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Sunday, August 30, 2015

'Do all the good you can', even to yourself

What does it take to "always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else" (1 Thessalonians 5:15)?
"Do a little good today, do a little more tomorrow"
That could get exhausting...

Are we really supposed to
"Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can"?
How is that possible?

The road to justice is a long one. It is an huge task to help build the Kingdom of Heaven on earth, and to be the hands of feet of Christ while here. That's quite a charge.

On a notepad: "1: Do no harm, 2. Do good, 3. Stay in love with God"How do we maintain the energy to light one more candle in the darkness? What happens when we work hard, but feel like we're not getting anywhere?

Doing 'all the good you can' requires that we stay in love with God. It requires that we love ourselves as well. To sustainably push against the world's brokenness, we must also tend to our own.

It is essential that we care for ourselves and care for one another as we do the work together. We know that self-care for those in racial justice work is important. So why are so many of us so bad at it?

There are many ways practice good self care. Each of us know ourselves best, but sometimes we also need the help of those around us to put it into practice.

Feet propped up in front of a lake
My day at work with CD4AP
In an intentional effort to live into these principles, the staff of Community Development for All People (CD4AP) went on a two-day retreat this past week. Not a committee-filled, work-aholic, same-routine-but-more-intense retreat. But an actual enjoy nature, rest and rejuvenate, retreat.

The staff at CD4AP give it their daily all. The hours can be long and rigorous. The brokenness and pain of our encounters can be intense. The desire to see transformative change is great. So,to help promote the sustainable well-being of the staff, we  took time to breath in God's strength, and to rest in God's restorative power.

We went on walks, we kayaked, we napped, we played. Among the structured activities was an opportunity to participate in 'Urban Zen,' a guided meditation specifically created to help care for caregivers. It was designed to equip us "with the necessary tools to avoid the burnout that is care-giving communities." It helps practitioners of God's justice and reconciliation gain "techniques of grounding, relaxation and restoration in order to be present as they serve." Our staff relaxed into the sound of the leader's voice. They sprawled on and blankets. There were snores. It's was all good.
Picture of Audre Lorde: "Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare."
What tools can you equip yourself with to care for yourself in your own ministry? Check out Dr. Chanequa Walker-Barnes's great writing on self-love, as well as some other self-care ideas here.

Ultimately, we sustain our ongoing efforts by holding on to the God's vision for this world and to the hope of redemption that Christ brings. We humbly rejoice in the opportunity to be active co-laborer's in God's process, and rest in the knowledge God will sustain us in our efforts. We lift our eyes to the hill of God's promise, and rest in the assurance that God's plan will prevail.

Keep your eyes on the prize, friends. Hold on.

So let us not grow weary in doing what is right,
for we will reap at harvest-time, if we do not give up. 

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By Their Strange Fruit by Katelin H is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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