This is what 1 Corinthians 13 tells me:
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
I put a lot of effort into knowing the right way to respond to outside situations: not too conservative, not too liberal, grabbing the thin in-between of “I have thoughtfully reasoned out my argument” and “I care for everyone involved.” I live in the gray. But whether I care to learn about another person or to learn just enough to respond in a self-complimenting way, I don’t know. Honestly, I don’t pray enough for love to not sound like a resounding gong or clanging cymbal.
On this day, and every day, that’s not enough. Today I pray that my desire for love is greater than my desire for a well-reasoned word.
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
I love knowing–knowing anything. Information is a commodity at Vanderbilt–information about ancient literature or who’s going to what date party this weekend or how the electoral college works or who’s devastated because they didn’t get that exec position they wanted.
I firmly believe that the story of each person walking around me on campus today is more interesting and more worthy of being known than short quips of information that only make me feel better about my status of “someone worthy of having information.” Those stories aren’t told when we’re more concerned about amassing wells of information, echo chambers that leave us with no relationships to show for ourselves when it’s all over.
It hurts me when people claim that “if only people would just focus on God instead of the election” because that doesn’t address what anyone’s actually crying out for. For a lot of people, the personal is political. Disregarding that disregards who people truly believe themselves to be, and it’s hard to know someone if you don’t care to see them.
If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
I don’t know what a Donald Trump presidency will look like, and I truly want him to surprise us. I pray for the Lord to lead him in a presidency that does not bully, does not call names, does not tell people that they do not matter. I pray this because I believe God is in control.
But I think the social damage caused by Trump’s words is deep and wide and feels insurmountable. We don’t understand each other, we of the blue cities and you of the red towns. I want us to, though. I wonder how much of this election was an echo chamber–of how much we as students actually sat down to think about why rural towns believe what they do, and vice versa. I’m guilty of not engaging in those kinds of conversations, but today shows me their importance. Instead of jumping to my first thoughts–how could you believe such things? how are you so ignorant?–I hope to ask questions, to take a deep dive into what life is like, before sharing why we may differ.
College has shaped me by introducing me to people who I would have never met otherwise. To you, then: I’m thankful for your stories and that you entrust me with them. Relationships, even on days when I act like they’re a burden, are what I truly believe make this world go round.
I want to leave you with this, from Brian Andreas:
Life changes when you understand, all the way to the heart of you, that there’s only you and me, catching each other when we fall, and standing up again and seeing if we can do it better this time.
Please keep catching me–I’ll try for the same.