My friend, my client, the pastor, shaking their heads, confided to me, “I just don’t know what to do.” I hear this within myself, and also from organizations as they struggle to cope with change. What should we do? What we must do something!
Please show us how to fix this, repair this breech, heal these wounds, right these wrongs, stop this dying! is a chorus running through the subtext of communities that haunts our days and keeps us awake at night.
Asking such questions is the vital and anguishing work of weighing motivation, desire, and call in the context of chaos and loss. Anxiety rises, tempers flare in the urgency of taking action, any action, of doing something. Yet periods of great pain and suffering – when we do not know what to do and have little control over the situation, and no answer seems to be right – may not require us so much as to decide what to do, as to consider the kind of people that this moment is calling and forming us to become.
So much of our sense of identity and worth are tied up in what we do, accomplish, achieve, and fashion with our hands, minds, machines, and technology. When we fail, mess up, and make terrible mistakes in our personal lives, institutions, and systems, we must face the truth that we are not who we thought we were.
Here, perhaps, a different question emerges, “What kind of people are we becoming? What kind of people is this period of history crying out for us to be? These issues are not just about us, our little tribes, communities, or social media followers. We need space to gather with all stakeholders for shared listening, for stillness, and prolonged silence to allow the emergence of a larger, kinder and more generous knowing than our own.
We need space to divest ourselves of our need to be right and of our weapons of defense. We need a desire within us to open our hearts to each other with a willingness to be wrong. We need to make space for humility.
How can we know what to do, if we do not really know who we are, who we are becoming, and what our responsibilities are to each other? Answering those questions require much more honesty, grief, and repentance than some of us are willing to give.
In the past several years I have been asking what should I do regarding several areas of my life, as a citizen of the USA, and a member of the homo sapiens species on this planet. Then this morning came these words:
What is true.
What is good.
What is necessary.
Hmm, that might help. To start each new moment with those words as my guide might enable me to be more present to what is (even when I do not prefer what is). As I trust, as life unfolds, minute by minute, perhaps knowing what to do will be obvious, clear, and attainable, as I ask what is true? What is good? What is necessary?
Actually this approach is very difficult for most of us, who like a neat guide or handy app for-what-to-do-and-how-to-always-make-good-decisions-and please,-we-cannot-afford-to-just-sit-around-in-silence-looking-at-our-navels-now, can we?
The urge of our faithless egos to take center stage and control the process prevents our access to the ever-present, ever-beyond our control Spirit of guidance, inspiration, creativity and power.
I say, let that ego fume, and whine and pontificate. It will wear itself out if you stop paying so much attention to it. And defy the fear with turning toward What is true. What is good. What is necessary. Of course, friends, this approach is not original with me. You know its origin. Read it over again here. See if it helps clear your vision.
whatever is true,
whatever is honorable,
whatever is just,
whatever is pure,
whatever is pleasing,
whatever is commendable,
if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise,
think about these things.
Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and
seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9
Coming up soon is the Summer Issue of Holy Ground. Yes it is
still summer in my world. This issue is called Forerunners.
It is about the people who go ahead, as they seek to
decrease that others may increase. You are probably
a Forerunner yourself.