I’m tired. The holidays will do that to you, and this year’s Thanksgiving invasion of the flu in our family certainly didn’t help matters. But my fatigue is less physical and more mental and spiritual.
As the new year begins, I’m ready to “kick off the dust” from 2019’s constant barrage of negativity, senselessness, and incivility. I want to trust that a new year will call us back to reason and goodwill. In my heart, I want to believe 2020 has the potential to reclaim what we have lost.
Many will think I’m referring to the political arena and, no doubt, there’s plenty there to be frustrated over. However, my dismay lies with the community of faith that is supposed to value what is true and rise above the division orchestrated by those who don’t claim responsibility for the patience, acceptance, and tolerance taught by our God-Made-Human Savior. My thoughts are to those who represent a holy, loving, accepting, and grace-filled deity—a God who clearly told us to love and not judge, to feed and not rob, to sacrifice for and not protect ourselves against.
Please don’t think I claim innocence in this mess. In the words of Paul, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life” (1 Timothy 1:15-16).
That’s the thing about Christians, right? We acknowledge we’re failures at this living thing. However, rather than wallowing and willingly taking the low road, we are called to aim higher. So, here’s my hope for myself and my fellow Jesus followers in 2020:
• I won’t consider myself better than others—those “others” being people who believe, live, love, eat, or vote differently than I do. REGARDLESS of the results of the 2020 election!!
• I will value civility. Since I don’t consider myself better than others, neither will I demean nor disrespect other opinions and views. I will engage in conversations with phrases like, “I respect that,” “Help me understand,” “I’ll have to give that some consideration,” and “Thank you for sharing.”
• I will take the advice given to me by my mother when I was a toddler that “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything.” I will utilize this wise advice in person and on all social media platforms.
• I will honestly think the best of those with whom I vehemently disagree, realizing I have not lived their life nor walked their journey. I will not consider them to be ignorant, evil, nor my enemy.
• I will speak out when I see injustice, marginalization, and/or abuse. However, I will do so with graciousness and mercy, understanding my response has the potential to help others or simply compound the harm.
• I will not claim a moral high ground based on my faith because I believe God’s family extends far beyond my own spiritual understanding, including those who choose to believe in nothing. I have been the benefactor of grace shown by a wide variety of individuals, and my world is richer because of each one.
• I will allow God to be God and realize I will never fully comprehend the fullness of what that means. This frees me from thinking I have to somehow “protect” God from others, narrowing God’s love, grace, and forgiveness toward others when I am in desperate need of each of these things every day.
I’m not Pollyanna. I’m actually a realist. And because of that, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to believe each one of us can make a difference in our own corner of the world. Will you join me in making a difference in yours?
Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Timothy 1:17)