My heart is tired, weary, and broken from the hate, prejudice, and misunderstanding that is happening in our world today. There is a lack of empathy and compassion, both of which are the pathways of peace. Instead, people are choosing to focus on our differences and the wrongdoings of others, both of which produce judgement and fear. 

As I wrote about previously, my 'passion project' this year is to share the stories of people I'm meeting around the world to dismantle some of the wrong ideas and perceptions we have about people who are different than us. Somewhere along the way, we seem to have forgotten that we are all connected; we have each other and our shared humanity in this great big world.

We are humans first, nations second.

Each of us has been created in the image of God with inherent value and worth. Each culture is an expression of God's character and opportunities to learn new ways of doing life. Each country and continent teaches us about God's creativity and His idea of beauty. He called all of His creation good. He called the creation of man very good. We seem to have drifted far away from this truth in 2018 and into the territory of dehumanization. 

Our differences should enrich each other's lives, not be the ground we stand on to justify our division. 

It seems like too easy of an answer to all of this turmoil, but I truly believe that if we love our neighbor as we've been commanded, the world would be a more peaceful place. Understanding, reconciliation, and healing are possible, but it requires the hard work of showing up, being present, learning from others, leaning into their stories, and figuring out the best way to love them. It's not complicated, but it does take effort. 

This is not a solution intended for the government, it's intended for us as individuals. We are the solution. 

Sometimes there is also a great misunderstanding of the heart of God. People believe that others are unworthy to be loved, accepted, and respected because of the things they do, the places they're born, or the religion they subscribe to. Instead of reaching a place of gracious compassion, we allow our prejudice to prohibit our hearts from experiencing the Kingdom of God here on the earth. The Bible states over and over that we are to stand with the vulnerable because this is where we experience Him the most. This is His heart and the heart of true religion. It's uncomfortable and at times unsafe, but it's not about us - it's about His Glory. 

Love is an action; it takes sacrifice and selflessness. It's the antidote to fear, to hate, to prejudice, to misunderstanding, to differences, to every broken and sinful thing this world has to offer. May we be people who will once again believe and see the inherent value and worth of every person. May we seek to know, understand, and help others. May we love our neighbors - especially the hurting and vulnerable people in our midst - to the best of our ability. May we be people who practice what we like to call "unrestricted love." 

My prayer is that this will be the anthem we sing as we march forward into 2018 and fight against the things and ideas that threaten to tear us apart. Just as light overcomes darkness, our love will overcome the dehumanization of others.