I’ve been thinking a lot about changing the world. Partially because I believe we can, but also because I think we’ve got it wrong. It’s easy to get caught up in big projects and grandiose plans. After all, bigger is better, right? So we work to create as big of an impact as we can as publicly as we can around whatever cause or issue we feel most passionate about.
And I’m all there. (Remember that whole dress-for-a-year thing?)
But there has to be more to it than that. We can’t afford to get so focused on “changing the world” that we forget about the very people we want to touch. They’re not a cause or an issue or a campaign. They’re people.
Real life, made-in-the-image-of-God people.
So this lyric from Jill Phillips has been rattling around in my head and my heart for a couple weeks:
You don’t have to save the world, all that hero talk is only superficial stuff. If you want to change the world, what you’ve got to do is show up, just show up.
And I think about the people who have changed my life. People who are there. Laughter and tears, they’re there. Long conversations, they’re there. The good, the bad, and the ugly, they’re (amazingly) still there. In my life, they’re a love that doesn’t go away. And I’m better because of them.
Gary Haugen (from IJM) talked about that at The Justice Conference (listen here). Here’s the thing: the work of justice isn’t easy or glamorous. It’s difficult and long and requires a love that will not go away. The only way we’ll ever make a difference is by to showing up and not walking away when it gets hard.
And I’m reminded of something else he said:
When our grandchildren ask us where we were when the voiceless and vulnerable of our era needed leaders of compassion and purpose, I hope we can say that we showed up, and that we showed up on time.
Our job isn’t to swoop in and save. They're not our project or our cause. Our job is to show up. To show up now, on time. To walk alongside. The road is long and hard and weary, but it is worth it. And it is how we change the world.