“Pick your battles.”
I’ve heard the phrase hundreds of times. It’s a wise one, especially as a mother deciding whether or not to argue about hair length, clothing choices, and chores.
Until recent years, fear and pain made me feel powerless to fight any battle–even ones I should. Conflict and confrontation always seemed like evil twins, pointing pitchforks of trepidation at me as I cowered in corners trying to escape them.
On my journey toward healing, I’ve been able to gather bits of confidence, ripe for picking along the roadside. With aplomb in my pockets, I can’t keep quiet about injustice anymore. I can’t tolerate the bitter aftertaste of apathy that comes from biting my tongue.
More whole than ever , I feel unleashed.
Do you know that feeling?
My dog does. We don’t have a fence, so we always take Zoe potty on her leash. Occasionally, someone forgets to close a door. One whiff of fresh air and Zoe’s out. On the run. Leaping through backyard-after-backyard. Immersing her nose deep in the smells and scents that had been tantalizing her for so long on the brim of a breeze.
Sometimes the number of battles and injustices in the world–alas, in my own backyard–overwhelm me. I drop to my knees, panting with the exhaustion of running after it all, and I am reminded of my Master. Oh, how I want to please and follow Him with my efforts to fight injustice. I want to choose the right ones to fight, and I want to fight them in a way that pleases Him.
Often, fear and dread make me want to slink back home with my tail between my legs and stop fighting anything at all.
I was feeling that way recently, until yesterday. A wise friend asked if I would read Esther and pray with her for the next few days. Cracking open that little book of my Bible, the words from Esther 4:12-16 (The Message version) washed over my heart:
When Hathach told Mordecai what Esther had said, Mordecai sent her this message: “Don’t think that just because you live in the king’s house you’re the one Jew who will get out of this alive. If you persist in staying silent at a time like this, help and deliverance will arrive for the Jews from someplace else; but you and your family will be wiped out. Who knows? Maybe you were made queen for just such a time as this.” Esther sent back her answer to Mordecai: “Go and get all the Jews living in Susa together. Fast for me. Don’t eat or drink for three days, either day or night. I and my maids will fast with you. If you will do this, I’ll go to the king, even though it’s forbidden. If I die, I die.”
If I die, I die?
My friend sleeping (probably even as I type) in the slums of Nairobi lives like this. (See what he’s doing at worldnextdoor.org.) My friend Carmen lives like this. Martin Luther King, Jr., lived like that. Paul and Peter lived like that.
My friend Mary DeMuth lives like this. Here’s a beautiful book trailer for her memoir which will be released in January, 2010. My favorite phrase from it:
‘I’m going to shame the wise for the foolishness of choosing her.’–Mary DeMuth
As we make the choice to heal–and if we allow Him to–God will do that for all who have been broken. Then we can be unleashed . . . free to unclasp the collars and chains of others who desperately need us to speak and act on their behalf.
My battles might not be the same as yours, but there are battles that lie before you.
Which will you choose to fight?
And for whom?