There have been a lot of things worth crying over lately. There have been cries of sadness, of joy, of anger. These United States have seen a lot of news recently. A terrible shooting in South Carolina. Marriage equality for the LGBT community. The passing of the Affordable Care Act. There has also been a lot of news and continued heartache abroad. The kidnapped girls of Chibok and their dying and displaced parents. The corrupt and ongoing terror of Boko Haram and ISIS. The poisoned relationship of Palestinians and Israelis. A lot of celebration, yet still a dominating appearance of fear and pain exists. A lot worth crying over.
I've cried a lot over the past couple of days. On Friday evening the EYN Women’s Choir of Nigeria visited Elgin. They are traveling the country giving concerts singing songs of their culture to give us thanks for our support and to share their stories. Some of these women are displaced and all of them are hurting. They sang joyful songs of letting the light shine for God. But not all their songs were happy. They sang of despair, sadness, and terror for their people.
Being a privileged white woman, I couldn’t imagine their pain and I wept for them. It is so difficult to imagine a life on the run from Boko Haram, not knowing where your next meal is coming from, and being separated from family.
And yet, as their songs continued, I realized something. These women are the most thankful people I have ever encountered.
Yes, they sang of pain, but they also sang with a heart of thankfulness. They are thankful for their children and especially for the love of God. Terror abducts their lives but the love of God overcomes all.
Back in the states there was an act of terror in South Carolina. A young man broke up a peaceful bible study by murdering those participating. Of course there is outrage. Weeping for the lost. Cursing at the murderer. Plenty to cry about.
But then there was the President’s Eulogy. He didn’t speak of condemnation for the murderer nor did he focus on hatred. Instead, he spoke of forgiveness and grace. Not just grace, but AMAZING Grace. He spoke of faith and how we all need to strive for justice for ALL. Not just those who abide by the law or who live their lives by the bible, but for every human being on the planet.
Many tears were shed at the funeral. Many tears are shed at the expense of our Nigerian brothers and sisters. Many tears are shed for all who are treated unjustly.
But I'm telling you to STOP CRYING.
Terrible things are happening every day, but sitting around and crying about it isn’t going to change anything. We can’t just wait for good to come. We can’t keep waiting for a leader to empower us. Injustices themselves should empower us to make change.
Take the recent story of Marriage Equality for the USA. For decades the LGBT community and their allies have been rallying and striving for equality. Now that it has passed, we have to remember what it took to reach this goal. We rallied, we spoke to legislators, we shared articles and had table conversations about the issues to those who didn’t know much about it. The passing of marriage equality didn’t happen by crying over the fact that not all of us could marry whomever we loved. It happened because people DID something about it.
Some of us choose to be neutral. We don’t cry and we don’t advocate. We remain silent. We sit in the sidelines and wait for everyone to just get along. Some might see this as good. But I’m telling you that if you aren’t mad then you’re part of the problem. Ignorance might be bliss, but there are no redeeming qualities of being blind to the injustices that surround us. You don’t have to live in an impoverished community to be near unjust situations. They could very well be happening in your back yard or even in your house.
Let me be clear by stating that this is not to say you need to grab a pitchfork and a torch and raid the streets screaming at everyone. No. I’m saying that God calls us to help those who are hurting. In the Christian faith, we are called to love. We are to love everyone no exceptions. NO. EXCEPTIONS. This means that we love everyone under the sun. Gays, Muslims, terrorists, those in poverty, those who are rich, EVERYONE. It doesn’t matter who they are or what they look like. We are all called to love.
So….whatever you do, whomever you advocate for, go out and do it.
Donate money to organizations that strive for justice. Volunteer with these organizations. Give a family in need food or shelter. Take a person who is without a home out for a meal. Attend rallies. Provide space for support groups. Pray. Share stories with friends. Have a peaceful conversation with someone of differing opinions.
Whatever you do, do it with LOVE.
And stop crying.