My Birthday Prayer

Today is my birthday. This has been such a weird day to celebrate life. To be honest, I woke up grieved and heavy hearted. I started my day in silent prayer. Then I posted something I believe deeply. Prayer today is NOT enough. Action is needed. Henri Nouwen wisely tells us, “Prayer and action…can never be seen as contradictory or mutually exclusive. Prayer without action grows into powerless pietism, and action without prayer degenerates into questionable manipulation.” 

I want to begin by humbly sharing that I have taken the prayerful approach for many many years. Columbine, Sandy Hook, and even this year I had direct touches as my friend’s son was in the school in Winston Salem that had an active shooter, and my childhood friend was teaching just miles away from the shooting in Oxford, Michigan. The incidents were coming closer to my world and I still was sending thoughts, prayers, and condolences. I was deeply grieved to hear about the hateful attack in Buffalo and I was both angry and prayed. But today, one day after the tragedy in Uvalde, maybe because it is my birthday…a celebration of life…I knew I could not simply pray another prayer. Enough is enough. Action looks different for each person, but for me it looked like hugging my kids on the way out the door telling them I love them deeply. It looked like a phone call to both my senators requesting for the HR 8 to be passed and expanded background checks for the sale of firearms to be implemented. I grew up in a home filled with guns, by a man who collects and handles them safely. I am not asking for a ban, I am asking for reform. Gun violence is my concern. Are you concerned about mental wellness? Take action. Are you concerned about racism? Take action. The action may seem small…it could be a call, text, or email to your child’s teacher thanking them for their service. It could be contacting an organization to volunteer, donate, or find out how you can support the cause.

I don’t know much, but here’s what I know after 46 precious years on this planet: God loves his children. God loves us and has asked us to steward this earth…care for it and for one another. Taking care of one another doesn’t simply look like prayer without action, it looks like prayer and action in lock step. We are agents for change…change for good in the world. Your definition of good might even look or appear different than mine and that is okay…but too many of us become overwhelmed or even paralyzed and we resort to asking God alone to fix it. And I think respectfully, if I understand my role as God’s creation, I am asked to care for this world and those in it; to do my best to be an agent for healing. I am given the honor of being the hands and feet…and so are you. Speaking of being the hands and the feet, Joshua and I went to lunch today and the woman taking our order asked if she could speak directly to Joshua. She took him by both shoulders and said, “I love you. You are precious. Listen to your teachers, learn the protocols, do whatever they ask. And always know you are loved.” I “know” this woman, she has taken my order many times before. She is a person of color, a mother who dropped off a 2nd and 4th grader at school today. Her words were powerful, Joshua was deeply moved. I wiped away tears and could barely recover to place my order. This is love in action. This is what we need a LOT more of…less prayer? No, but more action. We actually are called to be the change we hope to see in the world.

I love each of you. I know we all have different backgrounds and social media is the last place I want to get into a heated debate about beliefs or rights or faith. But today is my birthday and I felt it only right to honor the lives of others with this one precious life I have been given. 

Oh and if by chance you are looking to contact a NC Senator about any of your specific concerns–here are their numbers: Richard Burr 202-224-3154 and Tom Tillis  202-224-6342.

This is my birthday prayer…scratch that…this is my birthday action for you and for me.

Jenni

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