I wonder if when they invented the Internet, (Aliens? Al Gore? Who invented the internet?!) they ever expected it to get so very opinionated.
There are so many opinions. Everyone seems to know what’s best for me: how I should think, act, feel, respond. Oy.
I won’t do that to you. I do not have advice for you. Instead, here’s a fact:
Bad things are happening.
In people’s personal lives, in the country, in the fact that JoJo kept the short mean one for another week on The Bachelorette. (WHY, JOJO? Like, why.)
For instance, politics are no longer safe to talk about. With anyone. In fact, that’s all I’ll say about that.
Bad things are happening.
Though I still struggle with confrontation and instinctually avoid ugliness in general, I can’t help up be much more aware of “bad things” than I used to be.
For one, on an individual scale, I work at a church now. Church is one of those places people come for strength and refuge. For safety. It is chock full of hurting people. Not just the silent, easily hidden hurt. I’m talkin’ bloody, ripped messes of people.
I used to think the tired Christianese phrase, “People are messy,” was cute and sweet and spoke of living life together, even when hard things happened. You know, “hard things” – like when a girl dumped him or she drank too much at a party. I would read that line and envision millennials sitting around a campfire, sharing hidden sins they’d since repented of, while their hip flannel-clad friends nodded encouragingly and hugged them in forgiveness and understanding as they move onto s’mores.
Turns out “people are messy” is actually a harsh reality; the messes more extreme and more common than I could have ever anticipated. There are rarely s’mores involved but there are tears and tense conversations and long silences. I feel myself going back and forth between feeling heartbroken for these people and going completely numb to it all which, by the way, is a much more frightening alternative to me. I don’t know what a jaded Emilie looks like but I don’t think I would recognize her and I certainly wouldn’t enjoy hanging out with her 24 hours a day. *shiver*
Secondly, on a greater scale, I watch the news now. Not enough to be incredibly interesting at a cocktail party full of politicians, but probably enough to hold my own over a beer with a peer. (I just want to call your attention to the fact that the last sentence rhymed. Thank you, we’ll go ahead and continue now.) The Today Show keeps things light and fun and interesting, but even they can’t mask the fact that bad things seem to be happening always, everywhere. They nestle the brokenness between celebrity baby announcements and pork chop recipes, which I definitely appreciate, but that still doesn’t hide the mess between the lines.
Since Orlando, I’ve read so many more articles and posts written by people who say they live in fear. Some of these people truly are marginalized, some simply feel unsafe due to the laws of our country and the nature of humanity. The movie theater, the club, hell, even church – places that should incite excitement and enjoyment now welcome wariness instead.
I do not feel this way. Perhaps I am naive; these tragedies have not struck incredibly close to home and so I still feel invincible, or something like that. Maybe. Maybe not.
Either way, as promised, I have no grand advice for you on how to react to these tragedies that seem to be happening on a consistent basis. I do not have a step-by-step plan on how you should respond as a Jesus-following Christian. I will not pretend to understand what you are going through when in reality I couldn’t possibly have a clue.
What I do have is this encouragement:
“Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living.” Psalm 27:13
Quick reminder of what you just read: this does not say, “Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness once I die and go to Heaven.” I mean, yes, that would be true too, okay, but considerably less encouraging in the here and now, so simmer down. It says we will see God’s goodness in the land of the living. Here. Us. Maybe we don’t see it right now in this second, but it will inevitably be visible again even in this broken world.
My girl Shauna Niequist says in Cold Tangerines,
“I would never have wanted it this way, but something bright and beautiful has been given to me, and I’m in grave danger of losing it, squandering it, becoming a person who cannot find goodness that’s right in front of her because of the sadness that she chooses to let obscure it.”
Weeping may last for the horribly long night, but joy really does come in the morning. There’s goodness around us still, folks.
Check out all of Psalm 27 here.