By Mark Rodgers

Wish we could turn back time, to the good old days
When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out
Wish we could turn back time, to the good old days
When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out
We’re stressed out

– 21 Pilots from their hit song aptly named “Stressed Out”

We are on edge.  It feels like a razor’s edge, and we are dying of a thousand cuts.

Family is un-friending family, canceling summer plans.  Co-workers are shutting their doors, or if in an open office, they are taking their conversations outside.  We don’t know when to laugh, or what to name something without pulling a trigger.  Being sensitive is not enough, and accepting without reservation is barely sufficient.  The grocery store bagger isn’t even smiling any more because rudeness begets rudeness.  We are walking on eggshells and breaking them left and right.

When 21 Pilots dropped their pants at the Grammys, it was as if someone finally said to us “relax, you’re too stressed out.”   They are right.  We all need to give and get a little grace.

The world is complex and becoming more so. As my friend Kevin Kelly wrote in his book, The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future, “We are morphing so fast that our ability to invent new things outpaces the rate we can civilize them.”

There is disorientation that comes with the pace of change around us, whether furthered by technology in our homes, disruption in the Oval Office, globalization in our markets, or polarization in the public square.

channel24.coThankfully, there can be peace in the storm, as Chance the Rapper reminded us as well at the Grammys, there to perform after being nominated for seven awards:

Age to age He stands
And time is in His hands
Beginning and the end
Beginning and the end

At church last week, my friend Mickey poked his head through my car window to tell me that he loved “my movie” Silence and that “Kichijiro was the only one who got it!”  “Got what?” I asked in return.  “That grace is always there for us,” he told me. “Grace never runs out.”

As the storm of uncertainty spins us out of control, grace is there for us to alleviate our vertigo, but that same grace calls us to give grace.  Grace begets grace.

Rachel Cusk retells “the uncouth conduct of the Roman soldiers a the foot of the cross” in her New York Times magazine essay The Age of Rudeness.  “They know not what they do was Jesus’ comment on his tormentors,” she reminds us. “Forgive them.”

When I see fingers pointing, hear voices raised, and watch people pull themselves up and push out their chests, I am reminded that the right response to this exhibition of what Cusk calls “humanity’s incurable awfulness” is not a tooth for a tooth, or an eye for an eye, but a coat off the back, or even the other cheek.

Kevin Kelly reminds us that change is inevitable, progress is history’s future, and there is no way to avoid the future even when we wish we could turn back time.  There is no macro solution, there are only micro responses — yours and mine.  So let us be agents of grace in the eye of the storm, it’s the only way to calm it:


She takes the blame
She covers the shame
Removes the stain
It could be her name

It’s a name for a girl
It’s also a thought that
Changed the world

And when she walks on the street
You can hear the strings
Grace finds goodness
In everything

She’s got the walk
Not on a ramp or on chalk
She’s got the time to talk

She travels outside
Of karma, karma
She travels outside
Of karma

When she goes to work
You can hear the strings
Grace finds beauty
In everything

She carries a world on her hips
No champagne flute for her lips
No twirls or skips between her fingertips

She carries a pearl
In perfect condition
What once was hurt
What once was friction
What left a mark
No longer stings

Because grace makes beauty
Out of ugly things

Grace finds beauty
In everything

Grace finds goodness in everything

– U2

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