Love Your Neighbor Where You Are

Like many of you, I've been discouraged, frustrated, saddened, and heartbroken over the executive order released by the Trump administration and the ever-increasing racial and cultural divide that seems to be growing in our country by the minute. However, unlike some of the posts I've been reading, I'm not writing to defend a position or to complain. Instead, allow me to offer my small voice in the midst of a very loud, disruptive, and chaotic moment in our nation's history. 

I believe we will look back on this time as very defining for our nation and those who will come after us. That being said, it's paramount we learn to rise above the chaos, speak the truth in love, and take action rather than staying on the sidelines. This is not a time to be silent; it's a time to engage. 

To be clear, I'm not talking about writing passionate or fiery social media posts or engaging in a political debate via Facebook. I'm talking about real life, face-to-face interaction with real people. If what we're really after is lasting social change, I suggest we put down our phones, stop talking, and start doing instead. 

Two years ago I started meeting with international students on the college campus in my town, and through conversations with students from Asia, Africa, South America, Europe, and the Middle East, my sweet little conservative Christian American worldview was challenged to say the least. I've traveled overseas many times, but there was something different about engaging people different than me in my own city - it broke something. 

Whenever we choose to cross cultural barriers and step over the line (visible or not), people notice. It may have seemed strange and even abrupt at first, but the friendships I've developed with students from different races, backgrounds, and nations have shaped and challenged me in ways few others have. I decided I didn't want to contribute to the social norms and cultural barriers; I wanted to be a part of the solution to the brokenness and disunity in our nation and world. 

Let us learn to funnel the frustration and heartbreak over the actions of our new President and his administration into action rather than more words. Let us learn to cross the line, challenge social norms, and in turn, challenge ourselves. 

There are so many ways to engage those hurting around us. It starts with me in Waco, TX and with you in your city. It starts by listening and learning, by extending a hand to those in need, by opening our eyes to see our neighbors in our workplace, classroom, or daily route. It starts by loving our neighbors as ourselves wherever we are now. 

I don't pretend to have answers or a solution to the recent executive order, the ramifications for my Muslim brothers and sisters, or for the racial divide in our nation. Yet rather than standing still on the sidelines racking my brain for a solution or debating about ways to change, I can do something small today. I can choose to love my neighbor at the gym this morning or on the campus I'll visit later today. I can choose to look around and inconvenience myself for the sake of someone else. I can choose to listen, even if that means disagreeing or not understanding, and most of all, I can choose to engage.