St. Anthony, MN.
Baton Rouge, LA.
There isn’t enough room on the page to list the places I know about today where death and terror have recently flexed their power. My heart and soul are weary. What is our role, Church? What would Jesus have us do today?
My spiritual director was reminding me this week to pay attention to my limits in order to not be overwhelmed and paralyzed. It seemed contradictory at the time. My limits are what frustrate me the most. I want to DO something to MAKE IT ALL BETTER. I feel like all I can see at times are my limits.
But she wasn’t telling me to stay fixated on those things that lay BEYOND my limits. She helped me to see and accept where my actual limits are, which then allows me to see the vast landscape between here and there and to begin to see how many things I CAN do.
I cannot end racism in the world, or even just in my own neighborhood. But I can speak out in love and respect at the neighborhood grill-out about experiences I have had, the stories from my friends’ experiences, and the articles I’ve read regarding racial privilege and injustice in our world instead of just chatting about the weather.
I cannot end gun violence in the world, or even just in my own neighborhood. But I can ask the parents’ of my children’s friends if there are guns in their home, and if so, how they are stored, and I can choose to not send my son or daughter to that house to play but instead entertain that friend in our home if they say that guns are present and not stored with trigger locks, in locked cabinets, and away from the ammunition.
I cannot stop the actions of ISIS or the KKK or other hate-filled groups of terror. But I can name their actions as hate whenever I have the chance, among family, friends, or letters to the editor. I can understand, and share with others, how ISIS no more represents Islam or the Muslim faith than the KKK represents the Church or the Christian faith.
I cannot make people stop hating and hurting one another. But I can love others. I can go to where they are and tell them they are beloved. I can stop whining about millennials not showing up to worship on Sunday morning and instead bring a case of cold Mt. Dew to the front steps of my church around 7-10pm each night and meet and greet them with love and kindness as they roll up playing Pokemon Go. I can bring fresh cookies to the police department and say thank you for their work and sacrifices. I can march in the local Pride parade and declare God’s love and creation reflected in my LGBTQ neighbors and friends. I can write a card with a note of love and thanksgiving for the leadership to the one African American woman on the staff at my children’s summer childcare site, acknowledging that her experience may be different than mine, committing to caring for her children in our world by advocating for policies and laws that protect her loved ones fairly and justly, and thanking her for the nurturing care she showers on my children.
I trust that next month I will again need my spiritual director’s wisdom to remind me that my limits can be frustrating but they can also be instructive. It all depends on my perspective regarding them.
So, I ask all of you, what CAN we do today, Church? What would Jesus have us do?
—Brigit Stevens, Associate Conference Minister