You can listen to this week’s Devotional here
Author: Nicole Speer
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. ~1 John 4:18
When my kids were younger, they loved to build elaborate structures with blocks and tiles. Parts of the structures inevitably collapsed during the building process, and while there were often many tears there was also important learning that happened. Without the failures, they’d never have learned how to build structures that would survive inadvertent (or intentional) bumps.
This concept of systems under pressure has been on my mind for the past few months. I so often think about the places where I need to improve when life gets hard, but I spend less time noticing the faith that holds me up under pressure.
I had an opportunity to notice my faith a couple weeks ago, when Boulder’s City Council decided to remove a member of the city’s Police Oversight Panel for criticizing policing, despite repeated pleas from the Black and Latino communities involved in the selection process to keep the panel intact.
I have been nervous about many tough votes I have taken as a city councilmember, but even though I went into the meeting knowing I was likely to be on the losing side of the vote, I was at peace and without fear.
Being in a state of fearlessness seemed an odd place to be, especially as someone who manages anxiety disorders, and especially when making a very public decision on a very polarizing issue! It seemed important to understand what had gone right, so I started trying to understand why I had felt so calm.
After a few days of reflection and prayer, the apostle John’s words came into my mind:
Perfect love casts out fear.
As a white homeowner who talks a lot about justice and racial equity, I had decided early on that my role in this situation was simple: to trust that the Black and Latino communities who are the most impacted by bias in policing in our city would know what they needed better than I would. My lack of fear was pointing to the presence of love, and as I explored my thoughts and actions, I realized a fundamental truth: trusting others to know what they need is an act of love, and of faith.
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:30)
Letting go of control and releasing power to those whose power is too often taken away is one of the deepest leaps of faith we can make. Every time the outcome of a decision we are making has a greater impact on people with less privilege than ourselves, God is giving us an opportunity to love more perfectly. Trusting others to know what they need and supporting their conclusions is a concrete action each one of us can take to show our faith. And these shows of faith can help us build the Beloved Community.
Imagine if people who are abled trusted the disabled community’s assessment that home health care is in crisis and home health workers need better wages.
Imagine if people who own homes trusted renters’ assessment that housing is in crisis and that renters need better options to cope with skyrocketing housing costs.
Imagine if people who don’t have to work trusted workers’ assessment that low wages are pushing many families to the brink of economic collapse.
Imagine if men trusted people with uteruses to know what is best for their bodies.
It can feel like we are risking our safety, comfort, and well-being when we hand over our power, but letting go of fear to embrace love is faith-in-action.
The next time you find yourself wondering how to navigate a decision that impacts a group you are not a part of more than it impacts you, I encourage you to take a breath and intentionally go outside of your comfort zone. Listen to and lift the concerns and anxieties of those who are disempowered, rather than your own concerns and anxieties. Then watch your fears dissipate as you find that your faith is strong enough to support your act of love.
Loving God, thank you for the many ways you show us your love through our faith. Amen.