This week I am making a list. Lists help us to be intentional, right? Because the days are short and our purpose can wane with the distraction. Today I set aside a place in my planner:
A place to list the ways that I can love my neighbor. A place to brainstorm how to get messy and out of my-comfort zone kind. Because I have learned over the past few weeks that even small acts of kindness can help bridge the gap between fear and hope, between despair and encouragement.
Isn’t it in the small ways that we can combat rampant negativity with radical kindness? Much like what Gandalf– the guy from Lord of the Rings– said, “Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay… small acts of kindness and love.”
This is what has been pressed on my heart, because something wounded me deep this week. At first I wanted to lash out fiery words which I have done a time or two or three, inciting misery. “That won’t do,” God whispered to me. “Respond with the Gospel,” He said. “But, God– don’t you see– they are wrong: this is wrong. Punish them: this is terrible!”
Then I see Him, with the woman caught in sin, writing in the sand, listening at the Pharisees as they flung their accusations. Waiting for Jesus to get her. Because she was wrong. “‘Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’ Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”No one, sir,’ she said.’Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin’” (John 8: 7-11, NIV).
We may not agree with one’s actions, but we cannot condemn anyone, either. Because a life lived as the accuser would be a life mired in a filthy, shallow, and joyless pit. Can we say to those who accuse, to those who judge, to those who mock, to those who disrespect– that we forgive them? Or can we make steps to try? Can we try to confound the loud voices with kindness? Can we, even if we disagree, promise to speak gently instead of criticize harshly? Can we work our hardest to make wrongs right without hating the one who has done wrong? Can we make room at our table or at least– to start– in our hearts? I am human, and I confess that there are various scenarios I find hard to forgive. Stories on the news cause me to weep and mourn and wonder– where is the justice here? I don’t have the answers, but in these moments I do realize how deep, how wide, how high, and how long the grace of God reaches– because He forgives when I can’t understand.
And so, the list– the one I began in my planner– is the rebuttal to my own struggle to truly love my neighbor, to live the Gospel– to battle against fear– and to paraphrase Mrs. Obama– to go high when others go low. Tuesday afternoon I will take action on the first plan. I will try to keep anyone who is interested posted. And this last thing:
What would you put on your list? To whom would you reach out? I would love to hear. Let me know.