There are two things I don’t like very much: a numb head and numb legs.
We’ve all sat in a meeting/class/small group that felt like you needed to just get up and do something rather than talk anymore. You’ve talked and talked and talked and by the end of it...your head is numb.
Often those meetings have another side effect: numb legs. If I sit for too long, my legs go to sleep and my lower back feels numb. The worst part is when you attempt to stand up and walk it out. You try to get up and walk only to have that horrible tingly feeling all over as you wobble around until your legs are normal again.
This is true in other areas of life as well. I can sit all day reading on social media or news websites about what is going on in the world: the hurts, struggles, and disasters. As I read, it may stir something in me, but the longer I sit there and mine down into the internet abyss, the more it becomes just another story about something happening somewhere that is kinda sad. I've become numb.
If there’s one emotion that is the opposite of numb, it’s love. When you’re “in love,” you are overwhelmed with emotion. When you’re compelled by love, you live passionately. When you see a loving act, it moves your soul. Love is the antithesis of apathy. In fact, some acts of love can radically change your world in a moment.
In my third year of seminary, this happened to me. In 2014 our nation experienced tensions, fears, and anger around race relations that rose to a boiling point not seen in decades. As a white male, I watched from a distance unsure of what to do and how to respond. That is, until it came right up to my face. Moved by much of the injustice they saw, a group of students and faculty decided they would show their solidarity with a “die-in” on our campus. It was publicized and all were invited to join.
Hundreds of students and teachers from many faiths, races, and varying backgrounds joined together.They laid on the ground showing with their bodies and voices that they laid down their lives to lift up the lives of those who were experiencing injustice. Jesus’ words in John 15:13 rattled in my head...
I watched and was moved to tears.
I wanted to participate. I wanted to lay on the ground with them, but something in me hesitated. I didn’t feel like I had earned the right to stand with them. Why? Because for so long I was simply apathetic.
I can’t tell you all the emotions I felt at that moment, but as I watched, my heart broke. It broke for my fellow brothers and sisters who have been told their lives are not quite as equal as other lives. It broke because I realized my apathy for so long was part of the injustice.
My mind had been numbed for so long, but now as I watched and eventually joined in raising my voice with them, I was being awakened by loved. Like when your legs wake up, it was awkward and it tingled, but as I began to let my heart be changed by their love, the numbness fell away and I was able to begin to move and act in love with them.
My hope for you reading this is that you would get up, work out those awkward first steps, and go where love compels you to go. If you can get up and engage into the world, it will change things. It can be awkward and hard as your legs tingle and you wobble around until feeling is restored, but it will wear off and you’ll be able to move forward once again.
Written by Mark
The 12:12 Project is sponsored by Katy First United Methodist Church.