This is getting simpler.
I’ve recently found a clearing of sorts; a place where my mind and my spirit are finding peace and rest no matter how loud and ugly things get—though it wasn’t always this way.
For a long time I let the angry, mean-spirited, violent noise get the best of me. That happens to so many good people out here trying to change things, trying to care about stuff that matters, trying to help build the world they wish to see.
Spend enough time in the thick of the fight and you become conditioned to it, poisoned by its cynicism and contempt, hardened by its continual cruelty. Face the world in a battle posture long enough and you lose the ability to live any other way.
Too many people can only function if they have a villain to war with, a cause to rail against, an evil to condemn.
I’m conscientiously objecting to that fruitless war these days. I am trying to find a better way to fight.
More and more, I am letting what and who I care deeply about drive and move and fuel me. It allows me simplicity and clarity:
I abhor racism and bigotry, so I strive to see and treat all people equally and individually.
I detest homophobia and transphobia, so I care for and support my LGBTQ brothers and sisters and their families.
I believe all people have the same inherent value, so I push back when that value is disregarded or disputed.
I believe no religious tradition has the market cornered and beauty and truth, so I advocate for all faith perspective, not simply my own.
I believe fully in gender equality, so I do my best to advocate it.
I find poverty detestable, so I look for ways to contribute to eliminating it.
I can’t stomach hatred in the name of Jesus, so as a Christian I try daily to reflect Christ’s love as well as I can as often as I can.
In short—I am learning to live and love offensively.
I no longer allow myself to be burdened with those who see me as an enemy. Their perceptions are formed from a distance anyway, and so I simply refuse to be defined by them. The more you know who you are, the less threatened you are when someone attacks you and the less interested you are in attacking back.
I am not very concerned with convincing others to agree with me either. I simply speak my heart clearly and continually and unwaveringly, trusting that those whose hearts echo mine will come alongside me while those who disagree will still be forced to hear me.
I spend less and less time these days being baited into verbal public battles, as those rarely do anything for the dignity of either side. I do not feed those who thrive on confrontation, as it takes my time and energy from those who need me; those who are so often forgotten, ignored, or drowned out by the din of social media shouting matches and endless culture wars.
More and more, I simply live to be the antidote to the things I find hurtful or damaging in the world, rather than arguing with those I believe are being hurtful or damaging. There are certainly times to identify dangers and to call out injustice, but those pale in comparison to the countless moments that simply require personal goodness.
Friends, there will always be those whose medium is vitriol, whose currency is condemnation, whose agenda is provocation, but resist responding in kind because that only conforms you to their image.
If you claim Christ, until you have a Christianity without venom you don’t have one that resembles Jesus quite yet. As a person of faith, this is the only kind of religion I am interested in.
Maybe you are like me. Maybe you’re bloodied and weary of the fight, but finding your second wind and discovering a better path, one less mired in sarcasm and less toxic to touch.
Maybe you’re intentionally walking away from the war trenches, so that you can move toward the hurting, the unloved, the waiting—and respond.
If so, welcome.
This is the beginning of a holy movement in the world.
This is the stuff real revolutions are made of.
May you fight well.
May you learn to love offensively.