By the time this article is published, it will be 2018. Many of the tragic and sad events that happened in 2017 will be discussed starting with “Last year….” Moreover, we will be thinking about accomplishing our new year’s resolutions for 2018. Not that I walked more last year as I vowed on the New Year prior. I did not exercise more. I did not eat less or in a healthier manner. No (at least not by choice).
Thus, because we did not accomplish our 2017 resolutions, this year we will make ourselves believe that our new goals are truly effective, reasonable and achievable. “I will exercise more!” (yeah right), “I will eat healthier.” (Umm hum, sure), and “I will be a better, more inclusive person.” (easier said than done).
Among resolutions, popular ones include “pick our fights” and “stop getting stressed by that you cannot change.” And don’t forget this popular expression that always comes to the fore “I will leave it in the hands of God.” As last year, this new year will come along with tragic, saddening, sickening, and uncertain events and feelings. It is always like that, and sadly, this year will be no different.
I bring this idea to the table because most often we fail to accomplish our goals, not because we are mean, lazy, or uncaring, but because we have learned to leave the “heavy lifting” to others. Oh yes, we complain and we rant and rave. But when it comes to being active and getting involved, we back off and we do…not much. And I wonder: what happened to our fighting spirit and our conviction to act for what we feel is right?
Leaving it all in the hands of God is not enough. Merely proclaiming that we are “prolife” is not enough, for example. In fact, I don’t believe we don’t even have that concept right! See… being truly prolife also means I am against wars; I am against capital punishment; I am against women having children for the sake of having children, disregarding the outcome of a child who most likely will be maltreated, abused, neglected and in some instances, killed. In other words, being prolife should also mean that we will be concerned that every baby and mother are given the best possible care and respect during birth and after. We will be obliged to do everything we can to help babies and mothers to be truly healthy and able to thrive.
But let’s leave that topic alone. Let’s talk about leaving things in the hands of God and in our prayers, as opposed to fighting with all our might to end what we believe to be wrong. Oh yes, for the Christian person that is the pious thing to do. It sounds and looks good! And thus, we continue with our lives as if nothing happened. And I wonder: what does that exactly mean? What is “putting it in the hands of God and in our prayers” mean?
When I moved here to Savannah, I learned the popular ending to some phrases “God bless her/his heart” as the ending to a certainly unflattering comment about the person. And I found it so hilarious. Someone had just expressed horrible things about someone else, but at the end they asked the Lord to bless them! It struck me as quite hypocritical. In both cases I felt they were the “right” excuses to do nothing! They are merely appropriate ways to avoid saying that we don’t care.
To me, personally, saying the right things versus acting the right ways are not synonymous behaviors. Saying something just puts words in my mouth, while acting on it creates change. God created man in His image and likeness (cf. Gn 1: 27). But God is spirit. He has no hands. We are His hands and voice. Hands that can be the blessing in creating and building, vs. killing. Hands that sow and reap, vs. destroying nature. Hands that caress vs. hands that hit. Hands with palm opens or with fists closed. In essence, when I see my hands, what do I see? Do I see the hands of God working towards the common good, or do I see the hands of evil.
God created us in His image and likeness not to shift responsibility for our lives back on Him whenever we feel like it. We are, or should be, His representatives here on earth. Let’s not forget that and let’s stop the dumping our responsibilities in “His hands and in our prayers” just because we have become too lazy and too callous to actually “do” something.
Let’s be clear, allowing politicians and party representatives to drive the talk about religion and religious freedom means abandoning our responsibilities as women and men of faith. ANY faith. Allowing, for example, the Supreme Court to pass and affirm the proactive right for people to use religious exemption to deny services to somebody based on their sexual orientation, is forfeiting our right and our responsibility to speak about “our” Gods as we understand it.
Allowing politicians to decide who crosses our country’s borders and who doesn’t, based on their religious backgrounds, while we condemn other humans based on their faiths, is not being pious, compassionate, or responsible as the voice of our God. It is being lazy. It is being hypocritical. And we continue to allow things to happen that we outwardly say we are opposed to, things that are contrary to our belief systems.
Do I mind? Yes. But that is not the point. The point is that we should only complain about things we have actively and energetically worked to change.
Happy New Year! Let’s be the Voice and the Hands of our God this year.