Everything feels hard and fragile at the same time. And it feels that way because it is the way things are right now. That’s one of the reasons I haven’t been actively blogging for a while now. I was in the middle of a move so I let things slide and then I tackled true and real vulnerability which took all of the emotional effort I had at the time.
And then, November 2016 happened. The Cubs brought me great joy. America brought me great pain. I don’t even want to single out the president because yes, that’s painful too (growing increasingly worse) but what he revealed about this country, about us, about people I love, about institutions (like the Church) that are important to me was gut-wrenching. It still is most days. That night, when the results came in, I was torn to pieces in a way I did not expect and was useless for a week. You’d think I’d have put the pieces back together by now but I haven’t. I’m functional (because that is something I know how to do: function in a crisis) but I can’t go back to before. The scales have fallen from my eyes. The fact is, I am still processing (every single day since that dang day there is something new to process so I don’t even have time to ever really truly process…I’m sure some people can relate) and so to write things down, concrete things that will be here on the internet, well it just seems difficult and maybe even unwise. (I mean, I do it for a living but it gets more personal and less formal here).
But here I am.
My convictions are not weaker. In fact, they are stronger. But when I write something here, like this, I have to dig deeper than I do on Twitter or Facebook. And even though my convictions have grown deep and true roots, there are still things I am processing. Like my faith. I never stopped loving Jesus but I did stop loving people professing to be Christians (or at least loving them as easily as I did before). That’s a hard truth right there to write.
It isn’t what Jesus has asked of me (love God and love others). But, man, I wish I had the words to explain how hard I have prayed for help to love people who loudly profess ideas and ways of thinking that are hurtful to me, hurtful to other people I love, and so hurtful and destructive to whole groups of people. I mean, I have repeated Jesus’s command through gritted teeth to myself too many times to count. I have wrestled with God over all these people using his name for ugly at best and evil at worst. And yes, I know he’s got it. I know that what they mean for evil, he will use for good. But watching it…watching it hurts.
Loving people through gritted teeth has meant unfollowing some people on social media (not that big of a deal but it took me awhile to realize that was the loving thing to do instead of seething with anger and hurt over their ignorance). It’s meant not discussing politics with others and not because conversations aren’t important (I believe they are more important than ever…and I had/have them) but because nothing but a heart change was going to be effective. It’s meant praying for people I do not like very much. It’s meant grieving over the beliefs of people I love.
It’s meant examining my own privileges. It’s also meant admitting, “I don’t know” to questions and problems. Maybe if more people were willing to admit what they don’t know, the world would feel different. It’s meant clinging tightly to people who get it, who are in the struggle, looking for answers, coming back with nothing, and then going out and looking again. It’s meant new friends and saying goodbye to old ones. It’s been a time of grave disappointment in people I thought I knew but maybe I didn’t.
So while all that is happening, I have also been experiencing incredible happiness. I fell in love and we decided to marry one another. We’ve been growing together and we are getting marriedwe are getting married. I’m not one to gush but I truly do not know what this last year would have been without the discovery of two things. First, that I could love and be loved, deeply and truly and completely. Secondly, in the midst of such difficulty, I could know such happiness. I’m a different and better woman having met this man and working towards marrying this man. That is a blessing that could make me weep and those tears would not have anything to do with romance or mushy-gushy stuff but God’s mercy to me in bringing me and C together. Just like I can’t get past the incredibly tough stuff, I can’t get past God’s benevolence to me.
But the question I have struggled with is: how do I write from this place? How do I write from a place of such pain while some of my long-held dreams for my life are quietly coming true simultaneously? Some days I feel split in half so writing about it seems absurd. Literally every time I have thought, “I’ll write a blog post about the wedding, like how I used to. I’ll talk about colors and flowers” something horrible happens in the world and I am back to processing things.
I haven’t added my voice to the fray because there is such a clamor right now. That isn’t to say I don’t speak or use my voice, I just didn’t and don’t know how to do it here, in this space. So, I end up with this rambling thing that may not make sense but I’m going to push through because I’ve got to decide if I am going to maintain this space. And I can’t make that decision when I don’t show up. So I am going to try and show up and see how it feels.
One thing has not changed and that is my trust and belief in God. I will be the first one to say that I don’t get it. I don’t get how a sovereign God is at work right now but I believe he is. I have been beyond disappointed in the Christian machine this past year (specifically white evangelicals). I didn’t realize how insidious and disgusting this cancerous way(s) of thinking had spread (which shows you and me my privilege) in the community I used to call home. Maybe that’s why this is happening? Maybe our racism, our sexism, our xenophobia, all of our ugliness that we have internalized needs to be exposed.
When my mom was in her twenties, she found out she had a large hole in her heart that had been there her whole life. It was now compromising her life but this hole–the circumference of an egg–went unchecked for over twenty years. Until a strange exhaustion set in. Until her entire color changed. Until all these symptoms revealed the very real problem that required open heart surgery.
Maybe what’s happening all around us is surgery. The thing about surgery though is that it hurts a lot. Its goal is to heal but man, does it hurt and it is incredibly violent when you consider it. You have to cut and bleed before you can stitch and heal. Then, there is a long recovery. So my hope cannot even be in the process because that sounds horrible. My hope is in the Surgeon. But this is so hard.
I think of my mom, the scar she still bears so many years later.
“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake, I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” Philippians 3:7,8 ESV