My guiding words for 2017

Sometimes inspiration comes from unexpected places. Recently it ambushed me by way of an interview that entertainer/faux (?) journalist Samantha Bee conducted with pundit Glenn Beck. (If you click on the link, be prepared for strong language.) In it Bee and Beck, who inhabit opposite ends of the political spectrum, acknowledged that they have more in common than it seems. They celebrated their fledgling friendship by sharing a strange bedfellows cake.

That liberals and conservatives can work together on issues affecting us all was no surprise to me. What did catch me off guard was Glenn Beck’s warning that Samantha Bee was in danger of becoming – like him – a “catastrophist,” someone who reads the worst into every headline. As the earth has shifted beneath my feet the past couple of months, I’ve had to refocus myself continually on hope, courage, and justice. In those many moments when I’ve been less than successful at this, I too have been tiptoeing into catastrophist territory. (Vigilance and action are warranted in such a time as this. Catastrophism, however, consumes physical, mental, and spiritual energy that could be used more constructively.)

Surprised by this self-knowledge, three adjectives popped to mind, and they will serve as my touchstones for the year. I aim to be:

Curious. What’s really happening in this situation? What do I not yet understand? What’s going on inside of me? Denial and assumptions rarely lead to the best course of action.

Present. Who is around me? What do they need from me? What do I need so that I can stay engaged, insofar as it is productive? Insulating ourselves from the hopes and fears of others has led to a fractured church and a deeply-divided country.

Resilient. How will I stoke my resolve to be kind when kindness is not returned? To be brave when I am scared? To see things as they are, but still move forward in the confidence that this bad thing is not the last thing? 2017 promises many setbacks to the commitments I hold dear, but as matters of faith and integrity, I must keep showing up.

This is my mindset as we begin the new year. What word(s), phrase, quote, or song is guiding you? Let’s support and hold one another accountable.

Creative Commons image “New Years 2017” by maf04 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

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