12 We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!
13 But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.
1 Corinthians 13:12 (MSG)
I was able to make it in to work early one morning – making my way to the office on Water Street driving by the memorial on 4th. The morning was just as dreary as the memorial – hazy, silent, and wet. As I was getting out of my car on the top deck and looked towards the mountains I saw nothing but fog; I was fascinated by it. It’s not like I’ve never seen fog before – low or high. This fog was different. I couldn’t even see the traffic coming down Pantops Mountain. It was thick, heavy – the same as the Charlottesville atmosphere from the prior weekend.
I knew that I would be able to see once the fog lifts. “I can see clearly now the [fog] has gone. I can see all obstacles in my way.” Poor Charlottesville; we’ve been so blind. We allowed an inanimate object to give light and life to racism. Sure, we all know it exists, but not so violently in this college town – voted one of the best places to live, best place to retire; Charlottesville – the heart of Virginia where it is claimed that “Virginia is for Lovers”.
There are times in our life where we operate outside of love, letting outside influences intrude the core of our being. It changes us, turns us into someone (or should I say “something”) we are not. Hate and hurt are ugly.
I was once in a relationship that turned abusive. I was hurt, confused, angry, and lost. I didn’t know how each day would be. Would today be a home of peace or full of confusion and anger? Would I be able to relax or would I have to guard my grill and knuckle up? It got to a point where I was always ready to, and looked forward to having to, guard my grill and knuckle up. Instead of waiting for Mister to put his hands on me, spit on me, and verbally abuse me… it was on! My mindset became “I’m-going-to-get-you-before-you-get-me”. Hate and anger took over. I was in defense mode at all times. I felt like I had to fight and there was no other way to survive. I allowed someone else’s hate and guilt to enter my home and allowed it to be the environment I lived in. I allowed it to intrude and change who I was. I knew it wasn’t right, safe, livable, or love; it was dangerous and destructive, almost leading to death. And here’s this intruder – Mister and all that he carried with him. Mister had to go. The monster I became had to go. What I realized (and cling on to ‘til this day) is that Mister is a trigger … a trigger of the past, of history, of a generational curse that needs to be broken.
The Robert E. Lee statue in the park is just a trigger; a trigger of what is hidden and not fully confronted and dealt with. Thomas Jefferson is blamed for the slave mentality spirit in Charlottesville. Wes Bellamy is blamed for initiating the removal of the statue. Jason Kessler is blamed for the rally. These one persons initiated change that causes destruction. Can we be the one person that initiates change for love and peace? It’s not going to be easy. There will be more protests, more rallies, more fights, and possibly more deaths. When do we take responsibility for self and in how we respond to the circumstances? There has to be a time when someone grows up – not give up – but grows up and say, “Enough is enough”. Who is going to be the bigger person or organization, campaigning for peace without violence and not abuse our freedoms? When do we use the bigger weapon of Love and let it thrive?
Being in an abusive relationship got old quickly and didn’t change until I changed my look on it. No matter how hard I physically and verbally fought, nothing changed. No matter what I thought should be and what the potential was, nothing changed. I had to be the change for the change to occur. Peace is what I was striving for. Safety is what I was striving for. Healing is what I strive for. Breaking a generational curse is what I strive for. The one thing that needed to change first was love of self. It took years for me to say that “I like me” and “I love me”. I love me! I’m not perfect, but there’s a Perfect Love. A Love that removes darkness and despair to enlighten and illuminate who I am.
That same Love can conquer the hate and hurt that resides in Charlottesville. It’s going to take a lot of work, patience, understanding, and love. An important component of recovery is not to let the outside influences reside and take over who you are and are called to be. You have to know who you are! Allow God to show and tell you who YOU are. If God created you to be a militant, so be it. If God created you to be a bandwagon follower, so be it. I do know God created you to love. So be it. Be love.
As the fog lifted that morning, I was reassured that Charlottesville will get better, the United States will get better (great again?), the world will get better. It depends on how you see it.