When I think of power, I most often think of it in the abstract, as something which is beyond me. It is easy to only locate power within particular roles or titles or systems. Like happiness, it becomes ever elusive ‘I will be happy when…’, ‘I will be able to make a difference when…’
Power is about achieving outcomes, it is the ability to have control.
And if that is the case, power is something I don’t have. I want the world to be one way, but it remains stubbornly another way. ‘It doesn’t matter what I do’ comes the whisper of a thought, ‘the world will be the same regardless’.
I suspect I am not the only one who looks at the choices available to them and wonders how they can bring about real change in the world.
How we can we use our small choices to bring about long-term change? Unfortunately, I really don’t know. However, what I do know is why and how I keep faith in making change: I remember God’s delight in the small, and God’s dealings in the topsy-turvy.
God delights in the small. God crowns the youngest sons of families, clothes the grass of the field, and cherishes the widow of two “very small” copper coins.
And if God delights in the small, my daily decisions matter. When I feel sad or frustrated or hurt, I remind myself I have a choice in the way I respond and how I allow my thought patterns to cycle. When I’m shopping or looking at what’s ahead in my week, I remind myself that God cares about small moments and hours and not just years or changes in job titles. Every small area of our lives, every decision is an opportunity for worship, a way to declare that Jesus is Lord in this, too.
God also deals in the topsy-turvy, securing victory through failure. The powers that be hammer God to a cross: God’s humanity is failure, but it is turned to victory.
And if God deals in the topsy-turvy, our small offerings lead to big impact. The youngest son of a family delivers a nation from their enemy. The grass of the field forever testifies to the creator God. A widow’s decision-making regarding two very small copper coins teaches generations about generosity.
Each choice we make is an exercise of power. And we can make choices which reflect our belief that power is not really ours, only ours to give back. We can’t say that small choices will lead to be changes for sure, but we believe that God delights in the small and invites us into the topsy-turvy.
When we lay down our own authority, the rules say to expect loss. We find it only brings life. The rules say maintaining control is the way to secure outcomes. We remember that logic was Judas’ mistake.
Let us be people who practice, in our small choices, sharing, giving and surrendering our own authority and step into engaging with the power that we have in vulnerability and weakness. I suspect we may seem to be failures if we do. But as ever, I end on a Dorothy Day quote, although we may seem to fail, “we recall the ostensible failure of Christ when he died on the cross”.
Rachel is a Cambridge philosophy graduate who now works for Hope for the Future, a charity which educates, trains and resources people to effectively lobby politicians on the issue of climate change | thejoyofrachel.com