Conflicted. Caught in the middle. Confused.
That's how I'm feeling a lot these days. There is a tectonic shift going on in our country and around the world and everyone around me seems to think they know the right way to respond to so many things. There are no shortage of opinions on Facebook, in casual conversation, in restaurant bathrooms, at the gym. And it feels like everyone thinks they have the answer. And if they don't have the answer, then their candidate of choice has the answer.
My problem is that I'm not able to see the answers as clearly as everyone around me. Just when something makes sense to me - I see or hear another perspective that makes equal sense.
For example, a bunch of my Facebook friends have been posting pictures of the Nativity and claiming that since Jesus, Mary and Joseph were refugees - if we aren't accepting refugees we are denying Jesus. The first time I saw someone post that on Facebook I thought, "Huh. Good point." But the more I thought about it - I thought how hurtful that is to someone who doesn't share that opinion. Are you saying they are less Christian or even not Christian? And by doing that, aren't you accomplishing the opposite of what you set out to accomplish which is creating a spirit of welcome?
Then I see someone posting pictures of refugees-turned-terrorists around the world - and I think - "Huh. Another good point." Let's not make ourselves more vulnerable to evil. Until I realize that fear has gripped me and I'm giving into exactly what the terrorists want. Plus, I know that the God of scripture is a God who invites us to practice radical hospitality to the stranger. Which brings me full-circle back to the whole Nativity picture. But that's not where I want to be either!
So - I'm conflicted. Caught in the middle. Confused. I'm realizing that I'm neither as liberal as my liberal friends nor as conservative as my conservative friends. Then again, conservative and liberal are labels that don't even resonate with me anymore so I'm left shaking my head and wondering if anyone else feels the same way I do.
What is the hardest for me to understand is that we seem to be in a place where we have forgotten how to listen to one another and honor one another's opinions. It seems to me that right now in our world NO ONE and I truly mean NO ONE has the right answer. Obviously, what we are doing isn't working. Racism is still rampant, terrorism is frightening, my daughter keeps asking me if this is what World War III looks like. Muslims and Christians are scared of one another, Christians are pointing their finger at other Christians and coming down on polar opposite ends of every single issue - and where is Jesus in all of this mess?
I'm just wondering aloud if there is a third way. Not your way, and not my way. But God's way.
There is no candidate for anything that is going to fix the mess that we are in. There is no president of any nation, no leader of any organization, no commander in chief who is going to march us all in the same direction.
So - is there a third way? Is there a way that we could approach one another with more questions and fewer answers? Is there a way we could let love lead? Is there a way that we could find Jesus together in all of this? Because quite frankly, he seems to have gotten lost in the mess.
Not that this is surprising news. The very first thing we say in our Baptism service in the Lutheran church is "We are born children of a fallen humanity." No kidding. You don't have to look very far these days to be reminded of that simple truth.
"But by water and the Spirit, we are re-born Children of God." Re-born. That sounds quite wonderful right now. Re-born. Is it possible that we could set aside our agendas for just one second and allow Christ to be born anew in this world and in our lives? Could we ask, pray, beg God to show us a new way? The third way? Not my way, not your way - but God's way? I do not claim to know what God's way is in any of these situations, but I do know that it begins with all of us admitting that we are broken.
I am broken, I know that for sure. I am broken and flinging myself on the Amazing Grace of the One who gave His life that I might be re-born. And if there's anything that makes sense to me right now, it's that God loves each of us the same. In our fumbling, messy ways, God looks at each of us and says, "You are my child." Now - if we could start looking at one another through God's eyes - that's where we will find new life.