Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Problem and Solution

My heart continues to ache over the recent events of our nation. My mind continues to seek understanding. As I have listened to the news, read my social feeds, and talked with others, I see a common theme. We are all looking for answers, explanations, justification. Some say it is a brutality issue, some say it is crime. Some say it is racial, some say it is general hate. Some blame our president, some blame the NRA. Some blame the media, some blame the police. As I reflected on each of these explanations this morning my mind began to see a pattern. The cards started to fall into place. I ran to my computer to try to catch the glimmer before it slipped away. 

We are caught in a cycle. As a nation we have experienced success. With that success came an independence. We began to think that WE were the reason for our success and became less dependent on God to meet our needs. As we made that shift our values shifted as well. As a result of our "self-sufficiency", we stopped seeking God and teaching the values that truly led to our success. Respect for others and for authority became a thing of the past. People who do not respect one another become very selfish. You have something I want? I'll just take it. I don't like what you said? I'll harm you. You look/love different than me? I will hate you. Selfishness and crime enter the picture. When one puts their own desires above the needs and desires of others, fear and hate are reintroduced into the picture, but I think at this point the order changes. Disrespect led to hate and fear, but I believe selfishness and crime lead to fear and hate. Fear is a powerful emotion. It makes us react in extreme manners for self-preservation. Our brains are actually wired that way. When safety is threatened the blood flow of our brain changes and we begin to think from the very primal parts of our brain - fight, flight or freeze. Our responses are not what they would normally be. Fear is powerful. That fear in the good, and hate in the bad, leads police and others in authority to react with forceful corrective actions. Without the crime there would be no need to react at all, but the crime warrants a response. The perfect storm of disrespect, crime, fear, hate, and a required response lead to actions that at times (and this is actually more rare than our media would have us believe although still an issue to address) are extreme. This forceful corrective response leads back to fear and hate and in turn retaliation. The more this cycle repeats, the further we move from God; the further we spiral into the problem.

But there is a solution.

If as a people group, not people groups-- not black, white, brown, heterosexual, homosexual, but as Americans we begin to move back toward God and the values associated with good then we will see a change in the way we raise our children. We will return to teaching that ALL people deserve respect and that it is essential to our survival. When people respect one another the level of love and understanding increases exponentially; our communities become supportive and caring. Crime is not necessary because we HELP one another meet our needs. The help we give one another breeds more love and understanding and requires LESS corrective action. Less corrective action means MORE love and understanding. Each repetition of this cycle brings us one step closer to the foundation upon which we were built. One nation. Under God.

We have got to decide if we are going to be part of the problem or part of the solution. Which cycle will we follow and promote? We cannot continue to meet our personal needs with no regard for how it impacts those around us. It is true that we need leaders who will guide our nation in this direction, but it is even more true that our leaders do not matter if we ourselves will not take responsibility for bringing about change. 

Where do you stand? Are you the problem, or the solution?

Friday, July 8, 2016

The Hate is Just Too Heavy

My hands flew to cover my mouth and I held my breath in shock. I felt immobilized as I watched the video and listened to the sound of gunshots echoing off the buildings in downtown Dallas, Texas. How? Why? What next?  My mind was flooded with unanswered questions. Questions that I have asked over and over as of late. 

I am weary of watching people die. I am tired of reading hate on social media. I am heartbroken by the lack of compassion in our country. I am saddened that to disagree with someone has somehow become equivalent to hate.  The hate is just too heavy. While we were busy watching and fearing the terrorists from a land far away the true enemy crept in among us. This enemy whispers to us that we should fear what we don't understand, we should hate what is not like us, we should repay evil for evil. We have blamed the politicians, we have blamed the media, we have blamed each other.  We seek to point fingers at one another for surely we ourselves are not to blame for the state of our nation. We aren't just watching people physically die on the television screen, we are watching them die all around us. The deaths may not all be physical, but they are real all the same. We are witnessing the spiritual death of our nation, the emotional death of our families and friends, the profound loss of that which made us great. 

There is a very simple answer to why we are in this state. Mark 12:30-31 says, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these." We have forgotten our most important tasks. Love God. Love each other. That's it. That is all it takes. Were each of us to put down our pointing fingers, shift our focus from hate to love, we would see a DRASTIC change in our land. It isn't magic. It wouldn't make things perfect. We would still see the world through different eyes, but if we loved God and loved each other we would seek resolution not retaliation, understanding not condemnation, peace not war, joy and not sorrow. We would look for chances to help one another along and we would discover help for ourselves along the way. We would find that we can persevere through a great deal when we can depend on one another. We would not have to fear threats and attacks from afar because we would be a strong and mighty army. One nation, under God, INDIVISIBLE...

This is truth: we can not, we will not, survive if something does not change and that thing is US. I am calling on each of us to love. I am begging you to refrain from hate. I am not asking you to be blind--ignoring our problems is not the solution, but I am asking you to love each other as you seek resolution to the trials we face. 

Christians, RISE UP!! We are failing. We are losing. God is not failing us, we are failing him. We have go to step up and LOVE HIM AND LOVE OTHERS.

Non-Christians-- know there is hope and a God who loves you. I am SOOO sorry if sometimes the behavior of his children keeps you from seeing that he is a good father who loves you very much. We have done a terrible job of caring for you and sharing with you his love. I am so very sorry.

We have no time to waste. We can make a difference. We have very clear marching orders. 
Love, not hate
Hope, not fear
Resolution, not retaliation
It begins with me.
It begins with you.

Monday, July 4, 2016

The Destination

This week my son Spencer and five others join students from around Texas to travel to Munich with iGOglobal. He has been heavy on my heart and in my prayers to say the least. I was creating a collage of the kids as a reminder to pray for them. The quote on the collage has been turning over in my head all morning. "One's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things." I have been praying for a year about his trip to a destination, but what I really pray for is a new way of seeing things. I pray he comes back with an entirely new view of his role in the world around him. I have also been thinking about our country though--it is the 4th of July after all. My prayer for Spencer is also my prayer for our country-- that we would have a new way of seeing things.

If you believe everything you read on social media and in the news then you would assume that we live in a country where political party lines, hate, and terror rule. While all of these things exist, we seem to have lost sight of the fact that daily--no, EVERY MOMENT, beautiful people do beautiful things in a beautiful land. Compared to the rest of the world the very least of us live better than the majority of the world around us. We experience freedoms that most of the world will never know. As a woman I rarely experience fear to walk down the street. I have the freedom to worship my God openly and publicly. I have the freedom to disagree with you respectfully. I can dream and live those dreams out loud. I have access to medical care, food, shelter and clothing. I travel freely state to state and enjoy the beauty of a blessed nation. Our problem is not the challenging issues we face as a country, our problem is that we have lost sight of the blessings we possess. Blessings that were purchased at a high price. Blessings that we have begun to take for granted. Until we develop a new way of seeing things then perhaps our destination truly is what our newsfeed suggests.

On this 4th of July I pray for my son as he travels to a new place. I pray that his experiences there will create a burden in his heart for the people of our world and that he will have a new recognition of the blessings of his home. I also pray for our country. I pray that on this Independence Day we will begin to have a new way of seeing things. I pray that we will post more things about the blessings of our country; that the ever growing chasm created by beliefs and differences of opinion will begin to be filled with the recognition of just how fortunate we are and how much we have in common. I pray that we would return to the beliefs that united us rather than looking for issues to argue over. I pray for us all to have a new way of seeing things.

Happy 4th of July! And be safe my sweet Spencer! Travel the world and remember your destination is not a place, but a new way of seeing things!