Archive for February, 2012

Citizenship 101: Ethics in War

This blog was inspired by an experience I had the other day.  I plan on sharing the experience itself soon, but for my own understanding, I had to process it on a philosophical level first.  Thus, even though this post is largely theoretical, just know that it serves as a reaction to a practical scenario.  

I believe that life in the Kingdom is marked by the fruit of the Spirit:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  And yet, I can’t help but notice a lot of martial imagery, even in the New Testament.  Reading Paul, it would appear that as citizens in God’s kingdom, we are also soldiers.  At least, that’s how Paul refers to his fellow Christians:  in Phil. 2:25, he calls Epaphroditus his “fellow worker and fellow soldier”; he also describes Archippus as his fellow soldier in Philemon 1:2.  Similarly, he instructs Timothy to “endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus,” and reminds him that “no one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs–he wants to please his commanding officer” (2 Tim. 2:3-4).  Perhaps you could argue that Paul is just using figurative language, but it seems to me that Jesus’ kingdom talk could be viewed similarly.  Right now, my conclusion is that as much as one is a metaphor, the other is a metaphor; as much as one is real, the other is real.

But wait–how can we be soldiers when Jesus tells us repeatedly to do such wussy things, like,

 “Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. 43 You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matt. 5:38-45).

Seriously?  What kind of soldier does not resist his enemies??  Why would Paul refer to us as fighters, if we are not supposed to fight?

The reason for this seeming discrepancy is that in Paul’s language, people are not our enemies.  According to him, “ our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12).  And thus, he tells us to outfit ourselves in such a way as to wage war with these enemies:

13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”  (Eph. 6:13-18).

Okay, so our enemies are not people, and our weapons are not guns, hatred, anger, or poisoned words; instead, they are truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, God’s Spirit, His word, and prayer.  Those might sound kind of lame and ineffective compared to brute strength or biting rhetoric, but Paul assures the Corinthians that God’s weapons are all we need:

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. ” (2 Cor. 10:3-5).

Our weapons are powerful, and they are perfectly suited to our mission.  But what is the mission?  Reading Paul’s words about our enemies, I must admit I get a little confused.  “Spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”?  What the what?  And demolishing strongholds?  Huh?

I get some insight into the big picture from Paul’s words just a chapters earlier in the same letter.  Here, Paul does a great job of clearly laying out what we are supposed to be doing as Christians.  In these verses, I find the ideas that hold everything else together:

“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  (2 Cor. 5:14-21)

See, our mission is not to destroy people; it is to save them.  Our number one goal is to reconcile the people to God.  And strongholds?  Those are the things that separate people from God.  Paul says as much when he describes strongholds as “arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God” (2 Cor. 5:5).  In short, the picture I get is that our “enemy” is anything that separates man from God.

Here’s another big point:  it seems that God’s system has evolved in this area.  See, in the Old Testament, the Law commanded that the Israelites stone people for several different offenses.  The purpose of that brutality seemed to be to cut off evil from the group.  According to the Law, it would seem that the enemies of God were people, and that you overcame said enemies by literally bludgeoning them to death with rocks.  And, you know, that gets confusing when you compare it to Paul’s words (not to mention Jesus’).  In fact, I don’t really know what to say about that besides two things:  it didn’t work (evil was always present in the Israelites), and the New Testament gives us more sophisticated weaponry.

To me, it’s the difference between fire bombing a city and using strategic missiles to take out specific, high-value targets.  For all the casualties that the first causes, the second is actually more effective.  You can stone people all day long, but you aren’t going to beat the devil that way.  And also?  Stoning people is horrific.

So Jesus and Paul aren’t backing down.  They aren’t being wusses.  They are being more precise in their definition of enemy and more sophisticated in their tactics of taking him down.  Their ways have far less civilian casualties.

Here’s one way Paul describes our new fighting tactics:

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:

‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.

21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  (Rom. 12: 17-21).

Here is another way:

“We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. 4 Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; 5 in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; 6 in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; 7 in truthful speech and in the power of God;with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left;8through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; 9 known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything” (2 Cor. 6: 3-10).

Okay, that’s all I have for now.  Here’s my (current) conclusion:  as citizens in God’s kingdom, we are also called to be soldiers.  Our mission:  to reconcile man with God.  Our enemy:  the devil and his schemes to separate man from God.  Our weapons:  righteousness, goodness the “armor of God” in Ephesians 6.  Our tactics:  loving people.

Right now, this is all theoretical, not to mention constantly evolving in my brain.  Hopefully, I’ll give you a scenario that puts some flesh on these ideological bones soon.  Until then, I’m open to any suggestions/revisions!

The Practice of a Happy Bedtime

Today, I am blogging as part of the “Practices of Parenting Carnival” held by Sarah Bessey at Emerging Mummy.  Even though Kingdom Civics is not a “mom blog,” I do view my parenting as one of my most important roles in God’s Kingdom.  Thus, when Sarah asked us to share one of our practices of parenting that makes the experience enjoyable, I couldn’t resist.  Enjoy!

EmergingMummy.com

“The Practice of a Happy Bedtime”

I have long held the belief that a child’s bedtime should serve the same psychological purpose as the last five minutes of a Full House episode.

Remember that show?  In the world of Full House, the first twenty five minutes were fraught with conflicts, misunderstandings, and zany hijinks…which would always be totally resolved and redeemed in the last five minutes of the show.  It kind of became a joke, the way everything was tied up with a nice little bow at the end.  If only real life worked that way, we thought…

…Well, I think there is a time that real life should work that way, and that time is bedtime.  No matter what craziness, chaos, heartache, or drama happens during the day, I want my children’s last thoughts at night to be that they are loved dearly, that they have people in their corner, and that everything is going to be alright.  Life can be tough on children, and we parents can’t always kiss all that pain away.  However, I have found that pouring in peace and comfort at the end of a day is invaluable for children.  In fact, I know that it is invaluable.  I know because that happy, affirming bedtime was my bedtime as a child.

Most of my childhood bedtime memories are all a blur of Bible stories and pleas for “just one more” chapter of whatever book we were reading, mixed in with hugs, kisses, rubbing noses, and “I love you more’s.”  But there are a couple of bedtime memories that really stand out to me, times when my life was filled with fear and disappointment…only to be redeemed at bedtime.  Both memories happened within the same general age range, somewhere between 10 and 11.  I know because of the house we were living at, and because I no longer slept in my brother’s room on his top bunk.  Instead, I slept in my pink explosion of a room, snugly under my ruffly comforter.

I know I was at least ten for the first memory because I had been baptized….and a dreadful realization had come upon me.  I realized that I did not love God.  Or, at least, I didn’t know if I did.  I did know that I loved my parents and my brother, and that my love for God did not compare with the feelings I had for them.  This thought absolutely wrecked me.  I really wanted to love God, but I didn’t know how to make myself feel the same way about Him that I did about my family.  And clearly, this lack of warm fuzzy love feelings meant that I wasn’t going to go heaven.  After all, how could one go to heaven without loving God??  My lack of “feelings” for God left me completely despondent.  What kind of person was I, who didn’t love God??  And more importantly, how could I ever confess this dark truth to my parents, who thought the world of me?  Man…it’s tough being a kid sometimes.  Thankfully, my mom knew that something was wrong, and it didn’t take much prying on her part before I burst into tears one night at bedtime.  In between sobs, I told her, “I don’t think…I’m going…to heaven.”  Startled, she asked why not.  “Because I don’t love God!”  I wailed.  Of course, by this time she was completely taken aback, but I remember that she gently tried to console me with the thought that, of course I loved God.  I tried to explain everything to her how I loved my family so much, and how I just didn’t think I loved God as much as I loved my family.  And everyone knows you are supposed to love God more than you love anyone or anything else.  You are supposed to love Him with all your heart and all your soul and all your strength and all your mind, after all!

I don’t know if my mom was trying not to laugh at this point, or if she was grieved at how much I was beating myself up.  I do know that she must have been at a loss of how to console a ten year old who thought she was going to hell.  After trying everything she could to convince me that I did love God very much, even if I didn’t realize it…she punted.  “You know,” she said, “I think there’s a verse in the Bible that says, ‘If a woman has love as small as a mustard seed, she will be saved.'”  [Update:  There’s not a verse in the Bible that says that].

I sniffled.  “Really?  It says that?”

“Yep,” my mom affirmed, “it sure does.”

[Update:  No.  No it does not.]

“Well…I do think I have at least that much love…”

“See?”  my mom said triumphantly, “Nothing to worry about!”

I felt like a huge weight come off my shoulders.  But I still had one question.

“It says that about a woman who loves God?  But what about a man?”

My mom just laughed and waved the concern away.  “It probably says something like, ‘He is to be praised.'”

I cracked up.  I love that moment when tears turn into laughter.  There is magic in that moment.  And there was peace, sweet peace in my soul, as well as joy and love.  After some more hugs and kisses, my mom tucked me happily into bed, visions of hellfire put off for another day…

My other great bedtime memory came after either the 4th or the 5th grade spelling bee.  I had won my class spelling bee and got to compete in the school-wide bee.  I really wanted to win.  My best friend at the time always won everything; she was always just a little smarter than me, a little better, a little prettier.  And because of that, I really had this hunger to distinguish myself.  Since I was a good speller, I thought that this was my chance to do it.

I will never forget the word I missed:  mystify.

To this day, I am mystified at how I could misspell the word mystify–and how I could misspell it so confidently!  See, when they called out the word, “mystify,” I immediately thought of “mist.”  As in, when you are mystified, it’s like a mist clouds your understanding.  I saw the picture so clearly, of a person confused, surrounded by a mist.  And so of course, I spelled it with confidence:

“Mystify.  M-I-S-T-I-F-Y.  Mystify.”

I was shocked when it was wrong.  Only when I left the stage to sit with the others who had been eliminated did it occur to me:  it wasn’t like mist, it was like mystery.  Mystery, Kim, not mist…mysteries, like the ones you love to read so much?  People are mystified by mysteries.  You. Idiot.

I had learned all about the importance of being a good sport, but inside, I was crushed.  Looking back, I think that was the first time I was genuinely depressed.  I remember trying to pretend like it was okay, that I was taking it all in stride, but the truth was, I was so, so sad.  I went to bed that night feeling that weight of sorrow.

It was funny that night, because it was dad who came in and sat on the edge of my bed, his weight pulling the covers more tightly around me.  We usually kissed dad before we went to bed; it was usually mom who came to our bedside to bid us goodnight.  But here was my father, big and important in his stiff, dark suit, smelling like business and tobacco and cologne and the world.  He cut an odd and imposing figure sitting on my pink, girly comforter, under which his 11-year old daughter lay in a heap of failure.  I was all ears.

“You know,” he started, “I was in a spelling bee once.  In second grade.”

It was always novel to picture my dad as a little boy.  I had no doubt that my father was one of the most important, powerful men in our city, if not the world, and thinking of him as having once been a little boy almost felt like knowing a secret weakness about him.

“I was excited, because I had never been in a spelling bee, had never won one.  I had never won anything at all, in fact, and I thought that here, finally, was a chance to win something.”

My heart was already starting to break in anticipation.

“We went through a few rounds, and then I got up, and heard my word:  women.  I was so happy because it was such an easy word.  And so, confidently I started…”

I knew it was coming, but I couldn’t quite believe there was ever a time that my dad could not spell, “women.”

“W…”

Oh, no.  I knew what got him.

“…I…

Oh, man.

“M-I-N.”

Both vowels!

And there it was.  My father, at one point, could not spell the word, women.  I couldn’t help it:  I laughed.  But it was truly a laugh in commiseration.  After all, I was in 4th grade and couldn’t spell mystify.  But there was something so heartening in the fact that I was not alone in losing a spelling bee.  And also, if my dad could come back from misspelling women to go on to become one of the most important men in the world…then surely there was hope for me, too.

On that raft of hope, I was able to float peacefully off to dreamland.

And…roll credits.

I love looking back on those moments.  In those special times, my parents were the Dragon Slayers, vanquishing fear and sorrow from my wounded soul.  I see now, though, that these rescues were simply the natural outgrowth of the time they put into every night to make sure that all was well with my brother and me.  They worked hard to keep us in a world full of love, peace, and joy, and that work was accomplished both through the normal routine of stories and kisses and through those rare crises.

And now, I get to build that sanctuary for my children.  I get to use the sacred routines of baths and stories, devos and prayers, kisses and whispers to create a layer of peace between them and the natural stressors of their young lives.  Being a child is tough sometimes.  My son’s dread of dealing with his grumpy art teacher is every bit as real and unsettling as the stresses in my life.  And that is where our happy bedtimes benefit both my children and myself.  It is a chance for all of us to let go of the failures and frustrations of the day, as well as all of the worries of tomorrow, and just remember how much we love each other.  All of the hugs and kisses and giggles and whispers remind us that life is good, even though it is not without its daily hurts and inconveniences.  And I have found, interestingly, that when I speak peace into my son’s troubled soul, the anxious child within me hears and is quieted, also.  We might be worried about different things, none of which are truly resolvable in the moment, but our soothing talks remind us that we are both loved, we are both blessed beyond measure, and we both always have people to come home to, people who absolutely adore us.

In that way, our happy bedtimes help to create a secure and peaceful world for both of us.

Life is Brutiful

Yesterday, as I was walking down the street to my car after teaching class, I had a thought.  The thought came as a migraine threatened, causing something behind my eye to pulse ominously.  The thought came as the pulsing increased, forcing me to scowl at the world in an attempt to block out the light.  It came as I passed a roaring construction site, crossed the street, told homeless George selling papers to have a good weekend, and noticed the brambles of dead vines  in the dormant patch of trees to my left.  The thought was this:

“Life is brutiful.”

I got that word from Glennon Melton over at Momastery.com.  She uses it to describe the intertwined brutal and beautiful nature of life, and she argues that since it is impossible to separate those two sides, the best thing to do is to embrace them both.  I could not agree more.

Take my headache, for example.  Like I alluded to in the last post, my headache came after almost a month of feeling bad, and I realized firsthand how consistent fatigue and illness can really depress one’s mood and turn them inward.  Take right now, I thought to myself.  I don’t care about anybody right now; all I can think about is my pounding head.  It is making me completely selfish.

OR.

Or, I thought, I can choose to let it teach me.  I can let it give me a sense of humor.  I mean, isn’t is just a little funny that I am walking past this incredibly loud construction site with a migraine?  Isn’t there some black humor in there?  I smiled to myself.  Life is brutiful.

Or, I thought, I can use my headache as a reminder that people suffer all the time, that people suffer without us ever knowing, and to be gentle with people who might be suffering.  I can let my pain awaken me to the suffering of others.  That thought prompted me to be extra nice to George as I passed by.  Life is brutiful.

Or, I thought, I can use my pain to help me find beauty in things that don’t normally seem beautiful.  Take this tangle of dead vines and trees.  They look so gray and ugly.  But are they really?  I looked more closely, and saw the intricacy in brambles, the delicacy of each individual vine…and I saw the promise of spring coming soon.  Life is brutiful.

You really can’t separate the brutal and the beautiful.  Even those moments that seem sublime get at least some of their joyous power from the black depths.

For example, yesterday at preschool, I was sitting outside in the van with Anna.  She requested that I roll down the window, because, in her words, “I just love feeling the breeze and the sunlight.”

It was truly a sublime moment watching her happily bask in God’s creation.  I promptly took a picture and posted that beauty to Facebook.  Surely, no darkness could be present here…

And yet.

The reason I obsessively record such moments, the reason I cherish each drop of heaven that comes from raising my two children is largely because of my precious brother’s untimely death almost three years ago.  The seismic shift that that event caused in my soul rocked me to my core.  It caused immense pain…but it also forever changed the way I view life and, particularly, motherhood.  It taught me, in a way far more profound than mere intellectual understanding, to savor every beautiful moment with my kids, to drink them up, to record them and revisit them often.  Now, would I trade that understanding in a second to have my brother back?  Heck yes–you bet I would.  But I don’t have that choice.  My only option is to embrace the brutiful.

This morning, I read over my 2012 prayer journal and was just about moved to tears over my January.  Reading over it, I realized how I really did spend most of it battling fatigue, illness, stress and even mild depression as a result of it all.  I really had no idea until I saw my daily entries, each pleading with God to help me feel better, to give me the energy to get through this day, to equip my inadequate soul to be a good teacher, a good minister’s wife, a good mother.  Besides the health issues, I realized what a big adjustment this year has been.  Less than a year ago, my son went to preschool eight hours a week, and my daughter was home full-time.  Just a few short months later, and my son is in kindergarten eight hours a day, and my daughter is in preschool three days a week.  Add to that a new house, a new state, a new church, and my first true job since my kids have been born…and it becomes obvious that I’m experiencing some growing pains.

But January was not simply hard; it was brutiful.  Because of the challenges, I also experienced some true spiritual highs.  I had healing and therapeutic talks with old friends, including a life-giving visit with my best bud from South Carolina.  I bonded with some wonderful sisters at my new church over some particularly transparent and open class discussions.  I was blessed by some of the most transcendent experiences with God’s nature, particularly His amazing sunrises, which He regularly used to pour peace and hope into my weary soul.  I had some incredible days with my children, since our greater separation compelled me to cherish every sweet second that they were at home.  My bond with my husband grew even deeper, as we once again teamed up through a tough time and established that we are not only spouses, we are BFF for life.

It was truly a brutiful month.

And now my mama is in town.  She regularly spoils us, and sometimes I admit I take it for granted.  But this visit, I am ready to kiss her feet.  My gratitude for her generosity, her love, and her thoughtfulness is overwhelming, in a way that it probably would not have been if my life had been sailing along smoothly.

One day, when I live in the fullness of God’s kingdom for eternity, life will be simply beautiful.  But for now, I thank Him for the brutiful. I thank Him for bringing beauty out of the brutal, for working all things for good, even as they cause us pain.  I thank Him for using our brutiful lives to draw us closer and closer to Him, so that finally, when the brutiful gives way to the beautiful, we will be right at home…

How has your life been brutiful?

Be a Force for Good

I was sick the month of January.

It’s February 1, and I’m still sick.

I tell my class that one day they will get to meet Healthy Kim, and I assure them that Healthy Kim is a delightful person.  Now don’t get me wrong; it’s not like I’ve been on death’s door the whole time.  Rather, I seem to be on an alternating course of a semi-healthy congestion-and-cough stage, which inevitably transitions into a feeling-like-I’m-going-to-die phase.  After a few days of the latter, I will resolve to Go. To. The. Doctor….but then I’ll start feeling better.  Unfortunately, during my feeling-like-I’m-going-to-die phase, my house begins to look like I have, in fact, died, and that I’ve left it with no one to take care of it.  Greg does his best to pick up the slack, but in between his full time job and taking care of the kids while he is home, there’s not a lot of time for deep cleaning.  The result is that on days like today, following a feeling-like-I’m-going-to-die stage, my house looks like a bomb went off in it.  The downside of the carnage is that I do not have the energy to whip it back into shape.  The upside is that the chaos allows me to meditate on what it means to be a force for good in this world.

See, when I walk out of my bathroom, and see a piece of laundry on my bedroom floor, my instinct is to pick it up.  When I do pick it up, however, only to see fifteen other pieces of laundry strewn across the floor, my instinct is to drop the piece of laundry back onto the floor and simply exit the room.  My reasoning is, “I am way too tired to pick up all that laundry, so why should I waste the energy to pick up one piece?  One less piece of laundry on the floor makes no difference in the big picture; the room still looks trashed.”  And then I walk into the kitchen and have the same experience with the dishes, and I move into the playroom and repeat the reasoning in the midst of all the toys.  Finally, I tend to sit down on the couch, defeated, and check my Facebook.

Thankfully, I’ve found a line of reasoning that works on my overwhelmed and exhausted mind in times when the chaos of life threatens to overtake me.  Instead of making any kind of definite goals (actual levels of productivity being well beyond my capabilities in such compromised states), I simply tell myself to

“Be a force for good.”

In other words, don’t worry about the mess.  Don’t worry about the chaos.  Don’t think about the effort it would take to get this room cleaned.  Simply do something that will help the situation, not hurt it.  And so, as I pass through the kitchen, I will move one coffee cup from the table to the sink.  Just one cup, and I won’t even load it in the dishwasher.  And then I’ll tell myself, “Good job, Kim!  You were a force for good!”

(Yes, I actually do this.)

And then when I go to rest a second on the couch and find that there’s no room on it, I will tell myself, “Rather than push everything into a big pile, hang up that one coat, which will clear you some room.”  And I hang it up, and I congratulate myself again.  It goes on like that for awhile:  I do little, insignificant actions that don’t make the house look any better, but that make me “a force for good.”  See, even though I don’t see the results, I know that I made a little difference in the dynamic of my house.  Instead of causing chaos, I brought just a smidgen of order.

What inevitably happens is that my tiny actions start to change my mindset.  Gradually, I will be a force for good no matter where I walk in the house.  At one point, I may even decide to make a bed!  Or unload the dishwasher!  Or fold a load of laundry!  The hardest part is to get the ball rolling.  Once I start to move, however, I gradually become more and more of a consistent force for good.  But when I first survey the carnage, it is almost impossible for me not to fall into despair.

I have the same reaction when I survey the chaos of the world.  When I start to think of all the broken lives around me (not to mention those around the world)…and I begin to contemplate the amount of effort it would take to get involved in just one…and I begin to comprehend what a drop in the bucket all that effort would ultimately amount to….my temptation is just to say, “Forget it!”  And walk away.  Step over the piece of laundry, and exit the room.

I don’t think I’m alone in that temptation.  I know that, for example, whenever I talk about trying to buy fair trade chocolate, the most typical reaction I encounter is of the overwhelmed soul who sees fair trade chocolate as the 15th piece of laundry on the floor and wonders what the point is in picking up that one.  And just as it seems ridiculous that I cheer myself on when I move one coffee cup to the sink in the midst of a disastrous kitchen, it seems strange to people to choose one product to avoid, when there are so many other “bad” ones out there.  To such people, I just want to say,

Be a force for good.

If fair trade chocolate doesn’t ring your bell, then find out what does.  Or better yet, ask God where He wants you to start.  The bottom line is that once you start being a force for good, however tiny, your actions will eventually transform your mindset.  You begin to identify yourself as that positive force, and your new-found identity will start to run over into other aspects of your life.

In the end, the world may not be transformed…but your life most certainly will.

How are you a force for good?

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