“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change.”
Every Sunday morning, the church choir and I spend time in reflection and silence before we begin the first worship service. I often offer my thoughts on the day's theme or the state of the world, providing context to the message we bring.
On a recent Sunday, I said to the choir, “So often, we make the mistake of living according to our hopes instead of according to our realities.” I didn't mean to say it, and I didn't know that I would. But as I did, the statement became immediately true.
I wonder if, in our efforts to “be the change we wish to see in the world,” we stop short at our ideal selves: the idea of ourselves we are most comfortable with. I wonder how often I think I've already been the change—and I'm waiting idly for the tendencies of the world to catch up. I’m unsettled by how frequently I’m surprised by my own social idiocy. How many times need I screw up the same person's pronouns, or note that I am not surprised that the person who just nearly ran me off the road is of a certain race and/or age, or make immediate assumptions about someone because of what I perceive to be their class?
Or maybe this is a better question: How many times do I need to make mistakes at the expense of other people, or people’s groups, before I’m ready to admit that I’m not any better at this than the bigoted and willfully ignorant?
I am liberal. Often painfully so. I am not enlightened. I am not elevated. I am not better. But I believe, with everything I am, that I can be.
“Change” is a word on wheels. It’s not a destination, but a journey. If I am to “be change,” I must commit to humility and refuse to settle for my own comforting achievements.
That which is in us and all around us and which constantly draws us to our holiest selves, remove from me any spirit of complacency that would aim to prevent me from seeing the truth of myself. Strengthen me as I commit to a lifestyle of development. And, remind me that that lifestyle is simply called love. Amen.