Fireworks erupted overhead and, like a gargantuan light bulb moment, suddenly I had a new attitude as the new year began. I didn’t expect it.
For weeks, possibly months, I’d been quietly living out the remainder of 2016 away from social media. What had started as a pre-election break turned into a post-election-people-have-lost-their-minds divorce from online everything.
Strangers, acquaintances, friends and family–human beings I like, respect and love–posted and re-posted things that made my head and heart ache. So in an effort to protect personal peace and joy throughout the entire holiday season, I built my own border wall.
Keeping out the bad actors to protect the good felt right and life-affirming. And then something happened as 2017 burst into being.
Daniel and I sat with hundreds of other families waiting for a fireworks show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Minutes before the program began we all stood up for a better view and I overheard a young father sheepishly say to his wife, “Well, I’m sure I just made lots of people behind me very mad.”
Why would he say that? Because he happened to be nearly seven feet tall.
The crowd’s muttering began. “Are you kidding me?” said a few folks directly behind him. “Maybe we can move,” someone said.
“Maybe HE can move.” Tall Guy’s shoulders slumped and he tried in vain to make himself small, even invisible.
Boom! Explosions lit up the sky and while the behind-the-back complaining could no longer be heard, it occurred to me that that short encounter was a Holy wrecking ball to the safe zone I’d created for myself.
Tall Guy had obviously heard the criticism before. He thought he needed to justify his being in the front with his family. Tall Guy felt like he had to apologize for how God made him. He struggled with guilt simply for being himself…tall.
That was me. Not the tall part. No, I felt guilty for being myself, my conservative Christian-but-don’t-assume-you-know-my-social-or-political-views self.
I’d disengaged from expressing my thoughts, feelings and lessons learned because I didn’t want to risk rejection or ridicule or rile opposing views. If general negativity and toxic labeling were the new norm, I wanted nothing to do with it.
No more. I will not be invisible.
This is About Me. But, it’s also about you. We are peacemakers. We refuse to believe that our community, country, and world is beyond hope. Don’t we?
Or are we so greatly divided that we can no longer believe the best of one another? I do not believe that. I won’t.
Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “It is probably a pity that every citizen of each state cannot visit all the others, to see the differences, to learn what we have in common, and come back with a richer, fuller understanding of America – in all its beauty…”
Unity through understanding; now that’s an attainable goal for a new year.
I believe we all have a story to tell. This is where you’ll find mine as well as the stories of the people I meet on my journey.
My promise to you: I will be 100% me. I don’t accept the labels of nonconformist or rebel, but I do like the idea of doing things my own way. I’m a strong Christian who loves a good craft beer, long strenuous hikes in the woods, and the company of people who challenge my thinking and help me grow.
If you’d like to grow in understanding of others in 2017, if you’d like to be a unifying force in your circle of influence, join me. Read along. The greatness of America is in her people. Let’s meet them together.