AndréaLane
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A Call To Break The Silence and Love Thy Neighbor

Did anyone else find last week incredibly stressful?

Between finding out about 13 children who were being tortured by their parents, learning about the Larry Nassar trial (evidently I was living under a rock until last week), a news article informing us that the suspected ring leader for human trafficking was possibly hiding in our town or one of two other nearby communities, and evidently now a school shooting, that I honestly know next to nothing about, because, I don’t have any brain space left for another tragedy to obsess over.

And I will obsess.
I was only 5 when the Challenger exploded, but my mom says I was glued to the television and I can still remember watching it at preschool. I watched news reports about the columbine school shooting for days and days.
September 11th.
and on.

But this feels different. Instead of being devastated and shocked, I’m disgusted and convicted.

The things that the Turpins and Nassar have done, are disgusting, vindictive, and are there words strong enough?
Really I don’t think there are, it’s despicable. But, what has really struck me above all else, is that somebody somewhere could have helped. Should have noticed.

The Turpins evidently had a Facebook page, and their families, while they say they haven’t seen them in years, would surely have seen the pictures circulating, would surely have known 7 of their children were adults and shouldn’t still be dressing alike, living at home, weighing less than a teenager! Neighbors who saw them marching from window to window for hours at a time in the middle of the night, or garbage piling up, or kids who refused to smile or talk to anyone.

Sure, individually these concerns amount to nothing, just weirdness, and well, since no one is technically completely normal, we can let weird slide. But, everyone let it slide. Everyone turned another cheek. Everyone ignored what was happening. For. Years.

How?

Because silence is self preservation. Speaking up, can be dangerous. Some people out there are crazy, and if you get in their way, it could get you injured, or killed.

If something seems off, it’s easier to write it off as odd, assume it’s fine, and move on without thinking too much about it, without worrying or digging for more information.

And that’s just the one case. The Nassar case is a whole other thing. People who evidently should have known, were told and ignored the complaints, behavior that seemed questionable overlooked again and again. Parents who were hoodwinked.

I’m saddened and sickened.

This is heightened because this last year I’ve felt like the Lord has been opening my eyes, through my favorite author‘s life journey and personal discovery, to how much prejudice and racism still takes place in our country. So Martin Luther King Jr Day really meant something to me this year, you know?

And this song…. Oh my heart…..This song.

 

Part of me has come *this* close to erasing this post three times already, because it’s so heavy, and is coming from the deepest most quiet and personal part of my heart, these are thoughts I’ve barely shared with my husband, and haven’t shared with anyone else, but at the same time, I feel like the grip they have on me, the stress I’m carrying, won’t lift until I put what I’ve been processing into words. And hit publish. Oh the rub of being a writer, an introvert, and obedient to Christ all in the same breath.

For awhile now I’ve been feeling like I’ve been wandering around this world without a cause, or a purpose. I know, that ultimately my purpose is to honor and glorify the Lord, and moving forward with my writing this last year definitely feels like a part of the plan, but I feel like I’m wandering through the wilderness, day by day, seeing this world around me, but not doing anything to help make it a better place. I’ve wondered if I’m supposed to fight for a cause, fight for the marginalized, or Foster Care like some of our best friends do, or raise money for an illness like Cancer, or MS or something else that we have battled.

But none of it feels right, like mine. I care about all of those things and more, but I don’t have a constant burning passion for them.

I know, that sounds terrible. But it’s the transparent, real, no masks, bare bones truth.
Around the same time the Turpin story broke, I started doing an in depth chapter by chapter reading of Romans along with the Good Morning Girls.

 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith. ~ Romans 1:16-17

These two verses really struck me on that day. I am not ashamed of the gospel, am I? When it comes to Jesus, sure I’ll preach until I’m blue in the face, but what about the issues that he came here for?

What about the marginalized, whoever they may be? Orphans, widows, people of color, children being tortured, athletes being silenced.

 “Now if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law, and boast in God, and know his will, and approve the things that are superior, being instructed from the law, and if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light to those in darkness, an instructor of the ignorant, a teacher of the immature, having the embodiment of knowledge and truth in the law — you then, who teach another, don’t you teach yourself? You who preach, “you must not steal” — do you steal? You who say, “you must not commit adultery” — do you commit adultery? You who detest idols, do you rob their temples? You who boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? For as it is written: The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” ~Romans 2:17-24

In light of everything I’ve been feeling, for years, heightened this week, these verses. Dagger. To. My. Heart.

So what then do we do, what is the solution?

Maybe it isn’t about having a burning passion, or one major cause, voice, or fight. Maybe it isn’t about changing the world in one fell swoop. Maybe, instead all we need to do is the opposite of silence.

Not noise. Not reporting every little suspicion haphazardly, that won’t help anyone. Not shouting from rooftops or Facebook walls about each and every injustice. Not alienating or fighting with friends or foes about those things we cannot agree on.

But, break the silence.

Through engagement with our neighbors. Conversations with those who are different from us. Tune into the noise around us instead of tuning it out. Pay extra close attention and then respond. Pray for the Lord to open our eyes to the things we are missing,
because.
we.
are.
missing. stuff.
every.
day.
And for His guidance on what we can do, to better the lives of people around us.

There was a time in our history where neighbors were neighborly, communities communed, and people trusted one another. Front porches, typically sit unused, front yards stand empty, back yards are boarded in with gorgeous but segregating 6 ft fences, and no one borrows sugar or eggs anymore. It’s sad. But it’s also added to this issue of silence, and created dangerous spaces for hurt to linger.

Breaking Silence Could Be As Simple As Following The Second Commandment

The second is this: Love thy neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these. ~Mark 12:31

We might, probably, not (hopefully not) be the ones to uncover years of abuse or torture, but we could make a friend, we could cheer up a family who is new to town and lonely, or bring a smile to the face of a boy grieving the loss of his father, or fill the pantry of an elderly neighbor. We might not change the world, but like the boy throwing starfish back into the ocean, we could make a difference for that one.

And what of those times, where something scary, or dangerous is required? Should we tune out then? Resort to our preservation is primary mindset?

No. As a Christian, one who has Christ in me, I hope that my instinct would not be to recoil. I long for a heart strong enough to say no. That in one of those moments I might stand strong and stand up for the least of these. Willing even, to lay my life down, to protect one of the Lord’s beloved creation if it should come to that.

Because He died for me.

“For while we were still helpless, at the right time, Christ died for the un-godly. For rarely will someone die for a just person — though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die. But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. How much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by his blood, will we be saved through him from wrath. For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his So, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. ~Romans 5: 6-11

Whether it’s scary because it truly could land us in a dangerous situation, or because it pushes us out of our comfort zone, if we are in Him who died for us, we can choose to rest in His strength, and His promise.

And if we all made an effort to be kind, aware, connected. If we all did that little bit, maybe silence wouldn’t be so dangerous anymore.

About the Author

Andréa lives in southeast Michigan with her husband, three wonderful children, and the imaginary friends from for her current work in progress.

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