IMAGINE IF HEALING BEGINS
There’s no guarantees here.
You called me to follow and I jumped.
I love to swim but now I worry,
That I’ll be treading water
And never again see land,
While the waves grow stronger with the wind.
There was an adventure to live.
It was going to be bigger, deeper.
Telling a better story leaves me wondering,
If anyone will read it;
If it will change the way we live—
Have I gone crazy?
I wanted to hear from you—but there’s only wind.
I jotted these words out in my journal as I sat along the Potomac south of Alexandria on a Tuesday afternoon, the day before the Work As Restoration journal entry would run from a current congressional staffer. It’s funny, what I’ve noticed as we work to create LIBERATUS: whatever the message for the week is, whether it’s a call to action or about work as restoration or about owning up to our fears and trusting God—that the spiritual attacks come and undercut those messages every time. You want to make a call to action to live a better story? “Your call to action is mediocre and lame!” You want to let perfect love cast out fear and follow into the unknown? “Turn back! It’s not worth it; it will never work.” You want to talk about how we can view work in politics as an endeavor to bring healing and restoration to a broken world? You’re lame, you don’t really believe in God at all—and you definitely did nothing to bring healing to the Hill while you were there. You’re not trying to bring healing; you’re trying to escape.”
It’s probably not a secret by now that I love much of John Eldredge’s writings, and there are two points from his works that are worth noting. The first is what he says about doubt in Killing Lions (page 119) and probably elsewhere: that doubt isn’t actually a virtue, and it’s not humility, but that we can bring our doubts to God and pray through them, not because doubting is cool but because we need to own up to them so Jesus can bring us fully to life. Ultimately, he calls us to follow.
The second point is what he often calls “breaking agreements” you’ve made that gives the enemy space to keep spreading lies in your own head to take you out of the game. If there is an enemy set against all that is good and true and beautiful, it would make sense, wouldn’t it, that any attempt to bring healing to our culture would first have to take down the lie that there’s nothing true or beautiful in what we’re doing, and that we should quit?
These are the agreements—even if I never fully agreed with them—that need to be broken as we move forward, and this is why it’s relevant: our vision is healing through a deeper understanding of freedom, and a big part of our understanding of healing requires time away from work; withdrawing, taking a step back to look at what we’ve created to gain better insight and pick up the pieces and rework some things and keep going. We need to see our work as a creative pursuit—we must, on Capitol Hill and everywhere—because if we don’t healing won’t be possible, and we’ll never end the burnout culture. Ultimately we’ll never shift the paradigm from one of chaos to one that speaks order into chaos. And on that thought, there are many ways to describe what’s going on in Congress, but this one is probably the simplest and perhaps easiest to understand: there’s not a lot of speaking order into chaos there.
It’s speaking chaos into chaos, and championing it and calling it good.
The work culture largely doesn’t reflect God’s design for work at all, and as such, we’ve created an entire governing culture that’s spiritually dark. (If you’re not a follower of Jesus, you don’t need to worry much about this point, but everyone who I know who claims to follow has said the same thing: Capitol Hill is spiritually oppressive. Even if you’re not a follower, you can no doubt see that it is at least highly dysfunctional.)
So all of that said – we can turn that around, as God leads. We can bring Truth and Beauty, and it won’t do to doubt that we’re not bringing Truth and Beauty when we most definitely are.
I offer this as an example as we touch on our larger theme of Recess for Issue 005, of taking a step back and reflecting, so we can recognize that it’s a key part of taking a step back for recess, and also to show how it plays out with the creation of LIBERATUS. It’s not like we’re immune from the rhythms of work and rest and creation—we have to take a step back in order to pray through the attacks that are keeping us from doing our work that’s a pursuit of healing and restoration and freedom.
Now all of that said, the truth of the matter is, that same morning I went out to the Potomac, I had already woken up thinking all of the “what if?” questions about our plans and our vision and where God may be leading all of this. (And to be honest, it often does feel like we ran out onto the water, and God just disappeared and left us drowning—but that is perhaps just the inadequacies of being human.) We do, without question, need to paint a picture of what healing looks like. So here goes:
We use LIBERATUS to create a space through The Journal writing community for congressional staff and others in political culture to reset for the purpose of healing every week?
What if resetting spreads the idea that our work can be a pursuit of restoration and healing, and that idea starts to take root?
What if staffers begin working from a point of rest and health in order to be stronger to live out the idea of bringing healing?
What if pursuing personal healing means healthier and fitter bodies, which leads to clearer minds?
What if the benefit of that is so obvious that congressional offices can’t help but make it an integral part of their office culture, so that Congress and our work culture at large reflected a rhythm of create, refine, rest, repeat?
What if a deeper sense of personal freedom, and the clearer minds that come with it, means that the talking points suddenly become fresh and creative, going deeper and deeper into the truth instead of recycled and stale?
What if viewing work as a creative pursuit ends the cycle of burnout on Capitol Hill and elsewhere, because the work itself becomes engaging as the focus shifts towards speaking order into chaos instead of chaos into chaos?
What if fresh talking points and a drive to work creatively push people in Congress towards bold leadership?
What if the people get a taste for bold leadership, and begin to demand it from their representatives?
What if our drive to lead well drives us towards engaging in substantive debates with people that have opposing views and we start solving problems? On a large scale?
What if we recognized that all of these ideas are rooted in living the gospel, and that the reason Capitol Hill is so spiritually dark is that we aren’t even trying to take ground for the Kingdom; we aren’t even trying to live out the gospel (broadly speaking; there are obviously many who are—but what if we could take significantly more ground)?
What if the impact on our nation was dramatic?
What if it spread to the rest of the world?
I think we can get there. I think we are called to go there.
This pursuit of Truth and Beauty is not, to examine another of the lies, a blind shouting match that seeks to control culture and make it conform to some moralistic code, or way of life. The vision is healing. And to be honest it won’t fully be realized; nothing will change. And yet—everything will change. What I mean is, in order to truly bring healing, we will first have to carry the weight of the lack of Truth and Beauty. It’s not as if we are trying to control and scream all of the dark places in our political culture out of existence. But it’s time to light the torch, it’s time to feel the wind on our face, and hear the voice of God whisper into our souls again, LIBERATUS—we are set free.