When I first heard Matthew Sleeth speak in 2005, I had no idea that I would someday write a book on creation care. If you had told me that I would be writing at all, I think I would have been shocked. A native of Dallas, a town made famous for displays of conspicuous consumption, I was a conventional shopper, a PR exec, and a lapsed churchgoer. Not exactly someone cut out for ministry. In fact, the only thing about me that wasnt conventional was a deep and abiding sympathy for the walrus. I cant explain this love for large bumbling sea creatures any more than my husband Mike can explain why he loves college football. It just is.
Having read for years about habitat loss, pollution in the oceans, and melting sea ice, I used to spend my spare time signing petitions and writing letters to my legislators. But after having my first child in 2005, my anxiety about the things that I could not control escalated into anger. What kind of world had I brought my daughter into and why did I feel so helpless to change it? So I made two decisions that thoroughly shook up my conventional life. I returned to church after 20 years away and I joined the Sierra Club.
Going back to church was mildly comforting, but it wasnt enough to revive my dormant faith. Frustrated, I channeled my desire to better the world into environmental activism. In fact, it was only because of a Sierra Club volunteer project that I went to hear Dr. Sleeth speak in the first place. Our group had divvied up the topics for a presentation that we would deliver to parenting groups. The others suggested I see what this author Matthew Sleeth had to say about faith-based environmental stewardship. We hoped that putting the Christian perspective into our presentation would persuade a few more people to listen to us. Little did I know that listening to Dr. Sleeth would sway me back to Jesus.
Dr. Sleeth was someone who turned my assumptions upside down. Here was an evangelical Christian who was also a medical doctor, proving that smart people can also believe in the bible. Here was an environmental advocate who steered clear of policy, quoting scripture instead. Having just begun to read the bible myself, I gained an appreciation for the relevance of Jesus teachings through Dr. Sleeths example. Through the changes in himself and his family, I saw with my own eyes that living a life according to Gods laws is not only easier on the environment, its better for families.
After reading Serve God, Save the Planet, I started making some of these changes in my own life. We cleared our home of toxins and started buying organic foods whenever possible. I started a sustainability consulting business. We built a green home, the second LEED-certified residence in Dallas. We planted a garden. I even transferred my membership to a local community church where we could walk on occasion. In my new church, with the help of our pastor and some wonderful new friends, my faith began to flourish. I began to write and speak on sustainability and creation care. Looking back, I cant say at what point my journey in living green turned into living for Christ. In so many ways they are woven together, just as it should be.
I still think of the plight of the walrus, but I am happy to report that my sadness and helplessness have been replaced by contentment and contribution. Understanding that no amount of activism can erase sin from the world, Ive discovered that the best way to make the world better is to begin with myself and then share what Ive learned with others. From here forward, Im blessed to continue this journey alongside other creation care writers in this wonderful community called Blessed Earth.
By Anna Clark
Anna Clark is president of EarthPeople, a sustainability consulting firm. She is an author, speaker, and blogger on green living and leadership. Anna lives in Dallas with her husband and two toddlers in one of the first LEED-certified Platinum residences in Texas. Visit www.annamclark.com for more on all things green.