BY MATT BAYS, GRACE ATTENDER & BLOGGER
It’s strange on the 21st of November to have big, fluffy snowflakes filling the sky. I was on a walk that day and looked up into a massive backdrop of light gray. I knew the snowflakes were there but I couldn’t see them clearly. You almost wouldn’t have known they were there at all, but as they got closer to the ground—our homes becoming their backdrop—I could see each one of them.
Falling softly—landing safely in my yard.
The world is a bit chaotic right now. I don’t suppose we’ll soon forget this time in history.
This morning I saw footage of a woman detonating a bomb, which was strapped to her body. On the news, I saw the exploding windows of an apartment building while this woman remained inside. She was a suicide bomber. A twenty-something.
Our fear is palpable. And if I’m being honest, I don’t always know how to respond. I feel a bit paralyzed, probably like you do. Am I supposed to be doing something, saying something?
Politically speaking, I’m not qualified to speak on behalf of refugees, or of people logs, protecting American borders or immigration. Knowing the right thing to do in this situation is not so simple. Because the person who says, “keep them out” has reasons they feel are no less valid than the person saying, “let them IN.”
Could we stop for a moment and consider all of this from a different angle? Without politics? Without Fox News or CNN?
Keep it simple.
Keep it simple is a phrase from Alcoholic’s Anonymous that I live by—a mantra I’ve come to depend on. Life can so easily become chaotic and complicated. Keep it simple means all I have to do is…the next right thing.
The next right thing.
That’s all. It’s not so hard. Like the golden rule. Like kindergarten.
Every toddler knows the word, “mine.” It’s their favorite thing to say. Keeps them safe. Keeps what’s theirs, theirs.
When we hear our little, sweet, self-absorbed babies say it, we always respond the same way. We don’t tell them, “It’s not yours.” Instead we say these two words:
The implication goes something like…
It may be yours, but you should share with others.
Taken a bit further, the repercussions could have an even deeper meaning. Something like…
You’re going to want something of theirs one day. I would consider sharing what you now have if you know what’s good for you.
As children we learned our most valuable life-lessons on the playground. We didn’t need commentators, political analysts, or critical news data to tell us how to Be Nice.
As adults, we may not always heed this advice, but we know what Nice is. And we know what Mean is.
We know what MINE is.
This country—it’s not mine. Many years ago we took it from people who were already living here, and now I’m wondering if Something Greater Than Ourselves could be asking us to share. A chance to redeem ourselves?
Maybe. I suppose it’s possible.
It’s easy to hoard our things when we can’t see the actual needs of others close-up—when suffering is happening on the other side of the world.
We see buildings explode on the news or footage of refugee families on a pilgrimage to find their freedom. Or we casually scroll past the searing photo of a little boy shell-shocked from being buried beneath the rubble of what was once his home.
To some of us, these images are simply nightmarish postcards—they’re not really real.
But what if we could see them up close? Not as snowflakes masked in the backdrop of an enormous gray sky, but really SEE each one of them.
Falling softly—landing safely in our yards.
Our homes becoming their backdrop.
Would we see them then? Would we share with them then?
Would we be nice?
A member of Grace Church, Matt Bays is the author of Finding God In The Ruins (How God Redeems Pain), his debut book, which New York Times bestselling author, Ann Voskamp, describes as “Rare, raw, gorgeous writing—profoundly moving.” With a passion to call people out of their hiding places, Matt offers hope to those who have experienced deep loss or pain and crave more than trite answers about God and suffering. Follow Matt on Twitter and Facebook.