My writing is almost always driven by something I see as meaningful or urgent or surprising. And I’ve tried “my durndest” to be encouraging, enlightening, thought-provoking, or inspiring in every essay I write.
I wrote a whole lot yesterday on a topic I was hot to share with you about the state of the world. It was heartfelt and driven by something meaningful to me and, I believe, urgent. It was in response to another writer’s post about the Super Bowl entertainment and advertising and politics and a multitude of other hotly debated issues, like division and unity, them vs us, and controversy, hypocrisy, and wokeness.
I had a lot to say.
But a small, quiet, calm, and loving voice convinced me not to hit Publish.
It’s not that any of my words were all that painful or provocative. I was not on a mission to win you over to this or that. But it felt heavy.
It was just all just too much.
My heart seemed cloudy or hazy, like it had to keep squinting at the world, straining to see in the dimming light just before the darkness of night sets in. So much that is bleak, sad, and discouraging, like…
- We have a multitude of elected officials who leverage their position and influence to gain wealth and power rather than represent and serve the public.
- We make loud and public calls to prayer for unity when the unspoken goal is to maintain a status quo for those most comfortable with the most to lose and the least to gain by compromise.
- We not only lack compassion for what the poor and marginalized have to carry, we judge them for how they carry it.
- We have confidence that our view of God and His plan for the world is, at long last, accurate. We look back at the failures of the Church and pride ourselves in our enlightenment and insight, having no doubts or questions, secure that we’ve figured Him out and that all is well and we finally have all the answers.
- We speak of God’s love with passion, salted with well-loved scripture. But our voices fade when living that life of love will cost us something – maybe much more than we are willing to pay. Or our voices grow louder and more shrill, quicker to condemn or shame or dismiss, when loving means we may be wrong, when loving and acceptance requires a rediscovery of God’s true love.
At least once a day, I am knocked sideways with the enormity of the world, yet how so much of it fits into a phone I can put in my pocket. I am humbled by what I could do for the world, yet fail to do in my manufactured busyness. I am enraged by the inequities, injustices, and failures of our societies, yet feel helpless to initiate meaningful change. Although Tim and I have been pretty generous with our finances over the years, it just doesn’t seem like our contributions have made any real impact on the world.
… a world that’s pretty big. And even though it can fit in your pocket, we see so many big numbers and long distances and differences between us. So we need to remind ourselves that everybody is somebody. None of us are just names that fit into survey boxes or check marks on an employment application. None of us are “just” anything. Even if we find ourselves alone or separate, and even if we get things impossibly wrong, we are all part of God’s plan for the world.
Everybody. All of us. Each and every one.
Canadian singer-songwriter Tenille Townes wrote Somebody’s Daughter and listening to it again just now took my breath away. Here are some of the lyrics:
I drive home the same wayTenille Townes
Two left turns off the interstate
And she’s always standing
At the stoplight on 18th Street…
With the shaky hands
On the cardboard sign
And she’s lookin’ at me.
Bet she was somebody’s best friend laughing
Back when she was somebody’s sister
Countin’ change at the lemonade stand
Probably somebody’s high school first kiss
Dancin’ in a gym where the kids all talk about someday plans.
Now this light’ll turn green and I’ll hand her a couple dollars
And I’ll wonder if she got lost or they forgot her
She’s somebody’s daughter.
Well, no one’s gonna ask what she wants to be
Or why we’re both stuck here at the mercy of geography
And whether it shines or rains
I’m the one who’s driving by
And she’s the one on the corner of 18th Street…
She’s somebody’s daughter
My lovelies, what can we do to make things better? We are far, far away from political resolutions or civility. The imbalance of wealth and power is so extreme it will take a miracle – or crisis – to bring us back to center. Our unwillingness to listen when the melody isn’t our style has created rigid pockets of narrow loyalty, veiled in claims of faith or righteousness, and protected by the blanket rejection of any other possibilities.
Have I painted a portrait of hopelessness? Is there nothing but darkness? Maybe. Sometimes that is just the way it seems.
But whether or not our efforts can affect great change or offer the merest glimmer of light, every step we take toward seeing our neighbors as somebody’s son or daughter is a step that reflects the Love of Jesus in ways perhaps only He will see.
And, in the long run, no matter where we are in the world, isn’t that the best kind of meaningful or urgent or surprising?
So while you continue reflect His love, and until we write and read again, I pray for you …