Saturday, December 31, 2016
Seek and you will find.
I'm pretty confident that 2017 is going to be interesting. In some ways, we have high expectations (I've lost count of how many times this year was referred to as a "dumpster fire." How much worse can it get?) And at the same time, I know there's a lot of anxiety and apprehension about the year to come.
Last year, I was challenged to think of a word to define my 2016. I chose "love." I hoped to love intentionally and fiercely. In the interest of full disclosure, I completely forgot about the challenge and that particular goal for the year, but I still tried to love. It's less a product of new year goals and more a product of my growing faith. The more I read the Bible and the better I get to know Jesus, I know that that's what He does best and what He wants most from me. And that goes a long way in guiding my choices and actions, from how I treat people to how I cast my ballots.
Once again, I've been challenged to choose a word for 2017. This is honestly something I've been thinking about since before the challenge was extended. I've been thinking about what's happened this year and what's to come in the next one. I've been thinking about where I stand and what I want to stand for. Whether you're aware of it or not, the world is changing. So is my country. There's some scary stuff on the horizon. How much of it is idle threats and how much is legit, I'm not sure. But I want to do something about it.
The things that are unfair in this world have always bothered me, maybe a little more than they do other people. I'm bothered by the fact that there are so many people in this world who are being taken advantage of and who need someone to stand up for them. I'm infuriated by political threats of action, which, recently, have sometimes been unconstitutional and illegal. I'm disgusted by the silence of people who are in a position to do something. Recently my city made national news when some nasty woman publicly berated and cursed two ladies who were doing their Christmas shopping, screaming at them to go back "where they came from," accusing them of being leeches on society, and a number of other horrible comments. I was angry at her statements, of course, but I think we can all admit that we've heard things like that before. Maybe not in public. Maybe just at the Thanksgiving table or in an internet comments section. But I was horrified that NO ONE in that line said anything. Not a single person. The sales clerk eventually told her to watch her language when she got really profane, rather than calling a manager or security. There were at least a dozen people in that line, and no one offered a simple "stop." Or "no." No one. It was embarrassing and infuriating. My heart broke for the women in line. My brain hurt that someone would say such stupid and nonsensical things. Somebody should have said something. And stuff happens EVERY DAY that we have a chance to speak up about, to do something about.
In all this pondering how I am going to stand up, speak up, fight back in the face of so much wrongness, I've decided that my word for 2017 is this: justice. It's not a verb, but a goal. In the coming year, I hope to stand up for others. I want to do what I can to make the world a better place. I want to consider how my actions impact others and choose the path that's best for everybody. I want to be more intentional in my advocacy for children in poverty. My husband and I are already pursuing a path of justice for orphans by moving forward with our adoption paperwork. I want to speak truth and seek what is right in every situation, even if it's not what is easy or popular.
Why should we care about justice? I think we are inclined to put ourselves and our interests first. Maybe you don't think it's important to care about what's happening to other people. I don't want to live in a world like that. Right now I'm seeing a more passive attitude about these issues from my Christian friends, who have plenty of Biblical prompting to seek justice, rather than my non-Christian friends; I'm ashamed to say that plenty of my acquaintances are of the belief that non-Christians have no moral compass or motivation to "do the right thing," yet in my personal circle, my friends who don't go to church have seemed more motivated and enthusiastic recently about seeking justice and recognizing these moral absolutes. This year I want to do a better job reaching my fellow believers on this issue, so I will be studying scripture and delving deeper into God's word so I can do the best job at sharing what He thinks (as indicated in the Bible) about what's going on these days. This isn't a fad, or a modern idea, or a political trend. Micah tell us that this is what is required of God's people. To seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. If you love God, you'll want justice for his children. That means everyone.
I hope that we are able to take the failures and heartbreaks of 2016 and turn them into something beautiful. That hate will be traded in for love; closed minds for open hearts; harshness for gentleness; violence for peace.