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When You Can’t Live Up To Expectations

If you’re reading this you are probably a social justice minded person, like myself.  You’ve found your way here because the words "DO JUSTICE" make you excited, hopeful, and motivated.  We read things on this blog and others like it that inspire, persuade and encourage us. 

But recently I’ve been struggling with something terrible, and deflating:  I just can’t live up to my own expectations of myself. 

I wrote an article that was posted here about clothes, where our clothes come from, and an encouragement to be smart shoppers that make wise choices.  Then I bought some new clothes from a big store.  I let myself down. 

I was asked recently to attend an event, to show my solidarity with people who I want to have solidarity with, and post a picture and raise awareness for a good cause. But I didn’t go. And I feel badly. 

I said a while ago that I would read a book and review it, I promised.   It’s a good book about good things.  Things I care about.  But I haven’t gotten around to it. I bought the book, but it sits at the bottom of a pile of books I have promised to read.  It sits at the back of mind, that thing, constantly, that I am supposed to do, that I just can’t seem to get around to. 

There are causes out there that make my heart break on a daily basis.  Ones that I want to stand up for, and cheer for.  Issues and people that I want to stand beside and help.  But I just can’t live up to my own expectations of myself.   I cannot, it turns out, do it all. 

There is so much in everyday that I need to get done.  Life that needs to be lived.  Words that need to be written.  People that need to be visited.  Boring, everyday, mundane work of life that needs to be done. 

Chances are if you are reading this, on a blog like this, you probably have felt the same way too. 

And I watch friends and fellow social justice minded people DOING great work.  Friends that are at the rallies, going to the meetings, reading the books, traveling to places, making decisions, sitting with the people that need to be sat with, being the change they wish to see in the world. 

And I sit in my office. 

But today I’ve had a thought:  All I can do is the best I can do right here.  And now.  And that is important.  As well.  Also. 

It’s not flashy.  It’s not even blog post worthy.  But it’s here.  And now.  And I think that matters.  This light needs to shine right here.   And you can do the same right there.  Wherever you are. 

We do what we can with what we have where we are. 

So no, sorry, that means you will probably not see an end to racism in your lifetime.  But you can pray for it.  And you can give space to marginalized voices.  You can LISTEN (I’m learning this one too).  You can sign up to hear the stories of marginalized voices right here on the Do Justice website.   We can all learn how to stop throwing words at the problem and start listening.  And listening starts where you are.   

But sorry, you will not create world peace.  It’s just not going to happen until Jesus comes back.  I don’t know if there is anything we can do for Russia and the Ukraine, or Syria or Somalia, or the spread of extremism except pray.  But you CAN look people in the eye when they talk and maybe, just maybe, see the world from their perspective in that moment.  We can live at peace with everyone, as far as it depends on us (Romans 12).  And that is not nothing. 

And maybe you don’t have time for the rally, or the sit in, or even to make sure you are all up on all the recent political actions and decisions of your city, province or country.  But you can listen to trusted voices on the matter (voices that are often promoted here) and you can take action on few issues. You could write a letter, an email, or make a phone call to your local representatives on issues that matter.   

I don’t have a high paid powerful international job where I make decisions and change the world.  I will probably never have that job.  But I can be kind.  I can treat the people in front of me with respect, I can honour the image of God in my neighbours, my community.  I can look the homeless person on the street in the eye.  I can listen to the stories of people instead of telling them what I think.  I can talk about the good news of a God who loved us so much he sent his son Jesus to bring complete and total reconciliation and redemption.  I can pray for justice to roll on like a river, and I can celebrate glimpses of it happening.  Even here.  Because we need it too.  That is where I am, that is where we start. 

But sorry.  That book review?  I just don’t think it’s going to get done. 

“Pay mind to your own life, your own health, and wholeness. A bleeding heart is of no help to anyone if it bleeds to death.” - Frederick Buechner

[Image: Flickr user Andrew Black]


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