Justice for the Vulnerable

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I’ve been struck by two things recently that seem to contradict each other.

The first is that I’ve heard a lot of people say “The economy is so hot right now!” 

Granted I don’t really know what they mean. But I believe them. Partly because they seem like the kinds of guys who would know. And partly because I see lots of buildings going up everywhere. So I guess, the economy is so hot right now. 

But the other thing I notice is that there seem to be more people holding signs asking for money than there were even a year ago.

Moms holding a baby in one hand and a cardboard sign asking for help in the other, standing next to the drive-thru at Chick-fil-a. That feels new. It feels wrong. And it feels like the opposite of the economy being so hot right now. 

And more than anything, it makes me feel powerless.

I want to help. I do help. I’m sure you do too.

And at the same time, I’ve heard the same story, so many times, always with more details than I can keep track of, of job offers in other cities and cars that need gas, that I’ve become a little hardened to just how hard it is to be poor and vulnerable in this city. 

People are in trouble. They are taken advantage of, stepped on, overlooked, and cast aside.

And I want to help, but I don’t know how.

Or more precisely, I don’t know how to help and still have my life stay exactly as it is. 

So if that’s something that you struggle with too, keep reading.

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Truth and Who You Are

Several years ago when we were living in Ohio, I was driving back to the church after lunch, and traffic came to a quick stop. The person in front of me stopped. The person in front of them stopped. I came to a complete stop. Then the person in back of me stopped too. By driving into the back of my car at 40 mph.

I climbed out of my car and I stood in the small center median looking at the damage. My car was pretty banged up. Her car appeared to be totaled. We were both basically ok. But I could already feel that I had hit my neck and head.

That day I learned something about myself. That apparently when things are not at all fine, I decide to tell myself that I am fine, and I become what Dave would lovingly call “a little stubborn.” So as I stood there in the median next to my wrecked car as they tried to put a neck brace on me, Dave received the following phone call. “Hi! It’s me. I got in a little car accident but everything is fine and I am definitely fine so no need to come. Love you!”  Click.

This was the phone call I made about 20 seconds before they helped me into the ambulance to go get checked out, just before the tow truck arrived to take my car.

Truth: I wasn’t fine.

My own perception: Nothing to worry about here. It’s just a regular day.

Lucky for me, I have a wonderful husband who knows that the more I say I am fine, the less likely that is to be true, and he was there in a minute standing next to me.  What did I learn that day, besides what it feels like to get whiplash?

Even I am not the best judge of who I am or how I am really doing.

It would seem like the best source of information about myself would be me, but it turns out that even I can’t always be trusted. Even I don’t always know what’s true, even when it’s about me.

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Following Jesus

A few months ago, I went to see my doctor for a physical.

He did the nerviest thing.

He told me that I needed to get my blood checked for cholesterol.

So I made the follow-up appointment for the bloodwork for the following week. The night before the blood test was a real hardship for me.

I fasted all night. From 10pm on… with no food. In the morning, I got up extra early, got there right on time, and looked at one of the doctor’s many photos from his travels as the nurse took my blood. (I always steal a quick look at the procedure just to confirm that I still can’t watch the blood be drawn.)

I left feeling good about myself. I had followed the doctor’s orders and gotten my blood tested, just like he told me. If my arm wasn’t sore, I would have patted myself on the back.

But the next day, I got an email not only with the results, but with the doctor’s prescription, too. Very brief and to the point. It said, “Triglicerides too high. Lose 10 pounds and test again.”

And I thought, “Or?……”

I thought I had already done what the doctor told me to do.

He told me to get a blood test, I got the blood test! I did what he said.

But now he wanted me to make some changes, to follow his will in my life, so that I could be healthy.

I’ll bet you can see where this is going.

Continue reading “Following Jesus”