It’s crazy out there, isn’t it? The banter and the name calling, the rhetorical one-upping, and the utter loss of respectful modes of communication from the top down. I feel like I am watching a street fight with wide eyes, every so often hearing my own voice chime in with a “yes, good hit!” and then immediately feeling ashamed for condoning violence at all. It is so much easier to just hide away, to close the browser, turn off the news, and just stop talking about all these things: these leaders and laws and marches and 'who exactly are we keeping away and why?'. But history does not have a strong record of happy endings when too many people look away.
Today, I have three little babies right in front of me. They are so innocent, so blissfully unaware of the rhetoric informing the world they are growing up in. But not for long. They see my despondent demeanor, they catch moments of conversations that don’t yet make sense but plant words and emotions they grapple with. They do not know what they do not know yet, but the puzzle pieces are collecting and putting together a scene of history that is, and will be, theirs. If for no one else but them, I want to lean in to conversations. In fact, I have to. Truthfully, I’m not sure how to put all of these puzzle pieces together either.
I cannot and will not attempt to explain executive orders. I am far too unfamiliar with government structures and systems to speak to them. If I am honest, I could not even name the members of my local city council, so making generalizations about our government feels unfair. I have many questions and many concerns, and a gut-level reaction that is waving a red flag at what is happening on a policy level, but I do not feel informed enough to speak to them, not yet.
I am also just a mom. I stay home with my kids and teach a little bit and find the fringe hours to put together words but I am not a lawyer, a lobbyist, a government employee, a journalist, economist, historian or anyone else who has the background and context to understand both immigration and law.
But on the other hand, I am a mom! Full stop. And I think that qualifies me for a whole lot. It makes me both a stakeholder and an influencer, and it also means I get a say in all of this and how I let the conversations 'out there' take on life in our home. And the problem I see right in front of me, the thing that this mom can do something about today, is fear.
I am also crazy about Jesus, so I start there, with what I know about him and how he felt about people, and about fear.
And he was pretty clear on both of those things.
Jesus had immense, palpable compassion for people; for his followers who often had such trouble actually understanding him, and for the lost who often could not recognize him. He came with truth and never shied away from it, but his gospel was not one of self-preservation. And he spoke about fear often, never once saying that it was acceptable to live with but always reminding us that there was really only one thing to be afraid of: our own sin.
I do not say this lightly, but I think we sorely misunderstand following Jesus if we believe faith in him is in any way about self-preservation. And I think we thwart efforts for the gospel to move forward when we let fear get too big. Because when we are scared, we get a little too pushy about the boundaries of our self-preservation and we tend to start drawing the lines of our safety further and further away. But logic tells us what happens when we decide our lives need to take up more space: someone else loses theirs.
But this is where I, just a mom, come in. This is when I choose the true gospel of grace by faith, centered on a man who willingly lost his life to save mine; not the American gospel of save yourself, centered on an ideology that our lives are more valuable because they are privileged, or that this life is all that we have.
Grace by faith remembers the sovereignty of God and falls to our knees at the reality of who we are without Jesus. It declares and reminds our hearts every single day that God is either fully in control or not at all, even when we have no possible way of understanding all his reasons. Grace by faith says the way to true life is found in laying ours down, and quite possibly losing it, keeping true fear in a proper perspective. Grace by faith says his glory is far more important than my security. Grace by faith remembers that we have a breath of time to know Jesus in this world and an eternity to finally enjoy him forever.
I do not take safety for granted. I want to feel safe, and I want my kids to feel safe. Of course I do. And I think we are allowed that. We make decisions every day to draw those lines of safety in places that allow our hearts to rest, and those are all a little bit different for each of us. We pick schools, foods, locations, cars, and a hundred other things for our children based on what we believe is safest.
But what I am determined not to do is draw a boundary line of safety so big that I can no longer reach anyone with the gospel. Or a line so big it hurts another mama’s chance at safety for her babies. Or a line so big I get comfortable in a home I was never meant to be all that comfortable in, but rather create a home I am willing to risk losing in order to gain the one I was actually created for. Only grace by faith can help me keep those lines in the right place.
I am just a mom, but I am the mom who is going to teach my three about fear, so that makes me, and all of us just moms, pretty damn important. My kids are either going to learn to be afraid of everyone and everything- of entire people groups, of turbans and accents and different shades of skin- or they are going to learn that we are all sinners in need of a savior, and that we are only to be afraid of what can kill the soul, not the body. I’m determined to teach them the latter, for one simple reason: that is what Jesus taught us.
So today, this mama chooses faith, and actually counts my life as nothing compared to the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus. Because I want the life I have been given to matter. I want to do what I see Jesus commanding us to do.
I am just a mom, but I think I have the most important job in the world right now.