Holding it Together

He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. ~ Colossians 1:17

 

Edge of England by Cornelia Parker
Edge of England by Cornelia Parker (Milwaukee Art Museum)

 

Words fall heavy. We use words to communicate with one another, whether it be a close friend or a stranger, whether it be through book, blog post, e-mail, or social media.

Nowadays, people do not physically talk as much to one another, but instead resort to social media as a mouthpiece. We speak out through our written words like never before. Anger, hostility, ugliness, you name it- is out there- among strangers, and among friends and neighbors.

I’ve had my moments of weariness with all of it. I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook: I love some of the connectedness it can offer, but it can also be highly annoying, a time-waster, and rampant with duplicity. It’s abundantly clear when someone wants to be your “friend” on Facebook, but in real life, turns their face or ignores you or talks about you. It’s sickening to me.

It’s nothing new. Hypocrisy, that is.

Social media has simply provided a venue to expose to the world what is in each one of us, but on a constant, daily basis, in a continual stream. It’s not all bad; there is a great deal of good. Yet, there is also too much vitriol, criticism, judgment, backbiting, hypocrisy, and all around stupidity, immaturity, foolishness, and nonsense.

I’m reminded of something encouraging I read the other day, and it is perfect timing, because I need to remember it now: “What comes out of someone else’s mouth is a reflection of their heart — not yours.”

So many bitter pills around to swallow. You know how many times you are damned if you do, and damned if you don’t?  Yeah.  Someone on each side is ready to pounce on you no matter what you do.

I have days when I ask myself, “Where are all the kind people?? Are they hiding?” I know they exist.

I have a choice.
I can be like the rest of the angry and upset world, complaining constantly and cutting others down. I can be duplicitous. And heck yes, sometimes I make the wrong choice.

Or, I can be someone different. I can choose to respond in kindness to  the unkind friend, or the hypocritical neighbor, or the judgmental stranger.

That is what God is asking of me. He wants ME to be kind. He wants ME to be that kind person. I can’t control what the world around me is doing but I can control how I respond.

It is hard, because sometimes everything in me wants to lash out. Defend myself. Say something unkind back. Ignore. Snub. Get back at someone for what they did or said. But then… what makes me different from the rest of the angry world?

It’s the kind voice that speaks louder. It’s the kind voice that people need to hear. It’s the kind voice that brings healing. It’s the kind voice that assuages anger. It’s the kind voice that brings togetherness.

Yeah… it’s Jesus holding me together, day after day, holding my whole life together- and not just holding my tongue! He keeps me together.

I need Jesus to help me, because my flesh won’t do it on my own. Without Jesus, I’d lash out way more than I should. With him, I’m more likely to be kind. Not just because I want to do what’s right- but because I WANT to BE KIND and do what Jesus would do.

Not easy.

But Jesus never said it would be easy. And, I can testify: it sure ain’t easy.

When I give Jesus room to step in and do what I cannot do on my own, I can start to see that others must be hurting badly to treat others badly, or to lash out with words or judgment or criticism. I can start to see their perspective. But, even if I don’t understand their perspective, because admittedly very often I do not understand the “whys” of it all, if I give Jesus room, because that is who I want to be,  he can work through me, in spite of me. 

Just one of the many ways Jesus holds me together, and holds it all together for me.

That verse, Colossians 1:17, has always intrigued me. I don’t fully understand it. I’m trying to grasp its meaning. It has multiple layers. Here is a poem I wrote this week based on the verse:

 

When rocks fall from the sky

You keep earth from cracking

under my feet

With your fingertips you squeeze

and pinch mountains together

 

When pieces lay scattered, crumbled at my feet

You pick them up as if strung together

By some thread I cannot see

 

How many times you have kept me

is unknowable, uncountable,

I stand in awe

Invisible hand of grace

I do not deserve

Incredible restraint

Indescribable love

 

You keep my worlds from crashing

You keep my mind from collapsing

You keep my heart beating

You keep my hope breathing

You keep truth whispering

You keep ideas from breaking

You keep your love pouring

 

Without you

Nothing would be standing

A hopeless wanderer

I would be

 

The world knows it not

Millions oblivious

of your protective hand

 

Dissensions stir

like an artery blockage,

an impeded path

where truth cannot cross

 

You stand on the other side

watch wayward children

walk into danger–

you constantly place your hand

in between us and ourselves.

 

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