I have spent countless hours writing the past week but have nothing to show for it. Why?

It’s been a hell of a week…hell on earth manifested in hatred, violence, anger, and words. So many words.

I suppose I felt that more words would add unnecessarily to the conversation. But I also wasn’t writing because my mind wouldn’t stop racing. I could hardly pray let alone concentrate. I kept returning to the news stories and my Facebook feed and I kept seeing more of the hatred, violence, anger, and words.

So many words.

Often when I feel utterly overwhelmed, I go to Hope Street, the inner-city transitional housing ministry where I volunteer. Although that sounds holy and profound, it isn’t. I love everyone at Hope Street, but I hate…detest…almost resent getting there.

I want to go to Hope Street without driving forty-minutes one way. I want to go without feeling like I’m a human Frogger dodging cars that are swerving, speeding, and running-red-lights. On a particularly dangerous intersection along my route, a mom was hit by another car then shot in front of her son last fall. The drive to Hope Street is inefficient and stressful for me, every time and on every level.

But I was drawn to go. I wanted to Kneel for Nine and I wanted to do so with my Hope Street family yesterday, so I went.

I didn’t realize how much I missed everyone. Kind and humble Charles, Lisa and Ouita’s love and laughter, Nikki’s joy and grateful spirit, and Mark’s smile and hug.

Oh, how I’d missed them.

Kneeling and praying for the city for nine minutes as I heard its cars racing, basses thumping, and voices talking was powerful. I asked God for forgiveness, understanding, and awareness. I prayed for the victims, perpetrators, police, and protesters. I prayed about the hatred, violence, anger, and words – other peoples’ and my own.

When I left Hope Street an hour later, I realized what I needed. I needed to turn it off. I needed time away from the news and social media. I realized the reason I haven’t been able to quiet myself, write, or hear God was because, without realizing it, I was being overwhelmed by the hatred, violence, anger, and the words.

I was listening to the wrong voices.

Whose Voice should I listen to? The only One that can help me act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly. The Voice (in the book of Luke) that brought me to Hope Street in the first place. The Voice that’s gifted me with friendships with former drug addicts, prisoners, and homeless men and women in the city. People I judged and thought I knew about but didn’t.

Christ’s voice is the only voice that can show me my own hatred, violence, and anger. Yet His is the only Voice that’s also deemed me forgiven, loved, and worthy. Making room to listen His voice is the only way I can be the change I want to see, be convicted in love, and remember Christ loves and sees every man, woman, and child as worthy, so therefore,

So will I.