If something doesn't affect me directly, I probably don't care about it.
I don't like writing that, but it's God's truth. When my reputation is on the line, when it makes me look bad, when it could make me look good, whether or not it's convenient for me, whether it makes me feel good, if it benefits me directly or indirectly, if I want to do it: you don't have to force me to care about those things.
Am I the only one? If it doesn't benefit me, I don't [naturally] give a crap.
But there's two people inside of me. There's the person that wants-- see the crappy person above-- and there's the person who knows what they should want. This one's actually a half-decent guy. He wants to give a crap about all the good things, kindness and adventure and hard work and justice and how to love my neighbor.
You see the problem?
I can't get myself to actually give a crap about what I should care about. I can be motivated by shame. I can be motivated by obligation. But it feels impossible to be motivated by love.
Lately, I've been taking afternoon walks. It's a chance to get exercise and clear my mind a bit. On these walks, I also have found that second person getting in my ear about some things I don't really care about. Things to which I give lip-service and not much else.
Usually, I just try to dig down and try harder. The main work is gritting your teeth. But that never works, not long-term anyway. I can suck it up once or twice, but long-term I'll never take on something I should. I have to actually give a crap about it.
On one of these walks, it hit me that, oh, I'm actually a Christian, and maybe my main work isn't gritting my teeth after all. That learning Jesus will involve doing things you don't want to do, but that ultimately it involved becoming the kind of person who genuinely gave a crap about good things. And that the main work is mostly just prayer.
And so I found myself, for example, praying that I'd see the image of God in my black neighbors. That whatever my role is when it comes to racial justice in America, that it'd be motivated because I see people in God's image being exploited. Praying that there would be balance in our courts where there is now a slant, that God's kingdom would come on earth as in heaven. Praying that God would transform me by the renewing of my mind, stripping me of silly biases.
This is kind of what I've been doing lately when I don't care as much about something I should. It's like an alarm clock in my head, telling me it's time to pray. It's slow work. Most meaningful work is.
So you can find me walking in the bitter January wind, doing the difficult work of being and becoming, which is really what prayer is mostly about. You'll find me there, trying to become a person that gives a crap about the good things. *
* The Lord has told you, human, what is good; he has told you what he wants from you:to do what is right to other people, love being kind to others, and live humbly, obeying your God. (Micah 6:8, ncv)
photo: Raygen Brown