both/and

Post Grad Duck #23

I’ve been wanting to write down my thoughts for the past few days, but sadly I haven’t quite been able to categorize them. It’s been said that the hardest part about writing is actually sitting down to do it. Truer words have never been spoken. As a writer, expressing my thoughts is usually something that comes naturally. As an English major, my professors would constantly tell me that effective communication skills (and good writing) is one of the main attributes I could bring into the “real world.” (*Side Note: I’m still not convinced anyone is actually living in the “real world.” It kind of seems like it’s this forever far off place that we’ll all inevitably get to, but no one really knows exactly when they’re there). Anyway, back to this idea about expressing thoughts and things…

This past week I went on my first mission/service trip as an RUF intern. It was good and hard and frustrating and loud and bright and hilarious and heartbreaking and encouraging and smelly and delicious. As 12 students, my campus minister, and i roamed through the city streets of Washington, D.C. I did what I always do in urban settings and tried to soak up the DNA of the city. I begged my eyes to take in the heartbeat of this world hub and reflect on its history, its current state, and where its going. It was difficult. D.C. is a unique place in the way that it juxtaposes obtuse power and acute poverty. Not too far away from the Capitol building are several men without homes wandering the streets in need of a shower and a place to sleep at night. No more than a short drive from The White House is a crisis pregnancy center that literally sees thousands of young girls per year in need of help as they try to navigate what to do with an unexpected life suddenly growing inside of them. The ironic thing is the scary fact that it’s really easy to ignore both sectors of D.C.. Our group spent a significant part of the week in the more impoverished areas of the district, keeping ourselves busy, and not really paying attention to the fact that important decisions were being made in the Supreme Court House. On the other hand, when we were doing the typically tourist thing and taking in the magnificently crafted monuments and museums, it was really easy to pretend like this “other part” of D.C. didn’t exist.
Reality is that both beauty and brokenness exist in the world and both beauty and brokenness exist in Washington, D.C.
So what do we do with that? Is it worth thinking about? How do we reconcile such opposing sides?
Friends, we must look to the cross. It was on the cross where Jesus died that the most beautiful reconciliation of beauty and brokenness took place. The cross breaks down inequalities and unites us as one under the Father. The cross conquers our fear and ignites hope and peace amid raging wars both seen and unseen. The cross lets us see that we are utterly broken in sin, but so beautifully redeemed.
We are not permitted to ignore the unsightly nor the stunning in our world, for both are acknowledged in the sight of Jesus.
I don’t write these words because I have a practical lesson to share. I don’t even write these words to lead a story of a life changing experience I had while in D.C.. I write these words because I think we all need to be reminded to not live life in ignorance. Regardless of where you live, may it be a big city or a small town, I urge you to find both the beautiful things and the broken things around you. I beg you to seek ways in which God is at work to reconcile both sectors of where you are. I challenge you to acknowledge your ignorance and step forward in wisdom as the Gospel opens the eyes of your understanding. This is a business of both/and not either/or. Man, I need to remember this, too…
Somebody far more important than I once said, “Everybody wants to change the world, but nobody wants to do the dishes.” I think that’s a good reminder and I also think that it connects in some way to reconciling beauty and brokenness—something about this idea of acknowledging the world around you not being a glamours activity. However, like I said at the beginning, I’m having trouble organizing my thoughts. So, I digress…
Thanks for reading 🙂
[Jesus, help me to acknowledge the world I live in, the beautiful and the broken parts. I love you.]
❤ Amen
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