All the Devils are Here

The idea of Satan used to be unpalatable to me.

He felt mythological, fairy tale-ish. A way to scare children.

But that was when I wasn’t such a good listener.

Since I have tried to let God be the Alpha Dog in my life, the existence of dynamic evil is something I can’t ignore. At the risk of sounding all Jonathan Edwards, I need to share this story.

I have a colleague who has been a successful realtor for 16 years. The last few months have been dry, which is normal for the market—buyers and sellers tend to hibernate for the winter—but in a smaller town with 1200 agents, those months can be long and dark and start to feel like there will never be customers again.

Like any good veteran agent, in the meantime, she has taken advantage of the classes our brokerage offers on marketing and social media and farming and what not. She could probably teach the classes, but she knows that there is always something new to learn.

So she picked a farming strategy for her favorite neighborhood and sent a letter out, introducing herself and talking about the market. Her letter was light and kind and full of experience, because that’s the kind of agent she is.

She sent out 500 letters.

This week she got one back.

It came from a man named Clint in Nevada. By his perfect cursive, I will guess he is in his 70s or 80s and at some point in his elementary years, was taught by the good sisters at a Catholic school.

I can tell you though, the only thing he learned from those sisters was handwriting.

Clint took it upon himself to copy her letter, correct it like he knew what he was talking about, and send it back to her with this charming note at the bottom:

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It crushed her.

“I have great faith”, she told me in tears, “and I have prayed and prayed and asked God if this is what I should be doing and promised to follow His plan. Every time I think I’m going to do something else, I feel that I should stick with it. And then this happens. What kind of a person does this?”

The fact that her letter fell into the hands of a nasty old man in Nevada who was so bent on hurting someone that he copied the letter, corrected it and mailed it back to her in Oregon says that this is more than coincidence.

For one hard, tear-filled hour this morning, she was filled with doubt and hurt. Those feelings tried to teach her a lesson about the world, that people are mean and selfish, and she should pack it up and go home because the world is a nasty place. That also is not coincidence. That is what Clint meant her to feel.

Satan works in big ways, like despots and starving babies and chemical weapons.

But he also works all the time to steal the joy, faith and love right out of our hearts, and he uses people like Clint to do it.

Luckily, there is a large contingent of faithful women at our brokerage and one by one, after hearing the story, we said the same thing to her: “That letter is Satan trying to derail you. Don’t let him.”

She didn’t.

She made the changes to her letter that Clint suggested.

Then she copied that sucker and sent out 100 more letters.

 

 

 

#Candles4hope

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From my mom, Terri.

I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. ~ Oath of Office for the President of the United States

I am so scared.

I have lived 70 years in a country in which I felt free to live my life, achieve what I worked for, practice my religion freely.   I knew that the United States was something special and that those in power knew it, too   There were good presidents and some not so good, but for the most part they were intelligent, informed, and concerned about the country and its people.  They understood the need to follow the constitution as a legacy from our very beginnings.  They realized that we are a great nation, but one of many that make up this world and we need to collaborate, not dictate.

In the last 9 days, it feels like an alternate universe.  “Alternative facts” not truth.  Closed borders.  Arguing over silly things like who had more people at the inauguration.  Pronouncements one day, that get altered the next because no one seems to speak with a background of knowledge or understanding.  It’s like a few of them read the Clif Notes, but no one bothers with the book.  Top appointments appear to be made not with experience in mind, but with billions in the bank as the priority.  White House spokespersons will lie, embellish, interrupt or bully to get their message out.  Rude attitudes as they tell their story, not the true story.  Anger at the legitimate press who are our means to clarity and are trying to help us understand.

I come from a blue state, and have a Democratic representative and 2 (women) Democratic US senators.  I am confused and concerned about how to  get my voice heard.

My husband is in a men’s fellowship group and they are reading a book by Ronald Rolheiser called The Hidden Longing.  He read this passage to me last night.

 “In South Africa, prior to the abolition of apartheid, people used to light a candle and place it in their windows as a sign of hope, a sign that one day this evil would be overcome.  At one point, this was declared illegal, just as illegal as carrying a gun.  The children used to joke about this, saying: “Our government is scared of lit candles!” Eventually, as we know, apartheid was overcome.  Reflecting upon what ultimately brought its demise it is fair to suggest that “lit candles” (which the government so wisely feared) were considerably more powerful than were guns.” 

I got up, went to the cupboard and got a candle which will sit in my window to symbolize my hope until I am no longer afraid, until all will again be welcomed to the US and I figure out how to more actively speak my mind for all to hear.

Light drives out darkness. Hope trumps hate. Will you join me?

Election Day

 

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Here we are.

I voted and you voted and lots and lots of people have voted. Democracy has run its course.

But I kind of feel like the teenager who crashed the car and then tried to cover up the big dent in the fender. It’s an exercise in futility. We can’t hide the damage.

And we did it. We let it get to this place even though we know better, and are called to better. We’re complicit.

What do we really wake up to tomorrow? Wounds. Mistrust. Faithlessness. They are the elephants, and donkeys, in the room and they are hungry.

What are we going to feed them?

Two weeks ago, I went to Walgreens. I had just said to my brother “When I know that people are going to vote for that candidate, I feel like it tells me something about them. Something flawed. Something false. Something damaging.”

And then I parked next to a car with bumper stickers for that candidate all over it. I had seen it before, in the parking lot at church. Great, I thought. Hope I don’t know them.

But as I was standing in front of the cold remedies, a sweet voice said “Jen?” I turned and it was a woman I know well, a woman I have prayed with, a woman who hugged me hello. It hit me that it was her car.

Sh*t.

That is what I thought, I swear to goodness.

Then I was ashamed. What am I doing?

This election has not been our best moment. We have damaged ourselves as Americans, as people of faith, as a light shining in the darkness. The false prophets and kingdom builders have been exposed as the charlatans they are.

And we can either carry on as we have, self-serving and self-righteous, feeding what we want to hear and be.

Or we can decide that this was our wake-up call, and feed what we need to hear and be.

I’ll see you tomorrow.