so you want to change the world
Since I returned from Togo, I've been on a writing deadline for my next book. After an amazing homecoming with my parents at O'Hare International Airport, I stayed at their home in Illinois for five days.
I left to do some speaking engagements in California and Colorado, and now I'm at my sister's place in Pennsylvania.
When I'm writing, I have the same routine: Every morning, I plod to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee, then climb back in bed, snuggle under a blanket, open my laptop, and begin writing.
Lucky for me, I have family to stay with for free, and I get to spend time with people who have known me longest, and love me best.
Unlucky for them, I'm on deadline for my next book, and I'm in full-on "writing mode," which means I'm thinking intensely, and I don't have much to say. Some days, I don't start talking until late afternoon, and when I open my mouth for the first time, my voice cracks because I haven't used it all day.
Since I'm not very verbal right now, I started doing small acts of service in the afternoons after my writing sessions to let my family know how much I love and appreciate them -- which usually means I cook for them, because I love spending time in the kitchen, and it's one of the best ways I know of to practically express love.
(For those of you who are foodies, or who are just plain curious, when I was at my parents' place, I made braised French beef on a bed of onion mashed potatoes, and then I made roast chicken salad with mixed greens tossed in a blackberry balsamic vinaigrette.
Yesterday after an all-day writing session, I made dinner for my sister. Curried cream of sweet potato & apple soup followed by baked salmon with parmesan broccoli and herbed brown rice.)
This week I've been writing about I Corinthians 13. Doing small acts of service after my writing sessions has helped me think about it even more.
It's nicknamed "The Love Chapter," and, unfortunately, because it uses the word "love" so often, it gets read at weddings a lot. Like, A LOT. I doubt that Apostle Paul, who said it was preferable to remain single, would be stoked to find out how we've marginalized and misused this chapter.
The chapter starts by listing a lot of altruistic things you can do: performing miracles, speaking in tongues, giving your money away, giving your life away. Then it asks, What can/should motivate you to do what you do? The chapter concludes with verse 13: "Now abide these three things: Faith, Hope and Love. But the greatest of these is Love."
I think in Western Christianity we've gotten the order reversed, and we have emphasized and even idolized Faith. (Not to mention, we use the word incorrectly. Instead of using it to mean 'God doing the supernatural/impossible in the invisible realm', we've used the word to mean 'rational belief in a set of doctrines we've put down on paper.' And, if you want to join our church, doctrines on a piece of paper that you have to sign.)
We talk about "defending our faith." We call ourselves "people of faith." We refer to Christians as the "faith community."
Why do we do that? How did we let Faith leap-frog over Love? Instead of calling ourselves people of faith who are part of a faith community, why not call ourselves people of Love who are part of the Love community?
This week I've been thinking about why Love is the greatest thing, and why it's different from faith and hope.
Love is different from hope and faith because it's the only one of these three that we have in common with God. God doesn't need faith because he is the object of our faith. God doesn't need hope, because he doesn't exist in time, so he's not looking to the future.
Love is different from hope and faith because hope and faith happen in our minds, but Love happens in our bodies. To use the simple words of Bob Goff, Love Does.
Love is different from hope and faith because hope and faith are waiting for the future, but Love happens now.
Lots of people who have read The Invisible Girls, or follow my blog, or come to my talks, agree that the world is broken, and want to do something tangible to help it heal. Which is awesome. I love it. You all get me so excited for the potential we have if we all work together to make it happen!!!
If you're one of those people, here's the deal.
Here's what the world does not need.
The world DOES NOT need more anger.
The world DOES NOT need more ranting.
The world DOES NOT need more finger-pointing or name-calling.
The world DOES NOT need more sighing or more resignation.
The world DOES NOT need more doomsday predictions.
The world DOES NOT need more denominations or theological hair-splitting.
The world DOES NOT need Christian men working harder to keep women silent in churches.
The world DOES NOT need more fear.
The world DOES NOT need more political parties.
The world DOES NOT need more church buildings or church services.
The world DOES NOT need more Christians arguing about homeschooling or music styles or movie ratings.
The world DOES NOT need more pity or head-shaking or finger-wagging.
So what will change the world?
In a word: Love.
Not just the emotion, but the nature, posture and action that emulate Divine Love.
This week, if you want to do something to "change the world," begin by making yourself a more loving person.
Here are four simple things I'm working on to change myself (and you're welcome to join me!)
1) STOP WAITING for other people to change their thinking or their behavior.
2) DON'T GIVE YOURSELF CREDIT for thinking or believing the right things in your head.
3) SHUT UP. Stop talking about who's right and who's wrong. I guarantee you're not going to heal the world by spouting opinions and warnings and quotes and verses, or by reposting or retweeting sarcastic statements. Push the mute button on your life and see what you're really saying by your actions.
4) ACT LIKE LOVE. Do something that is patient, gentle, or kind. Don't be envious, proud, self-seeking or easily angered. Don't delight in wrong-doing or in someone else's demise. Believe the best about someone. Protect someone, trust someone, persevere in a difficult situation or relationship.
Today, instead of praying On earth as it is in heaven, let's pray, In me as it is in heaven.
Instead of praying for God to change the world, let's have the humility and the courage to pray, "God, here I am. Would you please change me?"
If you want to join me in practicing these four steps, or if you have ideas or examples for how you're becoming a person of Love, please let me know in the comments!