I am at work, on the phone with my husband, and I am trying not to raise my voice.
“Can you at least try? You’re not even trying.”
I am in my office, with papers piled around my desk, none of which I will touch until I put down my cell phone, let my adrenaline settle, turn my mind to more mundane tasks, less threatening things.
I’m talking to the person I love best in the world, and our words are like sharp stones grating on each other.
It is almost Christmas. He tries not to raise his voice.
“I’ll do what you want. Just please let’s not fight now.”
We retreat to our quiet hearts.
A call on my office phone brings me back. I take a deep breath. I put on my professional face. I answer. The man on the other end wants to “discuss work over lunch.”
I have fallen for this before. He discussed nothing but how rich he is, nothing but his thoughts on the inherent sexuality in male-female relationships, subtly tiptoeing around what he really wanted, feeling out whether I might have some inappropriate interest.
“I am a very interesting man,” he had said.
And you don’t always drink beer. But when you do…
I will be smarter this time. I am careful not to raise my voice.
“What specifically would you like to discuss?”
The man on the phone drones on, buzzing like my anger.
Seething, simmering, slowly watering itself down until it melts into a sloppy puddle of calm.
It is exhausting trying not to raise your voice. But it is Christmas.
I go home early and put the kids down for their naps. Rafi keeps getting out of bed, interrupting my quiet. I feel as though he is pushing my buttons on purpose. I try not to raise my voice.
“You will stay in bed now.” He feels the rough edge of my words and sulks back to his room.
I start scrolling through my Facebook feed and see yet another ignorant post.
There seem to be more and more. Something stereotyping people of color as violent criminals. Something stereotyping police officers as over-aggressive bigots. The ones that oversimplify complex issues so that it’s easy to cast blame. The ones that suggest that black people or gay people or Muslim people or undocumented people are not really people made in God’s image with individual hearts, but categories to be looked down upon. The ones that say that liberals are ruining America or that conservatives hate progress.
They make me feel defensive, and I want to respond, I want to RAISE MY VOICE, but it’s Christmas.
We are celebrating the birth of the only person who had the right to throw the first stone, but chose not to.
When I think I am righteous, it is exhausting trying not to throw stones. But knowing I have been shown such grace, they all but fall from my hands.
“Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
This is why he came. To help us drop the stones. To preserve justice and mercy.
“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart,”
To teach us to love people, all kinds of people. The God of the universe, humble, arriving as a helpless baby to serve and to ask us to do the same. Gently telling us to feed the hungry, welcome the stranger, care for the sick and visit the prisoner. Redeeming people – tax collectors, prostitutes, lepers, little children.
“and you will find rest for your souls.”
There is no rest in throwing stones.
There is rest in receiving grace.
So this coming year, let’s try to respond to one another gracefully instead of raising our voices in anger. Instead, let’s raise our voices in praise for the hope that we have. Let’s resolve to speak the truth, but with kindness and humility.
I Peter 3:15 “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”
And let’s bear Christmas in mind all year as we interact with our families, our Facebook frenemies and even the dos equis men in our lives.
Stay thirsty my friends.
(For the word of God.)