We had a lot of fun as a family this weekend which was awesome being outside in January with no snow just enjoying each other’s company. It seems like every time that I turn around lately Morgan is getting older and more mature, and I know this time is fleeting and that we have to enjoy it. Family is important.
We marred our weekend of quiet family time by turning on the news. Eek! What was I thinking? I know right, but old habits die hard. On the news was a montage of protests from sea to shining sea. On the one hand, it did my heart good to see people engaged in our democratic process and making their voices heard, not being apathetic and sitting quietly on the sidelines. On the other hand, our nation seems like a powder keg waiting to explode. We’ve been getting angrier and angrier this past decade, and we no longer even search for common ground. If you do search for common ground, you’re labeled a traitor or worse. This much anger and distrust and hatred breaks my heart.
How did we get here? Experts can weigh in here and spout plenty of different reasons and the winding paths that have brought us here. How we got here doesn’t really matter though. Stop right there for a second; how we got here doesn’t ultimately matter at all. When your mama came barreling into the room while you and your siblings were pulling hair and scratching each other during a mid-afternoon brawl, did she care how the argument started? Heck no! She was way more interested in ending the fight, and then she would let each side tell their story. Then there was the reconciliation piece where you had to forgive each other and move on. I can remember mumbling my sorry to my feet a lot when I was younger, but, as we got older, we had to look each other in the eye and say our apology. I think she wanted to know the reasons that we were brawling just so we had to hear it as we said it out loud to each other, so that we had to acknowledge what we were forgiving. The real lesson was that family forgives family because your family will always be with you.
Forgiveness helps fight the hate that we are seeing. Jesus charged us with looking at people through the lens of God’s love for everyone. Basically to love people who do not love you back. To love people who look nothing like you. To love people who do not believe as you believe. To love the person who is spitting on you and calling you names. To love everyone period – no loopholes, no exceptions. To love everyone like you family as brothers and sisters in Christ. Sounds so simple, right? Way hard to do, definitely not easy. If loving other people were easy, we would all have flowers in our hair and live in a commune happily together. The reality is that it is hard enough just to love our immediate family much less this extended family of all man kind. I find it slightly overwhelming to think of the immensity of that much love, and I have to chunk it down into smaller bite size pieces that I can wrap my head around. I find it easier to concentrate on just today. Tomorrow will take care of itself. It always does. How can I show love today? Start with one act. How can I show love once today?
So I challenge you today to participate in the 2017 Love Challenge. Be the light that you want to see in others. Start small with one act of kindness once a day for the month of February. First things first, Christ has already forgiven us our bad behaviors if you’ve asked him to forgive you. Now you forgive the opposing view. Let it go. Anger starts with hurt, and there is a mountain of hurt on both sides of our nation right now. Forgive. Reconcile. Meet on common ground.
Now start practicing random acts of love in your daily life. Start with one per day, and change the atmosphere around yourself. Before you start with the excuse factory, start with your daily life. Do you drive to work? Yield the right of way to someone. Don’t flip off the person who just cut you off. Do you ride the bus or the subway? Give someone else your seat. Slow your cart down in the grocery store. Let someone in front of you in a checkout line. Smile at a stranger. Ignore that sarcastic post on Facebook, and simply don’t share it. Help someone out at the airport luggage carousel. Donate blood to the Red Cross.Donate food that you like to a local food bank. Donate money to Samaritan’s Purse. Buy a bouquet of flowers, stand outside the store, and give them out and tell people that they are beautiful with each flower that you give out.
It’s not easy to show love amidst anger and hurt, but forgiveness and reconciliation should be our catch phrases in 2017. Guess what? Practice makes perfect, people! Love is muscle, and it needs to be exercised in order to grow, so start small with just one act a day for a month. February is the month of love and the shortest month. You got this. Just start. We’re all here to exercise our free will and to make choices that hurt or help people. Make the choice to be a positive force that grows love. Like the Christmas carol says, let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me. Now let it keep going with you.
Thanks for reading! If you found something helpful or useful in this post, please share it with someone else who needs that same hope.