A Time to Change

When we read the news and see unjust murders and riots, we should be upset. Its right to mourn that this is the way things are in our nation. And when we see it repeatedly, its so easy to get apathetic. Its so easy to wonder if there will ever be change.

This year the serenity prayer has been etched in my mind more than ever before—to accept the things we cannot change and change the things we can. This year I have had a lot of pain in accepting some of the things that I cannot change in my life and the hard decisions that come along with that. At the same time, I believe God is opening my eyes to hope that we can change some things still.

Can you or I change the fact that there are racist people in this world? No. I doubt it. Maybe there will be windows of opportunity for conversations. Maybe there will be words you can write that open eyes in the light of tragedies like those we have seen.

And yet, there are things in our control. We control who we vote for. Even that at times makes me feel very apathetic because a vote tends to come with a huge platform of ideas. We may not always get a candidate or a party who seems to care about everyone that we care about.

But I am taking a huge leap of faith this year—because I honestly believe that there are so many more people in our country who would state that they honestly hate racism than the amount of people who are racist. Maybe I am wrong in that. But its my optimism coming through.

I don’t say this to minimize the fact that racism is very real. I say that coming from a place where it is one political issue that I don’t believe our nation has faced as seriously as we can. I would love to know that both political parties are committed to actual steps that show they are taking the lives lost from hate crimes seriously.

Is there anyone else out there who believes that we should be hearing stories in the media to know when injustice happens, to lament the injustices, to see that it is followed by justice, and then—this is where I feel that we need so much improvement—to hear what people are doing to change policies.

Let’s take this idea over to other areas—our institutions, our churches, and our communities. On a very real and personal level, I have seen girls that lived with me face racist attitudes. I don’t know about you—but if you hurt me, I will tend to overlook it. If you hurt someone I love, I will fight you as far as I can.

The hardest thing I have faced as a parent or parental figure is to have to tell someone I cared for that I have no clue what I can do about her situation. That essentially, I was powerless to change what she was going through.

And its true, there are situations that we cannot change and have to leave to the hands of God. We can’t resurrect people who have been murdered for their race. I pray for the families who were involved and for the effect all of this has on them as I cannot even begin to imagine the excruciating pain they are experiencing.

But wisdom comes in seeing what we can do.

We can listen. We can learn. We can speak. We can write.

Political leaders—if you want to stay in office—tell me what you are doing to change things. Don’t sit content with the status quo, shaking hands, smiling, and posting combative thoughts. Or happy thoughts. I want to see what you are doing.

Institutional leaders—if you want support—show me how you are changing things. Don’t be content that this is how things have worked for 200 years. Care enough about your people to keep moving forward. Make sure you are thinking about everyone in your care as you consider your policies and procedures and when you learn that there is a better way—acknowledge how you are changing things for the better.

Church leaders—I ask you the same question—do you care how the church you are a part of has impacted your community? Is there known racism in the past of your church and community? And if so—what are you doing to change things?

In the community I just left, we have a beautiful Community Christmas event every year. Its one of the highlights of my year as we join other denominations to celebrate the birth of Christ. I have looked forward to it every year I have been a part of that community. But looking closely, as lovely as it is, there has been something lacking. No black churches in the community are a part of this event.

I don’t mention this to cast blame on anyone. This event is a longstanding tradition. The sanctuary is packed out. I can understand that people may not have thought to invite anyone else to participate. Nonetheless, this year something has changed. This year, a new larger sanctuary has been built. And I can’t help but think that maybe it’s a God-ordained moment to invite some other churches to become a part of your Christmas Tradition.

Maybe it’s a moment to stand with solidarity as the body of Christ in this community. Maybe it’s a moment to make sure that the entire community of Christ is represented. And maybe it’s a moment for any church who would take issue in still being a part of such a service to study the Bible and ask themselves some long and hard questions about what they believe about race and image bearers of God.

Fatal Run

Ahmaud Arbery’s murder strikes a deep chord in me, as it should in all of us. His murder is senseless.

I remember one morning I sat curled in the fetal position on the bathroom floor wondering if I should walk out the door to run. Following some unusual activity on my running app, I had been warned that men may hunt me down on my GPS or memorize my running schedule. As a woman who had been stalked in college, this did not seem entirely unlikely to me.

I can ruminate endlessly on all the factors surrounding my fears, and the sources that augmented them at the time. But what I remember the definitive moment that I began waking up at four and not thinking about it anymore. I stood next to my bed a bit later that day and thought, “If I die, I know where I am going.”

I got up the next day and kept running anyway.

I confess, fear for my own life is far less than fear that I have over those I love. To think someone that I love, one of the girls I have lived with, or my friends’ children might die in such a senseless way is beyond tragic.

Sometimes I am tempted to think, “What can we do about it?”

I don’t want to compare my fear to what actually happened in this man’s case. As a woman, I do live thinking about how I might be assaulted by a man. I did take a group of girls I love to self defense class.

And yet, it doesn’t matter how strong you are when you face a bullet and you are unarmed. As a woman, I may fear assault, but some of my fellow image bearers have faced murder simply because of the color of their skin.

I wish acts like this would become so reprehensible to the public that shame keeps people from such senselessness. But the truth is—there are wicked people in this world who are beyond being shamed by anything.

They persist despite their shame. They keep going and acting in ways I could never fathom.

And yet, I speak. Not often, and not always. But sometimes I just cannot help but say something as we all weep over a senseless tragedy. As we thank God for some semblance of justice even as we ask how an act like that could happen.

 

Please Help Spread the Love

I have been sitting here in quarantine with the rest of the world. It is a frightening time for many people. Some of us may be more fearful than others, and some have far more at stake. Some people may be overloaded with work, and others may feel useless in their new circumstances.

I am in a place in my own life, where I am trying to learn my new place. Its been a hard year for me. And I appreciate relationships now more than ever.

Today, I happened upon a Facebook post from a stranger who is saying goodbye to her family as she faces quarantine in a hospital. She is young, and will likely survive, but that’s little comfort to someone facing her situation.

As I thought about it, I remembered a point when I was young when I questioned, “What if the plane I am getting on crashes? What do I want to do before I die?”

So, I sat down that night and began writing letters to friends and family. I wanted them to know how much I loved them. How I saw them. How precious they are to me. My mom does not even remember this.

But as we look at all the graphs depicting how one action of staying home can keep this virus from spreading, compared to how one action of going out can send it around the world, I cannot help but think this. What if every person who stays home sends a letter to contact all the people they can think of in their life who have impacted them, who have mattered? Imagine what a giant curve of love we could spread worldwide. Even if you just write 5 people who are truly important in your life, what a giant curve of love we could spread while we are flattening our pandemic curve.

I want to ask all of you to please join me in this task. Surely staying home isn’t all we can do. Let’s spread some love around the world!

 

Dear Faint of Heart

Lately I have felt as if I have been pruned down to nothing. I sat confused yesterday under the preaching of God’s word wondering why the Lord had taken so much away. And yet, I can believe the tempter’s deception that because much has changed that now I have nothing to give.

Maybe you have felt that way before, too?

Its true, I don’t have much to give. I am at one of the lowest points in my life begging God for answers. And while I have often felt as if my voice has been stripped from me, Satan has not won that battle. God has given me a voice with which I can still speak.

I wish I could offer more than my words to you. As I look around and see parents who have lost children and friends who have had relatives murdered, my pain feels small. We can be tempted to compare both blessings and suffering and think “What place do I have to speak?”

I don’t know your pain. I have fumbled all over the place trying to walk with people through their pain over the years. I don’t know what its like to live in a war-torn country. I haven’t had to steal food to survive.

But because of that, I have often at times neglected to mourn over my own struggles, difficulties and hardships and find those who could mourn with me.

We do live in a cursed world, and to look around and deny it would be foolish. When I sit and wrestle with all that has been stripped from my life lately, I can offer you the same hope and encouragement I have found.

When it feels like I have nothing else, I am not alone. I serve a God who upholds me in my sorrow. He is a steady rock when all else changes. He holds my tears in a bottle. He hides me in the shelter of his wings. He will never leave me or forsake me. He is gentle and patient though I don’t deserve it.

As I face trials in my life I do not understand, I know he sees all and rules. When I feel crushed by pain, I can remember that compared with eternity this pain is a light and momentary affliction. When I don’t know who I can trust, I can still hold on to his promises and his word.

I wish that today I could step in and lift you from whatever pain you are facing, as I hope also that I will be lifted from mine. As I come to terms with how often I am incapable of doing what I would like to do for others, I can still point you to the God who upholds me in my time of trouble.

“Though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.”

This is My Father’s World

Maltbie Babcock

My faint heart

Is not enough

This shattered soul

Is not an offering

My mind is fragmented

Here it is

My strength

Is feeble and frail

Here I am Lord

If you can use me

That is truly a testament

That Jesus Christ is Lord

Who also has the power to resurrect the dead.

God of Mystery

In a world of positions

It’s difficult

To live in the mystery

I have answers

I have questions

I believe in God and the gospel

Doctrine matters

As I pursue truth

I glimpse his magnificence

It leads to dimensions

Beyond my understanding

He is infinite

Marvel

Enjoy

Listen

Do you know this God?

Resurfacing

When she came

Parts of you long hidden

Resurfaced

 

The genuine smile

Pen writing songs

Voice singing

 

Fingers touched ivory keys

Creativity

Reflecting the image of God

 

The part of you

Driven beneath

By the meanness of others

 

Now that she’s gone

Please don’t lose

Yourself again

 

In heaven she would want

To listen to your beats

To hear your music