We millennials have SO MANY FEELINGS. And we have SWARMED THE INTERNET over the past few days to tell you about them. It’s your fault, real adults, for making us write so many essays in college. You’ve carefully crafted us into extraordinarily long-winded creatures with nowhere to go besides FACEBOOK DURING TIMES OF SOCIAL INJUSTICE. And blogs for their moms to read. (Hey Susan!)
I remember nights in college, continously refreshing Facebook when I should have been studying, hoping someone somewhere had posted something even mildly interesting for me to read to distract more effectively from essay writing. Oh, if only this election had happened then.
So. Many. Feelings.
They’re valid feelings because that’s the beauty of feelings. By nature, they are valid. You feel hurt, fearful, angry, unwanted, forgotten? That makes sense. Those are real feelings. You don’t have to get over them or justify them. You get to experience them and learn from them and react to them (ahem, in a healthy way.)
You feel confused and helpless? Same goes for you.
You feel proud and excited for the future? Same goes for you.
For better or worse, we can’t dictate our feelings or the feelings of the people around us. We get to experience them and learn from them and react to them, again, in a healthy way. We disagree with some of them. That’s okay.
I’ve been being careful with my feelings. I haven’t been telling a lot of people about them because feelings are fragile and people have been like elephants in emotional china shops the last few days. But Wednesday morning, I felt pretty confused. And very helpless.
You know those rural white blue-collar voters everyone was talking about?
I grew up in rural Michigan. Throughout most of my childhood, I knew only a handful of people who could be described as anything besides white. I didn’t know racism existed outside of my history books because there was simply no one on which to practice racism. I realized how wrong I was once my family moved to a southern city.
So I’ve spent the last few years trying to understand, trying to empathize.
I still don’t feel good at it.
Loving someone is different from understanding them.
So as a white, straight, middle-class citizen, I felt confused on Wednesday morning. But mostly helpless.
Those were valid feelings. But I feel less confused and helpless now. I experienced them and tried to learn from them and now and forever I am attempting to react to them.
I’ve come to one conclusion. While feelings are valid, there is one that any Jesus-following Christian really can’t get behind – it’s really not okay.
We don’t get the luxury of despairing. Because, Christian, there is always hope. There just is.
Do not misread my words. I am not saying there is always hope in America. Lol. No. I am not saying this presidency will go splendidly without hurt or uprising or alienation or immorality. I am not saying everything will continue to go as planned and your life will not change and your friends will not suffer. It might. They might.
What I’m saying is there is hope. There was hope before America existed and there will be hope long after America implodes/explodes/crumbles. There was hope during the Civil War and Nazi Germany. There is hope now as more people are in slavery than ever before in history. Not because this world will one day finally good. No, it’s because Jesus. And Heaven. And Psalm 118:6. “The LORD is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?” They can hurt you. They can alienate you. They can kick you out and call you names and do terrible, abominable things. But they cannot touch your hope. Your hope is in Jesus and He is taking care of you, your heart, your soul. And that’s everything. Because Jesus is everything. He has to be everything. It’s clear now more than ever that this world isn’t everything.
So what does this mean for us, Christian? Sit in our heart and soul hope as our friends and neighbors’ bodies and minds get attacked?
Um, hellz no.
First, Christian, get on your knees until they are bruised and bloodied and pray until your voice is hoarse and your feet go to sleep. (Nothing distracts from prayer like an itchy nose or a foot that’s gone asleep. They are Satan’s best allies.)
Are you rolling your eyes right now? You are probably rolling your eyes right now. I AIN’T MAD ABOUT IT. (Only because I can’t see you. Otherwise I would def be offended.)
Roll away, eyes; but you can’t change this truth: Prayer isn’t passive.
This last July, while 25,000 teenagers were learning, serving, and worshiping together in New Orleans, there was a shooting a few hours away in Baton Rouge; and that night, huddled together in the Superdome, we prayed. All 25,000 of us prayed together – for the loved ones of those shot, for the cities of Baton Rouge and New Orleans, for our country as a whole. We prayed and prayed and it felt powerful. The numbers alone made it feel powerful.
Prayer feels a lot less powerful when you’re alone in your car or watching the news in your living room. It feels less powerful when you still don’t see change. It feels less powerful when things seem to be getting worse.
It’s not passive and it’s never been passive.
Because even if you pray for peace and don’t see peace come, even if you pray for togetherness and you continue to witness division, even if you pray for a job, a child, a spouse and you never see these things come to fruition, you’ve now reached out and connected yourself to the Maker of the Universe.
He heard you.
He knows you.
He loves you.
He will respond.
This morning, I grabbed coffee with a couple friends. We just wanted to catch up and drink the liquid of the heavens. Politics eventually came up, of course, because it’s this week in America and we’re normal human people. Right before we all had to bounce off to work, one friend asked if we could pray (not me, because I make it a rule to primarily spend time with people who are more thoughtful, loving, and basically superior to me in every way.) It was not 25,000 people. It was three. But it felt important.
I think we all need to pray together more.
Because with 25,000, three, or one, prayer is not passive.
Once your knees are bruised and bloodied, once your nose itches and your foot is asleep, stand up. Love loudly. Love boldly. Love with your voice and your hands and your money and your time. Love by having conversations with your friends, donating to causes you believe in, volunteering in your communities. Love by not forgetting how you feel right now in a few months when the shock has faded. Love by doing research and understanding what’s going on beyond Facebook headlines. Love by rejecting apathy and wholeheartedly embracing empathy. Love by sharing Jesus because it’s no good to hoard all that heart/soul hope up for yourself. It doesn’t matter that I’m a white, straight, sheltered, middle-class American – everybody can love. Nobody has to despair.
Each and every one of us has some type of platform. Some are larger than others, but we all influence someone. Do not waste your platform, sweet friend. Stand up for goodness and love and hope. Stand up for togetherness and justice and forgiveness.
I’m not great at it yet, friends. So in that vein, I will end with this: I have been compiling a list in my brain since the wee hours of Wednesday morning of different ways people on the internet annoy me. I’ve affectionately named them “The Seven Dwarves of #Election2016.” Their names are as follows:
Hi, I’m Preachy. For that, I am sorry. I hope I speak love. I hope I can embrace humility. I hope I point to hope. Because we don’t need more long Facebook posts or Pollyanna preaching or any of the Seven Dwarves, really. We don’t really need this blog post. (But haha whatever, I’m posting it anyway because #millenniallife.) We need honest reflection and bold truth. We need to get on our knees to pray and then get on our feet to love and learn and listen. Which you’ve heard. You know this. We all do. Let’s just stop talking about it and actually go do it now.