Because I am human, I don’t know what to say. Because I am human, I don’t know how to adequately respond to the tragedies in Nice, Baton Rouge,Minneapolis, Dallas and around the globe. Because I am human, I don’t know how to respond in the face of prejudice, of bigotry, of hypocrisy and hate. Because I am human, I don’t know how to respond to atrocities that are happening in the world-genocide, human trafficking, honor killings, war and famine. Am I angry, sad, frustrated, anxious, tired? Yes, I just don’t know what to say. With all the words being thrown around out there how will even one more-let alone three-make a difference?
My heart grieves for all the things I cannot change, for all the things I am not equipped to combat, for all the words I don’t know how to speak. I am literally and spiritually speechless. Of course, there are many words I could find but they are clucked in corners and over coffee cups all the time…”Isn’t it a shame”, “How terrible”, “People are crazy”, “What is this world coming to?” and many other shallow and offensive dismissals of the pain behind the problems. How will my words make any difference and be any less offensive?
As a Christian I feel like I should be saying something Christian-y and scripturally sound. As a person? My heart echoes with emptiness and aches with a deep, deep desire for something/someone to make it all stop-and not with more violence because millennia of that has proven it Just. Doesn’t. Work. If I could quote scripture that would breathe quiet and acceptance I would, but I can’t because those words fall on deaf ears-ears that have heard more words than could fill a thousand books. Ears enduring tremendous pain have a hard time hearing just one more word. Ultimately, though, I will resort to scripture-because it is what I know.
“…love one another, deeply from the heart” (1 Peter 1:22b).
This theme is repeated over and over throughout the bible yet I seldom hear a sermon on it or hear others talking about how much they love the kids in the neighborhood or the lady in the car that just drove by or the people doing construction…again…on their favorite route. These are simple, surmountable in-congruencies but if we can’t even manage to effectively love the person who just “kept me up half the night with their noise” or the “idiot driver” who won’t move over, how in the world are we going to love the real problems out there in the world?
We are much better at bearing grudges than we are at bearing one another’s burdens.
So, I don’t know what to say. Sorry isn’t enough. Simply quoting scripture won’t make it go away. Words-I can’t make them work effectively enough to make the world a better place. What I’d like to do-if it didn’t scare the bejeezus right out of me and make this introvert (which makes even saying hello a monumental task at times) break out in a cold sweat-is rest my hands on your shoulders, look you plainly in the eye and say three more words.
I love you.
Because, this is what I am thinking. Or, at least what I want to think. I have a hard time saying something so intimate to people I am not deeply acquainted with or related to. It is easy to say ”I don’t hate you” because that leaves all kind of room for judgments, caveats, prejudices and other baggage but we are off the hook because we ‘don’t hate’. It is hard to love. Period. When you love you are vulnerable and you may get hurt. No, not may-you will get hurt. And we don’t like that. It’s fine to do nice things for someone or to be charitable: but Love? Like, with a capital L? I’d much rather drop off a bag of groceries at the nearest church and call it good.
“Whatever other command there may be, [they] are summed up in this one command: Love your neighbor as yourself” (Romans 13:9b).
“Love does no harm to a neighbor” (Romans 13:10a).
And then there’s this-that tricky place where it says “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39).
Maybe this was said because it is so incredibly hard to love a God you can’t see, can’t touch and can only trust is there. BUT it is even harder-near on impossible- to love the imperfect, the flawed, the broken, the different, the other, the person standing next to you, in the car in front of you, the folks at the grocery store, the ordinary…the people with skin on-the ones you CAN see.
Because I am human, I don’t know what to say. Because I am human, I am troubled. But, because I want change-radical and real change and there are no words that can do that I choose to love. If you read this-I love you. If you don’t-I still love you. It will be imperfect, incomplete and may be too little too late, but I love you. Will I always get it right? No. Because, you see, I am one of those imperfect, broken, flawed people. But that doesn’t mean I can’t at least try.