Only In America

photo-1520255228379-36d62458b11c“Only in America” is a phrase that used to be primarily used in a positive way to express the many possibilities and hope of living in the USA. Now I primarily hear it in the context of complaints instead of hope. The phrase “only in America” is usually infused with disgust.

I get it. Our country is far from perfect. There are a lot of things that frustrate me about what’s happening in our country. I engage in some conversations about many of the trends and decisions – although I’m fairly picky in when and with whom I engage because there is no reason to repeat the same venting rants or circular reasoning. But I listen to the disrespectful way so many talk about the lack of sound character among leadership, the comments about how ignorant or unethical something is, and I marvel at how often we cannot see in ourselves some of the very qualities we’re slamming others for having. Sure, we might stand on opposite ends of an issue, but we both spew. We cover our ears while lobbing facts or insults to the other side. We choose a safe distance, perhaps because it makes our disrespect of each other a bit more palatable for us. When we use the phrase “only in America” or complain with other specific words, aren’t we undermining ourselves? Aren’t we adding to the problem instead of adding to a solution?

Isn’t America – at least in part – what we as citizens contribute to it? Yes, we cannot control all the legislation. Most of us are not decision-makers in the courts. But we are not victims. We’re not helpless. We have influence among our friends and community. That influence shouldn’t only be focused on lobbing insults and facts across the line to change others’ minds. We should use our energy and time to walk up to people, sit across the table, look someone in the eyes, and listen. Then walk alongside each other whether we agree or not. We can still do life together. We can still respect each other. We don’t have to tear people apart. We also don’t have to agree with everyone. Respect and differences are not mutually exclusive. In fact, respect is easy when people are similar to us. It’s basically self-respect – or might tip into self-centeredness.

Deep respect involves humility. We still maintain our own identity and values but we don’t let pride infect our relationships and interactions.

Perhaps one day we will say “only in America” can we experience such a shift in the way we grow beyond disrespectful and destructive fighting.

Even if we don’t do so as an entire nation, we can do so in our communities and personal lives.

Take an honest look at how you can improve and grow today.

Then do so.

Summer Scriptures Series: Revelation


Then the One seated on the throne said, “Look! I am making everything new.” He also said, “Write, because these words are faithful and true.” And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give water as a gift to the thirsty from the spring of life. (Revelation 21:5-6)

Today’s Challenge: Live today as a beginning. Live today as an end. Appreciate God’s gift. He nourishes you with His truth. Know Him well.

Summer Scriptures Series: Jude


Have mercy on those who doubt. (Jude 22)

How merciful are you with people who doubt, question, and analyze?

Today’s Challenge: Listen well. Engage in uncomfortable situations. Trust God to guide the conversation and each person’s heart. You don’t have to resolve everything. He know His eternal timing.

Summer Scriptures Series: 3 John


I have no greater joy than this: to hear that my children are walking in the truth. (3 John 4)

What is your greatest joy?

What are you willing to sacrifice to experience it? What are you willing to do for it?

What conditions or timeline do you place on the results you expect to accompany your joy?

Today’s Challenge: Give God control in the big and little things today. Choose Him instead of trying to figure out, manage, even manipulate the details. He is in charge. You are not. Follow Him well. Honor Him. Seek joy, not control.

Summer Scriptures Series: 2 John


And this is love: that we walk according to His commands. This is the command as you have heard it from the beginning: you must walk in love. (2 John 1:6)

How have you experienced love and obedience going hand in hand?

Today’s Challenge: Which do you tend to lean into more often: love or obedience? Intentionally link the two today. They are inseparable. Refuse to untangle them.

Summer Scriptures Series: 1 John


This is how we have come to know love: He laid down His life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers. (1 John 3:16)

How have you learned about love? What examples of love do you most often follow to make your own decisions about love?

Today’s Challenge: Laying down you life doesn’t always require a physical death. Often, the death is a sacrifice of status, time, pride, control, and so on. Lay down your life for someone today. Be generous and humble.

Summer Scriptures Series: 2 Peter


Make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. (2 Peter 1:5-7)

Which of these do you struggle with the most? How can keeping the context of the other qualities equip you to grow in your area of struggle?

Today’s Challenge: “Make every effort to supplement your faith” today. That means intentional decisions each step of the way. Choose goodness, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godliness, brotherly affection, and love.