I have a confession.
I hated you last week. For the last couple of weeks, actually.
“Hate” is a strong word, and whenever my kids use it I encourage them to find a different one. Because I know they don’t really hate spaghetti or bath time or naps.
And I didn’t hate this place we call Earth or America or the mountains, so much as I hated the people who were making this place so damn tragic.
And I probably didn’t really hate you these past few weeks.
But I use that word because I want you to know how twisted and ugly I got on the inside, and how incapable I was of being honest with myself and with God, and how I was just not equipped or brave enough to label this anger properly.
And it was a diseased kind of anger. Not the righteous indignant kind that fuels passions and results. It was an anger rooted in the very real feeling of impotence.
We’ve all been reading the news. We are aware (more or less) of the boldfaced headlines happening in Ferguson, in Iraq, in Syria, in Gaza, in all of these places so far from my home and my community, so farflung it felt like no one was really paying attention.
I hated you for disagreeing with my own half-informed political views.
But if you agreed with me, then I hated you for not caring enough, for not doing enough, for not paying enough attention.
I hated you for complaining about your job or your spouse or your kids or your disdain for all of the ridiculous privileges we have for simply being not in Ferguson or Iraq or Syria or Gaza.
I let myself crawl into a dangerous, small place where everything around me was JUST NOT THAT BAD SO SUCK IT UP, YOU JELLIES, as if there is a threshold for heartbreak, and until you cross it yours totally doesn’t count. (And honestly? You probably didn’t even notice; I’m super good at passive-aggressiveness I’m practically invisible.)
It’s the whole, “You’d better eat all your vegetables, there are starving kids in Africa!” mindset.
So I needed to break up with you. It’s not you, it’s me.
My own darkness needed time to stew a little, and then to rage, because I was suddenly so very aware that I literally cannot fix the world, that I would not even know where to begin. And I was suddenly so very aware that I believe in a God who literally CAN fix the world, yet it’s still in a rotten mess. I was suddenly, violently, so very aware of my own so very smallness.
Here’s the thing about confessions. They only work when they’re confessed. Hashtag revolutionary thinking.
I was angry and helpless and stuck. I yelled at my kids for whining, I argued with my husband over politics, I cut people off on the interstate.
I. Was. Rotting.
The good news is, I have three teaching pastors in my life whom I claim (but I’ll share).
One is the associate pastor at our home church and is always willing and available to meet for coffee and to talk me off the ledge or to push me off of it (whichever is most useful). One I met on the internet and then at a conference in Nashville, and he reigns me in and speaks truth over me. One wrote a book and has no idea I even exist unless he remembers that one time he replied to my tweet, and is responsible for changing the way I wear this skin.
Whether or not they realize it, these three fellas forced me to realize what this darkness really was: pride dressed up in anger and empathy. It was guilt dressed up in outrage.
I want the world to be better. I want God to heal the world, and I want to be awake enough to realize when He’s asking me to help.
But I don’t want to move out of this place, as ugly as it is, if it means moving into complacency or back into oblivion. I don’t want to trade this grief, as pride-tainted as it is, for false, blind hope.
I guess I’m trying to figure out that balance between despairing the state of the world and believing it’s getting there, between the feeling of impotence and the action I actually can take to help, between a global awareness and the presence needed to hear your heartbreak, too.
I think God is okay with me being angry and frustrated and, frankly, fed up at the brokenness all around me, as long as I’m willing to roll up my sleeves and get to work.
So maybe the world isn’t there yet, but obviously neither am I.
(PS, Just in case I wasn’t clear, I don’t really hate you. I love you, actually. Can we still be friends?)