This is the second day of the 31 Days of Small series.
When I was a student at my university many, many moons ago, there was a gentlemen who would arrive on campus each spring and would "preach" to the masses in the central part of our campus. I did not agree with his version of the gospel. He would shout and spew hatred with his words and would say the most vile and offensive things. His words would tear into souls and it was always a hostile situation. I remember watching people so hurt, so angry, so destroyed by the things he said. He would turn the campus upside down and people were distraught. Non-Christians were validated in their beliefs because this man did nothing to advance the Kingdom. He made us all look hateful.
Christians were horrified and embarrassed because this man's extreme version of the Word was nothing like any of us had been taught or believed. There was never any fruitful conversations on campus the day that man showed up. There was a lot of hate and spiteful words.
Yesterday, I had an opportunity to attend a football game at the same university. I love my school and I'm a proud alumni. However, yesterday was a hard day. During the national anthem, several students from the band decided to kneel in peaceful protest and their actions were not received well by the people in the stadium. The people in the stadium chose to respond in an overwhelmingly negative way.
I stood there by myself as the events unfolded because my husband had gone to concessions. I realized that I was one person in a sea of about 35,000 people and I suddenly felt very, very small. My body immediately tensed in a fight-or-flight feeling. I had a huge knot in my stomach and waves of emotions. My brain had a hard time processing through the many thoughts all at once. I was a ball of emotions and feeling slightly on edge. The tension in the air was thick and it was obvious that this choice was going to have lasting ramifications.
When you watch events dealing with injustice unfold on television and in movies you see people behaving and reacting in certain ways. You expect to see people angry and sometimes respond in certain ways--sometimes with tears, sometimes with aggression, sometimes with violence. We learn in history class about the long story of civil rights in our country, and you believe that you know people and understand how they responded in the numerous situations.
But no one ever tells you how it actually feels when you are present at the event. And even if they did, you could never understand until you have a taste of it.
And it makes you feel incredibly hopeless.
It makes you feel small.
The students did not hurt anyone yesterday. The city was not destroyed. There weren't riots on the streets and vandalism. The students made their statement and the stadium responded, but on the scale of events, this event was pretty peaceful except for the fire storm on social media yesterday.
However, even as small as that one event was, I feel like it made a lasting impact on me and my heart yesterday. I could not shake the feelings of smallness for the entire game and into the evening. I questioned many things about myself and others. I questioned many things as a person and as a friend. I reflected and thought and discussed with my husband and others at length about the event. And as badly as that moment made me feel, I cannot begin to imagine how events on a larger scale would make others feel. I cannot imagine dealing with those feelings on a daily basis.
The students wanted to make a peaceful protest to encourage conversations conducive for change, and while I know for certain that I felt changed by the event, I'm not so sure about the other people in attendance. I think the overwhelming feeling of smallness and being unable to change the country as a whole is depressing. I do not have a national platform, and I wouldn't really want one anyway. I don't believe that I have been called to the spotlight, but I am called to make a difference in my small circle and local community. Hard conversations must be had, and healing is only going to occur if we truly listen to and stand with one another.
This smallness is an opportunity for self-reflection and growth.
And this smallness is a call for change.