By Rev. April G. Johnson
“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10: 3-5)
When I reflect on the messages of my childhood, many were not very life-giving. From adults in my life, I received the clear message that I was “not enough.” As a child, I did not have the internal resources to look beyond the imposing label to see the limitations of those responsible for my care of my physical and emotional well-being.
I was a victim of generational pain. That pain was an outcome of a narrative passed down from generations before me. It imposed limitations on creativity, compassion, and self-expression.
Today, having experienced the liberating power of Jesus’ love, I cannot participate in acts of securing and solidifying the physical and emotional bondage of others. Our national narrative of caring for the poor and indigent members of our society is one that blames the victim for her circumstances. It is a story that gives us an off-ramp toward non-action. It assumes that life’s hardships are a result of flawed character or insufficient personal discipline.
That story ignores the systemic factors impeding a person’s access to jobs, healthy food options, stable and secure housing, and human development. The false narrative that all have equal access to achievement and security distances us from one another.
Yes, hurting people do hurt people. As a person of faith in Christ Jesus, it is imperative that I interrupt the narrative hurt. Jesus’ life and ministry of healing and love offers a different account of our life’s purpose; a hope-full and a grace-rich story.
The season of Lent offers an opportunity for us to remember our creativity and compassion toward a ministry of activism and action on behalf of others who are bound in cycles of oppression such as hunger, imprisonment, and poverty. When we draw near to God, as Christ demonstrates in his 40-day sojourn in the wilderness, we interrupt the narrative that we are “not enough.” The power of prayer and fasting to which we are invited during this season enlivens our story and strengthens our witness to a loving God.
Begin the Lenten season assuming that you are enough—that you, as a member of the body of Christ, have full agency. Fight the fear that you may not be enough for the moment, the task, the ministry, the book you will write, the business you will start, or the lives you will bless. This Lenten season, enter God’s invitation to break the cycle of fear and to take captive every false story that comes against the knowledge and truth of Christ Jesus living in and thought the magnificence that is YOU!
May it be so….
Rev. April G. Johnson is minister of reconciliation with the Christian Church Disciples of Christ.