It's kind of funny that I'm writing this blog post in light of the holy discontent expressed in my last post. But there is something to be said about the struggle I face daily with my anger over injustice, and my lack of grace for perpetrators and bystanders.
This is my biggest struggle - impatience, irritability, and frustration with those who I judge as being hypocritical. Of course I fall into that category as well, and that only increases my irritability, because then I start disliking who I am too. It is my darkest side and it comes out in all sorts of ways.
My beauty is found in the grace I surprise myself with - both for myself, and for others. I have learned that if I preach love for the homeless because they're real people, then I actually have to love all real people. That's hard to do. It's easier for me to be scornful towards wealthy Christians who drive Hummers, and to care deeply for vulnerable and ill people without a roof over their heads. But this is hypocrisy - I'm telling it like it is.
It's more socially acceptable in my circles to slam the rich, because slamming the poor makes you an inhuman monster. But the reality is there is good and bad in everyone. Love is about what you choose to see in the other. I choose to look at a homeless person and see her sense of humor, or his generosity. I choose to look at a Christian who has never served anyone outside of the church and see her hypocrisy, or his callousness. That is more about my lack of grace than their lack of heart.
As hard as it is, (because it's actually pretty fun to mock rich Christians with their heads in the sand), this is not what God calls me to do. I have been wrong. I have contributed to the divide between the social justice activist types, and the "normal" people who think we're all angry bra-burners. See, I think the thing that scares everyday people about activists, is the anger. Nobody likes being around angry people. And when that anger comes out, people think that we're trying to make them feel guilty. That's when the defensiveness shoots up.
What if we actually practiced what we preached, and loved everybody? What if, instead of mocking the corporate types, we befriended them? What if we actually lived out Galatians 5:22-23? I was reading this book two nights ago, after a long day at work where I was irritable and exhausted. Shockingly, I found out that irritability and exhaustion are not fruits of the Spirit? What?! But I was doing so much good during the day! :)
Apparently, or so I read, the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The more I think about it, the more I realize that often the Christians in the megachurches do exhibit many of these characteristics. Not all, and not consistently, but I'm far more likely to characterize a megachurch congregant this way than I am a social justice activist. There is much that front-line staff have to learn from those that we get frustrated with. We have to approach the discussion with humility. We are the experts on loving homeless people, but not on loving in general. And that's humbling.
Front-line staff often burn out - frustration that nobody else understands, that the work seems insurmountable, that people are dying on mats at Alpha because they have nowhere they can access health care... all of these things create burnout. Anger and discontent can be holy, but only when tempered with a healthy dose of love, peace, patience, etc. And that's the lesson I'm currently learning. It's hard breaking the mental habits, and I'm really bad at it. But Christ is in me, and one day, it's gonna show.