October 8: Write 31 Days: Writing About It Is Easy. Living It Is Not.

I started reading this fascinating book the other day that I picked up for $1 at a bargain book sale.

I lugged all the kids with me on a Sunday afternoon because it was the last day of the sale, and I had forgotten to bring any cash when we stopped by the day before. The kids proudly toted their grocery bags filled with chapter books {a new fascination}, mystery books for book reports, early readers, and other childrens' story books. I was already tired, but we decided to stop in the other sale room across the hall anyways.

Since I've plagued myself with the task of writing every day, I was contemplating what to ramble on about that day as I leafed through the first box of books. The kids found this more "adult" room of little interest and resorted to running circles around the tables, climbing on the counter top, and the tiniest one, who hasn't the faintest idea about the concept of purchasing items, was trying to stuff additional books into her pink plastic bag.

Mom, can I get this book, please??????

No, that's a grown-up book and not appropriate for you. {read: The Seven Deadly Sins}

Mom, what about this one??

Aw, that actually looks exactly like the Nancy Drew books I used to read when I was younger! {read: obsessed with crime solving until the 9th grade} Actually, it's old enough that it probably is one of the original books. That's really cool.

So I can get it?

No. I only have $3 left and mommy wants to get something, too.


And while I was praying they could hold out just a bit longer so I could quickly scan through the remaining boxes, I began to think about how much I really don't like people.

You might be laughing, but it's true. I thought, maybe that's what I should write about: how much I'd rather sit at home and type on my computer instead of hang out in the real world with other humans. Most of the time when I do interact with other people, it doesn't end up being so bad after all. Still, left to my own devices, I'd much rather not.

So there you go. That probably answers a lot of questions you had about me.

At the same time, I know that God's called us to love others and to do it well, sacrificially even. So I decided that was definitely something I should work on in my own heart, and maybe writing about it would, in fact, help. No sooner had that thought left the peculiar space inside my head then I stumbled upon this book:

The Dangerous Act of Loving Your Neighbor: Seeing Others Through the Eyes of Jesus, by Mark Labberton.

My jaw dropped and I gasped, staring down at the book in disbelief.

What exactly are the chances of that?

I thought about putting it back and dealing with it another day. After all, I'd never heard of the guy, so maybe the book wasn't any good? And it flat out says on the inside jacket, "this is not an easy book." Ain't nobody got time for that.

But I couldn't get over the timing. I don't believe in coincidences, after all, so I held onto the book. I found a couple others that looked interesting, though I did try to talk myself out of the book one more time before finally slipping my dollars into the honor system box.

I'm only through the introduction so far, but he had me hooked after the first page. For one thing, he's really smart and doesn't seem to have the need for a dictionary app, unlike myself. Secondly, I'm just soaking up his wisdom regarding the human heart. Why we do the very things we don't want to do.

The premise of his book is this: human hearts form the seedbed from which injustice thrives.
Our hearts don't consciously will injustice. Nor do they deliberately withhold compassion. Nor is it that tales of injustice fail to grab and concern us. Yet our hearts are weak and confused. Our hearts are easily overwhelmed and self-protective. They are prone to be absorbed mostly with the immediacy of our own lives. Our hearts have the capacity to seek justice, but they are usually not calibrated to do so--at least not beyond concern for our inner circle. In a world of such hearts, virulent injustice thrives. Systemic injustice, the absence of the rule of law, and suffering of so many innocents at the hands of oppressors rely on the complicity and distraction of our ordinary hearts. {Mark Labberton}
 Yes, yes, yes.

This is why we need new hearts, which is something only God can do. This is why we need to be transformed as a whole person--born again--not just in parts. Not just problem behaviors. Our whole being is defunct.

Writing about it is one thing, but making the choice to live it, to open ourselves up to God and the change of heart He wants us to experience, is where it gets tricky. And uncomfortable. And hard.

"...but God is seldom instantaneous about doing the most significant things."
He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: 
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” {Luke 4:16-21}

It's a journey. It's a lifestyle. It's a desperate calling.