If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you already know part of the story of how I went from a vague concern about social issues to actual social justice action. Dan Brown’s “Forming the Justice League” tells how some of us at John Calvin Christian Reformed Church (Truro, Nova Scotia), felt called to DO something with the many issues before us, so we banded together to try and make it happen. We’ve had some pretty encouraging successes so far, I’d say.
At a deacon’s training event in the fall, Steve van de Hoef called doing justice a ‘spiritual journey’, and I’ve been pondering the idea ever since. I’m not sure exactly how it has happened, but I can say that being involved in social justice work has had a greater impact on my faith than anything else in my life for many years. My faith has become much deeper, more confident, and more focused. And I think I’ve learned (rather, I’m still learning) a few important things:
- I’m learning I don’t have to do this alone. In fact, I simply couldn’t, or wouldn’t, do it alone – that much was already clear. Any sort of justice initiative I might have considered on my own was just too big and overwhelming. Having a group of friends involved in every decision and action has made it all easier and less intimidating. I’ve never doubted that someone would have my back if I failed. God made us to be in relationship, so why should we expect to accomplish anything alone?
- I’m learning that being scared is ok. It has always preceded some kind of growth. I’ve been scared for the ambitious projects we’ve undertaken. I’ve been scared for myself as I’ve taken on new roles. Every time I’ve stepped out in faith, God has caught me (or picked me up after I failed) and I’ve come out of it feeling braver for the next step.
- I’m learning to let myself be pushed out of my comfort zone, when it is wise & caring people doing the pushing. Some people seem to have discerned in me gifts that I didn’t believe I had. I still can’t say I’m fully convinced! But trusting their judgment of my abilities and stepping into new territory knowing that I have their support has also taught me something about trusting and obeying God.
- I’m learning about my faults and shortcomings. This kind of sucks. I know nobody’s perfect, but it’s never fun to have our weaknesses highlighted. However, when I’ve messed things up, amazingly life has still gone on and people still seem to like me. There have been apologies, and forgiveness, and large helpings of humble pie. All of which has illustrated my need for God’s grace every day, and his provision of it.
- I’m learning about the importance of focus. I know I have a tendency to take things too personally, but I also don’t like to be half-hearted about what I do. That brings with it a lot of vulnerability. When I’ve kept my focus on our mission as a social justice team, I’ve been able to pour my heart into what we’re doing, and it has been simultaneously terrifying and satisfying. Keeping this focus on God instead of myself in all areas of my life…well, that’s still a work in progress!
I’m pretty sure that doing this work with a group of trusted friends has been absolutely key to all this spiritual growth for me. With what I’ve learned so far in mind, and those friends alongside for company and support, I’m looking forward to where the spiritual journey of doing justice might take us next!
[Image: Flickr user Mariyan Dimitrov]