Mark Manson says that we must be very intentional about what we give a crap about (he doesn’t use the word crap, but this is a spiritual essay, so crap it is). He says we only have so many craps to give, and most of us use ours up on things not worthy of our craps. We give a crap about a waiter who wasn’t waiting on us enough, we give a crap about what our neighbors spend their money on, we use lots of craps caring about what others are think about us. Craps wasted everywhere.
A mark of maturity is being able to discern what is worthy of our craps and what isn’t, so we can use our emotional energy for the most worthy causes. I think about this concept all the time since I read Mark’s book. I’ve had to call myself out on wasting my craps on a music teacher who I felt played too many YouTube videos and too few instruments, on people disagreeing with me on social media, and on how well my girls brush their hair. Taking inventory on if my craps are being spent on what I actually care about has been an important tool.
These days, I’m reserving all my craps for racial equality. I don’t have room or interest on using even half a crap on anything else. I have zero interest in social media posts depicting date night, happy kids or product promotion. I can’t scroll past quickly enough. I lose interest in any conversation not about the mattering of black lives. The image of George Floyd under Derek Chauvin’s knee comes into my head multiple times a day.
For once it feels like my craps are in the right place.
Its about time. I have a lot of wasted craps to account for. For most of the months and years of my life, racial equality was not numbered among the things I chose to give a significant crap about. I rarely thought of it because I didn’t have to. I would read the occasional book. I would speak up in book club when someone didn’t understand that racism was still a thing. But in my day-to-day life, race didn’t affect me much, so I could afford not to think about it. I am the very definition of privilege.
I’m not proud of it. I’m not excusing it. I was surrounded by a bubble of my own peers and concerns. Day to day my craps were all used up by things like the missed naps of my babies, church callings, tantrums of my toddlers, shifting friend group dynamics, my husband’s work load, my diet, and primarily my own to-do list (Oh the millions of craps I’ve wasted on my to-do list). I wasn’t yet conscious of what I filled my crap slots with, so they all filled up on their own with whatever was in front of me (and sadly the concerns of black lives weren’t in front of me nearly as often as I should have sought them out).
It’s so easy to confine our craps to our own bubbles, but if we are to call ourselves Christians, it should be our primary concern to grow past this tendency. Richard Rohr says our very first act as Christians isn’t service or obedience- first and foremost our attention as Christians must be VOLUNTARY DISPLACEMENT. Only when we voluntarily displace ourselves from the experiences and concerns of own cultural peer group can we move past our own biases, prejudices and small-mindedness that will plague us if we live out our days surrounded by people who look and think just like us. We must encounter and get to know those not in our group. Only then can we be educated enough to know the best, most worthy causes to devote our service and obedience to.
Christ did not devote his ministry to his native Jewish Israelites. He first voluntarily displaced himself and then lived out his days serving the Samaritans, the lepers, the women, the blind, and the poor. He devoted himself to serving the victims and the forgotten of his society. It is mind-boggling how few of modern-day Christianity’s craps are used on what He cared about most.
This Bible Project video called “Justice” is my current favorite depiction of Christianity. It rightly portrays what our craps should be used on as Christians. Please take the next six minutes to watch it:
If I am to call myself a Christian and take on the ways of Christ, I MUST make it my primary occupation and concern the lifting up of those placed on a lower platform than me, as is depicted so beautifully in the last image of that video. This is OUR job- the job of those on the higher platforms- and we must take FULL responsibility for it. Even if it wasn’t us personally who pushed their platform down in the first place. Even if we are kind. Even if we wish people on all lower platforms the best. It’s not enough unless we are doing something to actively be pulling their platform up.
I’m certainly not doing this perfectly. I definitely don’t have all the answers, but I know we won’t act unless we first CARE. We won’t care unless we do the the soul work of voluntarily displacing our hearts and minds to theirs to listen and try to understand what are their experiences, sorrows and fears. It will require we take our covenants seriously to mourn with them and take their burdens upon us (since our platform was the one responsible for pushing theirs down for centuries, its only fair we take responsibility to lift it up) This takes time and energy and self-confrontation. It will take us giving up some of our own craps to devote to others who need them more.
It is our tendency as Christians, when we don’t know what to do, we kindly ask God to take care of it for us. But will Christ’s atonement make this right? Not unless we all, as the privileged, take on the personal covenant of at-one-ment with those who are being oppressed- the George Floyds, the Breonna Taylors, the Ahmed Aubreys.
Not until then.
PS If you are looking for some good places to start educating yourself, these books are a great place to start (I think social media is nice, but its so easy to scroll past without ever thinking about it. Books have more power to change my heart and mind since they force me to dedicate my attention on them for longer):