In a recent conversation on racism in America, I caught myself telling someone that “loving each other” hasn’t worked out so well for us! I then demanded a strategy for change instead. What can we “DO?!”It sounds silly, but “loving each other hasn’t worked” is legitimately what came out my mouth, and a more specified plan of action sounded like a way better means to the end. I’ll tag my own statement before you do – that’s heresy.When it came out, I realized it’s a real belief I have. I really believe love is outdated, and I have chosen a Plan B. How do I know?
- I stand for people because I “love” them, and grow an increasing distaste and resentment for the people who don’t!
- From a place of “love” for others I haven’t met many of, I vocalize my bitterness in conversations with my friends, and wonder if the world will ever change.
- I’m proud that “I get it” while judging other people who don’t, either for their outright hate or their subtle ignorance.
- I speak on behalf of people that feel voiceless, yet don’t always take the time to ask them what they would want to me to communicate on whatever platform I have.
- I act like I know what I and other white people need to hear. I inform their mind with what they should think, rather than let their heart be exposed to reality and grapple with it in their own personal way.
And if that’s love, then I’ve proved my point: Love isn’t enough! We’ve all done it!
Where did we learn how to do it?! We grew up in church*.
It wasn’t till I got in a debate with someone I care for that I realized my strong pushback against his “LOVE.period” stance probably wasn’t Biblical. Then I realized we are both sort of right – but he probably is more so right.
It is about love. Period.
And sometimes social campaigns are necessary. We just can’t get them confused.
We can have love without the other. We cannot have a the other without love. We can have nothing without love.
Love in it’s truest is not only an emotion – it’s an action. It’s not a fluffy action either – it’s invasive and in your face. I have often claimed to know nothing about human love, but what I do know is that it encompasses everything in your heart, mind and emotions. It makes you giddy in a brain fog, and a tenacious warrior at the same time. You become a slave to fighting for it and for anything you believe in related to it. It makes you care for yourself and others in a highly motivating way that no sacrifice seems to great. Love actually transforms. It empowers. It changes things.
Maybe the deal isn’t that “love one another” hasn’t worked.
Maybe it’s that we’ve had a clanging symbol void of love (1 Cor. 13:1-2). Maybe it’s because someone tried to fit their “actionable love” into a program and tell other people to love like that too. Maybe we somehow have diminished the powerful love that Jesus displayed that actually never failed. Maybe we tried to act like love, instead of becoming it, and it felt really really costly.
If “love” can fit in a time frame, a budget, or a 3-step approach that looks the same for every human to accomplish and check the box on, it’s probably not “loving your neighbor” – it’s probably a social justice campaign. I’m not against social justice campaigns (remember, I tried to forsake love for them), but to ensure I don’t carry out a strategy without the power that will make it work (Love), I’ll need to call a campaign a campaign. I’ll need to call out my own lack of love, and I’ll need to call on my heart to begin leading the way.
It’s good when my heart breaks for others; it’s good when it’s tender. It’s good to be able to look an intruder in the eye and tell him why his actions so move you to tears. It’s good to be able to communicate without hate. It’s good to look different than the media, and I’m so incredibly grateful for those who have. Your words, how you speak, the comfort you release in the toughest of conversations, have paved the way for grace to invade for everyone and love to expand, and we will be changed from the inside out.
* “Grew up in church”: specifically western denominationalism. I love the Church).