When I was a senior in high school, I walked in the door of my journalism class and met a teacher that changed my life.

It was her first year teaching and my last year of high school. She’s the reason I write, take chances and share my heart with the world. Back in 1991, my world was very black and white. This is wrong, this is right and if you don’t see it that way, you’re clearly doing it wrong. I used to think it was small town mentality, but I think it was probably just high school arrogance. I knew everything at age 17. #dontweall

But, Mrs. Todd said something to me one day that forever reshaped my thinking. “There is black and white and then there is the middle ground, the gray. And, the older you get, the bigger the gray.”

I think it’s primarily in the gray where we forget to have compassion, we lose sight of charity and we make non-salvation issues, issues. If you know what I mean.

This whole “staking your claim on an issue” has always been around, it is just wildly exacerbated with the advent of social media. We must have an opinion about something five seconds after it appears online and if anyone disagrees with us, they’re wrong. So, let’s just go ahead and gaslight them, send direct messages with bitter criticism and then shout from the rooftops how we’re right and all those poor souls are wrong. Our motto has become: WE MUST HAVE AN IMMEDIATE OPINION AND THEN YELL IT TO THE WORLD.

What the heck happened to charity? Unity? Right judgment? Prudence? Or, simply taking some time to pray and reflect before speaking? I mean, the world needs someone to set it straight, so it might as well be us, right?

If you need a refresher from St. Paul:

“I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose.”

1 Cor 1:10

I see a deep, wide and growing chasm between the Gospel mindset and our hearts and words. We’re quick to point to a political, celebrity or activist figure before first checking in with the Gospels. We’re looking (and pointing) to a savior in the wrong places.

Yep. I said it.

If we’re all truthful, there is no political party, activist group or celebrity posse that fully embodies the moral code God calls us to live, each and every day. I keep looking around and wondering, where is Jesus in all of this?

It dismays me GREATLY that we have diminished people into categories rather than taking the time to say, “Wow, you and I seem to differ in a lot of ways. Can we have a conversation?”

Blame it on my southern roots, but kindness matters. Just ask my mama. Make no mistake, this absence of charity was around long before the pandemic. As we’ve sat in this unknown space for a while, it’s just given me more time to reflect upon it.

Good and healthy communities and countries engage in disagreement. It’s how things change and move forward when we confront our differences. I’m all for public discourse, but can we have civility for $1,000, Alex?

My path to Jesus is unique. It won’t look like yours, the voices that have vast influence on me, may simply have a passing influence on you. And, how I practice my faith may look nothing like yours.

It’s possible, and necessary, to be rooted in Christ and know what our role in the world is. It’s also possible to love and celebrate someone who’s forging their path to Christ with that same heart but manifests itself in a different way. The table is big enough for all of us. God is asking us to extend grace, while encouraging people to walk closer to Jesus, challenging them to be better and do better.

As the world feels heavier and heavier with each passing day as we grapple with the vastness of the gray, it’s my hope we can choose joy, charity, understanding and love. First, let it begin with us opening our ears, and our hearts, to those who are different than we are. Be not afraid of differences, or of challenges, for that is exactly what is written in the Gospels. We are commanded to encounter people, and in doing so, encounter Jesus. That encounter – if done the way Jesus intends – transforms us into a more obedient disciple. Not a judgey one, but a forgiving one.

That angry tweet, sarcastic comment or vitriol-laced direct message? It’s Jesus on the other end, y’all. And He demands more of us. More of me. More of you.

Perhaps we should start with sacrifical love for a priceless amount, Alex.

24 Comments

  1. Claire on July 15, 2020 at 6:37 am

    Very true. The pandemic has brought out the worst in some people. The amount of division, even among Christians, is staggering. I think people are more likely to go on the offensive when the stakes are high, as they are now. But a little charity would certainly go a long way.

    • Marie on July 15, 2020 at 8:54 pm

      Best thing I’ve read all day…heck, all well/month/2020. Keep it coming, sister!

  2. Kathleen on July 15, 2020 at 7:46 am

    Are these ladies on your radar? They are keeping me sane theses days and help me focus my energy of what really matters.

    https://www.pantsuitpoliticsshow.com/

    • Brianna on July 16, 2020 at 12:25 am

      I was going to say the same thing! Their book is on this same topic, and their podcast is so good!

  3. Nicole on July 15, 2020 at 8:40 am

    The paragraph where you write “choose joy, charity, understanding and love…” That is probably one of the best paragraphs I have read on the internet.

  4. Elda on July 15, 2020 at 9:21 am

    AMEN!!!! Just beautiful!!!! Can’t wait for the next book!!!!🙏🏼❤️😘

  5. Anna on July 15, 2020 at 11:16 am

    This was a balm to my battered soul. I just stepped away from IG because I got attacked in this way. Although I miss seeing your smiling face, I am grateful for your beautiful words on this blog. You are a treasure!

    • Kathryn on July 15, 2020 at 7:16 pm

      You’re gonna be seeing more of me over here.

  6. Amanda Wolf on July 15, 2020 at 2:21 pm

    “We are commanded to encounter people, and in doing so encounter Jesus.” Brilliant. The world needs this!

  7. Ann-Marie on July 15, 2020 at 3:14 pm

    It’s been so very bitter and divisive lately. It’s almost that in the midst of the social distancing, people are so desperate to engage with others, that it doesn’t what attention they get. The negative attention they receive from their posts, as if it is somehow filling the gaping hole where community and personal interaction used to be.

    • Kathryn on July 15, 2020 at 7:17 pm

      I hadn’t even considered that perspective. Wow.

    • Yessica on July 16, 2020 at 9:29 am

      What a great perspective! And I agree in a world full of people, even surrounded by your loved ones, this space in time feels lonely. To me it speaks volumes about how God created us for community, for hospitality, for togetherness. Thank you for sharing this 💕

  8. Karen on July 15, 2020 at 3:19 pm

    Thank you, thank you. I’ve been pondering this a lot since listening to a couple of podcasts from Fr Dave and Fr Josh J, in addition to Bishop Barron’s clip about calumny and it’s just given me so much peace.

    • Kathryn on July 15, 2020 at 7:17 pm

      Bishop Barron’s video is what convicted me to hit publish.

  9. Brenda on July 15, 2020 at 3:37 pm

    I am crying. I shared this on Facebook because you are able to put into words so much of what my heart feels. In the past six months, my mom died, my daughter had her senior year cut short, and she didn’t get her time to shine as Belle in her high school production of Beauty and the Beast.
    Having more time at home has been a mix of blessings and pure sadness. I just want more to feel Christ in my life and for my family to feel Him too.❤️💛

    • Kathryn on July 15, 2020 at 7:18 pm

      What a brutally difficult few months for you. Amen to that last sentence.

  10. Mary on July 15, 2020 at 6:52 pm

    Here’s exactly what happened: people don’t have Jesus in their lives. I have students who will ask me what a picture of a church is. It makes me incredibly sad to hear a little one ask me that question. We all need to pray for the conversion of the USA.

    • Kathryn on July 15, 2020 at 7:19 pm

      I think that’s part of it. The other thing emerging is that we feel we need to be both judge and jury of the world and its shortcomings. Jesus already did that. We gotta turn interior and work on us and our own homes, shining the light of Christ instead of ramming it down people’s throats.

  11. Judy on July 15, 2020 at 7:48 pm

    You must have been watching me read my email. I sent a very snarky reply to an acquaintance. Whether the video she sent me has any merit or not, I didn’t have to bite her head off. I’ll apologize. Thanks for posting this.

    • Kathryn on July 15, 2020 at 9:02 pm

      We’ve all said or sent things we later are like “why did I do that?!” The more important move, though, is mercy.

      • Yessica on July 16, 2020 at 9:42 am

        Your words are a great balm to the battered soul. This has been the greatest test on human virtue, but ultimately what I see is that we are SCARED. Scared of the unknown, of not being in control, scared of trusting others, scared of being vulnerable, scared of being wrong. So many of our constants have shifted or completely disappeared, we are collectively experiencing trauma and sadly instead of reaching out to help we are stepping on each other to get on. I have to be honest is hard sometimes to take a deep breath and realize that the human in front of you, or behind the screen is just as scared and just in much need of love and affirmation as you are.

        There has been many nights that as I get ready to rest the words of St Paul come to mind… Romans : 7 : 15 – For I do things that I do not understand. For I do not do the good that I want to do. But the evil that I hate is what I do.
        And I just lift up my heart to Jesus ask for grace and do my best to start over…

        Blessings!

  12. Abbey on July 15, 2020 at 10:41 pm

    This reminds me so much of what you wrote – https://catholicconfessional.com/shut-off-media-and-love-your-neighbor/

    I think the main thing is that we’re all children of God, we’re all human, we all make mistakes and we can all use a little more charitability in our interactions with others. Well said Kathryn, well said.

  13. alby peters on July 16, 2020 at 11:33 am

    As our youngest Sam puts it, whether family, friends, workplace, church, community, nation, world, “Can’t we all just get along.” Would’nt that be wonderful. Certainly something to strive for at all levels.

  14. CathyK on July 20, 2020 at 8:51 am

    Loved this post. This part of the first reading from yesterday also reminded me of how God tell us we are to act toward others:
    “And you taught your people, by these deeds,
    that those who are just must be kind;
    and you gave your children good ground for hope
    that you would permit repentance for their sins.”

Leave a Comment





This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.