Thursday, December 03, 2015

CHASING SAFETY

The news has been ugly lately. I don’t want to look. I don’t want to see. Let’s think about something happy and do something fun! Christmas is right around the corner - let's talk of presents and food and tradition.

This is how I want to fill my conversations, but my heart is torn in pieces.  The mass shooting yesterday is sickening.  The Syrian refugee crisis is intense, real and devastating to families and children. The rhetoric on all sides feels divisive and loud. I often feel that people aren’t listening to one another, really. I’m guilty of this as well - it’s easier to spout off about whatever I think than to dig into what someone else is saying.

That said, I do feel like I need to say something, particularly about the refugee crisis. This blog serves several purposes in our family, one of them being that I want a place for our children to come someday to see what we cared about. And we care about this - very much.  I feel vulnerable putting convictions out there, because at the end of the day, we all have different convictions and values.  I know that people will feel differently than I do about this, but I'm okay with that.  We all have to walk our own paths.

Something that is regularly tossed around is the idea that our safety should be the top priority.  I can understand and sympathize with this position.  I want to feel safe.  I want to feel like I am keeping my children from harm.  We often make decisions for our family to this end.  I also understand why politicians come at situations with this priority - in many ways, it is their job to “make America safe.”

However, it seems as though we have made an idol of safety.  And safety is a flighty thing to chase.  I'm betting that we won't catch it anytime soon.

I believe in who God is and what he tells us.  God commands us to love one another and put one another above ourselves.  He doesn’t make gigantic exceptions that include our own safety or our comfort.   Quite the opposite, in fact - he calls us to lay down our lives.  He is particularly fierce about this when it comes to the poor and oppressed.

So - just what exactly are we willing to sacrifice to our idol of safety?  Will we put aside our conscience and let children die in freezing waters without a country to claim them?   Will we choose to shut our doors and revel in our own comfort and security when families are dying around the world?

I understand this is not a simple issue.  I really do.  None of the hard things that make up what really matter are simple.  It seems as if there is a disconnect between what we applaud and what we actually do.  We look at stories from WW2 where people risked life and limb to save Jews from the Nazis, and we believe them to be heroes.   But when we have a chance to intervene in lives that are arguably just as desperate, we are turning a blind eye.  We want to be safe.  We don’t actually want to be brave and risky.  We certainly don't want to risk any of our own precious comforts to make space for someone else.

There are so many places where we have made safety an idol, and based on what I can see, it does not serve us well.  We end up clinging to things that are temporal.  We batten down our hatches and dot our 'i's and cross our 't's, and still people can walk in and shoot us almost anywhere we are.  That is our current reality.

So how do we live in light of this?

For our family, we will ask questions when responding to situations.  Can we help?  Should we intervene?  In what ways is God asking us to risk and give and suffer - all things that he has clearly laid out in his word that we are to do?  Should we be speaking up and giving voice to those who cannot?  

This does not mean that we will live recklessly, but I don't want to be a slave to safety, knowing full well that nothing on earth is ever guaranteed.  Ever.  I'm not going to put my eggs in that basket.  I'm hoping and praying that our country will open up to more refugees, because that is what I would hope would be done for my family if we were in that situation.  I've also contacted our politicians, because if I'm going to whine about it, I feel like I should whine to someone who gets a say in it.  #democracy  

Thinking through this and praying through it has been a good exercise for both John and I, and as we've talked, we've realized how much our hearts have changed over the past years.  For all of the difficulties that we have faced, and the pain, I'm thankful.  It has given us greater compassion and a better sense of what God has for our family.  We will not be playing it safe - which is equal parts terrifying and exciting.  

(I wrote a similar post after we took our children to SE Asia back in 2012 if you want to read it, here.)

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