The post really was not about weight loss. The one yesterday. Really it was not.
Yesterday I wrote a piece on forgiveness that masqueraded as a post on the benefits to my knees of losing excess weight. Sometimes what we read strikes us at the point where we make a personal connection.
If You Made A Commitment to Exercise, Keep It
Maybe you needed some encouragement to go ahead and get involved in a less sedentary lifestyle. Make no mistake, I have always been active. It was just that after basketball, I really had little interest in exercise for any duration. I actually liked a little bit of weight. As I grew older and slower, it was more fun to push around on the box with taller fellows on the court than chase the flat bellies that represented a bygone era for me.
What I needed was motivation to do something post-basketball. Two influences pushed me. First, my daughter, Tommie, and now Kimberly, wanted to get in a bit better shape to keep up with their little dudes. And, they wanted to feel better about themselves in a world where young women are measured by their circumference and not their hearts. Both wanted to shed some of the baby weight they gained and found the schedule of chasing around little guys did not afford them as much time until they chose to make time. Did I mention that we leave my house at 5:00 a.m.?
Second, and I noted it yesterday, my own knees showed the effects of a family history of osteoarthritis. Add the fact I had played too much basketball without taking care of resting those knees when they showed signs of slight injury. Then, Dr. O’Brien broke the news that knee replacements were likely in my future. He did not declare me medically ineligible for pick-up basketball. He just said I could make knee replacement a sooner than later reality by the choices I made for my body.
So it could be you read yesterday’s post, like my younger friend, and were inspired to do something that involved movement. I have been using a standing desk for more than one year. That alone has helped my posture and my back. There is another thing to consider.
More Than The Big Mac
But, the post was really about forgiveness. More specifically how our views of forgiveness are actually tied to deeper ways we look at the world and ourselves when it comes to matters of justice and personal injury.
If we could move beyond the highly individualized evaluations of what it would take for me to forgive more quickly, and to recognize the systems in which we unwittingly participate that influence us more than we are aware, we might help create a better world. For instance, punishment does not equal justice. Punishment may be necessary in a civil society where individual actors violate the agreed upon moral contract. But, justice, in the sense in which the Scriptures make clear, requires setting things right, making them whole.
Justice would require raising the nine people who died from the dead. Punishing young Mr. Roof will not bring any one of those folks back. We wait for the Resurrection for justice to be fully realized, where their faith in Jesus is once and for all validated. That is Divine Justice. For now we work with shadows. And, it requires us to work to reduce the instances where these events occur. That is why it is necessary to consider the systems at work.
The post yesterday was really more about how we fail to recognize the systems that actually bring us and those around us harm, even while we are unaware. Big Mac anyone?
Get the Story Right, Choose the Right Story
Take the very familiar story of David and Goliath. Read the story in 1 Samuel 17. Consider how the system of power works. The narrator assumes, or so it seems, the reader will view Goliath and the Philistines as the power people. Israel does not have a giant to battle Goliath. The daily taunting included the implicit and explicit understanding that Israel would lose. They were smaller. They would be slaves, those that were not fed to the birds. Mrs. Trunchbull and Matilda come to mind as a modern cinematic illustration of how power works in the repetition of the stories we tell. “I’m big, your small, I’m right, you’re wrong.”
Over time Israel believed the story. Paralyzed by the power expressed by the giant, they appeared bewildered every day wondering from where their help would come. In fact, since no one would don the armor and challenge the giant, we might conclude Israel began to disbelieve in themselves. The head-and-shoulder-taller King Saul could only offer grand incentives to the fighter that would shut up the giant. No takers.
Power believes the story of power.
Until someone challenged the story that was being told. Goliath referred to the opposing forces as the “servants of Saul.” Talk about a dig. Maybe even the narrator wants to make a point for future readers. “When you make power your goal you must pay by those rules.” Yes, pay is even more than play. Samuel told Israel that to take a King other than YHWH would mean they would become servants, slaves, of the new king. This is how it worked when you decided for the story of those around you.
David shows up and scandalizes his brothers with his chatter and repeated questions as to who will go out and shut up the giant. Notice his reference to Saul’s army. They are not the servants of Saul, they are the Lord’s Army. Now that is a different story. Subtly or not, the aim is to challenge the story those gathered on Israel’s hill facing the Philistines seemed convinced was now true buy their inaction.
It is also worth noting that long before David heads out to face the giant that he had to tell Israel a different story. He did not go out and tell Goliath he had the story wrong. He told Israel they had the story wrong.
Who will tell the better story? In matters of justice, the Church/churches should lead by telling the better story. When we refuse and become complicit with the status quo, ignoring the ways in which the wrong story harms, we better believe others will tell the better story. God will tell the better story any way and by any means.
Lead Don’t Follow
Systems that bring harm to us and others are solidified in the stories we tell, the jingles we share. When they are retold so often and set to music, they become second nature such that one writer tried to make the Confederate Flag a benign symbol since it identified Bo and Luke Duke’s Charger as they evaded Roscoe P. Coltrane. I get that the writer is want to help the most ardent reconsider why we no longer need the symbol even if the thing it fashionable to display to said individual(s). But, that level of challenge leaves the story in tact.
No, we need to tell a different story. It is like getting the story of Christopher Columbus correct.
We need not wait on politicians. In fact, we cannot wait on them. What they do in South Carolina or any other Southern State will surely be a step in the right direction. But what about we who have the opportunity to act accordingly in our neighborhoods and small towns that are far from the center of attention? If we do nothing, if we fail to recognize the wrong story, we dare not applaud those who are doing something somewhere else. That would be like hoping my working out helps your physique.
Image Credit: Commitment
Image Credit: Justice
Image Credit: Pay by the Rules