When I finish reading Twitter or listening to the news, I honestly don’t know what to do and I can’t remember ever feeling this way before.
As a country, we are reeling from the losses experienced as a result of COVID-19, and looking full on at systematic injustice. Approximately 1 in 3 Americans are anxious and depressed. This is as complex a time as I can remember. People are writing op-eds and lengthy social media posts, and as I read them, I feel convicted, encouraged, challenged, and confused all within minutes.
What are we to do? What are we to say? What do we tell our children?
Facing global pandemics and acknowledging inequality may be new to me, but not to God. He’s seen hard and hurt wash over our planet more times than I could count even if I tried. When I want marching orders from Him, I usually turn to Proverbs- just tell me what to do!
Here’s what I am learning:
1. Proverbs 18:13 If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.
I need to take this time to learn, be educated. It’s not a time for trying to be right or defensive, but for growth. I am working hard to avoid conversations about opinions and listen instead for someone’s experiences and our history.
2. Proverbs 11:2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.
If we walk out of this season wiser, the enemy loses. How can I grow in wisdom? Through humility, which usually starts with confession. I am trying to recognize my sin faster, watch how fear drives my behavior, hold my tongue, and admit when I am prideful. That full-time job is humbling me to the extent I don’t have time to judge.
3. Proverbs 10: 12 Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.
Does what I am writing (in an email, or a social media post) sound loving? Are my conversations loving? Is my attitude or dinner conversation loving? This has to be chief, more than right, more than anything else, God made it clear: love is how they will know we are His kids.
4. Proverbs 15: 1 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
“I am sorry.”
“I hear you.”
“I can’t imagine.”
“I didn’t know.”
I am finding soft answers open hearts and doors for real exchange. When I am protective and defensive, no matter the volume, understanding is shut down and worse yet, so is relationship.
5. Proverbs 18:2 A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.
I don’t need to be heard, and I don’t need to be right. That’s a relief, because there is a lot of pressure that comes with needing to be seen as right. It’s pretty liberating to listen instead of talk, and admit ignorance instead of defending behavior.
6. Proverbs 26: 11 Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.
When we know better, we can do better. May I ask better questions going forward and live differently as a result of the stirring happening in me.
That vague feeling we have is grief. We are grieving all kinds of loss in this season, and listening paves the path through grief and leads us to hope. I want to be used by God to advance His kingdom and the wisdom of Proverbs is lighting the way.