With God, we can do that, you know. We can make a big difference, bigger than we think.
From the time I was in nursery school until the very last class of my Master’s degree, I spoke out five times and not because I raised my hand. Nope, attracting attention in school scared me.
One night, my dad screamed at my mom and told her not to ask stupid questions. I didn’t know which of my questions were stupid so I shut up. So did my sisters.
Thirty years later, in The Seattle School of Theology and Psychology, we had to take a class called Multicultural Issues and participation was 90% of the grade. I didn’t think I could pass and because of that, I didn’t think I’d graduate.
But God had another plan
But that’s what I couldn’t do! Because I didn’t have to say anything, I put my hand in the air.
A group of people gathered around and prayed. Inner healing, they called it as they led me back to the memory of Dad yelling at Mom. I forgave Dad and realized the decision I’d made that night, to stay silent. I chose to take my voice back.
At the same time, I wasn’t sure if it was that easy. You know, if after all these years, all I had to do was pray and my problem would go away.
But that’s what happened. That night, I raised my hand and spoke out at the retreat. I know it sounds like I’m making a big deal out of nothing, but it was truly a miracle.
In class, I became the person in the front row who raised her hand at every opportunity and the questions were tough. The first thing the teacher asked was, “Who are you prejudiced against and what is your dance around that people group?”
The answers fascinated me.
One woman said, “Latino men” and pointed at her Latino husband sitting next to her. A black man said, “black men.” Imagine what that did to his identity.
We also took a survey. Could we get Band-Aids in our skin color? What about greeting cards? Then we tallied our score and stood along a continuum, saw the stark difference between what the whites in the class had available to them versus those of color.
Even though I had no idea I’d end up working as a missionary and how helpful the lessons would be, this was my favorite class. Today, I wish every kid in junior high could take it.
Why am I going on about this?
Because the other night, I sat with my friend on her porch. She’s a teacher who’s preparing to start back to work. With a high population of Muslims and Jews in her school, she’d spent the day making a plan to protect her kids in case they had a shooter.
Afterward, we talked about my recent experiences in Israel. I told her how I’d been wondering why God would have me write about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Most of my experiences and notes are old. Who’d want to read them?
As I waited for Breaking the Silence to start, one of the tours I wrote about in my last post, a girl in the crowd actually said, “I wish I knew what it was like to live in Jericho during the Second Intifada.”
“I know because I lived there!” I said realizing how specifically God was answering my question.
All heads turned toward me. “You did?” she said, “What did you do there?”
“Look where we are in this country,” said my friend on the porch the other night. “If we don’t learn how to get along, we’re headed in that same direction. Maybe your observations can teach us a thing or two?”
So here’s a story you won’t see on the news . . .
In Jerusalem, I stood outside my friend’s stall in the Old City. He’s a Palestinian, a Christian. As we chatted, someone passed behind me, made plans with him to meet later. I turned and saw an Orthodox Jewish man. Raising my eyebrows, I mouthed, “Who was that?”
“That is my friend,” he smiled, “and I didn’t tell you, I adopted a Jewish girl!”
Wha-a-at? “You mean you sponsor one, send her money each month?”
“Yes,” he nodded. “God tells us to love our enemies—not that she is my enemy—but supporting her makes my heart feel good.”
I told him about my new Jewish friend who’d grown up in a settlement. “You could bring her by,” he said, “for conversation.” I high-fived him, got excited about the possible chat, but she wasn’t ready, not yet.
Like I was saying in the comment thread of my last post, I also met a mosaic-ist in the group taxi on the way to the airport. She’s an American Jewish girl who made aliya (immigrated to Israel). She told me about an art project she worked on with both Jews and Arabs and I told her about this blog.
We agreed. If we all do what we can, maybe we can make a difference.
You make a difference
For thirty years, I didn’t speak up. Then God healed me and took me on a speaking tour around the country, to talk to people about Jericho. Now He has me writing. Seems I can’t shut up.
Is it just me or have you wondered if you make a difference in the lives of the people around you? Just so you know, you do! And you probably don’t realize how much.
But Corrie’s right, when we partner with God, way more happens than when we don’t. So if you’ve never tried it, I encourage you to give it a shot.
Because that’s how we make the biggest difference.
In order to partner with God, what do we need? For one thing, we need to sense His direction. I know I’m not the only one who hears God. So for those of you who’ve done this already, I have a question. How do you sense God communicating with you, nudging you?
Related Post: Your World Needs What You Have To Say