For the audio listener and learner – I’ve been recording all of my blog posts. So you can continue to wash dishes, fold laundry, or just rest and close your eyes while you listen. I like to follow along with the words while I listen to an author read me what came from his soul. Tip: click “listen in browser” if you are on a mobile device.
Despite my best efforts to go dark over the past 7 days, I found myself on Facebook quite frequently. It was really hard not to know what was going on – especially after I heard our borders were closed on Friday. And then, like clockwork, I watched the protests, blog posts, news articles, and hysteria follow.
I live in a highly immigrant community. My business seeks to reach out to and hire women who have barriers to employment – refugees, immigrants, and asylum seekers being a high priority. My neighbors are Yemeni and Iraqi. My newest seamstress is from Syria.
These are not simply red colored countries on CNN’s graphic to help us visualize this unfamiliar part of the world.
These are my friends. And their families. And I’m confused. And I have questions. Lots of them.
Who said this could happen? How were the countries chosen? What about the refugees. What about the card holders? The vetting process? He’s right to do this. He’s a pig to do this. What about our faith? What about Jesus? What is my role? What part do I play?
It all becomes so much. Like standing on the wrong side of a batting cage. Dodging fast balls and trying to decipher which ones I need to throw back. Which side is the right side? Where do I stand? What do I do? I’m so easily swayed.
So, I start walking. It’s becoming a safe place to think and pound out thoughts as my feet pound the pavement.
I pass protestors at our city hall. Last year, our city elected the first Muslim majority city council. It’s not scary to us. They are not scary. The protestors all have their signs and I read as many as I can. One carries an upside down American flag. Should I be standing in the middle of that crowd, too?
The thought comes loud… What if my LIFE was a daily protest? This works well for my rebellious tendencies and I encourage the thought to keep going. Keep working itself out.
I pass a group of Arabic high school students returning from their first visit to the local library. They are carrying “I LOVE the Library” plastic sacks. Their American teacher walking on the part of the sidewalk closest to the road – a sign of protection.
One oblivious teenage girl crouches down right as I’m walking – forcing me to stop. I stand – awkwardly – and watch her scoop up snow with her bare hands reaching out behind her curtains of black fabric. Maybe one of her first times experiencing the cold whiteness. She catches my eye on her way up and I smile. I can’t see any part of her – except her eyes – but I know she is smiling. Eyes can tell so much.
I try to meet eyes when I pass Muslim women while I walk. Make eye contact to somehow send messages across the air – that I am in this with them. That I care. They are so trained to keep their eyes down that I start staring with laser vision as soon as I see them up ahead. Willing them to look up. To see my American blue eyes looking back with kindness and compassion and open arms. To say, I’m sorry. To say, I don’t love what is happening. To say, I’m not one of them.
Can a look convey everything my heart is so confused in feeling? I think it does.
Can eye contact cross language barriers and break down walls? I think it can.
While Facebook has been loud and jarring this weekend, when I walk the streets of my city, it feels quiet. Contemplative, but wounded. Confused and hurting, but not angry.
A daily protest. I don’t need to be in the crowd holding signs. I need to be in living rooms, embraced in hugs, and sharing meals with my immigrant neighbors. These protests don’t have a day, time, and place attached to their flier or Facebook Event. These protests happen daily here. Through the generous smiles, curious questions, cross culture friendships, and genuine neighborly community.
Wars are not won in protests or battle fields or courts or Facebook feeds. They are won in relationships. On couches. Through friendships, tears, and laughter.
Go to the protests. Hold the signs. Carry that upside down American flag. The Kingdom of God is pretty upside down in it’s thinking, after all. But don’t just go home and be done. Don’t open your computer and start posting the articles and fighting a Facebook battle and call that your contribution.
Protest differently. Protest daily. In small, quiet, underground ways that may not be as flashy or newsworthy, but this quiet way makes the biggest impact on the most people.
I’ve been told before that if I don’t speak up – if I stay quiet – then it’s the same as choosing the side of the oppressor. I disagree. Make your movements in secret. You don’t have to post three blogposts and a news article on your wall to choose a side. The better way – the third way – is to enter into relationship with the affected party.
Jesus gave us an executive order, too. Love people. Love your neighbor as yourself. Make disciples of the nations.
I keep walking and pass an art studio with open windows. He is drawing intricate patterns on large white paper. A cardboard sign hangs in his window. Love lives here, it says. I send him a silent fist bump as I march along. Promising myself I’ll stop in someday and make the silent agreement a public nod. But today, I keep walking.
Let love live here. In your hearts. And in your neighborhoods. And in your homes. And on your Facebook feeds.
And let that love stretch you. Look around at the people in your lane. Do they all look like you? Believe what you believe? Eat what you eat? Sure, love the people in your lane well. But, put people in your lane that are different than you so that compassion, concern, and commitment can be lived out in true genuineness. So we can take ideas and policies and assumptions and filter them down to make them work themselves out in the awkward parts of life on life living.
I think this is Kingdom living. This is walking out what it means to be an Ambassador of Christ. A representative of the values, principles, and governing laws of a different world. One where Jesus is on the throne. One that is coming to set everything right.
I spent my 7 days offline reading two books. This one from the Inspector Gamache series. And a new Kindle thriller that has me swiping pages as fast as I can. When I go #inthequietplace, I make sure to have the Kindle app downloaded on my phone so that when I’m laying down with the kids at night, I can read instead of scroll Instagram. I thought I would finish both books, but perhaps I was a little ambitious.
We got a little bit of a handle on screen time. The kids each now get 30 minutes a day and we are using the Kidslox app to “lockdown” their phone after the 30 minutes is up. I like this because they can still use their “phones” (aka, our old phones) to listen to podcasts or music – which to me are acceptable uses of screens. But the rest of their apps disappear until the next day!
Speaking of listening. The kids and I started listening to Little Women this past week on Audible. We bought the one narrated by Christina Ricci (remember her?) and we are all loving it. Especially Jonah! I can’t believe I’ve never read that book. (If you don’t have Audible yet – use this link to get 30 days free AND 2 free books of your choice!
Well, I’ll see ya on Instagram! It feels good to be back.