by: Anna Nash
"No, this is not my country! It just couldn't be!"
Waking up to the picture that my cousin David Crabb posted this morning overpowered me. As I looked at the very disturbing images I said to my husband, "I feel like the caption to this picture should be, "Foreigners Turn to Violence in the Midst of a Heated Campaign of Political Leaders." It seemed this should be in a place on the other side of the world. Disturbing is an understatement.
A few months back I wrote a blog post that was a letter written to a talk show host. I'm re-posting a part of it here. At the time I wrote it I never dreamed it would become more and more relevant as the months passed.
"I believe that the change we are longing to see in this country is going to start deep inside the hearts of people, and not in D.C. Change won’t even start within the church...even right here in the Bible belt of Alabama until true change takes place in souls within the church! Until we believe that we were created by God to be a part of the bigger story we will NEVER begin to see a difference in our world. People here in Birmingham and beyond have forgotten. We have forgotten what we were made for and why. We have become lazy, comfortable and consuming people who are self absorbed in so many ways. Folks around here are hoping for a new government official, a new pastor, a new plan to bring change. We have forgotten about organic change that comes from grass roots movements. Many here feel invincible...thinking that things happening around the world won't happen here. A “someone else can do it” mentality has saturated so many communities.
Well, just like you, I had an epiphany a few years ago that God was going to do something mighty in the Magic City of Birmingham. Of course, He would choose a city where such a horrible thing had happened to bring light and redemption. All eyes are on us, I know. What a joy that our city of Birmingham would be the picture of redemption, love and change in the US! If we could change anybody can! Nothing would thrill me more than God's favor here on us and through us to a seeking people.
Since I believe we should each play our part (Be the change you want to see!), I have gathered a community here in Birmingham (and now beyond) called Beacon People. We are about guiding, connecting and inspiring purpose driven people. There are some pretty amazing grass roots groups here in Birmingham who want to be a part of the Bigger Story! I'm walking on sidewalks, sitting in coffee shops, singing in church and meeting with folks all around who are beginning to realize that true change in our culture will have to start from within. People who are willing to do the hard work of making a difference and are living for something greater than themselves are becoming ignited!"
I, like so many, am beginning to give up hope. My definition of hope is believing that tomorrow can be different than today. We have given up hope of how we can personally make a difference. The culture and the media around us have subtly won us over. What if I told you the answer might be much simpler than you think? Stepping outside of ourselves, reaching out in unique and grace filled ways, I believe will overcome these adversities. Accepting others. Offering hope. Showing you care. Mother Teresa understood this. She said, "I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples."
And then there is Henri Nouwen's perspective that I love.
"More and more, the desire grows in me simply to walk around, greet people, enter their homes, sit on their doorsteps, play ball, throw water, and be known as someone who wants to live with them. It is a privilege to have the time to practice this simple ministry of presence. Still, it is not as simple as it seems. My own desire to be useful, to do something significant, or to be part of some impressive project is so strong that soon my time is taken up by meetings, conferences, study groups, and workshops that prevent me from walking the streets. It is difficult not to have plans, not to organize people around an urgent cause, and not to feel that you are working directly for social progress. But I wonder more and more if the first thing shouldn’t be to know people by name, to eat and drink with them, to listen to their stories and tell your own, and to let them know with words, handshakes, and hugs that you do not simply like them, but truly love them.”
Grace wins. I'm seeing this more clearly with each passing day. Jesus taught us this but I forget and need reminding daily. Someone sent me this and I have no idea who wrote it but I'm embracing it today...this year...this election. May we all have the God-given grace to be the change we want to see in our country. Revive us again!
And let us not lose hope in doing good, for in due time, we shall reap if we do not grow weary. Galatians 6:9
Here is an amazing video of people in Birmingham and beyond who are doing their small part in the bigger story to make a difference.