Friday, July 8, 2016

The world is a mess but what can I do to make an impact? Let's be real.

In a time when the nation is calling for peace and encouragement, when we are calling on those with authority to make big moves and drastic changes, I sit here and ask myself what can I do?  How can I contribute?

I live in a small town in the smack dab middle of Illinois with (let's face it) very little diversity.  I grew up in a larger town with a little more diversity but still not nearly the level I would have had if I grew up in say, downtown Chicago.  Still, in the time that I lived in suburbia, my family was exposed to a lot.  My parents always called our house, and still do, heart break hotel.  My parents, and indirectly my siblings and I, were hosts to single moms, Mexicans, Germans, Icelandics, black people, ex-convicts, drug users, alcoholics, and the list goes on.

My sons will more than likely not have the same level of exposure to that same list of people and some of my closest friends have never had exposure to people on that list.  Not having exposure to those things though, does not give anyone the excuse to be indifferent toward what is happening.  But again, in this little town, in my little life, how do I contribute?

Something I learned from my parents, and the one thing always rang true at heartbreak hotel, is that Jesus loves every one of us.  Not because of our past, not because of our future but simply, because.  He died for each one of us.  My parents were never going to turn someone away because of their perceived inadequacies or struggles.  Every single person on this earth has won the Lord's heart and He yearns for you to know and feel the depth of his love. So, obviously, that is what my parents do.  They love.  They love anyone and everyone that walks through their doors.  They serve.  They serve those who can't afford.  They invite homeless people to our Thanksgiving dinners.  They provide housing for people who can't afford it.  They love.  In this way, we have always seen God's love lived out through them.

Today I commit to those same things.  My family will love.  My family will serve.  It may not be a diverse group of people but we will love and serve when we are given the opportunity and when there is a need of anyone in our path.  We will get on our knees and pray for those that are hurting.

To my friends and loved ones of any race, sexual orientation, and age: I love you.  I don't love you on the surface but I love you in the midst of your deepest hurts, insecurities and tough moments.  I pray that you know that when I ask, "How are you doing?" I want to know your struggles.  I want to know what burdens you.  I want to know what you need prayer for.  I want to carry your burdens with you and walk deep within the valley with you.  I want to know these things so that when you reach a peak in your life, we can celebrate together because we know just how far the Lord has brought you.  I want to be able to say, "do you remember when it was so hard? Do you remember when you wanted to give up? Look! Look where we are!  Look what God has done!  Praise Jesus that we are no longer in that dark place!"  And then, when you have to walk through the valley again, I choose to go right back to those hard places with you.

Today, in my little town, in my little life, I choose to bear your burdens.  I choose to link arms with everyone in my inner circle, outside of it, and on the fringe of it.  May anyone who reads these words take me at my word and reach out if you need to.  I'm in.  I'm in because Jesus has always been in.  I'm in because as I always say, we are not meant to do this alone.  I'm in because it is time to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the most real and tangible way possible.

I may not be able to drastically change the whole world or this whole country but I will commit to making my part of this world, my legacy in this life, my children, lovers of others. Doers. Seekers. Burden carriers. Hard and heavy lifters.  

The world is a mess but I vow to do what I am able.  Let's be real with each other and better for it.

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