I had an online encounter with some folks from my hometown (the great city of Ruston, LA). The encounter was actually about Ruston and one of their recent experiences there. Out of this online exchange I was really challenged with a thought that I would like to share. To properly share it I will have to give a few details of the exchange so that I can help you see where this came from.
Basically, a person from Ruston grew up and moved away. They now live in Austin. A city in which you can be whomever you want to be in and no one notices. (per the blog written about this.) The person that grew up in Ruston has adopted internationally. They recently returned to Ruston with their racially blended family and felt stared and gawked at. This led to them writing a blog ranting on the subject and on Ruston a little. There is so much to be learned from this interaction that I don’t really know where to start but there is really one key truth I hope we can all walk away with. So, I will touch my comment response to the blog quickly and get to the meat.
1st – I have an internationally adopted nephew that lives in Ruston and he has been loved, accepted, and celebrated there.
2nd – We often prejudge other people’s prejudices. We have to be careful to not respond by making assumptions about people that we feel are making assumptions about us. This, however, is really difficult to do when the actions that cause your assumptions are hurtful.
3rd – Ruston is a town where people still see people. Often in bigger cities the reason no one stares is because no one notices. We have too much in our culture traded truly accepting one another for being indifferent toward the existence of one another. I am not sure that the indifference of the majority of people in a big city is really a better approach to life than the prejudice of the minority of people in a small town. Especially if getting over one’s prejudices only leads to indifference. It might be better to have someone hate your existence than to be totally unaware of it. Just a thought for our culture.
4th – Think through what you write in a blog carefully before you post it. It might not communicate what you really want to communicate. Rants don’t ever help change anything. (I have SO made that mistake in my blog before…I hope this is not such a moment.)
5th – If you commit yourself to changing the world you cannot be angry at the world for having not yet changed. (The real issue that God has used this incident to teach me.) The rationale for this statement in this situation is based on my current view toward adoption. This issue is particularly sensitive to me right now as I have had a nephew adopted into our family in recent years and because my wife and I currently working toward adoption and/or foster parenting.
I believe adoption is the choice to change the world one life at a time. It is a choice that I think God is calling the church to. Our world is full of starving orphans while our homes are full of love and food. I want to change concerning this and I pray the world will change with me. I am planning on leading our church to step up and start an adoption fund this fall that will enable families of our church to afford adoption. I do, however, realize that not everyone is going to share this conviction with me.
So my thoughts concerning adoption bring me to my statement about being angry that the world has not yet changed. This whole line of thought brought me to something that Jesus told us about following him.
This is my command: Love each other. “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 1 John 5:17-19
The stare dare is to live a life that causes other people to stare. Let them gawk. Let them not know what to do with you or what to think about you. And pray that in those thoughts they might think about God. That the depth of who you are and the life you lead might lead someone else to examine their own life in the shadow of the life Christ gave for them.
Be different and be proud of it. I tried to encourage the people from Ruston that had this tough experience with this thought. “What will shape the lives of your children is not the stares of strangers. What will shape their lives is the incredible choice of their parents. The choice to love a child that was not their own as their own so much that child became their own.”
That type of love is world changing. It changes the world one life and one stare at a time. So take the stare dare and live a life so sold out to the love of Christ that world stares you down…then step out of the way and let the world see Jesus.