A Message for the Organizers of the Women’s March on Washington: How ‘Bout Respect for ALL Women?

When I first got wind of the Women’s March on Washington I thought it might be a positive, healthy outlet for me.  I’ve been disgusted by the language used as our president-elect campaigned for what ironically has been called the bully pulpit.  I’ve been heart broken by the sexual violence suffered by some of the women I love.  I’ve been outraged by the inequities within our criminal justice system.  I’ve felt fear for marginalized groups of people in our society.

My initial impression of the march was that women and men were coming together to protest disrespect shown toward women and others who feel marginalized. I can say YES to that!

I wanted to believe that all the sad divisiveness of the past year had risen up a movement to bring women of different backgrounds, political beliefs and faiths together, with common goals of respect, peace, dignity and a desire to build bridges.

My daughter and some of her friends plan to march and I was thrilled that they have this forum to display their power as women and voice their right to respect.  “Why not me?”, I thought, “I need an outlet too and I want to show solidarity”.  However, as a 58 year old woman I’m sorely aware that for decades, major women’s groups have a track record of speaking on behalf of all women with the arrogant assumption that all women have the exact same beliefs.

The Women’s March on Washington is billed as a march for all women no matter who you voted for, no matter your color, no matter your religion…no matter.

So I got on the website for the Women’s March and read the organizers “Unity Principles” and realized, sadly, this is not a march for ALL women. There is one “matter”.  I am a Pro Life woman and there is no room in these “unity principles” for respecting my right to my values.  My Civil Rights (as written in these principles), including “freedom to worship without fear…freedom of speech…protections for all citizens regardless of race, gender, age or disability” have a proviso:  rights and respect don’t apply to women like me – women who don’t want their government involved in “affordable abortion”.

I’m wondering how this jives with the Catholic immigrant women, the Muslim women and the black Christian women this march purports to be standing up for?

No wonder our public discourse has become so angry, rude and contemptuous.  The very citizens who organize a march that ostensibly has a mission and vision to “stand together…recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country,” isn’t really open to the diversity of women’s beliefs.

The mission to “stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us” falls flat to me when “all”  is not “all”.

Can’t we listen to President Obama this once? “Understand, democracy does not require uniformity. Our founders argued. They quarreled. Eventually they compromised. They expected us to do the same. But they knew that democracy does require a basic sense of solidarity — the idea that for all our outward differences, we’re all in this together; that we rise or fall as one.”

I long for women to accept that we are not all alike in every value and opinion but we do need to have “a basic sense of solidarity”.  We are all in this together.  We will rise or fall as one.

I did not want to march for policies or politics.  I wanted to march for human dignity and solidarity.   But with the agenda set out by these organizers, if I still march I’ll be marching with a sign that says:




Sorry, I mean, Thank You

I’m not a fan of new year’s resolutions because I tend to set myself up for failure.  I’ve skipped the whole notion for a number of years.  I have, on a number of years, asked God for a word for my year.*  That was more profitable.  But I haven’t been consistent with that practice either.  On December 30th, a FaceBook friend (that’s you, Karen S.) posted a suggestion of setting the goal to say thank you more often than saying sorry.

At first reading, those of us who are inclined to hold high regard for the willingness to apologize, might find this goal less than noble.  But both the explanation given in Karen’s post, and the outcome for me as I’ve acted on that suggestion, have proven to be positive.  The post in part says, “it’s not only shifted the way I think and feel about myself but also improved my relationships with others who now get to receive my gratitude instead of my negativity”.

I’m realizing that the words “I’m sorry” can become as rote as “how are you?”.  Just a sloppy habit.  Sometimes we say “I’m sorry” for something out of our control, e.g. being late due to traffic caused by an accident.  It’s refreshing to say, “thank you for patiently waiting for me”.  That acknowledges your friend’s positive attitude and lifts some of the frustration of being stuck in traffic!

Yesterday I had a dentist appointment to have a cavity filled.  I have a smaller than average mouth.  No broad smile for me!  But I do have squinty eyes that let you know my heart is smiling broadly.  Anyway, when the dentist and her assistant finished working in the confines of my mouth I said, “thanks for not complaining about the size of my mouth”.  Normally I would have said, “sorry about my small mouth”!  My thanks brought about some chuckles and an acknowledgment that it was a challenge to work on my molar, but she could see I was struggling also.  The exchange felt positive!

Now, you may think I making a wisdom tooth out of a molar, (I know, you’re rolling your eyes).  But think about the cumulative effect of saying a lot more specific thank you’s this year and fewer meaningless sorry’s.  We’ll be forging a year of gratitude instead of fostering needless negativity.

By all means, we need to stay aware of any time we may offend and make amends (in part) with a sincere apology!  Let’s just do away with needless groveling, shame and negativity; let’s become aware of how those around us give us a multitude of reasons to be thankful!

We can dole out the good feeling of a pat on the back and we’ll have a better attitude about common mishaps.

Wish I was the originator of the expression, “turn that frown upside down”.  It would make a good, syrupy ending to this essay.  Sorry for the corny tone of this essay.  I mean, thanks for reading my thoughts, corny humor and all!


Pompous Know-it-all or Woman of my Convictions?

Over the past year we’ve been challenged to look a lot at the character of the various candidates for the presidency.   More and more as we near election day I’ve been forced to look at my own character.  When I contemplate how I am reacting and how I will react to the choices we have in this election, I’m learning a bit more about myself.  And I’m not impressed.

The passion and temperament that have been rising up in me can only be described as judgmental, in the really ugly connotation of the word.  A common sentence in my thought life, and one spoken to those close to me has been, “How can anyone (you) possibly justify voting for …”.  The Holy Spirit has prodded me in the last month to step back and try to understand different points of view.  Some who I disagree with have taken me to task by asking, “Why do you get so upset with this candidate and you don’t get equally upset with the other candidate?”.  Point taken.

What I’ve discovered is that really thoughtful, sincere, people of good will, disagree with me. They too are desperately seeking to do the right thing and stand for what God stands for.  They are voting their conscience.  And when I’ve haughtily thought my conscience is right and theirs is wrong I’ve usurped God’s rightful place on the throne.

The proverbial thin line has been crossed.  Am I a passionate woman with godly convictions or am I a foolish and stubborn Miss Know-it-all?  I believe I speak truth when I say both of our presidential candidates have characteristics that are less than ideal for leading our country.  (By the way, I’m really proud at how mildly I expressed that last sentence).  The reality is that one of them will be the next president and friends and family members are voting for one or the other because they believe the other or the one will be more detrimental to our welfare.  And granted, some don’t even consider one the lesser of two evils…they like their choice.

I’ve spent a good amount of time since the primary believing that I can’t with good conscience imagine myself standing before my God and telling him I voted for either one.  My conscience screams that the hoped for ends does not justify the means!!!     I have friends who believe not voting for either one is irresponsible.  I get it.

Romans 13:1 tells us that every person should be in subjection to the governing authorities because there is no authority except God, and those which exist are established by God.  Purposes are being carried out in the heavenlies that we’re not privy to!  It’s clear in the Bible that God often gives a nation what they want and or deserve.  Unfortunately that’s not always a good, wise and kind leader.  But it’s also clear that Jesus always makes good for those who love him.  One translation:  he’ll clean up my character and redirect my loyalty to Him and service to others, in the midst of the country of my birth going to hell in a hand basket.  Go ahead, smile…just a little levity to break the tension.

So when presented with a ballot unlike any other ballot in my life time, do I play only the “God’s sovereign card” or do I also play the “I’m salt & light by voting card”?  Do I fix my eyes on being the hands and feet of Jesus in a hurting world?  Yes.  But can I also choose not to exercise the right to vote for the president, knowing so many have died for that right and so many long to have that right?  Yikes.  And…I’m in a swing state.

All the contemplation throughout this past year still leads me to areas of gray.  The answers to the above questions are just not simple.  (Is my conscience being directed by the Holy Spirit or my own bias?  Oy).  A little over 24 hours until election day and I know I’m voting.  I don’t know that I’m voting for president.

What I do know is I can not judge how others vote.  That’s progress!  I’ll still have an opinion on their vote born of my strongly held convictions.  That’s honest!  But my opinion will not be a judgement on their good hearts.  That’s a relief!

Confession and repentance are really good for the soul.  And they’re not bad for relationships either.

A Fan of Friendship

There has been a lot of talk of division lately.  Last night’s NLDS game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals has me thinking about unity.  Sports of all kinds have a way of bringing people together.  Not only do we root for our chosen team, we share in the experience as if we are part of the accomplishments of the athletes we yell for and/or scream at.

I’ve lived in the DC area for 8 months now.  I’ve been a Dodgers fan since I can remember because I grew up in a household of Dodgers fans.  Actually I grew up in an extended family full of Dodgers fans.  I swear I heard my Aunt Gorie from Heaven whooping it up last night.  I certainly saw her joy filled face in my mind’s eye.  By the 7th inning I was making frequent phone calls to my parents in California and one of my cousins and I were texting to each other through multiple tense moments.

I also was thinking of my new friends here in Virginia.  I knew my moments of disappointment were simultaneously their moments of elation, and visa versa.  When I thought about the real possibility of a Dodgers loss I actually thought about the joy it would bring them.  I did not however, let that sway my loyalty and desire.  No need to get too magnanimous!  However, since we did get the win, I won’t be bringing it up at church on Sunday.  (It’s not like they’re SF Giant fans).

Before the game last night a small group of people from our church gathered around our table for dinner.  (I had to record the first hour of the game and they didn’t seem too impressed with my sacrifice).  Anyway, as is our custom, we were discussing last Sunday’s sermon.  Our pastor is doing a series on being the person your dog thinks you are (love it!) and this sermon was entitled, “Beloved Friend”.  One of the attributes of a beloved friendship is serving together – being on mission for Jesus together.  Our dinner party discussed how when we pursue a cause with a friend, (e.g., serving those who have less than us materially or serving those who are seemingly invisible to others), our friendships develop a tie that binds.  Friendships share life in a deeper way when they serve others together.

To build unity in friendships we can learn from the experience of being a sports fan.  Know the stats of your friends.  Celebrate their gifts and understand their weaknesses.  Be loyal.  You can enjoy many people but it takes commitment to just a few to be a true fan.  It’s the difference between a casual friendship and a beloved friend.  I admire the Nats but “my team” is the Dodgers.  Be committed to sharing your journey with Jesus, with one another.  It’s a lot more fun when you’re wearing the same team shirt with others.  It’s called home field advantage.

The Bad Company Loneliness Keeps

I’m playing “Name that Feeling” again. It has been over 6 months since I moved from California to Virginia. When I realize that it’s already been half of a year it’s surprising. I’ve been gone quite a chunk of time! I’ve been here long enough to call this home. Gulp. The novelty of this experience and this area has not worn off, but the truth that I’m here to stay has sunk in. And the loneliness that comes with leaving your people and investing in new people has sunk in too.

But loneliness, ironically, is not a feeling that stands in solitude. That’s why I’m playing “Name that feeling”. Imposters have been trying to keep my loneliness company.

I’m realizing now that I have to be careful with what names I allow to associate with my loneliness. Disappointment is definitely not a good companion. I have been disappointed. Disappointed with the effort it takes to stay in touch with far away friends. I’ve gotta tell you, the spirit named Disappointment has childish and selfish expectations. I need to own my loneliness rather than blame it on others. Disappointment becomes a poor excuse for wallowing in loneliness.

Another sidekick I’ve been tempted to allow to hang out with my loneliness is Unloved. Gratefully, I can quickly dismiss that fellow as a lie because the truest thing about the people that I shared life with in California is that they have loved me well. Their love deserves the dignity of being trusted. I sure do not want my friends expecting me to prove my love for them after years of loving them. But Satan likes to keep Unloved in his arsenal and poke me with it every now and then.

I knew when I moved here that I would have to face the reality of being dispensable. I knew that life would move on for my California friends and the feelings that would come from moving would be mine to experience alone.

And yet another crony that whispers in my ear is Insignificant. Insignificant likes to tie itself to the rather humbling Dispensable. As much as I fooled myself into believing that I was comfortable with dispensable being a reality of the human condition, my pride has still been hurt by it.  Because, I’ve been wrongly interpreting dispensable as a verdict on whether I’ve had impact in the lives of others. The wonderful truth is that having a positive impact for Christ is present perfect. Our past has present consequences. Praise God!  But geographical distance does limit us in sharing our lives. Generally, we just can’t have the same consistent impact in far away friends’ lives; nor they in ours. There are exceptional relationships; but they take exceptional and intentional effort.

There’s another dangerous champion of Loneliness. It may seem like the definition of loneliness but it is not. This deceptive fellow is named Alone. Ah, I’ve reached the crux of the matter. Loneliness naturally comes and goes and challenges us to rise up with courage and fix our eyes on Jesus. The truth is we may feel lonely but we are never alone. Like all painful feelings, loneliness can only be redeemed by the One who is Truth.  Jesus will never abandon me. For in him I live and move and have my being. I am not alone. And neither are you.

Look at the gang of thugs I’ve just busted! When we’re lonely we can be attacked by imposters named Disappointment, Unloved, Insignificant, and Alone! The only way to fight these liars is with truth.  I disappoint, but that doesn’t make me a disappointment.  Friends disappoint me but that’s not the truest thing about them. I am not unloved. You are not unloved. I am not insignificant. You are not insignificant. We know all of this is true because our creator was not content to leave us alone!  We know this to be true because of the loving lengths Jesus went to rescue us.  We know it is true because of the One Jesus chose to leave to always be with us: our comforter and guide, The Holy Spirit.

If we make these truths buddies of our thought life, and choose to not associate with what is false, we’ll have the strength to do whatever it takes to triumph in seasons of loneliness.*

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8:37-39

*I’ve been lifted out of loneliness when I talk it out with Jesus, worship, choose gratitude, step out into the passions He’s given me, choose to love and serve others.  (Taking unneeded naps and eating ice cream in excess haven’t proven as helpful).

Year of the Ear

As I sat in the waiting room to have a CT scan of my ear I thought the ever optimistic expression, “If it ain’t one thing, it’s another”.  It later came to me that working back in time, I could say I’ve had the Year of the Ear, the Year of the Back and Neck, the Year of the Ankle, etc.  I have a friend who is an over achiever.  She’s crammed a variety of pain into less than 4 months: kidney stones, surgery for a cut that became infected, and surgery to put a plate into her wrist that was broken in a fall. She shares the tales of her medical history with an unflappability to be admired.  I on the other hand, am flappable.  I get irritated by any physical hinderance to being free to do as I please!

All together now!  “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen.  Nobody knows my sorrow.”  The inappropriateness of my song choice does not elude me.  I know these are the lyrics of an old spiritual song sung by slaves.  They knew pain and an inability to do as they pleased on a magnitude that makes my physical ailments on the level of a tiny splinter.  The spiritual continues,

Glory hallelujah!
Sometimes I’m up, sometimes I’m down
Oh, yes, Lord
Sometimes I’m almost to the ground
O, yes, Lord
Although you see me going ‘long so
Oh, yes, Lord
I have my trials here below
Oh, yes, Lord
If you get there before I do
Oh, yes, Lord
Tell all-a my friends
I’m coming to Heaven!
Oh, yes, Lord

Which brings me to the subject of hope.

When my thoughts grumble, “if it ain’t one thing, it’s another”, I’m giving into a message of hopelessness.  Making a habit of an “if it ain’t one thing, it’s another” attitude is like changing the above lyrics to “I’m always down, no sometimes about it”.  And there certainly wouldn’t be any room in my spirit for “Glory Hallelujah!”

This old spiritual is a lesson in hope.

Hope comes from of a lot of Glory Hallelujahs:  God be praised, He’s given me reason for rejoicing!

Hope comes from a truthful perspective:  sometimes I’m up, and sometimes I’m down!  Sometimes that down is long so.  Sometimes it takes me to the ground.

Hope comes from the promise of a painfree future:  I’m coming to Heaven!

Hope comes from being loved by the One who created us.  Remember the beginning of this spiritual?

Nobody know the trouble I’ve seen
Nobody knows my sorrow

Well, some renditions change the words to –

Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen
Nobody knows but Jesus

Jesus knows my one thing after another(s) and the good that will come because of them or in spite of them.

A loving friend who has an ear for Jesus, sent me this word of encouragement not knowing I was sitting in the waiting room for my CT Scan.

“Imagine a person totally committed to your best interests, devoted to seeing you flourish, fighting for you against all enemies, determined to eliminate everything destructive from your life, attentive to every detail of who you are, never thinking of himself at all but only of you. That is Jesus in relation to us all—sacrificial in his life, sacrificial in his death.” The Crucifixion: Understanding the Death of Jesus Christ by Fleming Rutledge

Now, this is hope! Life lived in the hands of Jesus. The One who is committed to my best interest.

Do you think it would alarm anyone if the next time I’m in a doctor’s waiting room I shouted, “Glory, Hallelujah”? I think I’ll at least try to think it.

Hysterical…ahem…Historical Sites

Something mysterious is happening at the historical sites, streets and parks around us. Well, not really mysterious. It is all over the news and my daughters are participants, but it looks mysterious! Seems like everywhere I walk, people are looking down at their cell phones. I know, that’s not mysterious or even unusual. But they are showing up in really large numbers individually and in groups. And they are displaying an unusually tense and focused demeanor. Or, in more lively displays, they’re calling out frantically to their group, “There’s a Zapdos over here!” I’ve looked over their shoulders and I’m telling you that there is no texting or social media involved. It’s a craze on a magnitude I’ve never seen. You guessed it: “Pokemon Go”.

It’s living up to its name. It does get players to GO. They go to murals they’ve never noticed, river front parks that they’ve missed out on in the past, city statues that have been overlooked, and even National Monuments. Apparently hundreds have found their way to the FDR memorial late into the nights. It even motivates them to go to church. Albeit, it may be outside of a historic church to catch a pokemon next to a beautiful statue of Mary.  (Is that sacrilege)?

I’m prone to look at the positive side of this crazye. Gamers are not sitting alone in a dark room consuming mass quantities of pizza they had delivered. Gamers are going on long walks! They even lift their heads from time to time and articulate comments such as, “Wow, I never knew this was here”. They even – get this – talk to each other! They talk to friends and strangers alike!

This craze does also bring out the uncharitable side of me. This week, when I walked to two different parks along the Potomac I wanted to yell out, “Wow, what a gorgeous night! Look at that view!” and see just how obsessed these gamers might be. (Really, you should have seen the view). I also wanted to cheer for the young people playing volleyball in one of those parks. Which reveals my bias that they were taking positive advantage of their surroundings while the gamers were glued to little screens.

The more I write about my sitings, the more I’m realizing that there’s no real justification for judging here. (There is justification for judging, with outraged horror, those who have played in sacred sites such as the Holocaust museum. But I won’t go there because it’ll suck all the fun out of this particular blog post). Back to the parks, city streets and monuments. There are all manner of pastimes. I’m spending quite a few hours of my week watching the Olympic coverage on TV. I’ve been known to play solitaire. No more examples; you get my gist. So, why judge?

It’s way more fun to observe! Think of it. Imagine people from the past taking a time machine that pops them up at Waterfront Park in the historic city of Alexandria, Virginia. They look around and the strangest site is not the amazing structure of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge in the background, nor the tour boats going up and down the Potomac, nor the towering hotel being constructed across the river, nor the odd clothing of the modern day people around them. The strangest site is groups of young people, parents and children, and lone individuals looking down at a small item in their hands, swooping their finger over it and then moving to another area of the park to repeat the ritual.

“Pokemon Go” has even provided entertainment for those of us who don’t play the game: watching gamers. Will they, or will they not, see what I’m seeing on these beautiful summer nights? Let the games begin!

Holy Timing Batman!

It really stinks to suck at something I thought I was good at.  It can be humbling.  It can be discouraging.  It’s a choice to make it motivating.

I’ve had numerous opportunities recently to be encouraging.  In general I see myself as an encouraging person.  But when friends and loved ones come to me during a time of crisis or a low point in their life I can really suck at words of encouragement!  I have caught myself adding to the anxiety or saying dismissive words that do the opposite of encourage.

Why?  Why when the going gets really tough do I resort to cliches?  Or why do I panic and add to the panic?  Or why do I say anything at all?  I’ve lived long enough and walked long enough with Jesus to know way better options.

I know that silence can be golden:  shut up and listen to the person who’s in a vulnerable place.  I know many great people in the Bible did their share of lamenting and God actually invites that kind of honesty in us.  God uses that to build our relationship with him.  It’s often the turning point to living a more joyful life.  So let them have their season of lament!  Timing Carrie, timing!

I know the truth that the trials we face develop perseverance.  And perseverance finishes the work of making us mature and not lacking anything.  That while we are lacking, God, who is generous to all without finding fault, will bless the man who perseveres under trial.  So, why do I add to the fear that comes with trials? Trust God is at work Carrie.  Don’t try to solve the trial for the person!  Just love them and be confident in the goodness of their life.  Timing Carrie, timing!

I’m grateful to the Holy Spirit that I was quick to recognize my recent faux pas.  Recognition gives me a chance to partially correct them.  Partially because I can’t remove the words from the hearer’s memory!  And recognition gives me the opportunity to change my ways.  Actually I’m being generous with myself when I call my blunders faux pas.  A faux pas is a severe social blunder or major breach in etiquette.  Thoughtless words during trying times are a severe misrepresentation of spiritual truths.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11  These are words of truth.  But they may not be words to be quoted to someone in the midst of their pain.  Because timing does make a difference in how words are heard.  Rather than encouraging they could come off as reprimanding or out of touch with my friend’s present experience.

The words in Jeremiah are more important for me to remember than for the person at the height of their lament to remember.  Why?  Because if I know this truth for them to my core, it will inform how I respond to them.  It will give me the confidence to be calm when they can’t be (rather than add words that add to their concern).  And this truth will give me the sort of compassion that uplifts rather than dismisses their emotions.

Yes lamenting can warp our perspective.  There is a time for spurring one another on.  But…timing Carrie, timing!

So, what is it all about Alfie?*

I’ve been blogging for two years now.  Two years after sending a friend a couple pieces I wrote and having her respond “Please, please, please” learn how to start a blog “and then start with these as your first two” posts.

I was concerned because I didn’t have a vision for the end game.  I still don’t.   I just keep writing.  So, besides the fact that asseenbycarrie is an outlet for my love of the written word, why do I blog?  What can readers expect to find on my blog?  As you look over my essays you won’t find a commonality of subjects such as marriage, families, photography, food, technology (that makes for a chuckle given my techno-idiocy), art, nature, etc.

You’ll simply read about my observations of my surroundings, life events (the common and the uncommon), or my internal musings. And you will read how what I observe and experience stirs my desire to ask Jesus to help me interpret my life and our world.

Asseenbycarrie is my effort to not miss out on what God wants to show me as I walk through the everyday and the unlike-any-other-day.  Sometimes the Holy Spirit is teaching me how to be who he created me to be and sometimes he’s teaching me how to enjoy what he’s created.  Sometimes I get to laugh at my weaknesses; sometimes I have a healthy exercise in reprimanding myself for my weaknesses.

In the book of Micah we’re told, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

This life we’re living is tough but it’s not a complete mystery.  Jesus shows us what is good!  But we have to look where he’s pointing.  Our individual histories are going to blur the view.  So, we have to ask him to give us clarity.  Writing with the Holy Spirit by my side gives me clarity.  I hope as you read my blog you’ll be roused to seek clarity from the Holy Spirit in your circumstances.

*Old song reference…another one of my weaknesses.


Half Mast

I hesitate to write about this past Sunday because I believe it’s holy ground.  49 lives have been taken and countless other lives have been changed forever.  Evil has grabbed us by the throats again and the “again” of it has us exhausted.  Exhausted, indescribably sad, angry and worn.  My husband and I discussed, as we walked by a flag pole last night, that our nation’s flag seems to spend more time at half mast than not.  We have become a people forever mourning.

Mourning love attacked by hate – again.

Mourning loss at the hands of terrorists.

Mourning our ineptness at stopping the breeding of hate.

Mourning our failure to change the script of violence in our country.

Half Mast refers to flying a flag below the summit on a flag pole.  The summit.  The highest point of a hill or mountain.  Summit.  To reach the highest attainable level of achievement.

The USA has its own personality.  Prideful in ways that are positive.  Prideful in ways that are destructive.  Just like the expression, “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps”, our pride can send us striving to reach a summit or it can be a godless vanity of self-aggrandisement that sends us slipping backwards down the mountain trail (or flag pole).

With each violent assault on our soil we comfort ourselves with the truth that love is greater than hate.  Sunday there were far more heroes than shooters.  There were brave and compassionate people at that club.  There were brave and compassionate first responders.  There were brave and compassionate people at the Orlando hospitals.  Yes, love was greater than hate.

But still, we face a pattern of raising our flags and then lowering them to half mast because hate repeatedly has its way.

From my vantage point the need for changes in gun control seem obvious.  From my vantage point the need for changes in how we hunt down terrorists within our borders seems obvious.  From my vantage point changing how we care for those with mental illness seems obvious.  However, from my vantage point those are only treatment options.  And just like medicine, treatment doesn’t get the final say over disease.

Our ultimate problem is we think the war we’re in is the war on terrorism or the war on a gun culture or the war on mental health or “___________” (fill in the blank).

The war we’re in is much bigger than all of the above battles combined.  We were all born into a love story set in a world at war.  The love story?  A God, who loves his rebellious children.  A love so great he chose to humble himself and come in the form of a man, Jesus, to rescue us so that we may have life and have it to the full.  The war?  It’s being waged by one who’s sole desire is to kill, steal and destroy.

The battles we’re in can only be won temporarily by changes in legislation or law enforcement or health care.  The larger war can be won eternally by hearts that choose to follow Jesus instead of themselves or any other man.  Read Isaiah 61 in the Bible.  Read what Jesus said he came to do.  If the Biblical language throws you, righteousness can be defined as “making all things right”.  Our exhausted, indescribably sad, angry and worn hearts know that the way things are is just not right.

The only way we’re going to get to stop raising the flag only to bring it down to half mast is to raise our own personal flags of surrender.  Because when we surrender our own pride, Jesus is going to take us to the summit of the highest peak.  A peak named Perfect Love.