I was driving on a road that normally takes two minutes; it took me forty to reach my destination. I thought that there had been a car accident because I could see a car angled and a few people hugging on the side of the road. Caught in this gridlock, I sat in my car. Eventually, I realized that there had not been an accident. It was the first day of school, and the fifth and sixth grade building and middle school were letting out at the same time. I calmly called my chiropractor’s office to let them know that I was detained due to after-school traffic.
Later that evening, I made the mistake of checking our neighborhood Facebook page to see if the event was noted. Regretfully, I got drawn into unfolding drama. I posted comments. I responded to other posts. One woman wrote to me saying how dare I complain given what people in Afghanistan are going through! In less than a couple of posts, I had turned into a mad, wild woman.
I am a Nine on the Enneagram, which is often known as a peacemaker. I see all the “sides.” Lately, however, I find myself seeing only one side as being right, and I have become angry and ready for a fight! I am worn out with what’s happening in our country and in the world at large. It’s just too much. It’s making me anything but a woman filled with peace.
On the night of the traffic jam, I went to bed without telling my husband about the rant fest I had gotten involved in. I felt ashamed and foolish. It took longer than usual to fall asleep because of the cortisol coursing through my body, mind, and spirit. I got up an hour or more before the sun rose and began deleting every Facebook neighborhood reply or comment I had written…all but one.
When I was finished with my task, I opened my Bible and happened on Micah 6:8. In The Message, it reads:
“But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, and don’t take yourself too seriously…take God seriously.”
The New International Version reads:
“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
By this standard I got an F in justice, an F in mercy, and a D- in humility (I did at least feel a pinch of grief).
I am more “war torn” than settled and less aligned with what I know to be true about a redeemed heart.
We are flawed people living in a world that is still in a pandemic and periled by global warming, racial trauma, political polarization, Afghanistan, gun violence, an opioid crisis, a deepening division between the rich and poor, vaccine disagreements, and a state named Texas. I have too often chosen sides and care more about finding my people than about listening to other perspectives.
This most recent irruption of vitriol on my part has helped me (again) see who I want to be and what it means to be gospel wild.
I need to be more committed to justice than indulging my privilege or demanding others submit to my desires. After all, justice is doing right for those on the margins of power and influence and creating a context for all people to thrive. Acting justly in my car would have included praying for and thanking every teacher I meet for their brilliance and enormous sacrifice in educating our children in the direst of circumstances.
Acting justly must kiss mercy, or the activist will be consumed by her own anger and frustration. Loving mercy begins with knowing how much I need grace without ignoring my need for forgiveness. There is nothing wilder than playing together in the fields and flowers of mercy. Mercy can’t ignore the cry for justice, nor can the call for justice forget our need for tender care.
Finally, I need to walk with ferocity toward justice. And to do so with a heart that sings the lament to keep my soul tender. No one can do this well, so I will be off tune and stumbling forward. This exasperates me. I hate failure. I hate it more than being unjust or unloving. Lord, have mercy. Lord Jesus, please help me bring my unjust ways to an end.
Becky Allender lives on Bainbridge Island with her loving, wild husband of 42 years. A mother and grandmother, she is quite fond of sunshine, yoga, Hawaiian quilting, and creating 17th Century reproduction samplers. A community of praying women, loving Jesus, and the art of gratitude fill her life with goodness. She wonders what she got herself into with Red Tent Living! bs