Spiritually, last year was rough for me. While I don’t feel like diving into all that muck here, I have realized again that the growing harshness of my heart has changed a lot of my outlook on the world, changed the way I approach situations, the way I make decisions and the conversations I am willing to have.
I was talking with my family the other day about some of the horrors of underage prostitution. Great dinner topic, hey? My mom, aunt, grandmother and I sat around the table as my mom unraveled the footage she saw presented by one network newscaster and his team. The footage was of men arriving at a location where they were planning on sleeping with a young girl. They knew she was underage, proven by their online conversations with her, but when they arrived, she disappeared to the back and out came a reporter, a camera crew, a few questions and they were ushered out the back door to be met with the police as the next unsuspecting man came knocking.
Man after man after man after man replayed this same scenario. Different backgrounds, ethnicities, income levels, home lives; they pulled up to a house in a suburban neighborhood to have sex with a young girl they met online.
I was enraged. Obviously, this public display of embarrassment wasn’t hindering the influx of willing law breakers. I knew they wouldn’t get severe punishment, the laws are not in place. I knew that this footage alone wouldn’t stop those men from doing similar, or more heinous things, if they were met with the opportunity. At the dinner table that night, I spoke these frustrations.
When I was done my aunt said the words that pierced my heart.
The only thing that will change this permanently is Spiritual Transformation.
It is true. While fighting for the laws to be changed and the sentences to be appropriate; while holding governments accountable and making sure awareness is rising; while fighting to feed the hungry and free the oppressed and exploited is all needed, it is Spiritual Transformation that will really create change. Real, deep, true transformation of the heart.
I know that the LORD secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy.
There must be a deeper change in the depths and hearts of men and women to create the kind of change I want to see happen in the world. But I can only start with me and I am still learning. Somedays I don’t know how to have hope enough for what I know is happening around me. Somedays I fall into the fear that nothing will change, it will only get worse, and my actions don’t matter. These places in my heart need to be replaced with the truth.
Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.
“When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation. When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn’t change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family. Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.” —Written by an unknown Monk around 1100 A.D., displayed at Westminster Abbey.
I am taking these words of hindsight to heart today as I look at the year ahead. Perhaps I can change myself.