Dearest readers, I have been feeling quite down in the dumps. I hope you don’t mind me saying so, but the world around us is trying to go to Hell in a handbasket, it seems. And if I’m honest, I’m pretty worn out from trying to slow it’s downward roll. I’ve even caught myself participating in it’s descent into meaninglessness a few times this week, engaging in typing gymnastics with people I know good and well are not of peace and goodwill but are rather committed to their own alterna-facts and faux-news. I have been unloving and unkind and hard of heart and I’m sick about it because what an utter waste of energy!
Anyway, the news is bad, almost all of it.
Even The Good News is hard to believe sometimes, for a few minutes at least, if you’re tuned into the immense human suffering we are surrounded by or personally swimming in.
Faith heroes of yesteryear are selling out for 30 pieces of silver and a personal White House invite.
Agents on the government payroll have been sharing disgusting and violent messages degrading the humanity of those in their charge. Don’t these grown men understand how the internet works and that dirty deeds done in private messages always find their way to the light? Anyway, google it if you want, I won’t be linking to it here. Actually don’t google it, it’s vile.
Yesterday, members of Congress walked the halls of immigrant detention centers and tweeted the horrific abuses of power they saw firsthand, like women being called whores by agents and told to drink from the toilets in their overcrowded cells.
What can we do? What is a faithful person TO DO in a time like this, when the horrors are mounting and the dividing lines are getting sharper? What do we do when the party we were raised to believe would protect the most vulnerable are actually hurting them instead? What do we do when we see the image of a desperate father with his daughter, washed up in the reeds? What do we do when we read the first hand accounts of all of those children who are brave enough to tell the advocates about the spoiled food and the physical abuse and deprivation of every kind they are experiencing in the centers where they are being detained to line the pockets of greedy men? For the love of all that is true and holy, what do we do when our own brothers and sisters dig their heels, cross their arms and hold to their political party’s line even though living, breathing children are being imprisoned on our soil without anyone to care for them, without medicine, without blankets and diapers?
Some of us just refuse to believe what the children and the women and our own eyes tell us. And I understand that. I get that, viscerally, I do. I don’t want it to be true, either. I want there to be another explanation, too. And I certainly don’t want to trace the story back a few decades and find that American greed actually caused the crises that sent these desperate people running for help. I did not want to know that.
But there is not another explanation, not really. There are not two ways to look at this one. It’s as bad as it looks, and it’ll choke you out and turn you into a monster, too, if you’re not careful. Ask me how I know.
What do we do when the truth is incredibly painful and big and scary and horrid? What should a faithful, thinking, believing, Jesus following, injustice hating, table turning person DO in times like these?
We can pray, as I was reminded by a kind, bold, spiritual giant who messaged me this week to remind me where the work starts.
We can give to organizations like Together Rising and Raices who have boots on the ground providing legal aid and advocacy for separated and detained families and children. Last I checked the minimum donation was $5, so no more Frappucinos. Just switch to iced coffee and you’ll have $5 to spare in no time. Or give until it hurts. You’ll sleep better if you do. But start small and be consistent if that seems easier.
In my town, All Saints Anglican Church has a immigration legal aid clinic. Jackson is a mid sized city and nothing very remarkable so I have to assume that if you go looking, you can find a place to serve or give.
Bethany Children’s Services is getting kids out of prisons and into families in several states (including Tennessee) while they wait 45-60 days before they can be placed with their own families. Can you foster a child? Can you contact Bethany and ask how you can share about the program with your community?
You can contact your representatives and hold their feet to the fire. Resistbot can help make it easy and fast. There are even scripts online for you to read or copy and paste into a message. You can ask Siri to call the White House so you can leave a message for Trump himself. You can organize a protest in your town or participate in a Lights Out for Liberty event on July 12. Cities all over the country are participating and my family will be at the vigil in Nashville.
You can join efforts in your own town to help more people register to vote and then you can help get people to the polls when the time comes.
Now here is the scary one. You can come out of the evangelical closet and speak out against the current administration on behalf of the children who are suffering and dying in our custody. It will freak some people out and they will assume you are pro-abortion. Some people won’t listen when you try to explain, but some will and isn’t that how revolutions start? People will try and shut you down if you speak your little truth to power by asking, “Well, what’s your suggestion? How should the government handle this influx, if you are such an expert? Are you going to take 3,000 children into your home?” These are not people of peace. You cannot help these people. They love what they know and they are not looking for truth. Do not waste your energy trying to change them, just love them and let them be. But don’t let anyone tell you that because you don’t know everything, you are allowed to say and do nothing. You know right from wrong and you’ve read the red letters and you are allowed to speak. We need you to speak.
The party and the church have gotten so twisted up together that many faithful people have absorbed the idea that conservative politics and Evangelical faith are one and the same; inseparable. They are not. I’ll let you in on a little secret Sarah Bessey told me: There are many, many more of us out here than you might think. The water really is fine and the abortion rate really was lower under Obama in his second term than at any time since Roe v. Wade. We can stop identifying ourselves with a party or pick a new one and life will go on. Each of us will have to make a choice and live with, but I am here to remind you that you do actually have a real choice to make. You, Christian, have a choice and it holds grave consequences for those whom Jesus referred to as the least of these. Gone are the days when we could just vote the way our parents did or the way our pastors hinted that we should. The stakes have been raised. James Dobson is no longer your moral authority. The red letters are. Return to them. Read them again. They are mostly plain, thanks be to God.
That whole last paragraph was wildly inappropriate and quite uncouth. Forgive me for being so forward. Forgive me for not minding my own business and writing about something less uncomfortable. I’m not comfortable with me either, if that helps you any.
I’ll leave you with this. It’s ok if you’re just not there yet. It’s ok if you haven’t reconciled all the news from all the sources and formulated a tight ethos on immigration or the 2020 election. You are infinitely precious and outrageously loved and the God of the universe is holding you in the palm of his hand. There is room in God for the big questions. You are safe here. Take a deep breath. And another one. Practice the presence of God as you go about your day. Steal away for a minute when you can and ask Jesus to speak to you through his word and his Spirit. And then listen and pay attention. I don’t know what he will say to you. Who knows, maybe I’m wrong about all this and that’ll be your take away and you will write your own blog post and I’ll be ashamed of myself.
He is making all things new, in you and in me. I see it. It’s happening. He is making crooked paths straight and He has not abandoned us here. We pray and we labor and we raise the voice we have to see the Kingdom to come and the will of God to be done here on earth as in Heaven. And we already know his will is to see that last be made first, the hungry filled and cool water flowing to all who thirst. Jesus welcomes the stranger always, clothes and sits with her at his long, wide table where the poor will always have the seat of honor and everything is perfectly and gloriously upside down.
So go and do what you can with what you have and then do it again until the Kingdom comes. Don’t be found with your talents and your privilege buried on the last day. Dig them up and use them to see the Kingdom come. The only way to keep anything in the upside down Kingdom is to give it away, this we know for sure. Open your fist. Open your heart. Open your wallet. Then open your mouth.