stages of grief are real, yet vary from person to person. L’Engle’s words resonate with me.
When my dad died, I was sad, but assured in the knowledge that he knew the Lord. I was with my mother at his side when he died. Because of financial circumstances in my family, I went to work the following month, while still homeschooling our kids. Our life went full throttle, but about nine months later the sadness hit me. Hard. I struggled with depression, though I’m not sure I put a name on it back then.
About twelve years later, I lost a very dear friend. Debbie and I taught fourth grade together for three years, and remained friends even after I moved away from Winter Haven FL back to my hometown of Jacksonville. When she got cancer, I returned to visit her. Later, I flew to North Carolina to see her, where her parents were taking care of her. I returned there for her funeral. I would sometimes listen to her messages saved on my phone – she would leave me long, drawn out ones that my husband and I would laugh about. I fell apart the day they got erased by the guy at the Verizon store who reset my phone.
Last year, when my best friend, Cathy, died. I grieved, but kept pushing ahead. I knew she, too, was a believer. She was finished with the physical battle she’d fought long and hard against cancer. I made it my mission to keep in touch with her son. I cried. But, one night, about six months later, I lost it. I threw things in the kitchen and sobbed until I was spent.
Providentially, I have a husband who understands. He senses my moods (most of the time), he offers comfort, and he sometimes just lets me be. And he knows, when I throw things, I’m not throwing them at him.