A Messy To-Do List in Response to a Mess

I’ve had a number of people privately or publicly (social media) ask, “What do we do?” This is a question borne out of the ugly chaos of American life right now.

Short Answer: Like most, I feel lost at times. I’m chaotic in my approach in these chaotic times. But do we must.

Long Answer: I’ve returned to two truths: 1) Get centered on what God wants from me; 2) Remember my time, talent and treasure.

That means, I have to start with prayer for clarity. Every time I don’t, it’s a mess, a bigger mess than the messy mess we see in our country. So I start my day with prayer. I’m praying through the psalms right now. It’s not terribly long and it’s not terribly insightful. But it’s worship and it’s asking for clarity and the Do right now.

So, here’s my messy, flawed, incomplete list:

  1. Prayer is not all we are called to. Stop staying “I’m praying” out loud to others if that’s all you are doing. Stop. Prayer is great, and as I mentioned, my number one. But nothing turns people off, especially non-Christians, more than thoughts and prayers. If you are just playing TAPs, well, you’re spiritually dead (don’t shoot the messenger–I think maybe Scripture tells us that). And if you think you are witnessing by telling people you are praying but that’s it, well, I can’t think of anything charitable so I’ll not finish that sentence.
  2. Use your time–figure out what you see that needs changing and do a small part, a tiny piece. Figure out what you can spare a week (and if the answer is zero hours, then stop working out one day a week–sacrifice). I’m swimming a lot less this summer, and that bums me out. I’m a bit rounder around the middle. Crap. Oh well.
  3. Use your talent–you can do things. I’m not talking classical piano or world-renowned oratory. If you drive, great. There are people who can’t or who are afraid of being pulled over. If you don’t believe me, do some research. People are staying home (from church, from medical care, from life) due to real fear. If you love kids or seniors, find a way to use those gifts well. At the end, I’ll list some opportunities I know of in my little world. I do believe you were created with a gift. Use it.
  4. Give your treasure–whatever you can. It’s a terrible time for many nonprofits (short reasons I see firsthand: destruction of the infrastructure of many who used to partner with the US government but now that partnership is drastically reduced; the dramatic increase in the standard tax deduction thus not incentivizing people to give to charities). What speaks to you? What is breaking your heart right now? There are nonprofits working with immigrants, with the poor, in Baltimore City and beyond. Give them some of that treasure. I would add for Christians who support their church and suppose their church takes care of this for them–maybe, maybe not. If you want some of your money going outside your church doors, that’s on you to 1) find out how church money is or is not fulfilling that goal, and then perhaps 2) give separately to those organizations you want to support. Make sure a church’s “partnership” with a parachurch charity includes appropriate financial support and to what degree.
  5. Use your voice. One easy way (it’s really easy) is to call your senator and representatives to voice your opinion, whatever it may be, about guns, immigration, poverty issues, whatever. Here’s a tool to find the contact information for your federal elected officials. Calling is best–they keep a log of the phone calls.

Organizations that have local (to me) volunteer opportunities (*remember, this is my little world, so I do have an interest here. Make your own decisions). You can also, obviously, give to these organizations. They need it.

Interested in Baltimore City and the systemic issues that afflict the City’s poorest populations? Heartbroken by health disparities in the City that affect so many other aspects of life? Check out HopeSprings (Equipping to eradicate health disparities and associated stigma in Baltimore City)

Concerned about the treatment of immigrants? Check out any refugee resettlement agency, many of whom provide holistic immigration services to refugees, asylees and immigrants generally. Here’s a list. I worked for and now consult with World Relief.

Are immigrant children in particular your focus? I’ve recently become involved with Catholic Action for Immigrant Children. Get more information here.

I donate to all of these organizations as well as to the places I worship. Make sure you support the good work you want to see continue.

It’s a crap time, folks. Count it all joy, though.

And then, do.

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