I don’t know how we all got through this week, honestly.

I’ve been biding my words, listening a lot, grieving a lot, trying to understand those who I disagree with. Trying to walk a difficult journey, like the rest of us, on both sides.

listening: I’ve learned more than ever this week that the old adage my kindergarten teacher told us is truth: we are given two ears and one mouth for a reason. Listening is one of the best ways to love that I’m aware of, and I’ve tried (and failed sometimes) to practice it this week, on both sides.

understanding: (yes, I’ll get back to grieving) I know there are very good reasons people do what they do. I will always stop short at justifying evil, but, unlike a lot of my brothers and sisters too tired and too hurt and too much in the dark days of grief to do it, I’ve been able to venture a little into trying to understand why –why this man? Why now? Why did you feel this was the right thing to do? And I’m getting some answers. Not enough to make me change my mind (I look over at my brothers and sisters, still hurt and grieving), but enough to see a deep divide I hadn’t seen before. And I know now, they’re angry, too. Anger plus anger never results in much good being done, but anger is still a valid emotion, on both sides.

It’s what we’ve done, what we’re doing with that anger that leads me to:

grieving: I used to see social media as a healing, unifying, positive influence in my life. It’s built bridges with my past hurts in ways nothing else could. Today, though, I’ve already witnessed two interchanges among friends that positively gutted me –and it’s not quite 9 am yet. I’ve gone largely silent on Facebook, preferring the more easily controlled outlet of Twitter lately, and I’ve been deleting a fair number of things I’ve posted there, after reflecting on them a little.

I posted there a few days ago a hashtag revealing who I voted for this election, and (with deference and respect to my friends who’ve actually done this and really know what it’s like) it felt like a coming-out. I voted my conscience, and it wasn’t the same vote as many people I love and respect. Tends to give a person a very tangled feeling in the soul. Because I see now, in the fray of disagreement and conflict, a few things are true:

people who are in lament and feel threatened need space. They don’t need my “help,” they need an ear, a pair of arms, love without condition, grace. So much grace.

I am a lot more hesitant to speak truth (IN LOVE –which is a far different thing than shouting down or shaming my neighbor with my own perspective on truth, however true it might be) than I thought I was. I place too high a value on my image and far too low a value on love for my neighbor, even at the cost of losing their respect, their friendship. I need to examine my heart on issues that require self-sacrifice, because I don’t do that well yet. I need to listen, to draw courage, to lean heavily on the heart of God, because courage means to “take heart,” and sometimes, I don’t have enough of my own. I need love, grace. So much grace.

people who are hurting say (and sometimes do) terrible things. Even people I love, people I respect. Even I do this. they need patience, a gentle word of guidance sometimes, compassion, love, grace. So much grace.

There’s a time for everything: a time to listen, a time to speak, a time to speak up, a time to stand, a time to sit in the ashes with someone. The only way to discern the times? A keen ear to the heart of our neighbor and and the voice of the Holy Spirit. And grace. 

So much grace.