Former President Donald Trump pled not guilty to 34 felony counts, but as you can imagine, there’s no way that’s what we’re going to talk about here. Ha.
So, in the past few weeks, I’ve been asked several variations of the same question: “The world keeps getting worse and worse, people keep getting worse and worse, I’m feeling a crushing amount of despair and hopelessness, I’m sinking. What do you think/do about this?”
I understand the question, and I really understand the tears that usually travel with the words. We all see what’s going on, we all feel it. We’re sad, depressed, lonely, anxious, stressed, frustrated, angry, wondering how anything will ever get better, if anything will ever get better. I feel that, too. I’m not sure any of us are immune to those emotions, if we’re honest. A lot of the problem is that we’re hardly ever honest, and that ridiculous pretense (that we’re all ok, everything’s fine) is isolating us from each other, forced to face this darkness alone.
My answer to this question begins with the foundation that we’re not alone. We were never supposed to do any of this by ourselves. In Genesis, before the fall, one thing was “not good” – for the man to be alone – so He made him a companion. When the prophet Elijah was suicidal in a cave, God didn’t necessarily tell him things would be awesome, but did tell him where he could find some other people. 2 of the most powerful words ever uttered are “me too.” I’m scared. Me, too. Ok. Let’s be scared together. Things are always less scary together.
I see the same news, the same trends, the same division. I just might come to a different conclusion. We are certainly on a destructive path, I just don’t accept it’s inevitable we arrive. After all, it’s Easter and we’ll celebrate a resurrection. Death was the last word until it wasn’t, and if we actually believe that, nothing is impossible or hopeless.
So now what? A guy I follow on Instagram uses the phrase, “we do the things.” We get up and get outside, put our feet in the grass, take a walk, drink some water. We listen to our favorite playlist and lift heavy weights. Whatever the things are for us, we do them until we can breathe. Does it actually help to reverse the spiral? No, but it quiets the noise so we can remember what will: to Love God and to Love each other.
I no longer think it’s a top down solution (if there ever was a day I did). It’s you and me loving Jesus, each other, our neighbors, co-workers, enemies, and in-laws. We lean in, show up and forgive 70 x 7 times. We love our kids and all of the other kids, we relate with respect, have tough conversations, listen. We stop minding our own business and start walking together, hand in hand, carrying each other’s burdens.
Seriously, can you imagine how every single thing would change if, instead of entering every room from a place of inadequacy and fear, we stood on abundance and value? Instead of having to prove ourselves worthy, we just know we already are and there is nothing left to prove. If there was nothing to ‘win,’ we could listen with kindness and respect. Instead of operating out of the things we are not, we would rest in alllllll of the things we are. When we are no longer imprisoned inside a cell of the images we construct to ‘protect’ ourselves, we are free to run and fly.
We have been called to point to this reality, to live out of this beauty and joy and get it all over those we are blessed enough to meet. Can you believe there are some of us who don’t know and haven’t heard that we are loved? That we have been made on purpose, in/by/for love? Some of us don’t know the tomb is empty. I know! This is wholly unacceptable.
Here are some lyrics to a song by Andy Grammer, Naive:
*So call me naive. But I believe you’re gonna be okay. And call me naive. But tomorrow will be better than today. And if it’s stupid to see the good in everything. Lord, help me please, help me to be naive. See, I believe This life is something beautiful and sweet. I believe That love pulls me to you like gravity. And you could say I’m gullible. And I’m blind to all the lies and tragedies. I just think we focus all our time On poison and not the remedy. So call me naive. Say I’m living in a world of make-believe. And call me naive. But I don’t know another way to be.*
We get to choose, and as for me, I’ll choose to see a new Kingdom bursting through right in the middle of this one.
Maybe that’s naive, or maybe that’s the deepest level of realism. Either way, this is what we’re here for, individually and as the Bridge – to be naive. So, we’ll focus on the Remedy, whose name is Jesus, and the remedy, which is love. We’ll pray, we’ll do the things, we’ll love like crazy.
What could be a better time to take a sledgehammer to the cultural despair than Easter? (Actually, now that I think about it, I guess there is a better time: now;)
Lord, I hope I stay this kind of naive.