Full disclosure: the last couple weeks have been ugly. I’ve been ugly. The internet’s been ugly. Everything has seemingly to take on the face of a monster and I’ve completely lost it. Twice. (Okay more like 6 times, but there were two really big breakdowns…uhh, both in public settings. Good grief.)
Between some crazy happenings here on Skid Row and the controversy regarding World Vision, at one point I really believed I might lose my sanity for good and with it my desire to keep going on this mission of reconciliation among those living in the margins.
Because honestly, I am tired. I am tired of fighting and I am tired of caring. Caring just seems to hurt.
I’m tired of feeling like I am the only one who stays up at night thinking about the things of this world that are amiss and the ways in which we are failing so many of our brothers and sisters. (I am not actually the only one, by the way.) I’m tired of watching people be battered and bruised and I’m tired feeling like all I do is scream about injustice all day long.
But somewhere along the lines I learned this; I don’t know how to not care. I don’t know how to sorta feel anything.
If you give me a topic, two differing viewpoints and 3 ½ minutes, I will come up with a stance that I am so passionate about you’d think I’d have devoted my whole life to it. Although this can be a positive catalyst, it also threatens to kill me.
Last week, during one of my two mental-breakdown-cryfests (while WALKING DOWN THE STREET talking into my headphones. I am an embarrassment.) I was talking to a friend and I stated through sobs “I just can’t, I can’t care anymore. I am done. This is the end of me. I have nothing left in me.” (No, I am not dramatic, stop judging me.)
In that moment I felt incredibly overwhelmed and like perhaps God had in fact simply forgotten what he’d set out to do in me. I was starting to resign myself to the idea that maybe He just wanted me to be miserable after all. Because that’s how I often feel when I look around at how many people are being hurt at the hands of the privileged; just miserable.
My dear, patient friend however, instead of jumping down the swirling sink with me, gently reminded me of the narrative in the Bible about the Israelites. In this story, God chose to carry his people out of exile by taking them through the desert for 40 years. (Am I the only one who easily forgets that, that is a long freaking time?)
While in the desert the Israelites wandered and cried (sounds familiar), often submitting themselves to the idea that perhaps they should just turn around and go back into oppression. WHAT THE WHAT?
Why would anyone willingly go back into slavery? Because they were scared. They’d hit a snag, freak out and begin to doubt that God had ever called them to such a crazy journey.
Maybe we read the signs wrong, maybe the miracles and proverbial open doors were just a coincidence. Maybe we were never meant for this life after all.
As anyone who has read Exodus knows, the Israelites did eventually make it to the Promised Land, finding freedom for their people for generations to come – but not without hardship, it wasn’t handed to them. Lives were lost, families were split, hearts were broken.
But in the end, the people of Israel were free.
Am I willing to endure the wandering, the heartache and the mess that comes with restoration, reconciliation and justice?
Yep, I am. But Lord help me because I am tired, teary and feeling awfully human these days.
So what does this mean? Where do I go from here? This crazed passion is embedded in my make-up. If I am to live into who I believe God has designed me to be, for Him, now is not the time to give up.
But perhaps now is the time pause, catch my breath, regroup and remember why I am here and WHO sent me – because if I don’t I’ll never make it. I will spit and sputter and eventually burnout. This is a marathon, not a sprint – I want to finish this race, not collapse somewhere in the chaos.
I want…no, I need to take some time to pray. I need to pray for the things that break my heart, not merely write, tweet and scream about them. Prayer has all too often become my last resort, not my first. This should never be.
I want to figure out how to use my voice to elicit only positive change. It often feels like everything I read whether on blogs, twitter, facebook or other social outlets, stems from some sort of anger or rebuttal.
I regularly find myself reading scathing or snarky words (sometimes my own) used to describe others as unkind, unjust or unbiblical, with words that are written with such a strong venom and condescension that they are not only muting the point, they’re tearing everyone down in their wake.
I want to be someone who stands up for what I believe in, not just for what I don’t. I want to extend grace in order to seek reconciliation, restoration and unity, even when I am angry and struggling to see the other side.
I don’t believe it’s wrong to be angry, but it’s what we do with that anger that will decide if we move toward peace or if we move toward destruction.
I want to defend the marginalized human, but not by way of destroying another human. I want to meet at the cross. I want to be kind and speak when I have something productive to say, while staying quiet when my words will only wound.
I want to join hands and pray for reconciliation and shalom together.
Will you join me?
9 thoughts on “A Cry for Peace.”
this too shall pass. ❤
A few days back I was so weak from the onslaught of anger in the world, so much selfishness, when a man approached me on the metro to LA. He was deaf, begging for money. He probably has been begging for a very long time. And nobody, not a single person on the entire train car full of people, gave him a dime. I handed him some money and he started to try to talk. I could barely understand him, but he was communicating as best he could. Others around were annoyed, and I was virtually crying because he could be anyone, anyone could be him. And he is being passed by so many people. He just wants to live. I pray for your healing, when I am weak, give strength to others to fight for the weak, and when I am strong, use my strength to fight for the weak.
I will pray
I am currently a Social Work student and my two biggest fears going into this field are that I won’t be good enough ( I won’t be able to give enough of myself, I won’t be able to do enough to evoke positive change) and that this field will kill me emotionally. I have said your exact words so many times, “I don’t know how not to care”. I carry my soap box with me, I am an activist by nature, I see injustice and it is like a call to action. This type of passion is exhausting though. I hope you find the peace you need to be able to push through this difficult period.
Thank you for your thoughtful reply! I definitely understand your sentiments. I’m learning that some semblance of balance is helping me process/breath/not go crazy. Feel free to email me if you want to exchange anymore thoughts! (or of course, this little comment section works just fine as well.)
Oh thank you so much. I so appreciate your offer for correspondence. I really enjoy your blog, I relate to so much of what I read here.
I’m not sure how I stumbled across this, but I so understand the feeling. I’m a minister with a small congregation. I preach Sunday morning and lead Sunday School. Sunday night I lead a bible study with young adults. I make hospital visits and home visits and death bed visits. I do weddings and funerals, baptisms and baby dedications. I love the faith family God has given me to serve.
In addition to that, I have 15 years of my homeless folks and street addicts. I’ve met them in food pantries and parks at bus stops and in jail. If you pick a category of homeless or addict, I know up to a dozen by name. It’s not really a ministry. They are just people I know and have come to love. I look for them on the streets. I check arrest reports to see if they have landed in jail. I’ve taken them to clinics, filled prescriptions for them, gone to court, turned on their phone, had lunch with them, written to judges, sat on the bench and talked, visited in jail, taken to rehab or detox . . .
It’s easy to read about injustice, pain, disease and suffering around the globe and become incensed. We can raise awareness, write letters, petition leaders, send funds, etc and then go home to our comfort and send off a few more emails. Usually the net result is a lot of angry people saying some really cruel things about people they don’t even know and feeling self-righteous about the good they are “doing”.
I’ve been one of those.
I written my share of snarky comments and self-righteous blog posts.
All of those combined haven’t made as much difference as one conversation with a homeless alcoholic sitting on a park bench or one sub sandwich shared on a sidewalk with a lady making roses from palm fronds.
I complained to God often about the little church He has me serving. After all, how am I ever going to do anything important for Him when everyone He brings me is so broken it is unlikely that they will ever make a significant contribution to the “church”. How can we build anything with influence and impact if everyone needs far more than they can give? I flat out asked Him, “How am I supposed to grow a church when all you bring me are addicts everyone else has given up on and career homeless?”
His answer was, “I’ve trusted you with the least of these.”
Our God is unique in that He is the only “god” that serves His creation. It is clear that He has a great deal of concern and compassion with the marginalize, the abandoned, the abused, the neglected and the ignored. The are precious to Him. And He has trust me with them . . .
As far as not getting swallowed up in the pain and suffering or the anger and despair – I just have to remember a couple of things:
1. I am no one’s savior.
2. I am still a man in need of a savior
3. I am powerless over my self-absorption and selfishness and my life is unmanageable.
4. There is a Higher Power capable of restoring me to sanity
5. If I will commit my life and will to God as I understand Him, He will restore my sanity
Peace and blessings, little sister.
I prayed for you today.