Tools for the Middle Ground (justice, kindness, humility)

Tools for the Middle Ground (justice, kindness, humility)

Have you ever met someone that thinks everyone is just weak now-a-days? They believe that we’ve lost our backbone and are just too emotionally weak as a society; that we’re too soft and sensitive and can’t handle conflict as a product of our moral decay and obsession with political correctness. Maybe you’ve met some people that think the previous group of people are just “archaic” and insensitive, rude and dangerous people to our forward progress as a species. Maybe you are in one of these camps or just maybe stand somewhere in the middle of the war zone, wondering how to balance the extreme opinions dividing communities, friends and families all across the western world. What if I told you, in a way, both are true; That we are all weak, but that we have always been that way; although, let’s reframe the conversation. Let’s use a more true word in place of weak; we are all fragile.

There is no doubt that political correctness has been taken to an extreme in our society. We’ve reached a point that even a fact shared in the right environment, full of empathy and compassion, can be labeled as “bigoted” or “hate speech” and that these people must be canceled indefinitely. The issue with this type of name calling is that it uses extreme or unfair words that are by definition much weightier and complex than how they’re used (like the ones I have placed in quotations above). In turn, any possibility of positive conversation and mutual understanding is squelched by buzz words and closed minds. Whether or not there is any agreement, we miss out on the conversations full of potential for growth, compassion, healthy compromise and change.

On the other hand, the sensitivity was birthed out of centuries of oppression of the weak and glorification of the strong. The sensitivity is a wake up call to a society to recognize the injustice of shame-based division of those less fortunate or mis-valued. The irony is that this position now overvalues intellect and demonizes ignorance, using clever catchphrases and chants, wit and aggressive name calling to try to silence those in opposition to their ideals. This type of pushback to a position, not yet addressed in such a manner in a socioeconomic playing field, gave whiplash to the common conservative with simple, straight forward values.

Their values were based mostly off of their own practical experiences, what they’ve been taught in their circles of influence, and what has worked for their families for multiple generations. These people generally are hard working middle to lower-class people who haven’t lived privilaged lives in most definitions of the word. These are people who generally try to do the right thing and help raise their families in the best way they know how. You will see in their response to conflict a lot of call back response that mimics defensive recall. In contrast, the opposition believes creativity is equivalent to truth. As an example, one child might say to another, “you’re stupid” to which the confronted child would say, “no, you’re stupid.” A hot take example would be, “Black lives matter” in which those feeling attached would respond, “ALL lives matter”, using similar phrasing to try to protect their separate agenda or opinion.

What we see happening on both sides are people with separate experiences and view points. Some views are totally contradictory to each other, but there are commonalities between the two at their core. They both feel an attach on what they believe to be true and that the opposing worldview is the enemy to progress. They both feel misunderstood. They both generally want themselves to be comfortable and live the way they believe is a thriving life and would love if everyone else would live the way they believe is good. They all love the people that agree with them.

But as people, and specifically me as a Christian, I wonder how I am supposed to respond in this climate. I find myself as a political nomad. In some ways I think that’s okay, because Jesus identifies himself as a nomad to this world and the ways of it in passages like Mark 12:17, Matthew 8:20, Matthew 19:21 and other places as well. I suggest you check out all these and any scriptures in context, but Jesus didn’t have a conventional view on life. These examples don’t fit into a mold, because we’re not called to be comfortable, we’re called to love.

One of my favorite passages of scripture is Micah 6:8 and it says, “He has told you, mortal one, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?” I love talking about the order and intentionality of the wording in this passage. Almost every translation agrees on the phrase “do justice” or “do justly” and some even say “act justly” but they all get across this image of justice being a duty and a command, something we must actively pursue. The part of this that always wakes me up is that the command to do justice is followed by the imperative to “love kindness” or “love mercy” as many translations state. Mercy or kindness isn’t supposed to just be done out of obligation, but must be proceeded by love. That means, even in justice, mercy and kindness must be cherished. Lastly, we see the call to walk humbly with our God; not in arrogance, seeing ourself as more worthy or good than another, but to walk in humility with our God who himself alone is good and just and merciful, who humbly chooses to walk with his second most rebellious creation besides the angels that rejected him and fell with the satan.

It’s almost as if the act of justice is to be done out of duty and the kindness must overflow from our love, and all decisions should be made in partnership and submission to God himself, but don’t we mostly see the opposite in our society? We see people on both sides pridefully waving their banners in view, hanging them outside their homes and across their social media pages. We hear screaming and name calling, belittling and arguing. We see people so in love with the results of justice, happy with the misfortunes of others, regardless if their punishment is equal or higher than they deserve. We see people being kind out of obligation, and mostly so it will bring them “good karma” (another misused buzz word) or when it will put someone in a sort of kindness debt to themselves.

With that being a common image we get though, I’m so happy to know people who are by no means perfect, but are living lives in pursuit of this verse. They’re fighting fort the justice of widows, orphans, women, the poor, and people of color. They are loving and showing kindness to those with opposing world views and walks of lives, not to encroach on their human rights but not avoiding the conversations of justice and truth within their world view. They fight to inform, but also listen and hear the other people’s side. They desire to walk humbly with God, knowing it’s nothing that they do that makes them worthy of God’s affection; that it’s only by God’s grace and through our weak and simple yes to him that we are counted as His children.

Are you a person who does justice, loves kindness and walks humbly with God? I hope you are! If you’re not, ask God to walk with you, ask for forgiveness and turn away from your selfishness, for any selfishness is a rejection of God’s control and an attempt to be ones own God of that area. You must also accept the grace of Jesus, then go ahead and ask him to transform and guide your life so that you might be bold to do justice, be secure in His love for you to share that love through mercy and kindness, and the foresight to walk in humility with God.

You are fragile on your own, so am I. Let’s rely on a strength that calls from beyond ourselves so that we might be a people that stand out as we make our way through this incredibly challenging and amazing life.

Being the Best Best Friend

Being the Best Best Friend

“Some people want the responsibility of an acquaintance with the perks of a best friend…”

When I Think of friendship, specific people in my life pop up before others. Some friends live closer and others farther away, but it is not necessarily their proximity that makes them good friends.  There are qualities that we all can glean from in being the best best friend we can be, but to dive into being the best best friend, I want to first confront the different kind of friendships. There are plenty, and we can have healthy friendships of all kinds.

The following categories are both terminology of my own making as well as general terminology in our English language.    

Acquaintances are those people that we know about, hang around or otherwise see on occasion, but rarely purposefully.  We see them only when obligated by work or geographical proximity.

A general Friend is one you know and enjoy, but I like to break it off into some sub-groups, including, Catch-up Friend, Hang-out Friend, and a Group Friend.

A Catch-up Friend is one that you don’t see often, although you love to talk to and hear about what’s been going on in their life. A Hang-out Friend on the other hand, you know what they’re up to, so when you hang out there can be either deep discussion or Netflix going on and neither party questions the friendship. A Group Friend is often affiliated with your hang out friend, although you either feel semi awkward being alone with them, or you’ve never been in that scenario to know.

Now that all of this has been established, here comes the…


Real talk- some people want the responsibility of an acquaintance with the perks of a best friend, or a hang-out friend. One of the MOST important things to remember in any relationship is it is as much your responsibility as it is theirs.

Communication is the cornerstone of a friendship, and I am so thankful that I have friends that aren’t afraid to hit me up. I really need it sometimes, even when I don’t want anyone around. In that same way, I want to never forget to hit them up. They desire your affirmation as much as you wish for theirs.

Never become entitled to someone else’s phone call or praise.

Withholding compliments and encouragement from your friends is worse then seeing their zipper down and not telling them. It’s an abstract example but you get the concept; when your friend is doing awesome, tell them!  On the other end, when they’re not doing awesome, remind them that even though the circumstance isn’t gravy, they’re still awesome!

Live in gratitude and service.

That person who is your friend or who you really want to be best friends with is going through life. There’s things they need to get accomplished when you have free time, so why not give them a hand? Offer to, if nothing else, be with them so that they don’t feel like they’re doing it alone. Don’t keep credits and debits for and against each other. Just serve in the theme of serving, and be grateful for friendship and the opportunity to share of yourself.

Friendship are amazing, so don’t take them lightly. Don’t overwhelm people and expect them to want to be your bestie, but at the same time, when someone is looking to drain you, don’t feel bad to let that friendship drift into another category. Make your best friends the ones that you can invest in and are willing to invest into you. Keep those good catch-up friends and keep catching up and encouraging each other. Keep those group friends and have fun with them and discuss all of life together! Keep those acquaintances and encourage them and look out for them when you can.

Let those who try to make you into what they need-the ones that use you, the ones that are content with mediocrity or encourage you to do wrong or unhealthy things-fall to the side. Pray for them, but don’t feed from their land. Their fruit is unpruned and selfish, rotten and destructive.

When you are the best friend you can be, and are being fed by the best of friends; you refresh one another.  From there, have the energy to serve people without any need for anything in return.  The best best friend becomes the best acquaintance, and any kind of friend.