with equal parts compassion & hilarity

Going fast, narrow lens, listening

I locked the keys in my car a few weeks ago in the grocery store parking lot. It was especially unfortunate because I don’t know how to break into my car. Worse still, the spare key was, in fact, in the car, and I only had a debit card and a phone on my person at the time. Thankfully, John was able to leave work to rescue me. He’d been waiting for a good excuse to buy a break-in kit and Monday was the day. There are definite perks to marrying a mechanic.

Later in the day, when we drove back to the store to pick up my car, we drove past a family biking. Two young kids and a dad—all on bikes, all wearing helmets, and no training wheels. They were on the sidewalk perpendicular to the busy north-south running street we were driving on. As they approached the intersection, one little boy on his bike didn’t slow down. This little boy cruised over sidewalk cracks and through the grass to stop just before the curb lining the busy street. The windows in our vehicle were down, but even if they weren’t I think we still would have able to hear the dad yelling for his kid to slow down. 

Sure, this kid slowed and stopped at the last possible second, but in the moments before he did it was clear he was in another place. Perhaps he was pretending to be in a race, completely lost in the speed and wind and exhilaration as he hunched his body close over the bike. The look on his face told me that while he knew he was going to stop before heading into oncoming traffic, he was going to take his sweet time. We drove past before I saw this little boy’s reaction or response to his dad’s scolding, but I’ve been scolded enough as a young girl to slow down by my parents to remember that he probably didn’t pay much attention to his dad’s words. Dad, I was going to stop. Geez, relaaaax. Ugh. 

Now that I’m an adult and have been an adult for a bit of time, I empathize much more with the parents than the children in situations like that. You cannot go full speed at an intersection even if you plan on stopping because what if there’s gravel and your bike skids or you make the drivers nervous or the fact that it’s just plain not a smart idea. That dad on the bike could see all the potential dangers of his kid cruising too quickly toward the intersection. Unlike his kid who was somewhere else in a race, he was present, he was there. He could see with a wider lens. That’s why kids should listen to their parents, right? They have a wider lens and that is wisdom hard-won over the decades. 

I think, in a way, that we’re all a little bit like children. We want to be held, loved, read to, and fed milk and cookies as often as the opportunity presents itself. We also want to be going fast—sometimes it doesn’t even matter where we’re going or what we’re heading for, we just want to do it fast. We’re confident in our way even as we’re naively unaware of how narrow our lens is. 

We sometimes get caught moving too fast in our days relentlessly filling the hours or in relationships or in our one-track mindedness career path. Even now as we’re still social-distancing, we can be moving too fast. In the past week, it seems we’ve been moving even faster. The injustice of George Floyd’s murder, cities on fire, and the resulting cries of people online and in person across the nation has been heavy. Our social media feeds are moving fast as our fingers rapidly scroll through more and more opinions and words and demands for change.

In this suffering, where is Our Father? The one on the throne in Heaven who has a much wider lens than us, the widest lens in existence? He can see what we can’t see.

I’m reading articles on privilege and chapters about how racial discrimination continues to impact people of color in our nation. This injustice is 400 years into the making and I can’t imagine how long it will take to wholly reconcile or to create something new. I’m watching PBS specials about racial covenants in Hennepin County and their effects. I’m trying to learn and listen to others around me because that’s what I can do.

Most of all, I’m trying to listen to Him. Because, yeah, my social media scroll is too fast and too much. All my apps are logged out and have been deleted today, because the One voice I know I need more than the others (though those are still important) is His. I’m trying to quiet and brake far in advance of the curb, but I’m worried I may have already gone over the curb consciously or otherwise. So, I repent and begin again.

Today, I’m trying to listen and not to respond with, “Geez, relaaaax. Ugh.” I’m praying He gives me eyes to see value where He placed value, that my heart & body be affected by injustice, that I lament & hope equally, and that I be burdened with the Gospel.

How do we hear Him? How do we respond?

Header image courtesy of Unsplash.

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