Happy Birthday! I hope you will have many more years to celebrate your humble beginnings. Many fought to give you your birthright, and still more have died to protect it…. both from outside our borders, but more unfortunately from within as well. For better or worse, you are my homeland and there is such loyalty and patriotic feelings bound up in knowing that. Your history has skeletons in the closet, just as our personal histories have things for which we are not proud. However, the wonderful thing about history is that you can learn not to repeat those same mistakes again.
America…I have seen you survive many tumultuous events of the latter 20th century and the early years of this one. You are very resilient in your ability to do so, thank goodness. In my lifetime, I have witnessed your people arm-in-arm against a common enemy, and torn apart in civil unrest, carrying the banner of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. However, I must confess I am worried about you now more than ever with the level of divisiveness I see around me. I find that you are rather like the memory of a dear childhood friend knowing that we started out together loving the same things only to find ourselves grown up with the realization that we really don’t have much in common anymore. Is that a symptom of my age or yours? I want us to find our way back to each other.
America, I struggle to see where I fit amongst your red or blue states, can’t I just be red, white, and blue? I struggle to know what I think in the midst and tangle of so many ideologies and so much political correctness and so much violence against our fellow man. I rather feel like a Sneetch on the Beach…do I have stars upon thars or not? I find myself paralyzed to exercise one of my basic freedoms….. my freedom of speech. In the cascade of others doing so, I witness the hateful barbs flying from both directions. I am afraid of the malevolence of the responses I’ve perused and the fallout that may incur from the intensity of these passions. All of these emotions fall under the umbrella of sadness that I am feeling for you as a Nation. America, you taught us that having a belief that is different than someone else is one of our freedoms and does not equate to Hate and yet, it appears to be perceived as so.
In struggling to understand what I should do or feel, I must go back to the core of what I believe…my Faith. I try to be a Christ follower, however I confess that I fall short every single day. I see others out there claiming this same belief system whose words and actions don’t resonate with the words of my Savior. Jesus was the perfect example of the embodiment of truth and grace and He spoke them both in equal measure. People that were nothing like Jesus were drawn to Him. Jesus sought to be with people that were nothing like him in order to show His love for humanity. He loves us all. Everyone we come eyeball to eyeball with is someone Christ loves. He has given me the template that I must follow.
So America, this year for your birthday, I would love to give you a huge dose of truth (uncompromising beliefs) AND grace (mercy, forgiveness, acceptance) that you may sprinkle in generous measure over your people like a summer shower…cleansing, warm, and healing to the soul. America, may your people reach out to each other and seek to discover how we are alike, rather than how we are different. May, we the people, reflect Christ in our loving words and deeds so others may see Him in us. May we celebrate what we are for and not what we are against. America, your people have an opportunity to demonstrate that we are a people who love one another and once again bring us together into the United States of America.
I hope you have a great year…the best ever!
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
~ John 13: 35