Last night a piece of my favorite nativity broke. It’s so easy to break things. It’s so much harder and slower to fix them. Looking at my nativity and thinking about San Bernardino and the other more than 30 murders by guns that happen every day in the United States, I started thinking. What can we really do? Fixing things is hard. Change is hard.
As I watch the response from various groups I see a theme. As a mother I see this same thing played out every day. It’s the blame game. My children excel at this game. When something breaks or someone gets hurt, they can be very creative in redirecting the responsibility. They have even started blaming their baby sister on occasion, though she is barely crawling. My favorite child blame story involves my brother. He discovered his computer screen decorated with a permanent marker. When he confronted the marker wielding child she said “Don’t you remember, Dad? You did it!”
Blaming, at it’s core, is plea for that person over there to change. I myself am fine and all my actions are justifiable and explainable…that person over there however…definitely the problem. We blame the other side for not doing what we want, climbing quickly onto our soap boxes and far away from the mess and the actual problem. We shout each other down, alienating all sorts of people in the process, then climb down feeling like we have “done something”. We do WANT to do something. We want desperately to end violence. We don’t want people to die. We don’t want people to be that sad. We don’t want to have our own peaceful world rocked by the reminder that such horrible things happen. We want there to not be orphans. We want there to not be empty seats around tables.
At the same time we feel powerless. All of our opinions, no matter how cleverly shared, don’t tend to change the opinions of others much. We are frequently, blessedly, far away from the hurt and can not fix anything. When we are close to those who have been hurt we are far more aware that…we can’t make someone unhurt.
We can not change other people.
What if we contained all of our desire to change and fix and turned it inward? What if each of us simply…loved those around us. It is definitely not simple. It is not easy. There is not obvious if then…if I don’t lose it on that idiot driver, then there won’t be murders today.
But, what if we can do something? What if choosing to be loving instead of offended…reduces the violence?
Am I violent? I was raised in a beautiful home with two parents and always had food on my table. I ran around playing kick the can and creating things through my childhood.I have definitely had an easy life. Can I be completely non-violent? What is my excuse for raising my voice or losing my temper? What is my excuse for my anger today?
The thing is I HAVE an excuse ready! Husband and I were standing in the cold after midnight, trying to figure out how to fix the sewer system. Then the baby woke up, then an hour later the 7 year old woke up, then she woke up the 2 year old and I was up with them until 5am. There. That’s not a bad excuse. I’m tired! Really tired. Tired because I was loving people. See! Aren’t I great! Doesn’t that sound like a bad night? Don’t I deserve to be grumpy?
We can all think of reasons to be mean or to just not love the people around us.
Pause a minute and think of someone in your immediate circle who is hard to love right now. Someone that’s maybe been niggling into your thoughts, that is easily pushed aside so you can catch up with your show, or respond to that text or just take a break for a minute REALLY would that be too much to ask?
What if everyone did this? What if we all just tried a little harder.
It won’t be automatic. It won’t be quick and it will not be easy.
It’s just…if you are sitting in a dark room, legislating light bulbs and pray for light does not make the darkness go away in the room. Neither does debating darkness or light. We must, ourselves, get up and turn on the light. Maybe someone else is closer to the light switch, or we did it last time, or goodness! are we still children?
Today is absolutely a time of anger, and hatred and violence. We can discuss legislation. We can pray. We should do both of those things. Yet the only thing that can actually counter the hatred and anger…is love. Forgiving, self controlling, biting our tongue, getting up one more time, love. It’s refusing to let bad things happen on your watch, standing up for the little guy, giving when it’s hard love. It’s trying one more time, and again, and yes I know you’re tired, but keep trying love. It’s love because that is powerful. It works like wind and water…slow and steady but it can cut through anything. Even violence. It’s love because that involves changing me. And that’s the only person I can ever change.
So I’m going to fix my nativity. And I’m going to love some people.
Britt grew up in a family of six brothers and one sister and gained a bonus sister later. She camped in the High Sierras, canoed down the Colorado, and played volleyball at Brigham Young University. She then served a mission to South Africa. With all of her time in the gym and the mountains and South Africa, she was totally prepared to become the mother of 2 sons and soon to be 9 daughters. By totally prepared she means willing to love them and muddle through everything else in a partially sleepless state. She is mostly successful at figuring out how to keep the baby clothed, or at least diapered, though her current toddler is challenging this skill. She feels children naturally love to learn and didn’t want to disrupt childhood curiosity with worksheets and school bells. She loves to play in the dirt, read books, go on adventures, watch her children discover new things, and mentor her children. Her oldest child is currently at a community college and her oldest son is going to high school at a public school. She loves to follow her children in their unique paths and interests. She loves to write because, unlike the laundry and the dishes, writing stays done. Whenever someone asks her how she does it all she wonders what in the world they think she’s doing.