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Election 2016: Loving People Well

I know I said I wouldn’t say anything. I still won’t tell you who I voted for. Assume away, I can’t help that and won’t try.

But it is hard to remain silent when I watch the news. It is all happening so far away from me and I have been far away from living in the US for over a decade now. So I’ve missed a lot. Watching the news is not even close to experiencing the upheavals our nation is going through.

My Rock

 

You know how people ask: where were you on 9/11? I remember the phone call from my dad, the radio announcer, calling my husband at work. But one of my clearest memories is going to bed. I couldn’t sleep. I thought about who had perpetrated this horror. I thought about what my response should be. I started to pray for the people who planned and acted to break the heart of a nation. And I wondered: what if someone had loved Osama bin Laden well? What if someone had really loved him well, had instilled in him a respect for human life, dignity, joy, hope, sacrifice, community?

I determined that night, as I prayed, that I wanted to live a life of loving people well. Not because I thought that I might encounter, and sway, potential future terrorists but because I believe that when people are loved, they can flourish. And flourishing people don’t slaughter innocents.

What does it look like to love well? Listen to broken hearts, serve the needy, give up my tendency toward greed so that my neighbor can be clothed, welcome a stranger who needs someplace to sleep, bandage wounds, take financial and physical risks. I mean these things literally. Placing bunches of bananas near the head of a sleeping homeless man so he can wake to a feast. Giving a woman who just had a miscarriage money for the hospital. Or for drugs, how can I know? I can only know that she has no roof over her head and I have money in my wallet. Risking so much to start a school so there can be jobs and education and community. Caring for my family with zeal and creativity…

I don’t live this way very well, very often, or very consistently. I read in Job 12 this morning, “Those who are at ease have contempt for misfortune.” I am very much at ease in this life. I need to guard against contempt for misfortune and one of the ways I know to do that is to love people well.

During this coming presidency and even now, in the days leading to its onset on January 21, 2017, I want to love people well. On both sides of the aisle, or for all those who are not party-voters, on all sides of the aisle. There is a lot of rage, humiliation, pride, shame, shaming, silence, and shouting. Our nation has been stripped bare, all of our sins and arrogance and ignorance on display. There can be no more pretending. Our darkness is being brought into the light. It isn’t just the election, it is shootings and immigration and health insurance and marriage…

We can block freeways and burn flags and smash windows. We can boast and thump our chests. We can mock and ridicule, insult and lie. We can refuse to accept a process that may or may not have turned out in our favor. We can wait and see. We can open our mouths and scream. We can hide in silence. We can cry. We can celebrate.

But we must listen. We can find people who are not like us, both online and in real life, instead of hunkering down behind walls with people who already think like us. We can seek to understand their stories and their histories and their hopes, fears, dreams. We can empathize and not demonize. We can be humble. We can win with grace and lose with dignity. We can speak our own ideas with passionate conviction while allowing others to have different ideas. We can refuse to label or to lump people into certain categories.

This is not easy. It is exhausting, in fact. My family lives this way every day, as minorities culturally, ethnically, religiously and it challenges us all the way to the very core of our being, our identities.

I live in a divided household when it comes to elections and again, you can try to assume or guess what I mean by divided, but I’m pretty sure you’ll be wrong. And that’s what I mean. Both about the need to listen and the need to love. You might think you know my husband and I but you don’t really know all the complicated, agonized wrestlings that go into each of our decisions.

He and I need to listen to each other, to be sharpened and challenged and pushed by each other, without vitriol or spite, and then we need to love each other.

People have asked, “What do I tell my kids?” This is what I told my kids, it is what I tell them during every election cycle of every country that we have lived in or love:

My hope is never in an earthly ruler. They will all fail us. My hope is on a rock that does not change like shifting shadows. My hope is on a King who does not need to campaign or be elected, who does not have term limits. My hope is on a Ruler who has the perfect balance of mercy and justice without needing electoral colleges or branches of government. In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil. On Christ the solid rock I’m found, all other ground is sinking sand.

And while my hope remains firmly there, I will, in practical daily life terms, strive to love people well.

All other ground is sinking sand.

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My Hope for 2015

Quick link: My Hope For You in 2015

Today I’m writing at A Life Overseas about what I hope to see happen in your life and in my life. It isn’t all comfort and happy-happy-joy-joy. It is deep and painful and foundation-shifting.

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Wouldn’t it be nice if I could hope for you only and fully that all your days be merry and your nights be bright and your path be smooth and the sun shine gently on your face? I do hope the road rises to meet you and that you find joy in every relationship and peace on all sides but I’m sorry, I also have other, deeper hopes. I want so much more than smiles and ease and comfort for you, and for me.

And so my highest hope for you is that when your days are far from merry you will sense a deep and abiding presence, holding your head above water and keeping your legs from crumbling beneath you. My hope is that when the plans you so carefully lay are shattered, you will release them gently and walk into the unknown with courage.

Click here to read the rest of My Hope For You in 2015.

*image via Flickr

By |January 5th, 2015|Categories: Faith|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Let’s Go Flaneuring in Mexico City

Today’s Flaneuring post is by Samantha Loesch. Feel the refreshing rain fall as she takes us through her neighborhood in Mexico City and reveals the source of her hope.

I spend a lot of time on the roof of my apartment. From there, laid out in front of me is a metropolis called “The City of Hope” . . . maybe that’s why thousands flock here each year, pushing the greater population of the city closer and closer to 25 million . . . for hope.

During reprieves from the season’s persistent rain and hail, I mount the final stairs to the top of the building. Standing at over 7,000 feet above sea level, the short journey always leaves me short of breath. I take several gulps of the brisk air that smacks against my cheeks before making my way towards the edge.  Since living under the smoggy, polluted skies, I’ve come to appreciate the rain. It freshens the air and tears down the thick, low hanging curtains over the valley that hide the surrounding mountains from view. I take in another mouthful, knowing it won’t be much longer until the soot returns and dirties the inside of my nose and ears.  Beneath my feet, the red painted rooftop bakes in the sun. My skin warms as I linger and I peel off one of the extra layers I always seem to be wearing. And finally, I look out.

There’s something about being so far above the traffic jammed streets that helps me see more clearly and make sense of their chaotic melody. A chorus of car horns plays alongside the sing-songy chatter of the romantic language that I work so diligently to master. Rising above are the calls from young men selling tamales from their bicycles, the swift ringing of a hand-bell to signal garbage pick-up, and the long whistle of a passing camote cart. From around the corner, the wail of a lone saxophone grows as it serenades those sitting at the restaurants’ outdoor tables.

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The wind picks up, lifting and mixing the scents from those same restaurants and food stands. Just several doors down, a stern woman presses fresh tortillas through an old machine, depositing tall stacks into thin, plastic bags for the line of people crowding the sidewalk. Some are mothers, holding the hands of their uniformed children with perfectly gelled hair returning from another day of school. Others are construction workers with worn boots and dirt stained pants from the building project down the street. Several steaming kilos will make their way to my corner store. Other stacks will be used to catch seasoned, flame-licked pork cut away from a pineapple-topped trompo.

I pull my eyes up, away from the views that so captivate me, to look towards the sky. The first raindrop splashes off the tip of my nose as dense, dusty blue clouds quickly tumble closer, choking out the light from the setting sun. The approaching darkness reminds me of the deep hurt and darkness that scars my city: results of violence, mistrust, and injustice. I’ve witnessed it and mourned it, but I also celebrate the hope that exists in spite of it.

When I see young girls standing on dimly lit street corners, waiting to be chosen out of a line-up by men behind tinted car windows, I can have hope.  When I pick up my phone to read urgent notices about disappearances, deaths, and demonstrations, I can have hope.  When the world around me looks broken and all feels hopeless, I can yet have hope.

People are being drawn to this city for a glimpse of that hope; but I came because I already have it. I serve a God who is hope; a God who raises beauty up out of ashes, grants gladness in the place of mourning, gives liberty to captives, and offers praise to those of a faint spirit. He is the One I call out to; He is what the city is desperately longing for and only He can fill its deepest needs.

So as I stand here on my rooftop, looking out over a broken city, I can see beauty – because I see Hope.

Samantha lives in the center of Mexico City and works with an EFCA ReachGlobal team to bring the hope of the gospel to her community and city. One of the team’s initiatives is the restoration of under-aged and abused women rescued out of human trafficking. She is passionate about living intentionally within her community, developing discipleship relationships with young ladies, and being a continual learner of the culture (especially when that involves tacos or pozole). Samantha enjoys photography and the way it acts as an invitation for others to join into her story and challenges her to find beauty in crowded city streets…or from rooftops.

Blog:  http://www.throughlifeandlens.com

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/SamanthaLoeschInMexicoCity?ref=hl

 

 

My Hope For You

Quick Link: I Want More Than Comfort For You

I am starting 2014 with a post at SheLoves about hope and what I am hoping for me and for you this year. It isn’t what you might think.

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I wrote about hope last January, too: The Freedom of Hope

We are singing off the shackles, bringing in light, we are calling forth freedom.

In the singing I feel the word.

Hope.

Hope that one day we will be free from these spectacular griefs, hope that one day the shackles will disintegrate into trampled dust beneath dancing feet.

I reread that essay this morning, through tears, as the memories of that season filled me, and as the realization of all that God did in the painful circumstances that prompted it took my breath away. Not every story ended with joy, not every story is ended yet. But every story has seen God’s hand in it and as I look back and am reminded, I know that I can look forward and have hope.

As you read this I am on the airplane (again), this time back to Djibouti. I fly through Kenya where I will leave our teenagers at boarding school.

He has been faithful, he will be faithful.

Even through pain.

Click here to read: I Want More than Comfort for You

May 2014 be a year you sense God is with you, a year you feel free to hope with wild extravagance.

the photo is a stain glass piece my late grandfather made, hanging on my mom’s dining room window. He had Parkinson’s and a deep, abiding hope fixed on heaven.

By |January 3rd, 2014|Categories: Writing|Tags: , |5 Comments
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