Wednesday, January 20, 2021

2021 Word: Community

I LOVE the new year.  A fresh start.  New planners full of promise.  The allure of possibility that this, this could be the year that I get everything together.  I always set resolutions, goals, and track progress.  But I don't usually pick a word for the year.  However, this year, with all that has been going on, and due to the fact that it keeps popping up over and over in things I read, I have a word in mind: Community.

Everyone talks about how America is so divided and it's true.  We're divided on so many things, whether Covid 19 response, law enforcement's role, the economy, immigration, even religion.  Christians can't agree with each other about issues.  And I'm speaking as a Christian, who's very frustrated.  But, no one wants to try and bridge a gap or listen to anyone who does not fall entirely in their circle.  This year I want to do better.

And, I want to be a better friend.  2020 brought arguments about politics, social justice, and Covid 19 within my own circle of friends.  Instead of focusing on what we do agree on, I think we get so narrow sighted and only see what we don't agree on.  And I feel there's more common ground than I thought, so I want to try to work to repair some of those friendships.  I want to listen more than I talk, I want to think before I speak, and I want to encourage everyone I come into contact with, whether it's friends, coworkers, or patients.

I've been reading a lot of Henri Nouwen lately.  He's a Catholic priest who died in 1996, but his words are just as relevant as ever.  He writes a lot about how everyone wants love, and we feel isolated, alone, and rejected.  But really, God loves each of us, regardless of age, race, political affiliation, past wrongs, present short comings.  He loves us.  And, if God feels that way about me and everyone I meet, then I need to treat everyone I meet as if I truly believe that it.  

God loves that patient that shows up in the ER every week for the same problem, God loves that patient with dementia who has forgotten where they are.  God loves that coworker who is always humble bragging.  God loves that friend who you watch make bad decisions over and over.  God loves people you know are liars.  God loves everyone on death row.  I think we have a hard time believing God could love us unconditionally and that his love doesn't change based on how we act.  But, we have no problem believing we're more deserving of love than those we think are "worse" than us.  This year, I am really trying to focus on the fact that we are all loved by God.  So many people just want someone to listen to them.  They want to feel important and that they matter.  So that's what I'm trying to focus on in 2021- listening, loving, and building that community where people feel safe to open up and really share.

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