If you are anything like me, you are close to the end of your string. Where I was a year ago astounds me because the plans I had envisioned for myself today were so very different from where I ended up.
If you are anything like me, you have to stay numb to stay calm. You have to avoid the news sometimes, avoid social media, avoid your own thoughts. And you do this just to feel incredibly guilty by the end of the day for doing so. I am often angry with myself for the hundreds of things I’d like to do but simply don’t have the mental space for.
If you are anything like me, you don’t have the capacity to fully absorb not only your own life, but everything going on in the world around you. I find that I am much too small to understand the implications of this season, all of the things that led up to it, all of the things that will come after. I feel like I wake up and drown aimlessly all day long until I finally fall asleep, just to wake up to the same nightmare the next morning and do it all over again.
If you are anything like me, you are tired. You are tired of seeing so much hate, violence, anger, bitterness, fighting, murder, and destruction. You are tired of over-analyzing every single little move you could possibly make, wondering who will take it the wrong way. You are tired of being told you aren’t doing enough or that you are doing too much. But that is the thing with systemic pain—it is silent for a long time, then it shows its face and asks to be acknowledged only so many times before it bursts. And at that point of emotional height, it becomes much too easy to exploit that pain, to swoop in with big promises and solutions under the claim of good intentions when underneath the mask, it is only more corruption.
If you are like me, you realize that evil is sneaky, deep-rooted, and incredibly ugly. It exists on all sides of the argument, in every crack and crevice of injustice. And you know that when even one of us is hurting, we all hurt. And so here we are, all in pain and desperately searching for the source in hopes of extinguishing it. We are pointing fingers and clawing away at any potential suspect, taking vengeance upon ourselves as a duty that we think we can enforce justly.
If you are like me, you realize that you are completely underqualified to enforce anything. I will not be able to tell you the list of names for everyone who is to blame. I will not be able to recall every evil act that has led us all to this point or remember every statistic that supports any one-sided argument. I think that even statistics can be skewed and manipulated in the name of power, as I am sure most of you would agree. I have seen statistics used to oppress people under the cloak of mathematical certainty, as if one can somehow remove the humanity from a statistic that claims to reflect it. No, we are all biased. We don’t know it all and we can’t. Even if we want to, abuse is often sneaky and hidden within the shadows of whatever we think we know as a third party.
If you are like me, you see Satan everywhere. You see him sitting back with his feet up, laughing deeply only to inhale a peaceful breath in the midst of this chaos. You see him admiring a job well done; you see him walking amongst us in awe of his power. You see, we have given him that power. We have bought into lie after lie, division after division. We have accepted a culture that makes it okay not to listen and, most importantly, not to love. We don’t love our enemies. We don’t love anyone who looks at us the wrong way or says the wrong thing. If we are being honest, do we even love ourselves? Is it possible to love who you are in a world that constantly challenges your identity, morality, sense of right and wrong, looks, personality, hobbies, and beliefs?
If you are like me, you want to see love. And you know that even by saying that, you are likely going to stir up a controversy. How can I speak of something so ludicrous, so worn down, so elementary and impractical? Who am I to tell you to love your neighbors, friends, family, coworkers, even the people who hate you? No, love is out of the picture. Patience is gone. Grace is burned out. Hope is empty. Faith has run dry, and we must take it into our own hands! Or is that just more lies we have bought into from the enemy?
If you are anything like me, you know that you have no authority, but Jesus does. No, I cannot tell you to love. I cannot tell you that you are right or wrong. But I can tell you about my sweet, loving Jesus who is without blemish. I can tell you that I choose love because I first was loved, that the only way I have found life and goodness is by surrendering myself before the cross where He paid the price I will never be able to repay. Even still, I daily shake my fist at God, asking “Why do you love me? Why did you create me? Why would you sacrifice yourself for me?” knowing that I will never understand why He did such a thing for someone as undeserving as I am. However, He did it. He did it for me, for you, for all of humanity. He did it for us to have a direct line to life-giving water, to a hope and peace that surpasses all understanding. He did it for us to hand over the worries we face, the trials we go through, the failures we constantly toss onto our pile. He did it for us to love freely and fully. And my hope in this season is this: No matter how twisted the world around me is, no matter how much darkness is brought to light, no matter how lost we all feel in the midst of it, He does not give up. He does not leave us. He is faithful, even when it looks like everything is falling apart. Fire refines and brings forth new life, and in this same way, I hope you are filled with courage for the days ahead as new life begins to emerge.
We are not out of this season, and even when it passes, we will be navigating a world that will never again look like the one we knew before. Rejoice in that! Rejoice in the fact that Satan thinks he is winning, all the while God is working every evil for His goodness, every sorrow for His joy, every broken piece for His ultimate masterpiece. Because that is who we are: His. In a world with so much brokenness, that fact alone wakes me up each morning. That fact alone keeps me stepping forward, working dutifully for a better tomorrow.
If you are anything like me, you know that we are sisters and brothers. And we always will be.