17 July 2016

Of Being the Love

The other night, in the wake of a sleepless night brought upon by thunderous storms crashing outside our windows, shaking the walls, lightning flashing in endless succession, a similar storm, the kind that seem to come when I'm too exhausted to continue absorbing life, raged within me.

I found myself in endless tears and sick of it all - convinced I was rejected and worthless, but mostly feeling useless in a world where a truck barrels through crowds in a country you feel connected to through those you know, who have walked and lived in its streets, and twelve hours later a military is striking a coup in a country you feel connected to through those you know, who have walked and lived in its streets. And these are real places and real people dying in real ways. And this world is falling apart and all I could think is, "What's the point?!"

Why are we all still here? Why does any of this matter anymore when it feels like it's all just a matter of time, and by time, I mean months, or weeks, or just days, before it all just hits the fan. And we're in the middle of this mess that we can't seem to find our way out of. In a time when we can't even make statements as audacious as "All Lives Matter" because we're silencing a voice that deserves to be heard, even though it is beyond absolutely true that we sit here with hearts breaking and grieving for all lives. Because Black Lives Matter. Because French Lives Matter. Because Cop Lives Matter. Because Turkish Lives Matter. Because Christian Lives Matter. Because Syrian Lives Matter. Because Homosexual Lives Matter. Because Muslim Lives Matter. Because Black is not the only color hurting right now and their house is not the only one burning. The whole world is burning - and it will go straight down as long as the divisions continue.

And as I sob myself to sleep in the face of this hopeless darkness we call our world, all I can think are the words to a song that have been running through my head for a week:

"People killing, people dying,
children hurt and you hear them crying,
Can you practice what you preach? 
And would you turn the other cheek?
Father, Father, Father help us, 
need some guidance from above.
'Cause people got me, got me questionin'
'Where is the love?'"

And I wake, better rested and able to think, though still with this song in my head, on my heart and I feel God asking, in response, "Where are you?" Because God, Himself, is love and we, the church, are His hands and feet. And this love is only going so far as we carry it. And while I've been breaking into pieces in a seemingly hopeless situation, what has been brewing in my heart hasn't been love - it's been judgment, anger, frustration, sadness, hurt. 

And when I feel attacked, all my mind can process is a mental defense, even if it's never launched. When I feel rejected, I curl up and cry. When I feel worthless, I want to be done. But where is the love? Truly, can I practice what I preach? Can I be love when it feels like all is lost? Can I truly turn the other cheek to a world that seems ill-content to simply slap one and the other, but is ready to destroy for the sake of semantics? How far has my love gone?

Because the kind of love God personifies is an unconditional love. The kind that says, even when it's all falling apart. Even when the world despises. Even when we're trampled upon, mocked, beaten, wrongfully accused, sentenced to die, we love. We say, "Father, forgive them." We humble ourselves to the point of death. 

Is this the kind of love the church is known for? Is this the kind of love that could make a difference?
Maybe not to the point of eradicating terrorism or racism or bigotry or hate, but it could make a difference to one. Or maybe two. Maybe the only answer is softening our own hearts and choosing to respond with love, in every situation - both the big ones, terror attacks or racial discrimination, and the little ones, such as the tiny terrorists in our homes or the friend who cancels plans. 

When love, in the mundane and in the monumental, becomes a habit for us, the church, perhaps a new kind of fire can spread.

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