We live in the land of isms. We swim in their waters. We feast at their table. They become so integrated in us we forget they even exist. They shape our thoughts and guide our actions. Yet, they are utterly destructive – beginning in small ways and eventually consuming the whole person. They seem harmless enough in certain places. But they never stay where you think they do. They sneak into your core. And they live in all of us.
As we approach this election day – one more time – I am a bit distraught. It isn’t that I am worried about the outcome. It isn’t that I worry about the events to follow. I am worried about all I have seen and experienced over the last few months. The level of hatred, fighting, bullying and blatant cruelty has escalated beyond what I could have imagined. And every single one of those isms have shown their ugly faces in the people we see each day. They are evident in those we love so much. These isms have shown up at home, work, the grocery store and yes, even (and maybe even especially) church. You know them because you have experienced them. The isms of racism, sexism, homophobia, and the like are swarming like a pack of wolves waiting to destroy. They show up in our posts on social media. They ride with us in our cars. They are evident in our speech and our attitude. All are fueled by hatred and fear. And none of them have a place in God’s kingdom.
I found myself excited that the election would soon be over and hopefully things would return to some sort of calmness and maybe even some kindness. But then I realized that the isms don’t actually go away, they just become hidden again. What has actually been happening is that the isms living in us have become evident because of the actions and events around us. But they have always been there. It isn’t like people have become racist, sexist, homophobic, and just plain full of hatred all of a sudden. This stems from something deep within and only evidences itself when there are others willing to let their isms show too. Then a group forms and people feel free to let their isms fly. And before we know it, our social media feeds are full of it – and so are our lives. So what happens now? Do people just put them away again? Do we just ignore the fact that racist, hateful, and destructive comments and actions have taken place? Do we pretend like this hasn’t been ugly and putrid? Do we forget that the isms are housed so close to us? Do we go about our day ignoring our own isms?
I have always tried to remind people (and myself) that we cannot change anyone else. We cannot force someone else to get rid of the isms that are eating them alive. We cannot beat it out of them or even shame them. So what do we do? We work on ourselves. I work on me, you work on you. We look ourselves in the mirror and check out the isms that haunt us and drive us. We take the time to evaluate our lives and see if racism, sexism, homophobia or the like are burning deep inside us. Hate never should have a place in us, ever. Hatred is not okay in any situation. And these isms are hate. They drive us to do things that are fueled by hate. They cause us to live in a way which treats others with contempt or disgust. They cause us to not live as we were created.
It begins with us, looking at ourselves. Real change begins when we take the time to see what is driving us. There are isms living in our lives – there just are. What we do about them makes a difference. Will we put them back in their place, in our homes and hearts? Or will we deal with them and allow God’s love to overpower? Will we allow God to change us, one ism at the time? Our hope is found in destroying our own isms. We have some work to do. If you don’t believe, spend some time in the mirror. It will be hard, it will be painful – but it is good. Lord, I want to live ism free.
The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life,
but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence.
12 Hatred stirs up strife,
but love covers all offenses.
Photos included in Devotions are captured by David Cain – The Cain Gallery. Photos are available for sale by contacting The Cain Gallery