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.
It’s time for Works for Me Wednesday. I’m looking forward to your tips, tricks, ideas and inspiration! If this is your first time linking up with WFMW here, PLEASE read the guidelines I shared in this post. Highlights include linking your specific post, not the front page of your blog, and making sure to include a link back to this site in your WFMW. Thank you!!
We do live in a very confusing and chaotic world, Mary, that is getting more and more confusing and chaotic with each passing day. I’m like you and don’t like controversy, especially when I’m not totally certain of all that I believe about these issues. I don’t want to say anything that isn’t out of love, but I also know that sometimes love is lot more prickly than we like to think. Thanks for sharing your intimate wranglings with all of us. I definitely think there is a whole LOT of learning and growing that we will need to do as a Christian community in order to know how to address these cultural issues with grace and love. Thanks for the linkup, my friend!
Oh yes, Beth, prickly love – it is a hard thing to understand, for sure!
Thank you. :)
I tend to be the same – I don’t like confrontation, but have come to realize that sometimes silence is but sometimes is not the best expression of love. Sometimes difficult things need to be said. But listening is vital. God give us wisdom to know how to be “swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19).
Yes, yes, that verse in James is always applicable but especially right now.
Beautiful post! You are so right that what is undermining marriage these days is not same-sex couples who want to make a lifetime commitment, but people (mostly straight) who want to have fancy weddings but commit to their relationships only as long as they’re having fun and break up whenever it gets difficult or someone cuter comes along. Personally, I have mixed feelings about government recognition of marriage, but as long as we have a system in which marriage creates a particular legal status, that status should be available to any couple who chooses it. Legal status aside, I’d like to see everyone who claims to be committed to lifelong marriage actually take that seriously, whatever sex they are.
Yes, the politics of this whole thing muddies the waters even further! I definitely have friends who have focused on that part of it. It’s just so, so complicated, isn’t it?!
I like your words – listening and standing. What wise and well-thought-out advice!
I think of the verse in James that says, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,”
Appreciate you and your post today!
Oh yes, I need to meditate on that verse every single day!
Hooray, it’s Wednesday!!! Hope you have had a great week so far. Thanks for hosting another great party. Keep up the great work!
Have a safe & happy 4th of July,
Denise W. & Aubrie B.
Your post echos my own feelings, I was pretty quiet about the SCOTUS ruling because I only know that all of my friends need love.
If you’re interested, I wrote a facebook post and made it public. I inserted it as my website address.
Nice post, Anna! Although I basically agree with the ruling, I did NOT rainbow my picture on Facebook. I feel like it’s a pretty cheap statement that means different things to different people.
Thank you for linking your post, Anna. Your words were heartfelt and thoughtful and beautiful.
Great post Mary! I appreciate your honesty, thoughtfulness and prayerful-ness first which is what we all need as Christians before we speak out on this ruling. I totally agree that Marriage has been screwed up for quite some time now and it has nothing to do with gay rights… I feel ya on that!
We are living in a Land that is no longer predominantly Christian and that is going to get some getting used to. Or is it that just like racism, there has been this imbalance of power all along and now everyone is having a voice.
Thanks for your post. Best, Lina
Hmmm…good food for thought, Lina. Thank you for reading and commenting so faithfully! I always look forward to your responses! :)
Hi Mary – speechless and – – – – now listening. A post millions should read. So beautifully written – so full up of His love. Thank you. Much to think on, much to stand up for. Works for me.
Thanks so much for your kind words, Tracey!
This is a great post. Thanks for speaking what is on my heart. I, too, try to balance speaking my truth and listening to others. This is my first time linking up. Excited for this blogging adventure!
So good, friend. So good.
Oh Mary … I love this. I keep writing the words and then leaving them … so afraid I will just be making noise instead of lavishing love as I intend. You’re an inspiration. Thank you for being beautiful and brave and for listening and for standing.