Loving in the Divide


I am tired of conflict.  I am tired of the small conflict that happens between child siblings and that happens between co-workers and that happens between roommates.  I am tired of the large conflicts that happen in churches, in marriages, between neighbors and in families.  I am tired of the generational conflicts that happen between nations, tribes and cultures.  I am tired of the blame, the wounds that can’t heal, and the blindness of both victimizer and victim to our own contribution to the division.

But more than even the existence of conflict, which is with us until all things are made new, is the question of how to exist in it.  We are compelled to choose a side, but want to be sure it is the winning side.  But choosing a side is rarely choosing people, not even the person on that side, but often more about personal identification instead.  I get lost in the setting and forget the characters.  I feel the feelings of others, their agitation, their sense of being judged, their desire to be approved and yet feeling disapproval, their weariness of being patient, their confusion over the wrong committed, their inability to see as the other person sees and the reality that they may be entering with very different goals even from the beginning.

I want white people globally to care about the world’s history of favoring lighter skinned humans over darker ones, and how this reality may not be apparent to people in light skin but is experienced in big and small ways every single day by the darker skinned folks.  I would like the darker skinned humans, who have born with patience this injustice since the beginning of time, to by grace alone continue to resist the reasonable solution to demonize all lighter skinned participants in this system (which is all of us) because we haven’t collectively figured out how to correct the macro-course yet.  I want highly logical processors to be gracious with highly emotional processors and in return, for those highly emotional processors to assume the best of the logical friend’s perspective.  I want the humans who are deeply focused on moral codes to love better, and the humans who are deeply focused on inclusion to include those moral code focused folks too.

I judge my neighbor, my friends, my family and myself.  I want peace.  I want every incorrectly phrased thought not to be weighed as if it is the final plea before a firing wall. I want to be human in all the error and sloppiness that entails, without the judgment and increasingly too expensive cost of not doing or saying it “correctly”.  I want the freedom to be in process.

Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.  There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?  James 4:11-12

Grace.  I need grace.  I need grace to have spoken too soon, to have said too much, to be misunderstood or properly understood and resented.  I need grace to be called a racist and to examine where in fact there is truth to that accusation.  I need grace to be inaccurately counted among the “all those (fill in the blank)” and to endure it as a small taste of what others have lived in for their whole existence.  I need grace to sit in conflict and let it remain unresolved today, tomorrow and maybe until Jesus comes back.  I need to remove myself and my approval rating from the list of prerequisites to love freely and well.  I need to be less concerned with my reputation in a conflict and with my need to emerge unscathed.  Need less, love more, right?  I cannot love well or generously until it isn’t about me at all.  To be liked or disliked, to be approved or judged harshly, or judged mildly for that matter, should all be irrelevant to the way I love others.

But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,  bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.  To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either.   Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back.   And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them.  And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.  And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount.  But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.  Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:27-36