Rozella Haydée White wants readers to know “you are loved in ways that are overwhelming to comprehend at times.”
And that message, White believes, can heal a world that feels like it’s been torn apart by fear, hate, disconnection, racial injustice, and divisive politics.
That’s why the life and leadership coach said she wrote the book “Love Big: The Power of Revolutionary Relationships to Heal the World,” published this week by Fortress Press.
She also wants people to imagine God differently, she said.
Christianity gets a “bad rap” in the United States, and other Christian voices have drowned out progressives when it comes to defining what God looks like, said White, the former director for young adult ministry for the progressive mainline Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
“Love doesn’t diminish. Love continues to grow because the more we love, the more love there is to give,” she said. “And that is embodied in relationship, because that’s how God embodied it.”
White talked to Religion News Service about the work people need to do before healing is possible and why self-care isn’t selfish. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
In “Love Big,” you point out examples of brokenness, violence, divisive political discourse and floundering religious communities in the world today. What gives you hope?
I think my sociological lens has always invited me to remember that what is happening in any present moment is not the only thing and that the present moment is exactly that — it’s a present moment.
On the other hand, it’s faith, honestly. I sometimes feel so corny or cliche saying that. The particular type of faith I profess — God as evidenced in Jesus — has been around for 2,000-plus years, but there have been systems and beliefs, ways of believing about the divine, that have been around for so long. All these stories impact me. And so when I then take a step back and then take the long view, I see my grandmother who is the granddaughter of sharecroppers. I see the ancestors that came up and out of the middle passage of the slave trade. I see all of the things that have happened throughout the course of human history. And yeah, this moment is messed up. But there have been a lot of messed-up moments throughout life. There have been really messed-up things since the beginning of time. And since the beginning of time there have been loving and liberative things that have happened, as well.
I do believe in people. I believe that, again, because of my particular faith tradition as a Christian: If God chose humanity to come to life in, then there is something ultimately good and worthy and pure and divine about humanity. And so even though the times that we’re in are certainly troubling, they’re not the first times and they’re not the last, and God’s mark on humanity still persists. That’s kind of what holds me.
What are what you call “revolutionary relationships,” and how can they help heal these things we see in the world?
Revolutionary relationships are modeled for me on the Trinity. As a Christian, the Trinity is a huge part of who God is and how we understand God, and we often don’t reflect on the fact that God was in relationship with Godself at the very beginning. Throughout the course of our biblical witness in history and our faith tradition, God has continued to reveal Godself in ways that continue to reflect back to that first relationship — the creative God, the liberating God, the sustaining God. My idea of revolutionary relationships flows through that and the characteristics of that: They’re life-giving, they’re risk-taking, they’re gracious, they’re accountable, they’re diverse.
I believe that when we embody this way of being, there will be no choice but for transformation and healing to occur, and we will no longer be so inwardly focused that we’re not outwardly engaged. We will no longer be people who are living by scarcity instead of an abundance mentality.
And the other piece of this is that so much of what I’m talking about begins with ourselves. Because if we’re not in relationship with ourselves in ways that are revolutionary, it’s really hard — if not impossible — to be in those relationships with others.
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Source: Religion News Service