“The commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not covet,’ and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
“Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”
– Paul’s letter to the Romans, chapter 13
It was a busy week in the ol’ US of A.
Flags came down and others went up. There was celebration and there was mourning. And there was plenty of reason for both. The shooting in Charleston, the confederate flag debate, and the Supreme Court’s ruling for “so-called same-sex marriage” brought much to ponder and many feelings to sort through.
Who was right? Who was wrong? Couldn’t anyone admit we don’t know everything and maybe meantime we should reach out to the stranger, the outcast?
It’s so challenging to write the truth. Our words can outstrip others’ voices and trample God’s free grace. We try to convince and compel instead of allowing grace to remain free.
An opinion isn’t worth sharing if it neglects the poor, the widow, the orphan, the marginalized, the prisoner, the outcast and the sick.
Was I practicing forbearance or did I still lack the conviction to write the truth?
Fortunately, Saturday morning came and we went to meet some folks at the food bank to pack meals. For two blessed hours we bagged frozen corn for families and people without food.
I imagined those folks, so different than us but not that different, our efforts an empowering force in their lives.
And my phone stayed off.
Serving was a way to embrace them, these people who likely believed very differently from us. And wasn’t that what “writing the truth” took?
After our shift, we’d return to our full lives and full fridges, but I wouldn’t want to prove my right answers anymore or teach anyone anything.
I wanted to hear the hungry.
I wanted them fed.
I didn’t want to express my ideas anymore. Instead, I wanted to listen.
Rilke advised that we capture our passing thoughts with heartfelt sincerity and that if our daily life seemed poor, it wasn’t life’s fault but ours for not being “poet” enough to call forth its riches.
I think this past week I learned I have to leave my safe bunker more if I want to write the truth.
I can easily convince myself my words are serving others. Sometimes they do. But I’m a clanging gong if I don’t love them.
And so often I need to remember there’s much I don’t yet know and I’m not sure there is any way to really bridge the culture gap that seems to be widening.
It truly is getting harder. Heads and hearts alike are too. Yet respect is what frees others and looks in their eyes and sees their best. It gets into their shoes and asks them to teach us ensuring we preserve their rights and don’t destroy their liberty by our “moral rightness.”
Can I sacrifice my comfortable certainty to embrace the questions that come when I truly see others, just as they are?
And is there really any other way to write the truth?
How can I believe in this call, in my life, in my voice, if I don’t?
And can I believe my truth is of such high value so long as others can’t value theirs?
In the strong temptation to provide the “right” answer—as if only I own the right one—God continually saves me from myself. Through persistent prayers and his help, my ego is calmed, and I remember humility and put down the megaphone.
God teach me to hear, to see, even in my unbelief.
I wonder if I’d be more long-suffering if I was more willing to risk looking uninformed and unintelligent.
Maybe I need these:
Honestly, I think if more people laughed at my expense, I’d probably learn faster…
May we share no personal truth until we’re committed to helping others share theirs. And that is writing the truth. And that is letting love win.
“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.” – Benjamin Franklin
“This is my commandment: that you love one another, that your joy may be full.” – Jesus Christ