The World We Live In – The World We Love In

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Photo cred: @jean_jullien via Instagram

My heart hurts this morning. Last night would have been my typical evening for posting a dumb dating story but when I heard about Paris, it didn’t feel right to dwell on something so insignificant. 

The world has these brief moments of cohesion when we say, “Nonononononono! NO!”  But already today, solidarity has gone (in part) the way of blame and derision. I’ve seen Bush and Obama and Muslims and Syrian refugees already slammed in our social media culture. I’ve seen Mizzou protestors complain that the spotlight was taken off their cause.

But at least we’re not talking about cups anymore.

Or are we…?

I want to be able to use Facebook’s temporary cover photo overlay as a tribute to France but I can’t do it…because my heart hurts for so many other things that are going on in the world as well. Where is the temporary Facebook cover photo filter for Syria or Baghdad or Beirut?  What about all the other tragedies that happen all over the world on a daily basis…the ones that there is hardly room enough in a day to keep track of?  Do we stand in solidarity with them too?

My heart does.

There is so much to care about in the world that the sheer vastness of need overwhelms me. And that feeling could do one of two things. It could paralyze me into doing nothing or it could result in my trusting my heart to take action for whatever is the thing that matters the most to me right now.

Right now, I can only pray. I hope and believe that prayer matters, though I can not prove with science that it does. I hope and believe that God can change and soften the hearts of men because he has changed and softened my own.

I am praying for the families of those who lost loved ones all over the world yesterday, including but not exclusively for Paris. I am praying for those who were also victims by their sheer presence at the events…and for their long recovery both physically and emotionally because the survivors will have much trauma to deal with in their future. I am praying that all those surrounding those affected would not forget but would instead offer strong arms and shoulders to cry on long after they suspect any of these people should be “over it”.

I’m praying for the peaceful Muslims in France and Europe and the world because one of the lessons we learned from 9-11 is that we humans have a tendency to mistreat people simply because they look like someone we know who once did something bad to us. I’m praying for the refugees who are fleeing an existence that is so horrible that they are willing to risk their lives and the lives of their children for the possibility of safety in countries where they will have no homes and no jobs and no community…and where they might be looked at as a threat rather than as a human being.  I’m praying for the women and children who are being trafficked for sex having been left in “safety” while their men search for places to relocate their families.

I’m praying for all the young Muslim men in their late teens and early 20s who are among the refugees, that they may not turn to anger in their disenfranchised state and that they would not become easy targets for militant recruiters.

I’m praying for the hundreds and thousands of missionaries and relief workers and volunteers who are in the middle of this crisis…and for those who help in all sorts of ways all over the world. I pray that they will be supported and not forgotten as they love people who are hurting and cold and in need.

I’m praying for the children in our own country who feel so desperate that they bring guns to school and open fire on their classmates. I’m praying that those who hate others because of the color of their skin or their differences of opinions would find a way through to love.

I’m praying that we will understand what it truly means to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us instead of retaliating with hate and violence.

I’m praying that Americans would choose to be informed about the world and to care less about red cups.

What if every time we wanted to complain about someone or something or a group of people that thinks or lives differently, we redirected that energy to love?  What if we kept our mouths shut about things that don’t matter and every time we keep our mouths shut we bless the world by donating five bucks to something we support instead? What if instead of complaining about how stupid people are (when we don’t even known them), we choose to walk next door and knock and ask our neighbor if they’re doing okay?

I’m guilty of anger and frustration and defensiveness just as much as the next guy, but what if I just stopped and turned my attentions towards love?

Would you do something good for the world today? Even if that means bringing your neighbor a cupcake? Even if that means choosing one cause to pray about every day for the rest of this month?

Would you share this blog post with a friend and join together to feed or clothe someone in your neighborhood today?

And when you do, would you reply in the comments and tell everyone what you’re doing for the world?

Today, I’m praying.  And I have a half filled box of goodies that is waiting to add a winter coat before it gets shipped off to my friend working with refugees in Croatia.

If you don’t know where to start, would you consider doing one of the following things?

Consider what your cause is today and donate $1 or $5 or $50.

Want to help Syrian refugees? – This organization is helping refugees all over Europe and is the one said friend works with in Croatia.  Or donate to the Red Cross which helps daily in countries all over the world.  Or message me and I’ll send you an address of where you can mail supplies to people working with refugees in need of warm clothes and clean underwear.

Want to give a Christmas (or holiday) gift to a kid who won’t otherwise get one? Send a shoebox full of goodies for the cost of what’s inside plus $7.

Care about foster kids? Check out Covenant House or Five Acres or Google search an organization in your area.

Care about foster kids AND like Wendy’s frosties? Support the Dave Thomas Foundation.

Help the victims in Paris.

Do a quick Google search for homeless shelters or food pantries in your area. When you buy your can of green beans for next week’s green bean casserole, buy an extra and drop it off to someone who needs it. Don’t think there are options to help near you? I grew up in a town of less than 9000 people in northern Wisconsin and there’s a homeless shelter within walking distance from my childhood home. You just have to look.

Say hello and smile at the grocery clerk today. Hold the door open for someone when you’re in a hurry. Stop yourself from posting that negative comment on someone’s Facebook post. Just let it go.

Notice the people around you and hug the neck of someone who needs it.  Hell, hug everyone.  Hugs are free.

Don’t worry about whether your offering to the world feels too small. It isn’t. Offer your best you. Offer love and not hate. Offer peace and not discord.

If today is a bad day for you, give yourself grace and ask someone for help to remind yourself that you also deserve to receive love.  And then remember to look for the next time it’s your turn to be on the giving end.

My heart hurts today. But it feels a little lighter knowing we’re all in this together.

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