When my daughter Lydia was in high school we didn’t really talk much. We spent time together but we didn’t really talk. In fact, I used to joke that the words she most often spoke to me during her teen-age years were, “Dad, is mom there?” and that was over the telephone. When we did pass each other of a morning or of an evening, I would always ask, “How are you doing green eyes?” And she would smile and say, “Just fine.” A few years later, I discovered that she really wasn’t doing all that well back then and one day I asked, “Why didn’t you say something about what you were going through when I asked each day?” She replied, “Daddy, I just told you what I knew you wanted to hear.” It hurt but she was right. That was what I wanted to hear.
I think most people would prefer to maintain the illusion that all is good and well…until we can’t any longer. What we all saw on video happen to a man named George Floyd was such a time. For a minute and a half, America was ALL on the same page: “We can’t have that…not here. Not ever!” Tragically, there have been far too many times when justice fails, the volcano blows, the lava flows and you have no real idea where any of it is going or when it will cool.
I hate it when someone’s volcano blows and flows my way. Yet there are times when people need to share their frustration. I must confess the pain of others is often hard to hear…especially if their pain is clothed in anger and we are perceived an antagonist in their story. I always want to be Moses. It sucks being Pharaoh.
On these occasions, I consciously remind myself that I need to stay at the table. I must listen, feel and empathize; not just listen but hear. Not just for others but for me as a Christian, as a human being and as an American.
“Almighty God, Change me. In Jesus’ strong name, amen.”
Yes, that is a good place to begin.