WFMW: Listening and Standing

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I live in the part of the country where it’s rained a lot this spring and summer.
(A LOT.) As annoying as that has been, though, the proverbial storms our entire country has felt this year are significantly worse. It seems like we can’t go one week without another round of TERRIBLE hitting our screens and our minds and our hearts. Everywhere we turn, it’s fighting and accusing and denying and grieving. So much grieving. Over and over and over.

Aside from a few likes and shares on my personal Facebook page, I’ve remained mostly silent on the controversial topics of recent days. I don’t like confrontation and I don’t like making people upset. So I’ve just kept my thoughts to myself. Just living at peace with everyone, you know, like we’re instructed in Hebrews

Except not really.

Because my silence has really been about making sure everyone likes me, not about living in harmony with others. Lately, though, I’ve felt more and more convicted about this silence, this wishy-washy, keep-everyone-happy approach. As an extremely opinionated person [go ahead and shout, "Amen," people who know me in real life], holding in my feelings and thoughts and beliefs is extremely uncomfortable.

And then there’s this, from Annalyn’s devotion for last week:

“When someone is being hurt or something is unfair, do you speak up? What about when the kid who always gets picked on, gets picked on right in front of you? It takes a lot of courage to speak up for what’s right, and it’s even harder if you realize your friends are the people picking on someone. Should you say something to stop them? Or is it enough to just stay quiet and not participate?
 
God’s word is very clear on this subject. When someone else is hurting or in need, those who follow God should be the first ones to speak up.

As I read that to my daughter, I could barely choke out some of the words for the tears threatening to escape. Speak up, Mary. The message could not have been more clear. How, though? That part hasn’t been as obvious to me.

See, I’ve written thousands of words to share with you about race and love and marriage and right and wrong and family and friends and ALL THE THINGS that have been tearing through all of our hearts over the past year. I’ve cried and prayed over these words. I’ve scheduled them and lost them and erased them and revised them. But over and over, I felt deep in my spirit that the words I spit out were not the words anyone needed to hear.

So I have been quiet and conflicted and afraid to offend, but I’ve also been listening and searching and praying. I’ve been clicking and reading and appreciating the brave souls who open up and share. I’ve been hurting and crying (again) over what has been done and said and what continues to be done and said. But still I was silent.

Friends, I can’t stay quiet anymore. But I am no wiser today than I was last week or last month or last year when I typed out a heartfelt article about Ferguson that my computer ended up eating overnight. So here’s what I have to say:

I am listening. I am listening to those who are different from me, those who have lived and seen and heard things I could not fathom without their brave testimonies. I am listening to those who make me so angry my eyes blur with tears and to those who break my heart so completely, so efficiently that the tears explode from my wide eyes. I am listening to those who look different than me, who live different than me, who love different than me, who aren’t really all that different than me.

I believe wholeheartedly that racism is a problem in our country, and I am listening to those who know more about it than I do in my white world and my white worldview.

I believe wholeheartedly that there is, indeed, a war on marriage but that it has nothing to do with the legal rights of gay people. And I believe wholeheartedly that as Christians we are called to fight for those in need, not against each other. We are called to love mercy, to love our neighbors.

I believe wholeheartedly that Jesus asks me to love others, not to judge them – especially when I know full and well that I am not without sin. And I know that Jesus said if we love Him, we should take care of His sheep – not attack them. He said to feed the hungry, care for the poor, invite in the strangers. And I know how many times I have failed those simple commands.

I believe wholeheartedly that God loves each one of us, no matter who we love, and that is all I need to know when it comes to deciding how to treat people.

I am also standing. I am standing with my brothers and sisters in Christ who are fighting the good fight. I am standing with those who hurt and those who feel and those who share and shout. I am standing with my family and my friends who are so incredibly important to me, even when we see things differently and misunderstand and let each other down. I am standing with them because I love them.

I am standing with those who say all lives matter. I am standing with those who say love is the main thing. I am standing and I’m not backing down, because even if I don’t have the right words or the wisest answer, I do know those truths and I will stand on them. I will stand on the Truth of God’s word and His love, and I will stand with those who need that love. (You know, all of us.)

Just a few verses up from the one about living in peace with everyone, the Bible says this:

“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves…Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”

So I will love and I will listen, I will rejoice and I will mourn, and I will stand.

Listening and standing works for me.

 
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