For more than ten years, I have skipped resolutions in favor of themes for the New Year. I ask God to give me a word and then I wait. Some years, he gives me more than one word, like in 2007 (Purpose and Vision) and in 2008 (Laughter and Possibilities).
2017 is going to be another two-word year. 2015 was DREAM and it was in that year I began to wrestle with my dreams for the future and eventually found myself dreaming a new dream. This January, I will return to college for the first time in thirteen years. This whole going-back-to-school thing is born of that 2015 theme being followed by my word for 2016, which was Daring.
I did a lot of daring things in 2016, including a month living away from my family (in Honduras) and starting work as a preschool teacher. The latter has turned out to take more daring than the first.
For the last few weeks, I have wrestled with my theme for 2017. I kept hearing two words, but I only wanted one of them.
I only wanted Justice.
My heart is so focused on justice lately. I am in a place of needing to fix the world. If you know anything about Spiral Dynamics (thank you Liturgists Podcast), you will understand when I tell you I am in an orange/green phase of life.
Peace felt like a weak word to be handed by a strong God.
But then it hit me… Peace and Justice are synonyms. Or, at the very least, they are intimately connected. In my own soul, I cannot have one without the other. I was driving along, listening the the Liturgists, and one of them quoted Jesus, “Love God and love neighbor,” and it gut-punched me.
Peace and Justice.
God and Neighbor.
True peace requires everyone to be loved and taken care of. True peace requires no need to strive for justice because justice and mercy have already been handed out.
Or maybe, for my spirit, true peace can only come when I am certain I am striving for justice in the ways that I can, in the ways that I am called to do so. I need to be loving God and loving Neighbor.
I don’t know for sure. It is something I will be wrestling with in 2017. Rarely does my theme turn out to mean exactly what I think it will mean. The Year of Patience was pretty hellacious. And the year of Oblation ended with me questioning every aspect of my faith and religion.
And I already had a year of Peace in 2011. Maybe 2017 will add new dimensions to what I thought I learned that year.
I have created a list of Peace/Justice books on Goodreads. Some are books I have read. Some I want to read and some have been suggested as additions. I am still taking recommendations, so leave a comment or send me a message. There may be some inclusions that seem odd to you, but that is because I am still trying to figure out what kinds of Peace and Justice God means.
My heart is most broken for racial justice.
I feel as though I have lived too many years in a white-washed world.
That isn’t what formed me. I grew up in a diverse school system. My friends in high school were Korean, Black, Filipino, Hispanic, and White. My white friends were not the “upper-class” white girls with the expensive clothes and the right shoes and the perfect make-up. Those girls were mean to me. I felt safer with my friends of color or my friends who were, like me, poor to middle-class. The thing is, I never thought about how diverse my friend-group was. They were my friends. End of story.
Now I realize my experience is not the norm, at least not for the people around me in adulthood. I have to make a conscious effort to ensure my children have friends from other races and cultures. When I am in an environment with people of multiple races, I notice they seem to self-segregate, and I don’t feel free to cross that line very often. When did that happen? Did I change or did other people change or is it the difference of place?
I grew up near a military base. My dad only dated black women and married a black woman. I feel out-of-place with non-diverse groups, but there is no good way to say that. How do you say, “I miss black people?” I miss the smell of Kimmi eating kimchi and the flow of Spanish words and Kim Jones putting me in her afro wig in Creative Writing class and EJ dancing with me on my 17th birthday, his dreads swinging and our bodies close with no thought to what color skin we each lived in.
I miss reveling in the differences found in humanity, exploring those differences rather than disdaining them.
Lately, I want to walk around with a sign above my head: “I don’t like Trump. I am not racist. I want to fix this mess of a world.” I can’t do that, so I am trying to live in such a way that those things are obvious to anyone who meets me. Not in an alienating political way, but in a way that invites others into conversation and relationship.
I want my life to be an open door to community for everyone I meet, regardless of race, culture, socioeconomics, sexual orientation, gender-identity, political party, etc… I am sure I missed a category but I am so tired of needing categories. I want to be in community with you all.
I don’t want anyone to assume that, because I am white and Christian, I am…. well… anything. I don’t want people assuming things about me, and I don’t want to assume things about people. I want to be aware of my white privilege and use it to help others or else walk away from it in protest. I don’t know. I just want to be better than I am.
I don’t have little goals.
But neither did Jesus. He wanted to love the whole world.
So do I.