the answer to the problems of the world

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This spring has been an interesting one at my house. My sweet little girl is suddenly terrified of bugs. I mean it. She refuses to go outside. Her whole body tenses up, she freezes and stares at the flying creatures. It doesn’t help that our house has carpenter bees. Those suckers are big and intimidating. Apparently they don’t sting you, but they are still a big fat bummer.

We try just about every day to sit with her outside. She literally flails and cries to go back inside. It’s terrible. I snapped a picture of one of our most recent attempts to calm her down outside. The bees were buzzing around our roof, and my husband held her face to try to avert her eyes and focus on him. He’s a really good dad. He was so patient and calm. It didn’t work, by the way. She ended up back inside.

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The world around us has begun feeling this way to me lately. I feel safe in my home, but stepping outside to a grocery store or a doctors office reminds me that fear is everywhere. The air around us feels heavy. The division is thick. It’s tangible. Depending on your views and your personality, you may have different reactions to all that’s happening around you.

Traumatic videos of racism and murder are swirling with arguments and fear.

Each state changes its opinions and its rules daily. What we knew about how to be healthy yesterday may not be true today.

The open-ended questions about the future are exhausting. Will my kids go back to school? Will we ever grocery shop without a mask? What is the truth about any of it, anyway?

I’ve found myself exhausted for seemingly no reason.

Here is the truth: the threats are real. Just like the bees swarming at my roof, it doesn’t help any of us to deny the reality. But if we become solely focused on the bad or what might happen – we will be paralyzed and afraid to step outside.

God’s response to our current situation sounds watered-down and general, but it is the opposite. If you’re wondering what side to stand on, what to fight for, or what you’re called to right now – it’s love.

Love is not general and it’s not passive.

Love never brings fear, for fear is related to punishment. But love’s perfection drives out the fear of punishment from our hearts. Whoever walks consistently afraid of punishment has not reached love’s perfection. Our love for others is our grateful response to the love God first demonstrated us.” [1 John 18-19]

To be loved by God is to love others.

Love by making your family your priority.

Love by standing up for racism and injustice. Love takes a side when it comes to abuse and hate.

Love by assuming the best in everyone when they might be at their worst.

Love by seeing that person who disagrees with you as a fellow human being.

Love by accepting grace for yourself when you feel paralyzed.

Love by stepping outside and not giving into fear.

Love by giving something you have to someone else.

Love by smiling at strangers even on your bad day.

Love by being patient in the lines that grow longer and longer at grocery stores and fast food restaurants.

Love by saying, “I’m sorry” when you get it wrong.

Love because He loved us first.

We have so many choices at this moment in time. So. Many. Decisions. Check in on the news if you must, but like Olivia, we have to face our fears and step outside. The threats are real. But we are loved beyond what we’re afraid of. Gauge your responses and your heart position with one question: “Am I responding with the same love I’ve been given?” This requires pause. This requires wisdom. And it pushes us to seek the strength of the One who is love Himself.

Our God is not afraid. His heart breaks for every loss and every hurt, but He is never unsure or caught off guard. We are loved beyond our fears and our uncertainties.

You are loved beyond your fears. And so are they.

For He has given us this command: whoever loves God must also demonstrate love to others.” [1 John 4:21]

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