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Be one of those who help others see the reflected light of God.

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

It was love at first sight when I read this poem by Mary Oliver, and I’ve been sending it love-notes in my mind all day. She writes of her desire to be “upright and good,” and thinks, “to what purpose?”

The next passage is just glorious:

“Hope of heaven? Not that. But to enter

the other kingdom: grace, and imagination.”

It’s hard not to relate it to what’s going on in the world right now. Grace and imagination. Conversations online have been coarse and mean-spirited. Authority figures have been pointing fingers and throwing stones.

We’re falling into the trap of thinking that we need to fight fire with fire.

That we cannot let it stand when someone says something we know to be untrue.

Neither side is listening. Both are engaging in alternating monologues. No one will be persuaded with this kind of rhetoric.

Imagination.

That word is so powerful, isn’t it?

What can we build, just using our day-dreaming power? What if? Why not?

Grace.

That’s the word that truly holds the world together.

Just for today, imagine you’re sending that tweet out to someone you find reprehensible and you really unleash and unload. What if…by chance… it ends up in God’s inbox? There’s no witness protection program that can get you out of that jackpot!

Imagine the grace that would explode if we reached out to an enemy the way God held his hand out to us when we were at our lowest point. If we all turned the other cheek at the same time, we’d see the humanity – and the divinity – in each other, perhaps for the first time. That’s where the other kingdom resides.

What will people know about you when they look at the goals that you set for yourself?

 

As I read Lori‘s post from two days ago, I catch myself shaking my head.  It reminds me so much of the conversations that I had with my son whenever he had to deal with a bully. Some of these bullies were his peers.  Some, sadly, were adults.  But the one thing they had in common with each other, and the people Lori wrote about, is their smallness.

These are the people who felt big by making someone else small.  They were so self-involved that they couldn’t see how their actions impacted others.

And, yes.  I had this conversation with an 8 year-old.  Sure, I phrased it differently.  “Some people have to stand on someone else to make themselves feel big.”

 

Sadly it is the kind of habit we can all fall into.  Whether you’re the office “grammar witch” or the go to person for where things are in the Bible.  We need to make sure we’re helping people in a kind way and not simply so that we can stand a bit taller.

Kindness matters.

–SueBE

When my friend Lill and I started working on Inaugurate Light together, we had a goal.  We wanted to add something consistently positive to social media.  We were tired of watching our friends and family snipe at each other about politics and all the baggage that entails.  Why couldn’t people just be nice?

And we’ve done it.  Since January 1, we have posted a different image and quote almost every day.

But I have to admit.  I’m not always positive.  Sarcasm is my native tongue and sarcasm, as we all know, is rarely kind.

When I saw this verse from Ephesians, it really hit home.  I may pop if I can’t speak my mind, but I’m going to try and try hard.

Since y’all are the praying kind, I’d appreciate whatever back up you can give me.  I know when I remember to look God’s way, I’ll have His help as well.  But I can use all the help I can get.  As one of my son’s favorite TV characters would say “Please and thank you.”

–SueBE

The #MeToo movement has reached ubiquity: We all know what it means when a woman (or man) posts these words to social media. Ruth gave a powerful breakdown of the situation. In fact, she changed the way I thought about my own history. I believed I could never forgive the men who have harassed or assaulted me over the years. But then a funny thing happened — I made a list.

I listed all the times I could remember someone making me feel unsafe, or someone physically or verbally assaulting me. Over the days, the list grew. It is now quite substantial. But in making the list, the power these people had over me dropped to zero.

Maybe it’s seeing their names, or the lack of them — some names I never knew, some I’ve forgotten, like “Warehouse Creep” and “King of Bear Country.” Just faceless, nameless ghosts. Not even worth remembering. In other cases, it was a matter of perspective. I can look back now on the man who kept calling me “Kiddo” and rubbing my thigh on a car ride home from the first (and last) time I babysat his 6-year-old son, who spent the entire night talking about big breasted women — as if such a thing could mean anything to a child that young — and think, “How little he must have had in his life!” It’s almost sad.

Ruth is dead right: These people aren’t brimming with machismo and confidence. They are insecure. A real man doesn’t need to harass women to get attention. How frightened they must be! How alone! I found myself praying for them: That they find ways to get the attention they want through other means; that they can learn to feel important not by subjugating others but by doing positive things.

But most of all, I pray for a world where no girl or woman has to make a list like mine. Because although making it was cathartic, it’s not a task I would wish on anyone. Because no woman should have to have a list. Because it shouldn’t happen to begin with. Because being sad and pathetic is no excuse.

Forgiveness is divine. But wouldn’t it be nicer if there were nothing to forgive?

Wow.  That’s a little ironic.  This is the image that was next up in the rotation after Miss Ruth’s post yesterday on standing up against sexual harassment.

I know that in every situation, a person cannot stand up for herself.  She may be in a situation that is truly life threatening.  She may be so badly damaged that any threat at all wipes her out.

But that’s why we have each other.  We are here to witness for each other.  To say, “I don’t think so.  This needs to stop.  Now.  Here.  Immediately.”  When you speak for one woman or man, who is the subject of harassment, you speak for all of us.  Even yourself.

And each time you speak up, it becomes easier to do the next time.

Who knows, maybe one day it won’t be necessary. Until then, God has given us each other.  Together, we can stand up for ourselves and for each other.  Each in our own unique way.

–SueBE

 

What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?

Mark 8:36 NIV

There have been a lot of scoundrels in the news lately. I’ve seen a lot of people say this: “It’s a sickness.” But that’s not true.

People who use power to demean are not addicts. They live in fear and hate themselves. The world is very big, so they put on the trappings of power so they don’t appear so small.

While it is certainly a pathology, it’s not a condition that can’t be controlled.

When a young (at the time) actor inappropriately touched a VJ on MTV as a way of saying “hello,” what he was really doing was trying to gain leverage. He seemed to be unsure of himself and felt a pressure to be larger-than-life, so he did something to discombobulate her.

Emma Thompson described the scandal surrounding a predatory Hollywood producer as a manifestation of “extreme masculinity,” but I would suggest that the opposite is true.

I think such men don’t feel strong and powerful at all. They more likely feel utterly bereft. On paper, they’ve got everything that should lead to fulfillment, confidence, and peace. But somehow, they still feel as insignificant as they did before they achieved “success.”

I don’t know if there’s a “rehab” for this kind of situation. Some would say the answer is church. Getting right with God. That would be true, of course, but it wouldn’t be genuine for such an individual to find faith if it’s forced.

Going forward, maybe it’ll be easier for victims and bystanders to speak at the moment of impact. To say, This isn’t right. Cut it out. Speaking truth to power isn’t easy, but if we all stood up together, it could make a world of difference.

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