Lately, I feel raw, like my emotions are all sitting on top of my skin. A suit made of human emotions, if you will. (It puts the lotion in the basket, but with feelings rather than skin?)
Joking aside, since I’m not feeling especially jokey at the moment, when this rawness comes over me I succumb to inertia. When this happens, I can’t decide if I want to watch the news or boycott it forever, read the Internets or shut off my wifi for eternity, scroll Facebook and Twitter or run the other way. We are bombarded with hate, and thanks to our constant connectivity it’s hard to avoid the vitriol.
My natural inclination is to see the good in everyone. I automatically assume everyone I encounter is a decent human, and consequently, sometimes I’m shocked and dismayed to discover otherwise. I’m a bizarre-o combination of Pollyanna and a realist. I’m the first one to say, “That project is too big, we’ll never finish it.” I’m also the first one to say, “I bet that guy driving like a jerk is just having a terrible day. Maybe he’s on his way to an emergency at the hospital.”
When I feel the rawness, however, I go beyond realist, straight to Eeyore territory. With the sting of tears constantly threatening behind my eyes, I feel defeated. Our world is full of hurt. It’s full of people who are angry, racist, and homophobic. It’s full of people committing acts of terror in the name of their beliefs.
What are we supposed to do about this? What can we do? Anything? I feel hopeless, frustrated, scared.
Then the still, quiet voice nudges me. Sometimes it’s through the words in a book I’m reading. Sometimes it’s through my mother or a girlfriend. Sometimes it’s an earworm that appears without bidding, the song lyrics telling me exactly what I need to hear.
The still, quiet voice nudges me to move. To act, in love. And when I say, “But I’m just one person,” the voice says, “That’s okay. Move. Act. Love.”
So I tell inertia to take a hike. I tell my children that we have to be the good. The light. The salt. We don’t abide hatred and judgment based on beliefs or skin color or whom someone loves. We don’t. We can’t. We will not.
As for me and my house, we will move and act in love. But what does that look like? My fervent prayer is that it looks like meeting needs when we see them, and showing kindness to everyone we meet. I pray that it looks like putting my money, my mouth, my hands, and my feet all in the same place, which is to say we will share what we have. We will give of our time and our resources and our hearts. Freely.
Lip service is easy. I can say that we don’t support hatred, but we need to show it. My kids are old enough to start experiencing life outside of our happy, suburban bubble, so I’m looking into service options we can do as a family. I will also be looking for opportunities to stand alongside those who are mistreated, neglected, and marginalized.
My fervent prayer is that we are able to take action, locally and globally. We sponsor children through Help One Now (check them out – it’s a great organization, striving to end the cycle of poverty). We also recently joined Legacy Collective, a group committed to sustainable solutions for systemic problems, both in the U.S. and abroad. We look forward to serving the Central Texas homeless population through this group, as well as tackling issues like human trafficking and poverty, both at home and overseas.
We can do more, though. We can start taking small actions in our city, school, and neighborhood. We have to get started and continue moving, acting, loving wherever we see a need.
We will never limit our love to people who look like us, or share our beliefs. I will not be the one to set limits and boundaries on worth. It’s not my place to place a value on human life. It’s my place to embrace life, and those living it.
Now, I’m aware it’s not that simple. The issues of our world are legion, they are layered deep, and spread wide. But this is a start. It’s a step toward taking the raw, emotional energy and creating something good.
If all of us – all of you who are not angry, racist, homophobic terrorists – do one act of service, make one donation, offer one hand out to pull up someone in need, that’s a really good start.
What could happen if all of us pick one direction to move, one path of action, one marginalized person to love?