“The enemy of peace is not only war, but also indifference, which makes us think only of ourselves, so that we create barriers, suspicions, fears and narrow-mindedness.”
– Pope Francis
As the father of teenage daughters, keeping up with current slang is almost as challenging as remembering sixth grade math. Somehow, overnight I went from being a “cool, young dad” (in my own mind, of course) to my wife advising me that I need to work on hiding my confused face when the kids are talking at the dinner table. There’s “fire” when something is awesome. You now “ship” two people when you want to encourage them to date each other. And then, there is the word, “suss.” Everything is suss (suspicious/suspect), especially to one of my daughters - a dinner I serve, a car that pulls into our cul-de-sac - it’s as if the default reaction to anything now is to consider it guilty until proven innocent.
On a recent beautiful spring afternoon, the kids were playing basketball as I was attending to some yardwork. Our house sits along a trail, and especially on the nice first days of the year, there is a steady stream of people enjoying the fresh air. At one point, I was in the backyard and the kids were still in the driveway when our 9-year-old son ran back and said to me, “Dad, there’s a woman who is asking for something to drink.” Without a thought, I told Peter to grab one of the water bottles in the garage and give it to her. As he ran back to the front, my older daughter snarked, “Dad! That’s so suss. Why doesn’t she have her own water? What if she’s out for no good?” I gave her a look, communicating that I thought she was the one who was suss, but then felt a little pit in my stomach. What if she was right? Acting like my yardwork required me to move to the front yard, I began walking with some determination - and then might have jogged a little to get to the front yard just in time to see Peter hand a water bottle to an older woman who clearly needed it. “Thank you so much,” she waved. “You’re an angel!”
As I strolled back to the yard, I felt a little conflicted about some tensions the past few minutes had exposed. “Stranger danger” has been around since I was a child and, as the world continues to change, it’s necessary to have some concern and attune our children to be a little suspicious. And yet, as Christians called to see the face of Christ in everyone, particularly those in need or those who might hurt us, how do we engage with trust? In life and leadership, when do my suspicions go from helpful to hurtful? Does my trust in the Lord help mitigate my doubt in others, or is it the other way around? As the ultimate model of leadership, Jesus never told us others wouldn’t disappoint us or hurt us. Rather, despite what might seem “suss,” we must, with eyes wide open, love anyway. As we continue to celebrate this Easter season, may our trust in God’s Providence be unwavering and overflow into the doubts we have about each other and ourselves. Prayers for this week to be “fire” for you and yours.
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