Last week, I had to slam on the brakes.
I'm in a Women's Group that meets weekly, trying to bridge gaps across party lines, skin tan lines, money lines, chip/dip preferences lines, and smelly lines. Every. Single. Week.
Last week was hard. It was a whole lot of fun with our first road trip together across state lines! It was also tiring to do the hard work of showing up to difficult questions.
So I slammed on the brakes.
I wrote down my tough questions.
I showed up. Invited some friends.
It was mostly awesome, but kinda sucked.
Here are the questions:
1. Why do I go to Women's Group every week?
2. Why volunteer time anywhere?
(TBC, I am not a volunteer at Group. I am a member and participant. Sometimes the building that houses Group needs volunteers and then we take turns stepping up and in.)
3. How much am I motivated by Guilt? by Goodness?
Wisely noted by another member of Group: Guilt is not always a bad thing. It can offer a moral and ethical boundary.
4. What are the instructions in the Gospel for generosity?
My feeble understanding is to give away 100%; there is little-to-no mention of how to manage the continuum of enabling and empowering.
5. How counter-cultural can we behave (as the New Testament encourages) and still function in our culture?
6. Why continue...when it will never be enough?
7. How do you keep Groups everywhere that cross racial, economic, religious barriers from becoming "crutches" for the underserved and instead make them "launching pads" for all to areas and situations with sufficient resources?
8. What is it about being human that encourages us to focus on what is different about our neighbor, rather than what is similar...and is that a learned behavior?
Propaganda touched on this at a Catalyst conference, naming it the Deficit Model: when you approach a problem or a person concentrating first on what they lack. With this model there is always an implied inequality.
Those were the magic slam-on-the-brakes questions I showed up to hear. Even with thoughtful friends and a two-hour lunch, we have no answers.
We agreed that the point of Group was that all in the circle would be Seen and feel Heard. That's all we can do on this day.
Seen and Heard may look like listening, crying, laughing, writing, sharing money, passing around essential oils, creating new oil blends to share, praying, arranging rides, or finding more aluminum foil to wrap around leftovers and send home with a sister.
Part of the hard work of showing up is allowing the rules to form and change over what Seen and Heard looks like and feels like.
I will continue to sit with these questions.
As I'm ready, I'll ease off the brake and slowly roll forward...