When The Way Things Have Always Been Done Isn’t Best

Our tax season got off to a rocky start. Unmet expectations, a busy weekend, miscommunication, the stress of the unknown. After three rough weekends, I wondered if this was it. Was this how the year would go? Do I resign myself to a cloud over each family day?

IMG_8390Thankfully, Frank and I decided that, just because it started out badly, our tax season and our interactions didn’t have to continue this way. We talked, we made a plan, we recognized expectations that could be met and those that are too hopeful. We recalibrated and reset. This didn’t happen on a date or even over a glass of wine. It happened after I put the girls to bed by myself and he came home before 9:00, which is early these days. But we did it.

And I’m so glad we did. Last weekend was wonderful. We stayed in our pajamas after breakfast. We ate lunch at the Botanic Gardens and played in the sunshine. We talked and did all the things we do as a family when life isn’t stretched thin. It was a reminder that, in the midst of stressful times it feels like it is our new norm – that life will forevermore be unpleasant. It’s not, though. We had a choice to talk and listen. We chose to start fresh on a Monday night, three weeks into a busy season.

I’ve been thinking a lot about The Way Things Have Always Been Done lately. When tragedy strikes, we dig our heels in and feel sad and hopeless but recognize that this is just how life is. What can we change? Or we say, It’s a heart issue as though there’s nothing more to be done.

For Frank and I, our miscommunication was a heart issue. We both wanted things done our way and we weren’t able to stop and listen in a heated moment. We let our hearts be hurt and a bit hardened. But we also chose to change those same hearts toward a better way. It doesn’t mean we won’t argue again this tax season (or after). It doesn’t mean that expectations will always be met or that our feelings won’t be hurt. But it does mean we’re choosing love and kindness. We’re choosing to fix and restart.

Looking at history, I’m thankful for people who have stopped the status quo and helped ignite a reset. Without abolitionists, suffragists, civil rights leaders, and contemporary activists, we would still be living in The Way Things Have Always Been Done. Because we had women and men bravely stop the cycle of injustice, we have moved forward as a nation. Sometimes this means changing laws. Sometimes this means fighting for new laws. It’s slow going. We are still struggling to fully reset, even a century and a half later.

But just because we haven’t fully arrived, does this mean we stop? Do we condemn ourselves to live in brokenness forevermore?

 

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Source: Alyssa Milano

When I think about mass killings and the statistics about gun-related violence, I feel like any conversation of reform immediately stops because we are still living in the stressful mindset of The Way Things Have Always Been Done. But is it true? Is this the way things have always been done? Or have we been fed a narrative that benefits a few people at the cost of the rest of us? Are we believing that this is how life has to be because it truly is or because we’re mired down in division?

 

I’m not saying that every person needs to surrender their weapon tomorrow. We have many gun-owning friends who are the most responsible people I know. But reform and restriction are two vastly different things. We need a reset. This is a heart issue that also needs policy reform.

Thank God we chose early on this tax season to stop, listen, and reset. How damaging would it have been to our relationship if we had kept the status quo? We’re still in early days of modern gun policies. I hope that we can stop sooner than later and refocus the conversation. It’s never too late.

What are ways that you’ve reset your thinking about policy or politics? How do you make sure to stop and check the status quo?

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6 thoughts on “When The Way Things Have Always Been Done Isn’t Best

  1. I’ve been told, often, that “We can all agree that no one needs an AR15 for hunting!”.

    Very true. I need one because I live in a rural area in which meth labs regularly spring up, and in which drug activity is only marginally controlled by an overstressed sheriff’s department. If I am attacked, no-one will be coming to help. I have to prevail on my own.

    That’s why I find a meme like Ms. Milano’s a bit disingenuous. She’s rich; she can live where she likes, and can hire armed protection. And she doesn’t address the fact that large parts of our country have degenerated into lawlessness, and that it’s not because of the Second Amendment.

    Until 1934, you could buy a machine gun through the mail, and until 1968, a 20mm anti-tank cannon. But the first mass shooting too place in 1949, and the next in 1966, with further hiatus until 1982. The modern weapons (or their equivalents) were available, but this data seems to indicate that they weren’t used for evil purposes like this.

    Things changes in 1982, and the number of incidents increased…and the question is, Why? It’s clearly not ‘the guns’.

    My feeling is that it’s a breakdown in societal structure that can be traced back to the questionable interpretations of the Establishment Clause promulgated by the Warren court in the 60s. God was kicked out of the classroom and the public square, and a society that had been ‘fenced in’ by religious practice (if not always sincere observation) was suddenly secularized.

    Christian values were no longer a guiding principle; they were relegated to a fringe opinion that no longer held sway in a country upon which they had been founded.

    The result has been a growing rootlessness and disenfranchisement, a fragmentation in which many people no longer feel like a part of anything beyond their own experience and imagination, and with no universally accepted moral code. Evil and good are personal preferences.

    External discipline’s been replaced by the need for self-discipline, and we can see how well that worked.

    The problem is not that we’re producing weapons. We’re producing killers, and they’ll use other means to work their viciousness. More people were killed by a terrorist in a truck in Nice than in any mass shooting in the US, and the 9/11 hijackers had not a singe firearm between them.

    I there a solution? Sure. No-one is going to like it. We have to set this country on a course firmly back into the past, interpret the Establishment Clause the way it’s written, work to build community that includes the church.

    We have to look at drugs and the lawlessness associated with them as a crime and not a social problem. Tolerance and understanding for the dealers and users hasn’t worked.

    We have to enforce the existing obscenity laws that are still on the books, to rid the internet, movies and television of the filth that’s so attractive to kids and breeds a basic disrespect for people and authority.

    It won’t happen. People have demanded freedom from any responsibility over their own actions, and freedom from community obligations, and we are now discovering how very true Janis Joplin’s words are:

    “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.”

    Without discipline, that’s the bitter truth.

    So sorry for the length of this comment, Annie. I just got going. Feel free to edit or delete, no hard feelings.

    1. I appreciate your perspective, Andrew! I think that’s the hardest part of this place we’re in. We have this amendment for real and valid reasons. I don’t think it’s wise to get rid of it at all. But I do think we need to examine how we interpret it… And we need to recognize how multi-layered this is. It’s about hearts and access and expectations and community and so many things. Just because it’s multi-layered doesn’t mean we tackle all the layers, though.

  2. I’m 100% with you, Annie. I don’t have the answers. I only know I don’t accept the rationale: that’s the way it’s always been. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard that as our ministry transfers us from place to place. Some people are just waiting to be shown another way or to be free to try another way. Thanks for articulating this so well.

  3. Amen sister soldier! Same as it ever was has never worked for me, because as you say – the good old days were not necessarily good by todays standards. Seems we can find any amount of information to justify a stance on any given subject. That does not make either side of so many issues, including gun ownership, more correct than the other. I feel that the root of change is in getting money, big money, out of politics. The donor class and groups have taken root in the spines of so many legislatures in office. Remove the money and the influence and fear of standing on principle and common sense goes away.

    1. Right? You can prove (or disprove) anything you want… And I totally agree – big money has skewed our thinking so much! One of my favorite movies is “Thank You for Smoking.” So eye-opening to what lobbying is…

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