change the world {day 31} :: the manifesto

Those who change the world are ordinary people who have the courage to think different. We may start out in our small towns, intimidated by this big world, but we have to know that there are words only we can say, comfort only we can offer, art only we can make, worlds only we can change. Still we worry, and we hide in our small rooms of fear, afraid what it might mean to live on the other side. But rest well, because there is work to do before we can open the door.

It’s quiet work, invisible work, light and simple, but not easy work. Receive graceBe lovedBe patientBe encouraged. And know that sometimes you may be led to be impractical. And that is good. When you finally stand at the doorway to the world, there are things you need to know before you move.

Know your passion, because any influence you have will flow from this. Know your limits, because your weakness is actually your gift. Know what makes you cry, because your tears are tiny messengers that carry evidence of where your heart beats strong. Know your choices, because you may not change your circumstance but you can still change the world. Know how to worship, because every small moment of life boasts a breathe that comes from God. Know your brokenness, because healing only comes after wounds.

When it’s time to move in a way that will affect change, honor the courage it takes to start, and know that sometimes it looks like simply showing up. Not extravagantly with speeches and banners, but simple with open hands. Find your brave yes. Fight for your strong no. Learn how to suffer, to be small, to be quiet.

Use names with love. Use words with conviction. Be willing to not only look, but to see. Purpose to not only hear but to listen. Tell your stories and as you live them, watch art come out.

And if we are a trusting and believing people, we will know that change doesn’t always happen fast. We need to stand back a little and let things grow.

So we’ve been talking about these things for 31 days. Where are you on your journey to change the world? Are you stuck in the bathroom? Still in the knowing? Having trouble starting? Suffering? Quieting? I would love to hear from you on this last day of the month. And I want to sincerely thank you for visiting.

change the world {day 30} :: let things grow

They finish their apples and get to the core, find the seeds tiny and black inside. Their eyes sparkle with visions of tall shade trees with bright red apples hanging low and sweet. They hardly have to discuss it. Rushing into the front yard in a blur of barefeet and tightly clenched hands, they scurry out to dig a hole in the grass. And cupping small hands around that hole, they watch as the black seeds fall into their shallow plot of earth.

They cover those seeds and kneel beside the womb in the ground, waiting. And they water that mound in the middle of the front yard, draw a picture of an apple, tape it to a number two pencil, and stake it in the ground. Here is where we poured our hope and where we’ll wait for it to grow. Every day they run to that spot, spill the water, stand vigil to their imagination. Faithful little servants to hope.

And so we are 5 years old and wanting our apple trees to give shade and fruit and we want it yesterday. We kneel at the altar of our desire to see change now, to move things along, to push open doors. We don’t want to wait. And so because we can’t see results, we decide it isn’t working.
Did my great grandfather Pop think those kinds of thoughts as he watched his son’s New York city career slip slow into the amber hands of the miller lite? Did he wonder if those short trips to Florida with his grandson, my dad, would ever make a difference in the scope of things? Did he worry about the future of his children’s children because how could a family brought up under the instruction of alcohol ever make anything of themselves? How we benefit from the faithful world changers of who came before us. They did not live to see the change, but we live because of it. Be faithful to plant. Release the growing to God.

Tomorrow is our last day of 31. I have so enjoyed talking about changing the world with you. If you would like to read the series from the beginning, all the posts are listed here. You may also get Chatting at the Sky delivered to your inbox for free.

change the world {day 29} :: make art

You know what happens when a girl who has lived in the bathroom dares to open the door? When a mother who thought she had no voice begins to realize her voice matters? When a student who has believed she was biding her time to live life for real begins to discover the life in today? When a writer tells her story? When a servant opens her hands? When a believer finally believes?

Art comes out.

Hope spills out of her arms and into the hopeless. Love is shown in the form of food for the hungry and support for the widows. It cannot always be defined by a resume or put down on a list. It is not a formula for change or a slogan for a campaign.

We are a scared lot of people, aren’t we? Worried to risk, to fail, to disappoint. Let go of the burden of your insecurity and allow God to uncover the imprint of his image on you – his creative, artistic image. Your efforts to change the world are not meaningless. They are not wasted. They are not too small. When we live free, we give freedom. When we live loved, we give love. When we are secure, we are able to offer security. This kind of living can’t be described in any other way than as art – beautiful, unpredictable, worshipful art.

Visit here to read 31 Days to Change the World from the beginning.

change the world {day 28} :: tell

“Our lives are at once ordinary and mythical. We live and die, age beautifully or full of wrinkles. We wake in the morning, buy yellow cheese, and hope we have enough money to pay for it. At the same instant we have these magnificent hearts that pump through all sorrow and all winters we are alive on the earth. We are important and our lives are important, magnificent really, and their details are worthy to be recorded.”

Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones

Tell your story and you can change the world. This is how we lived. This is what we ate. This is where we planted the tulip bulbs with a soup spoon, the bulbs that bloomed anyway. This table holds the memories of a thousand dinner stories, these chairs wear the stains of their jelly and play-doh hands. This house was made a home the first night we slept here, the night I cried because the windows had no coverings and neither did my heart.

Our house may burn down to the ground, but no one can take our stories. You may argue the existence of God in the world but you cannot debate how he has carried us. You may say it’s impossible to travel in time, but you didn’t see how God bent time in my favor just last week. You can talk me out of my money and my clothes and my food, but you cannot withdraw my hope. And hope can change the world. And the only way I can show you my hope is by telling you my stories.

This post is part of the series 31 Days to Change the World. If you would like to have Chatting at the Sky delivered to your inbox, subscribe here for free.

change the world {day 27} :: listen

After I graduated, I worked for several years as a sign language interpreter in the public school system. The student I interpreted for was an attractive, well-liked athlete. Though she had a few friends who used sign language with her, I interpreted most every interaction she had with teachers and classmates, as she never used her own voice.

I enjoyed my role there. It allowed me to have an eye and ear into situations I would never have otherwise been invited to: private counseling sessions, high school girlfriend talk, basketball team huddles, and lots of others. But there were some things for which interpreting was nearly impossible. Like pep rallies. Even if I could have understood the words to the music above the deep pounding of bass, it went way too fast. But the words mattered little. It was the music that moved people.

And so this student didn’t need me to interpret the words to the songs. She didn’t need me to tell her that music was playing. She could see evidence of the music in every one of her moving peers. Every person with working ears couldn’t help but respond to the music. And so all she had to do to dance was watch her classmates move around her and follow their lead.

We think we know what it means to change the world, to do big things and small things with good intentions. We know how to act right. We know how to dance. But we don’t always hear the music. Oh to learn what it means to hear and truly listen to the melodic voice of God as he speaks invisible, to be inspired to action from within rather than pressured from without.

All of our listening doesn’t have to look the same. Listening may move me to do something completely different from you. Give yourself permission to impact the world in the unique ways only you can do, and extend grace to those around you to do the same.

Portions of this post were adapted from my book, Grace for the Good Girl.