I see you cringing when the big-name preacher shouts about sin, but doesn’t show love. I feel your insides turning into nauseating twists, as if sheer volume and persistence can convince people that they should follow. I cry along with you, those hot tears, when we witness together the hateful spouting of those clamouring for a platform, for shares and likes and to be lauded for ‘telling it the way it is’.
I hear the words you don’t say, the words that choke up inside when you wonder “are these really the things we need to do and be? Maybe I’m not really called and chosen…” When you wonder whether commanding a pulpit and brandishing a bible is the only way to be valuable in this strange little world we call Christianity. I understand why you question the way that some gifts are valued over others. I understand your confusion when the loudest and whitest and most masculine voices are the ones that are prioritised. I see you eschewing the neatly-packaged, right and wrong, easy answers, and the way this makes you feel like you don’t belong in the places that value this duality.
You are not alone.
But let me tell you about another way. Let me tell you about the revolution that is happening. It is happening in homes, where two or three are gathered. It is happening over coffee, or wine, or a long walk in the bush. It’s happening in the quiet spaces, where the hype has faded and what remains is simply a thirst for depth, and truth. This is the revolution of radical inclusion, radical love, radical grace – it is the revolution that says ‘Welcome, friend’.
And let me tell you how everything is sacred, how a moment spent gazing into the branches of a tree, and witnessing The God Among Screeching Parrots is just as valuable as the man who claims a stage and an anointing. Let me tell you how your heart is seen – so seen – how it beats, and how every pulse is a prayer. Let me tell you that you can stop trying to please, that you can stop trying to be noticed, that you can drop out of the race, and into the rest.
Let me tell you this: it is okay to stop. The world is not changed from a stage, or through a microphone gripped to by a larger-than-life personality. The world is changed in relationships, in perseverance, in faithfully doing the work that is in front of you. We were always told we would be world changers, we just misunderstood what that meant.
Listen, I know it is hard to remain soft, vulnerable, and open when it feels like the world is screaming at you to harden up, to not be honest about your questions and your doubts. It is so very hard to believe you are right in walking your own wild path when the throngs are following along the well-trodden way in their big boots and their faces set in confident assurance – row, after row, after row.
It’s hard to believe that there can be any other way to find approval, when our churches value the biggest, the most eloquent, the most charismatic – those with the silver-tongues and the gold-lined pockets. But those of us in the quiet corners, we aren’t going away. We are holding on because we believe there is a change in The Wind.
We are in similar boats, you and I. Sailing along, riding the waves, picking up the subtlety in the sails that says Turn this way, just a little, for now. We noticed that shifting wind, and so we turned into it, instead of struggling toward that far-off smudge on the map. Now we are sailing our little boats along the course of grace… and it can be lonely out here. But there is also an ease that seems to fly in the face of those still exerting so much effort against it – we see their intensity, their determination to make landfall, and we wonder if we might be wrong (though they never wonder that).
But let me tell you that this Grace is a gentle guide, and that Love will lead you softly to the wide open places where you can see with new eyes – that it is patient and kind, not rude or boastful or swollen with pride, it doesn’t seek fame, it isn’t irritated or put off by your simple desire to live peacefully. Love is not trying to win a race. And Love welcomes all who turns into its embrace. And you have nothing to fear. Nothing to fear.
Keep choosing the quiet way, stay soft, find your people – we are here, and we are waiting for you.
It is a painful beauty
to be soft
in a world that is yelling
to toughen up, to march
behind the bullhorn;
where the loudest
is the last standing,
and the quiet ones fade
away to enclaves
the beautiful revolution.
[image credit: sailboat / Shelley Mags / flickr / edited under flickr creative commons permissions]