Yesterday morning I woke up with tears in my eyes and pain in my soul and words burning so deeply in my heart, I had to put them down on the page before I did anything else. So I wrote the post “Questions for the men shouting Blood and Soil. Questions for the Rest of Us.” It’s been shared hundreds of times, now — and I’m grateful that it’s resonated with so many people.
When I finished writing the post, I realized that church was starting and if I went, I’d arrive half-way through the service. So instead of getting ready for church, I sat at home in my pajamas, wondering what else I could do to redeem the morning.
The last few sentences I’d just written were about the importance of each of us being Love in this world.
I wondered if it was possible to show Love when I was home alone, in my pajamas, sans makeup, with tear-filled eyes and lots of unanswered questions.
I thought about what Jesus said about love. He said to love our neighbors as ourselves — and to love, bless and pray for our enemies. To go the extra mile to serve them and show them compassion.
I like love as much as anyone — give me an orphan to cuddle, a refugee to befriend, a sick parishioner to cook for, a patient in West Africa suffering from malaria and I’m there. I’m SO there. I’m ALL in, no question. It does my heart good to love people.
But as I sat on my bed in my pjs yesterday, I thought about what Jesus said about loving our enemies.
For the record, I do NOT like that Jesus said that. It one of the hardest commands to follow.
But, as many spiritual teachers have pointed out, paying attention to the places in our hearts where we feel the most resistance is often a clue as to where we need to grow and change the most.
Love your enemies.
I had been following developing stories online and trending hashtags on Twitter all morning. One of the biggest trending hashtags was #BloodAndSoil, a phrase borrowed from Nazi Germany that became the rallying cry of the angry white men who protested in Charlottesville on Saturday.
Some people who were using the hashtag were condemning the march, but lots of people using the hashtag were commending and defending the actions of the AltRight, neo-Nazi, white Supremacist groups who came out in droves with Tiki torches and racist insignias and a whole lot of anger at the protest in Charlottesville.
It would be satisfying to troll them, using logic and biology and statistics and genetics to prove why their views and their actions are so misguided and wrong.
But, while there’s a time and a place for dialogue and debate, for the most part, human hearts aren’t transformed by information. They’re transformed by the experience of radical, unconditional, unexpected love. What these protestors did was hateful, shameful and wrong. Their actions show the depravity of their hearts. And their actions also demonstrate their lack of understanding of how Love works. Of how deeply they are loved — and how deeply and fiercely they are meant to love others — regardless of skin color, ethnicity and gender.
So, in lieu of going to church yesterday morning, I trolled AltRight advocates on Twitter….not to tell them they were wrong, but to tell them they were loved.
“You were created to love and to be loved. If you don’t live into Love, you’re missing out.”
“The people you’re protesting are beloved children of God — and so are you.”
It’s not how I expected the morning to go. Missing church to troll racists while wearing my pajamas and drinking iced coffee in my bedroom on a Sunday morning — to tell them they are loved. To tell them that their hateful, shortsighted, selfish views deprive not only others — but themselves — of the Love they were meant to give and receive.
A lot of us felt shocked on Saturday.
Grieved on Sunday.
And now it’s Monday.
Now, in spite of our discouragement and weariness and tear stains and heavy hearts, we get to lift our eyes to the North Star of Love, and navigate everything we are and do and say in that direction.
Now we get to be the love we saw missing in the protestors on Saturday.
Now we get to be the antidote to the hate that unfolded in Virginia.
Now we get to create a new culture.
Now we get to establish a better way of being.
Now we get to vote for the way the world was meant to be — not with a ballot, but with our words and our actions and our lives.
There is much work to be done to untangle the gnarly roots of racism and supremacy that continue to entangle and choke the life out of our country, and we can follow in the steps of leaders that are showing us the way forward. (For more resources, click here.)
And each of us — this morning, this afternoon, this evening, this week, this month, this year — can choose to be the love that’s missing in the world. We can embody compassion. We can model dignity and selflessness and unity.
We can show love — in big ways and small — to ourselves, our neighbors, our friends and even — or especially — our enemies.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
-Who is hard for you to love and why?
-With what you have, who you are, where you are today, what can you do to show love to your friends and your enemies?
-What acts of love that others have done for you have affected and changed your heart?