I know most people feel like they limped into 2017. Some bruised. Some wounded. Some angry. Some grieving. Some questioning. Some filled with joy. I feel like some people are trying to sort through the heightened emotions of 2016 the way we sort through our dirty laundry. Which clothes do I wash first? The colored clothes or the white clothes? Which issue will I address first? The personal issue in my family? The fact that the evangelical church is splintered and very torn- and I have real questions about my spiritual upbringing? Or the fact that our nation is very divided and 2016 felt like we were at war, especially if you are on Facebook. Thank God for Christmas and people having babies, everyone has put their political posts to rest (for now…). We all needed a break from debating with or reading the debates online. Its exhausting. At some point we have to get offline to being sorting through our laundry and cleaning our clothes.
Last year, I felt overwhelmed by the pain and hurt everyone was experiencing. As a black woman I mourned for the many injustices that occurred. As a black Christian woman I felt torn by “the churches” political stance and complete divide…it almost felt as if you had to choose a side and there was no leaning into the discomfort of disagreement. As if all Christians had to display uniformity…and if you didn’t- either way your faith was called into question, no matter what “side” you landed on. I know I landed in the camp of outsiders, feeling spiritually homeless. And now that Trump will be president in less than two weeks, I am nervously holding my breath for what will happen next. How our country will change and how I must choose to advocate going forward? Can Trump voters and non-trump voters peacefully co-exist? I know we can. Year after year, people co-exist peacefully despite political differences. Why does it seem so hard to do now? If your friendship with someone is contingent on their political affiliation you weren’t friends anyways. We can respectfully disagree without being aggressive or on the defense ready to be offended.
In spite of all this stuff, I landed on a few truths for myself that have been life changing.
- I have complete hope in Jesus. My trust is not in a church or evangelicalism. My hope is not in tradition or a list of rules. My hope is in Jesus. There are mysteries I do not understand in the Bible. I am okay with the unknown. I do not have to have an answer for everything, nor do I need one. People will fail me. My trust is not in church “leaders”. I know many people lost their faith in the church and I’ll be honest, I almost did too. Church sometimes feels more like a cooperation but really, regular people make the church what it is today. Not a building, pastoral staff, ministry, or event. The church is you and me. I am friends with many beautiful souls and collectively we are the church. My relationships with them give me hope for us as people trying our best to live this one life we have for Jesus and loving our neighbor as we love ourselves. We won’t get it all right but if we can commit to love we are on the right track.
- I need to limit my time online. Just CLOSE Facebook and walk away.
- My physical, emotional, and mental health is important to me. I will take care of myself and not put my health on the back burner.
- I have spent more time with friends and mentors who are smarter than me. I can waste my time scrolling through my feed online or I can surround myself with people who will help propel me into my future. This was an easy decision for me.
So while we are all sorting through what we want to keep and throw out in 2017, lets remember that people came into 2017 with some real hurt. We can extend grace and compassion to one another, even when we do not agree. And even if it seems hard, find something nice to say instead of being an emotional terrorist behind the keyboard, causing havoc online. We can assume the best about one another. This year we need less judging and more loving. Maybe we can all try to heal together in 2017.