Monday, July 30, 2018

A Social Life


“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid” - John 14:27



I sat hunched over in the chair, elbows on my knees, iPhone in my hands. 
There was a tightness in my chest and a slight sick feeling in my stomach. 
As my right thumb hovered over the Facebook icon, I was at the same time anticipating and dreading opening the app. 
Not because I was fearful of what I would see or read or hear, but rather, I was fearful of opening Pandora’s Box once again. 

For two weeks, I had completely stepped away from social media. 
I was taking a long needed vacation with my family to my happiest place, the Coast of Maine, and I decided I wanted to totally disconnect from all the noise in my everyday world, so much of which comes from my social media accounts. 
While I was away, I had decided to check out, take a break, step away, shut down for maintenance, tune out….all of the above. 

Most importantly, I was giving my heart and soul and mind a rest.

I’ve been so tired, weary actually, and I was welcoming peace back into my overwhelmed days. Not only had my daily life been unusually full of activity, my online life had seemed to suck up my ‘free’ minutes more and more as I escaped into the lives of other people. 
Those minutes quickly became crowded with news and videos and stories and updates and photos and LIFE! 
All of which was being shared in seemingly rapid-fire succession by friends and strangers alike. 
Most times I would click into the app and immediately get sucked into the scroll. Like some perverted machine gun of information, my Facebook feed would shoot out all the life happenings of everyone I’m ‘friends’ with on that little screen. And the physical world around me became dimmer as I grew oblivious to the flesh and blood people near me and instead, entranced with the happenings of people that I couldn’t touch or see or hear. 
And it just felt wrong. 

My self-imposed hiatus from social media was surprisingly, completely freeing. I’d been nervous about how I would handle being off the grid for such a long time and happily, it enabled me to right the ship so to speak. 
While on vacation, I didn’t miss my accounts one iota. Instead, I was able to be fully present with my family; fully present in the moments both shared and solitary. I felt no pull towards the scroll, no ‘need’ to share the minutiae of my day for perhaps the first time in years. 
I had given myself permission to become private again. Simply enjoying my hours free of the need for shares and likes and comments. I loved it, and that shocked me. 
And it bothers me that I’m so shocked by the peace I found.

Some of my Facebook ‘friends’ are truly that, people I have a deep and abiding friendship and connection with, and I LOVE keeping up with their lives. 
Some ‘friends’ are family members who live far away, but we can stay connected easily with a touch of that blue icon. 
I’m grateful for that on so many levels.
But in all honesty, most of my ‘friends’ I only know through social media because of our shared interests. And usually it’s only one interest. 
It’s these one-dimensional connections that I struggle with the most. 

I’m asking myself “Has my world grown too large?” 
By having so many ‘friends’ have I given too much permission for others to have a piece of my life? 
There’s so much pressure to perform when you’re active on social media. 
Pressure to post, to like, to comment, to share. 
Pressure to live up to others expectations of you, pressure to participate, to join, to contribute. 

But what if I can’t or perhaps, simply don’t want to participate all the time?

I feel as if it’s almost a social affront to not be active on social media to some degree. If you don’t see a certain post you’re suddenly out of the loop and others are surprised. If you miss a birthday or an illness or a surgery or a passing of a loved one, it’s a social offense. I’ve heard “Well, I posted it on Facebook….” so many times. 
And yes, I’ve felt guilty for missing what was clearly important to that person.

We can claim to be victims of an algorithm but the reality is we’ve created and unknowingly bought into this false expectation that if we’re ‘friends’ on social media then we must certainly be aware of all that’s being posted. 
This is tough place. 
And the truth is, we don’t want to feel guilty any more than we want to feel imposed upon. But it’s a feeling based on the same principle as returning a text, an email or a phone message. 
It’s an expectation of a response when you didn’t even invite the contact. And simply being on social media or accepting a friend request shouldn’t mean your door is always open to the world at large.

My world used to be small enough to keep up with my friends. 
To really be a friend to my friends. 
I had time and energy and desire to participate in their lives and it brought me joy. 
Relationships are how we survive as humans - God created us for relationship with each other. And while it’s true that social media allows us a greater and more simplified ability to connect with each other, it’s also allowed us to become what we aren’t meant to be - exhausted. 
Because I love my friends and love being in relationship with them, I feel this emotional pressure keenly, but the truth is that no one can be all things to all people. That’s the job of our Creator and even though we are to work to be like Him, we cannot and will never be Him. 

The week I stayed off social media turned into two and the peace I felt from that decision only grew stronger each day. I was more mentally and emotionally rested than I had been in ages and I had more meaningful conversations with people I value. I wasn’t tempted to constantly check my phone for notifications because I hadn’t posted anything. 
And because I wasn’t checking my phone, I was fully involved in each moment. 
That little box in my hand wasn’t controlling me, I was controlling it. 
And it felt good. Very, very good. 

You may wonder, so what now? 
Well, I’m wondering the same. 
To be honest, I’m not sure where I go from here, but I do know that I’m not letting go of my newfound peace easily. I like being in control of how I spend my online minutes and I also recognize that I’m not willing to give up what’s good about being on social media. 

I’m going to start with giving myself permission to not always respond to the posts of others. 
That’s not an indication of a lack of caring for others, it’s an indication that I respect myself and my time and I don’t tacitly accept the expectations of others. 

Secondly, I’m going to try and stop concerning myself with the likes and comments and shares my posts receive. If I’m truly posting because I want to, because I see value in it or want to share a moment then it simply should be that. 
Because I want to. 
And if others see value in it and want to like, comment or share, then that’s a lovely thing. 
I don’t believe social media should be a popularity contest - it’s turned into one for many, but I don’t want to be caught in that comparison trap any longer. It’s exhausting and brings with it a whole host of other problems. I’m saying ‘no more’ and I encourage you to do the same. 
Our worth and value comes from our identity in Christ Jesus and it will never be found in the approval of others. Especially in the form of thumbs up or little hearts. 

So, giving myself permission to not always respond means that I have to remove my expectation that others will always respond to me. 
Respond to my posts because it touches you or makes you feel happy or thoughtful or if it brings you joy - but I’ll no longer assume it doesn’t because you don’t. 
A response shouldn’t be a duty, but because you genuinely want to. And I know you know the difference. 

Of course, this is only a small start. A drop in the proverbial bucket. 
But perhaps changing our expectations of each other will go a long way towards bringing some peace and control into our online lives. 

Perhaps not, but it’s so worth trying. 
If you’re like me, you want real; you need real. 
In person, face to face; a phone call, voice to voice; a handwritten word in the mailbox can touch the heart in a way that communicating over social media cannot. 

I challenge you to step away too for a set time - on your terms, certainly, but give enough separation that you can feel the distance and find the peace that comes with it. 
If you do, message me, let me know and I’ll pray for you during your hiatus.

Are you up for it? 
If you’re my friend, I know you are.



Thursday, June 21, 2018

We Start With Love


I am so tired today.
No, not tired actually.
I’m bone-deep, dog-tired weary.
My head hurts and my heart hurts and I just want to scream - “STOP IT!”


Like so many of you, everywhere I turn on tv, print media or social media these past
few days, I’ve been bombarded with the immigration story.
It dominates everyone’s news feed and virtually no one lacks an opinion.
And I’ve been taken aback by how hateful and judgmental and
disrespectful people have been to each other because they don’t agree.
I’m not sure, but I feel like this is worse than it was during the election cycle of 2016.


Over the past few days as the vitriol gets louder and is spewed higher and farther,
I’ve read so many barbed comments and un-loving words shared in the interest of
“educating” or “providing insight”.
And I’m not talking about celebrities or the pundits and talking heads.
I could care less what they think most days - their words don’t have the power to
affect my life in the slightest.
It’s the Pastors and leaders in the faith that I look up to, the people I call friends,
the people whose opinion I value - most of them fellow Christians - that have surprised
and dismayed me most.


I’ve read that you can’t be a “Christian” if you hate “what’s happening” yet still want to
see the law upheld.
I’ve read that the Bible is being misused, misconstrued and misrepresented by Christians who
simply don’t understand it.
I’ve read that you can’t be a “Christian” if you identify with a political party (either side).
I’ve read that if you support the government you are like a nazi.


Can we just stop?


What part of “they’ll know we are Christians by our love” don’t we understand?
What happened to “Love God, love people”?
Or do we now only love ‘those’ people? (whoever that might be but it’s definitely
not your fellow Christian you’re ‘calling out’)


You know, I get it.
I really do.
You’re upset and disturbed and heart-broken by the seemingly endless news-cycles
piling on and on and on - story after story, photo after gut-wrenching photo.
We’re all upset by it. To not be upset by it would indicate that we don’t have a heart.
That’s another accusation Christians have been slinging around lately.
Really?
Shouldn’t we be better than this?

We Christians should be the last ones to ‘assume’ anything about each other.
The one thing we all have in common (Christian and non-Christian alike) is sin.
The one thing all Christians have in common is Jesus.
We will never all agree on anything except that.
Jesus, and our faith in him, is The ONE thing that should unify us.
And he is THE most important thing.
So, isn’t it time that we put aside our ugly words and hateful, condescending hearts and
judgmental thoughts and remember to first LOVE each other?
All of this shade we’re throwing at each other is exactly what the enemy wants us to
be doing and he’s pretty darn happy with his work right now.
That’s nothing for us to be proud of - in fact, we need to be running from it as far and as
fast as we can.


I personally don’t care what your opinion is of this issue;
what your opinion of me and my opinion is;
or what you know or don’t know about what’s going on.
What I do care passionately about is Christians showing love and grace to other Christians
- even when we disagree.
Because if the Church, who is dearly loved and called to purpose by Jesus,
can’t love each other and show that to the world,
how are we ever to expect the world to be changed and saved by him?


Let’s not let the enemy win this one Christians.

He doesn’t define us, but our love for each other most certainly does.



Tuesday, October 17, 2017

#metoo - What I'm Thinking



It’s on every social media site these past few days. 
6 keyboard characters that have created a public firestorm out of our private hells. 
And in case you’re wondering, yes, 

#metoo

As I scroll through my account feeds, time and again I see these words posted by friend after friend after friend. 
I want to reach through the screen and hug them tight. 
I want to tell them that what happened to them before doesn’t have to define them now. 
I want to tell them that they are loved and valued and cherished and they are absolutely NOT what someone in their past tried to make them into. 

And for every #metoo I see, I wonder how many more are out there, unseen. 
Their pain and their shame and their fear holding them hostage to a past they don’t know how to escape no matter how much they try. My heart breaks for them. 

I have a lot of thoughts about all of this painful pot-stirring. 
A lot of random thoughts, but the one that’s most insistent in my mind is this:

I may be #metoo but I am not a victim. 
I am a victor. 

The uninvited touching and harassments I experienced as early as elementary school are things that happened TO me. 
Those events caused me fear and shattered my trust in some people and institutions that I’d been taught to respect. 
Those events, in some ways, changed how I viewed the world around me and the men in my life as I grew into adulthood. 
But those men aren’t every man and they don’t represent the men in my life who have loved me and cherished me and valued me. 
Just as those events that happened TO me, in no way, shape or form define me. 

I am not a victim and those events don’t define me because I’ve made a choice. 
A few choices actually. 
Choices that wouldn’t be possible in my strength alone. 

I’ve chosen to look forward instead of behind me. 
My life is in front of me. 
Living in shame and fear and pain only hurts me - and those I love. It has no effect on the ones who caused me pain. 
Their power over me was in the pain they inflicted and I have chosen to not allow them that power by letting them take up space in my head. 
I’d much rather fill that space with joy and grace and peace. 
Characteristics my abusers will likely never understand.

I’ve chosen to use what happened to me to educate my daughter.
To teach her that she is loved and cherished and valued, no matter what. 
I’m not naive by any means, I know that she has been and will be objectified, demeaned and yes, she may yet be abused - God forbid. 
But by teaching her and showing her how to embrace the truth of who she is, and how deeply she is loved, it lessens any power that someone’s evil intentions or actions might have on her. 


I’ve chosen to forgive. 
As someone who has been forgiven so much in my life, I cannot hold back forgiveness for someone else. 
I serve a Jesus who gave up his life so that all could be forgiven for their sins and their shame. 

All. 

It’s a hard truth, but Jesus died for my abusers on the same cross that he died on for me. 

And if I’m being honest, sometimes I hate that truth. 

But I love my Jesus. 
And it’s he who has healed me. 
He who has made me clean and whole and new again. 
He tells me to trust him, to follow him and leave the pain and shame in the past where it belongs. 

My life is in him. 
His grace defines me and he has forgiven me my sin. 
And He calls me to hard things like forgiveness. 
Very hard things like praying for those who have hurt me. 
Praying that they find peace and healing freedom in him as well. 

Forgiveness doesn’t mean that they don’t deserve justice - on the contrary. 
We serve a just God who will call all of us to account for what we’ve done.
But forgiveness releases me from the past. 

And because Jesus did the hardest thing for me, I choose to forgive in order to honor him.  





Thursday, January 26, 2017

#WhyIMarch

Tomorrow will be a first for me. 
I'll be attending the March for Life in Washington, DC. 

In my entire life, I have never attended any political rally, speech, march, demonstration, protest, sit-in, sing-in or love-in. Maybe I'd have gone if it were an 'eat chocolate, drink coffee and talk about it-in', but I'm not sure that's a thing. 

In any event, I've always been the armchair commentator. 
You know, the one to talks back to the tv news or scrunches up their face at the newspaper article? Yeah, that's been me - knowing what I think and believe, but never daring to step out and speak up or be seen, with the exception of what I write and share on social media. 
It's really easy to hide behind a computer screen - we see a lot of that every day, don't we? 
Some may say that because I write about my pro-life views, because I post, tweet and share my support for all life from conception to grave that I'm not hiding. 
But in my heart, I know it's exactly what I've been doing. 

And it stops tomorrow. 

Truthfully, I suppose that when tomorrow is done, I still won't have attended a political function. 
To me, the March For Life represents at it's core, a HEART issue, not a political one. 
It's a march for the hearts of our nation. 

The March For Life is necessary because collectively and individually, our hearts have turned to stone. 
We have become consumed by our selfishness and pride as we say "ME first!" "MY choice!" "MY life!"
We refuse to recognize that the LIFE we are foolishly idolizing is a gift to us. 
We are not guaranteed our next breath, yet we demand to inhale and exhale by standards we've chosen. 
We forget that our lives have a purpose and meaning beyond our own selfish desires. 
And in doing so, we ignore the truth that our calling is to love.
To Love God and love people.
And because we ignore our calling, the only life we value is our own.

In our society, many would consider my views to be radical. 
And I will agree in part because of this fact: 
18 years ago, my heart was radically changed by Jesus Christ. 
Jesus, the life-giver, turned my heart of stone into a heart of flesh and gave me back my life from the pit I had drug it into. 
A life that I now willingly choose to live for him. 

Doesn't it strike you as odd that living life as a Christ-follower is considered RADICAL? 
Having a belief that all LIFE is sacred is RADICAL?
I confess, I can't fully comprehend that thinking. 
Not anymore anyway. 

Many of you have read my story, you know about the abortion choices I made a lifetime ago, and I pray every day that you now see Christ in me instead of the broken and lost soul I was before. 
I'm here to tell you that if Jesus chose to love ME, chose to die for ME, chose to rescue ME - with my past and my foolish, selfish choices and my shame, then he surely wants to do the same for you. 
To change your heart and allow it to beat again. 

In October of 2016, I was given the privilege of sharing my story with my church family. 
I've attached the recording for you here:

http://impactchurchnova.com/?sermons=threads-the-gospel-and-abortion

Listen to it and see the reality of how God can work miracles in even the hardest and most broken hearts. 
Share it with someone who may need to hear it. I have no secrets anymore - there is great freedom in that. We all know someone who needs to be free today. Let what God did in my life speak truth into theirs - and yours. 

Abortion is wrong. It is a great evil lie that we as a society have chosen to believe is a right. 
It's the defining tragedy of our time. 
But the greatest tragedy of all are the hearts who choose to refuse the truth of the God who created them. Who refuse to embrace the love and forgiveness he so freely offers. Who choose their heart of stone instead of the heart that beats full from the life-giver, Jesus.

This is #WhyIMarch tomorrow - praying that you will exchange your hearts of stone for ones that beat for LIFE. 


If you are in the Washington, DC area tomorrow and would like to join the March For Life, here is a link to their website for all the official information. 

It was just announced this morning that our new Vice-President, Mike Pence, will be addressing the marchers - the first time ever for our nation. 
Come out and join me, join us. If you cannot, then pray. Pray that God will heal our hearts and that he will heal our land. 




Monday, January 23, 2017

Be Right, or Be Kind?


“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” - Ephesians 4:29

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” - Ephesians 4:32-33

These verses from the Bible are challenging me lately. 
And whether you are a Christ-follower or not, I need you to understand why. 

I’ve sat back over these past months, weeks and days and read the online postings of friends tearing down friends. Pointed quotes and snarky memes, directed at friends, designed to wound, posted in the name of ‘being heard’.
Blocking, unfriending, banning. Friends.

I’ve seen strangers lashing out at other strangers. Over a perceived belief or a poorly worded phrase. Because the screen affords anonymity. Sometimes. But sometimes it goes viral - spreading harsh vitriol that uplifts no one.

I’ve seen media outlets of all descriptions and all sides fostering distrust and suspicion regarding anyone who doesn't agree with their viewpoint. 
I’ve read words shared in anger, hurt, pride, defense, outrage, fear, gloating, pain, self-righteousness and condescension….

And before you say - “Well, it’s a social media problem. You should avoid social media if you don’t want to be affected by it.” 
Just stop. Slam the brakes on that thought. 
It’s not a social media problem. 

It’s a heart problem. 
Our hearts are the source of the conflict. 
Social media, heck - any media - is simply a Roman coliseum experience on steroids where the war is played out for everyone to see. 
Because everyone loves a trainwreck, right? Even as we claim to be shocked by it, we all love to witness the horrific spectacle, moving in for the kill, the fight to the death…..of what? 
Kindness? Civility? Empathy? 
Friendship?
Love?

At what expense?
And for what purpose? 
So we can be right?

Being right will be a cold comfort on the day you realize you are standing completely alone on the mountain you built of your pride and arrogance.

What I have to say here is for everyone - Christian, non-Christian, everyone. 
Christians haven’t cornered the market on kindness, grace and love - these are principles that all of humankind need to live by. 
But because I am a Christ-follower, a Christian, I write, think and feel from that perspective. I use scripture as my guide and I depend on prayer to God to focus and ground me. I daresay if I were Atheist, you would expect that I’d write, think and feel from that perspective, would you not? 
Of course you would. 
And just as many of you would find points of disagreement with the Christian me as you would an Atheist me. 
And there would likely be many points of agreement as well. 
Our problem lies in choosing to focus on the conflicts - because we have the ability to do so. 
But does that make it the right thing to do? 

Sure, we have the ability to be hateful with our words and actions, the ability to slander and bully and berate those who disagree with us. 
But does that make us better people?
It may make us feel better in the moment, but what about when that victory you feel dissipates? When the triumphant brow-beating you delivered fades away? 
Isn’t that a hollow victory when the greater purpose served was in tearing down a friend? In putting a stranger in their place? In teaching them a ‘lesson’?
And what is that lesson exactly? 
How to hate? How to divide? How to destroy?
We humans don’t need that lesson taught to us - sadly, it’s innate.

Kindness, grace and humility are the hard lessons to learn. 
Because they require putting the interests of others before our own. Putting the feelings of others before our own. They require caring about the collateral effect of our words on others.
Kindness, grace and humility do not require that I agree with all the beliefs and life choices of others - agreement shouldn’t be a relationship definer. But when you can enjoy community and relationships defined by an unselfish attitude you can exist in peace even when your beliefs are as wide as the Grand Canyon.

“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” - Philippians 2:3-4

Yes, that’s from the Bible too, as I said earlier, scripture directs me. But for those of you who may not read or believe the Bible - how can you say that it’s bad advice? 
Choosing to live your life as described here doesn’t make you a Christ-follower, but it sure can go a long way towards making you a better person. 

If each of us going forward makes the choice to think before we speak; to stop before we hit ‘send’; to think about how we would want to be spoken to and treated, we can help reverse the hateful path we’ve started down. 

Remember I said at the beginning of this post that the verses from Ephesians were challenging me lately? 
That’s because everything I’ve talked about here has been a struggle for me too. I’m not pointing any fingers without including myself in the mix. 
Just because I follow Christ and try earnestly to live a life that imitates him, doesn’t mean I don’t wrestle with the desire to ‘be heard’. To bite back when I feel attacked. To write snarky, pointed and yes, mean comments and posts. 
And I thank God that most of the time he prevents me from causing pain to others by acting on what I want and feel. 

If you aren’t a Christ-follower, I cannot and should not hold you to a Christ-like standard, and I won’t. But I do hold you to a standard of common decency and respect for your fellow man. I believe it’s what you would expect to receive for yourself and you would not be wrong.

Christian friends, hear me on this - Jesus clearly tells us that we are to Love God and love people. 
In that order. 
If you claim to love God yet you are being unloving or unkind or ungraceful or proud or arrogant or boastful or rude - you are not living out your calling. 
Period. 
So stop it. 
Remember who you are and WHOSE you are. 

We are maligned and mistrusted because we don’t live consistently with what we say is the
truth of who Jesus is. 
And we are called to speak that truth in love
To tell others about the truth of Christ’s birth, life, death, burial and resurrection and that he did it for ALL of us. Everyone.
Just because people don’t agree with or understand our convictions doesn't mean that our calling is any less - the very people who hate us are the ones who need the love of Christ so desperately. 
Our timidity has made us vulnerable and weak - if the world around us is unafraid to be bold about what they believe, why are we afraid to be bold about the love of Christ? 

Kindness, grace, humility. 
Living by those attributes will allow you the space to be bold because it will provide a foundation of trust. The world esteems those who stand firmly within their convictions - even if they don’t share them. 
The loudest and harshest voices in the room hold the attention for a while, but its the soft, beckoning voice of grace that draws the hurting and wounded heart. The hearts that only Jesus can heal. 

“Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News. Don’t be intimidated in any way…..” 
- Philippians 1:27-28a



Friday, July 8, 2016

Hate Never Heals


This is a scene that was repeated in neighborhoods all across America this morning. 

A Husband or Wife, Dad or Mom, Son, Daughter, Brother, Sister, Partner, Friend - standing by their mobile office, preparing for another workday in a world where they are both loved and reviled simply because of the shirt on their backs.

Our neighborhood may be similar to yours - quiet tree-lined streets where children ride their bikes and neighbors wave as they pass each other walking the dog or taking their morning run. 
Or it could be very different - urban, rural, condos, farmhouses - it really doesn’t matter, every neighborhood across America is full of people that my husband and people like him have sworn to protect with their lives.

At our July 4th block party, our neighbors told us they would miss seeing the police car in front of our house at the end of the month. 
It won’t be there anymore because after 27 years in that uniform, driving that car, my husband is retiring. 
I only have to witness this necessary ritual 20 more days. 
Today, it seems like an eternity away.

Our neighbors told me that they’ll miss my husband’s police car parked there because it made them feel safe. 
Protected. 
Sheltered from the random and mostly petty crimes that occur in every neighborhood. 

And while that may be true - it certainly slows people down - I won’t miss it at all. 
Because when he turns that car in and takes off his uniform and vest for the last time, the targets they create will be gone. 
And I will be able to breathe freely once more.

In all honesty, it’s only been the past few years that I’ve felt a heightened sense of concern for my husband and his peers. 
You see, they are/were my peers too. 
Having done the job myself, walked in those boots, dealing with the sometimes unspeakable events in our society, I was comfortable in the knowledge that it was simply his job. Because it had been mine. 
No different than the doctor, lawyer, cook or bricklayer.

A chosen profession like any other. 
But one in which it’s professionals are well-educated, well-trained, well-armed against 99.9% of the circumstances and threats they are faced with every day. 
I can remember telling my Mother - who worried and prayed for me every day - that I was in no more danger than anyone else simply walking out their front door. And I was more highly trained. 
Only part of that statement is true today as the tone and tenor in our nation has changed dramatically.

My years in patrol had me working through a huge sea-change in policing in our country. I watched the LA riots with the rest of my peers and was on duty the night the Rodney King verdict was announced. 
There was a palpable shift in the atmosphere that night and in the days following - shattered trust on both sides of the badge. 
The same type of shattered trust that happens every time we allow others to drive a narrative when they don’t have or even care to know all the facts. 

Human nature dictates that we selfishly cling to our own version of truth. 
But a personal truth without facts always leads to disaster. 

Many years have passed since I hung up my badge and gun belt, and in those years, the era of personal truth has largely replaced the era of personal responsibility. 
The everyday demons we face in our nation today have been born of the idea that one truth, one set of ideals, one set of ‘rights’ is greater than another. 
We regularly assert our rights and cry foul and lob insults and spew hatred largely protected by the anonymity of a computer screen. 
In most cases, a device that protects the sender from the physical reality of the chaos their words create. 
Because words always spur action. Somewhere in someone.

“…the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches.
But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.” - James 3:5b-6

And when the words are hate-filled, fact-empty vitriol against what many don’t choose to even try to understand, it creates hate-filled sometimes violent action against those like my husband who have sworn to serve and protect us. 

I know. 
Sometimes those who wear the badge dishonor the badge. 
And it’s shameful and tragic.
Anyone who wears the badge in honor and pride wants nothing more than to see justice done and the dishonorable punished. 

And I know. 
There are groups of people in our nation who even today in many places are treated as less than; unworthy. 
And it’s shameful and tragic. 
Anyone who truly loves their neighbor should want nothing more than to see the injustice of it end. 

And because it’s easy - and comfortable - we lay blame at the feet of anyone who represents our version of the ‘enemy’. 
One group feels no protection from the police car parked on the quiet tree-lined street. 
One group feels no understanding from the people who are seeking justice at any cost. 

But the answer we seek is largely rejected by all because it requires a heart change. 
Because we are all a hopelessly selfish and entitled people. 

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things,
    and desperately wicked.
    Who really knows how bad it is?
But I, the Lord, search all hearts
    and examine secret motives…” - Jeremiah 17:9-10a

The divide that’s happened in our country can’t be legislated away, because no law can rule the human heart. 
The hate that is pervasive in the air is born of both the worst type of selfishness and the deepest kind of self-loathing. 

We would rather point the finger and place the blame anywhere but at ourselves. 

We rail at our leaders and blame inanimate objects when the real enemy is within. 
As a nation we collectively need to take responsibility for our individual thoughts and actions. But when we truly look inside ourselves, we don’t always like what we see. 
It’s just easier not to acknowledge it. 
And ignoring it will never heal us, not individually, not as a nation.

Change will come when we set aside our pride and our demands and our ‘rights’ and begin to really see others as they are - uniquely created by God in his image. 

We all are. 

You may not share my Christian beliefs, and that’s your choice, but I can’t see how anyone who truly wants to witness a different sea-change in our nation today would refuse to step away from their prideful circle long enough to esteem others as they deserve, and listen
And love them in their humanity even if you don’t agree with them. 

We can rage against the divide, the anger, the hate that pervades our world with intense energy, but if we are choosing not to show love and respect and kindness to others, then we are choosing to remain in that pit and we are the problem.

For me personally, 20 days stands between me and an exhale. Our active law enforcement days will be behind us, individually and as a family. 
While my heart will always bleed blue for my brothers and sisters still in the work, deeper still runs a hope for healing and for a new beginning in our nation. 

Hate will never heal, but Love surely can.