Dear Kaleid Ladies,
Let’s get real for a minute. How many of you have found yourself in a position of defensiveness or judgment as it relates to someone else’s stance or actions related to COVID-19?
Has your inner dialogue been at times…Grumpy? Cranky? Annoyed? Eye-rollish?
“Why do they recklessly stand there and talk to that person without wearing a mask?”
“Why do they act like they can’t even go outside to get the mail?”
“Why do they think they can open the economy without regard for the vulnerable and the front-line workers?”
“Why do they think we have to live in fear when life and death are in God’s hands anyway?”
Hello, people under stress. Hello, fight vs. flight. Hello, ethics on adrenaline. Hello, othering at work.
Othering? You ask…The word “other” is not a verb, you say. It’s a noun.
Not for our purposes. Not today, Kaleid lady friends. Othering is that thing we do when we get all fancy-pants and go judging that person who we think is wrong. W.R.O.N.G. Or, worse yet, not just wrong. Ignorant. Dangerous, even. Othering is the way that we practice emotional distancing from those around us. It lets us stand on a supposed moral high ground when we want to feel safe.
Othering is as old as human brokenness. Cain “othered” Abel and it cost a life. All those frustrated, stressed, true human responses to coronavirus and all those faces of reaction that we and others wear are very much part of our DNA—the story of human life in friction with other human life.
Alright, now that we’ve gotten agitated (I’m sorry, I know it’s early and your eyes are probably still sleepy and your coffee is probably not yet coursing through your veins with enough force), we will step it down and invite you to something new, something healing. Something hopeful.
There is another way. (Get it? An-OTHER?) There is the way of community. The way of mutuality and growth, even in the face of stressors that threaten our sense of unity or solidarity or respect for each other. We can practice seeing the other compassionately. We can practice loving with intentionality. We can practice owning our opinions and preferences and respecting other people’s preferences and opinions—even as we wrangle our own inner dialogue, make the most informed decisions we can for our families, and lean into loving our neighbor in the ways we are led by the Spirit.
Over the next four weeks, we will be looking at four key practices of Christian community: gratitude, hospitality, truth-telling, and promise-keeping. These four practices come from a book by Christine Pohl (if you’d like to read along), and they help continually re-orient us toward the grace and truth required to really live alongside the other. The practices help us to be healthy in relationships with people who are different from us but who are fellow neighbors, family members, church members, or community members.
We are looking forward to exploring each practice, together. We are looking forward to having handles to hold as we move through these next phases of virus-life in America and as we move into election-life in America. (You can run, but you can’t hide!) These months can either be fraught with the tension of othering, or they can be a chance to practice healthy community with people who are not quite like us.
For today, we invite ourselves to look inward and to notice where we might be “othering” and to ask the Spirit to show us what fears might be driving that inner dialogue. We invite ourselves to also ask the Spirit how our own passions might be leading us to love more intentionally. How can we love those whose vulnerability we seek to protect? How can we love those whose views we struggle to accept?
Investigate me, God, and know my heart.
Test me and know my troubled thoughts.
See if there is any way in me that causes pain,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
When my anxious thoughts multiply within me,
Your consolations delight my soul.
Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
We love you! We are thankful for the delightful Kaleidoscope of women who read these emails. You are beautiful. Go shine in all your beauty today, illuminated by the light of the love of Christ.
And remember, you were created in love, by love, and for love. Let this truth sink deep into the sacred space of your unique soul and go in peace.
The Kaleid Team
P.S. - For a deeper read on the importance of this topic, consider this book by Miraslov Volf.