I’m in a bit of a hard space right now.
It’s not my family or health or finances. We are all moving toward making plans for better days and holding on to the hope of hugging and meeting for coffee without barriers and without hesitation.
My hard, almost dark place is quite small, right here in my writing studio.
It’s hard because I feel like I want to let it all hang out and speak up – only to find that I’ll just be bleeding over all of you who already know me and feel the same pain and anxiety I do about the world. It’s dark because we know that we are all in the same storm together, but we are definitely not in the same ocean liner, tug, canoe, or life raft.
You see, I’m just like thirty-hundred-eleventeen other bloggers who write things from small to significant, compose poetry that only a few appreciate, and fill us in on laundry hacks, the best places to stay in Amsterdam, and recipes that either heal or delight (seldom both). Bloggers who write because they love it and can’t stop creating or editing until they click Publish.
Unfortunately, I’d bet most of us have a similar “platform” or sphere of influence. Our families and good friends – maybe even friends of friends – encourage us to keep going because they believe in us and believe we have something to say. But in reality, our book deal is but (1) a pipedream or (2) a goal so overwhelming that we can’t be sure we’d ever have the strength to see it through. I’m a little of both – mostly #2.
The majority of us don’t catch the attention of the rich and famous. We also don’t attract the trolls who can’t wait to highjack the Comments, condemn us for what we say, and/or simply call us stupid. I’m not well enough known even to be criticized.
I get it. I don’t buy music or artwork I don’t like. I won’t invest time in a book that is either too gory, sad, or erotic. So I don’t expect anyone who does not agree with me to promote LivingCenter. That’s asking too much. And plenty of smart, witty, and worthy people publish intriguing ideas every day.
But I would like to be a part of the conversation, complete with respectful, meaningful, and helpful comments, even those completely opposed to mine.
To cut off a relationship – especially during this forced and lengthy isolation – because you or I didn’t vote red or blue is heartbreaking and unhealthy.
Even when I tune out the online deluge of articles, memes, and videos my more outspoken friends share from ANY perspective during chaotic times, I check back in with them regularly to keep up with their families, home improvement projects, and recipe suggestions.
So why now? Why today is this place so hard? By now, the political division, health crisis, and world events have been turning us upside down and inside out for years.
Oh, I don’t know exactly. And it’s probably not really today. This cloud or haze or deep purple funk didn’t appear overnight. It’s been growing and, up until now, I guess I just thought I was one of those thirty-hundred-eleventeen who had nothing new to say, even though the voices in my head write and edit non-stop as I shower, clean the kitchen, fold laundry, or walk to the mailbox.
As I watch our communities become increasingly polarized, I recall an opinion piece I read almost three years ago, written by the controversial-but-not-necessarily wrong Joseph Epstein:
When politics isn’t a quest for personal gain or power, it’s a clash of virtues. Look behind a person’s political views and you will discover his idealized picture of himself. The liberal sees his virtue in speaking up for the underdog, hungering for social justice, showing a spirit of empathy. The conservative finds his virtue in advocating liberty and maximal freedom as most likely to induce achievement, prosperity, and, most important, strong character. In reality, many liberals may be pig-selfish, and many conservatives may have the character of a hyena, but let that pass.
The main point is that in declaring my politics I am declaring my virtue, so when you oppose my politics you oppose my highest view of myself. This explains why political arguments so quickly get to the shouting stage. If you disagree with me about a candidate or policy, you are in effect telling me that I am (pick one) selfish, naïve, insensitive, foolish. Disagree with my politics, and you offend, insult, attack me personally.There’s Too Much Virtue in Politics
I cannot remember what triggered the breaking point or my entry into the dark and hard. For the good of the order, I probably shouldn’t tell you even if I knew.
But this I know to be true. Whether you voted for him and him or him and her, whether you are an anti-masker or pro-vaccine, whether you believe the history you were taught or see the past much differently than our high school social studies class – none, absolutely not one of those things gives any of us license to shame, name-call, or question the faith of another.
You may be like the homer in the gloamin’* right now, hitting them out of the darkening park with calm and patience. But, my lovelies, here I am, ping-ponging between…
Don’t call me dumb.
How dare you challenge my love for Jesus.
I have been ignored, scolded, and smirked at by people who I thought I knew. And I thought they knew me. I have felt the eye rolls and heard the snark even in the written words of people who, quite frankly, know better.
Do I have my own view of people who have surprised me in the past 2 or 3 years? You bet I do.
But it is far, Far, FAR!!! above my pay grade to assume I can accurately assess your relationship with Jesus based on what I observe. Yes, I wrestle with the How can she believe that and still be a Christian? and Does he really think that’s what Jesus would do? Sure I do. And I steadfastly believe the Fruit of the Spirit should be evident in the life of a Believer.
But to limit the enormity of spiritual faith to association with a political party is just wrong and all too common.
So, truth be told, yeah. I’m tired of being called dumb. I’m heartbroken by the number of people who have excused themselves from my life because we don’t agree about Donald Trump.
My lovelies, I don’t mind one bit if people push back and get a little testy when difficult issues come up. We are all feeling the effects of a pandemic, for the love of mud – even the skeptics.
I wish, however, that instead of contributing to the darkness of our small places and making simple connections hard and prickly, we would choose grace. I wish we would embrace the light and lovely. I wish we would look for the best in everyone instead of accepting only the narrowest checklist of approved personalities and choices.
It’s at this point I realize I’m a broken record, calling once again for peace and love when chaos and division seem too powerful to overcome. I cannot give up, though, because:
- God gave [me] a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7)
- He is able to do far more abundantly than all that [I] ask or think, according to the power at work within [me]. (Ephesians 3:20)
I cannot give up and neither should you. We, all of us who love Jesus and love our neighbors, are included in this plan. The one where everybody is somebody and He loves all of us the same.
Even when we are in the hardest and darkest places, He loves us.
Until we write and read again, I pray for you …
*A nod to my fellow Cub’s fans. Here’s the story.
Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash
I felt this right in my heart Nancy. I have heard that maybe it’s time for us to get loud too because the evil is certainly being loud. It’s not my way. But I can never go back to the way I was before. It does feel hard and dark. Thank you for your brave words on the day the Capitol building is closed for business for yet more threats of violence.
Thanks, Darlene. And it’s unsettling when we can’t even agree about what is truly “evil.” I pray we continue to work with grace and open minds about all the trouble the world has gotten itself into. Thanks for the encouragement…xoxox
Beautiful thoughts my friend. Love your heart and your sweet spirit
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Hi, dear Laurie – thanks so much for your encouragement, love, and friendship, even from afar. take good care…xoxox
I do read all your blogs. Most of the time, I don’t know how to respond. They do cause me to reflect. Thanks for sharing your well written thoughts.
Thanks so much for being a loyal reader, Pat – and I know plenty of readers don’t comment for a variety of reasons. I’m just hoping this space will continue to help people reflect and consider different ideas. And thanks for your kind words…xoxox
I agree with you 100%, Nancy. Sometimes I just cannot even fathom the thought processes of those whose actions seem evil, yet call themselves Christians. How can violence and selfishness possibly be good? I just hope that somehow we can come together as humanity and work this out. Thanks for putting your feelings out there. I often get teary-eyed reading your blog.
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Thanks, Anne – your encouragement is so meaningful. Coming together seems like a lifetime away, though. So many have decided that just turning their backs on what they don’t like is the answer. I’m so sad about the relationship damage… Thanks again…xoxox
I feel this hard. And I know you have another post about arguing on social media that I want to read next. I don’t usually write about politics but I did a bit today.
And I feel so much about this strange writing space, and the similar spheres of influence. 11 years in and I thought it would be more.. but.. I also thought it would be less. And I focus on that. I never imagined the love for writing, the consistency, the friendships, etc.
So much light.
Less Donald Trump arguments!
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Yes, hard is the operative word, I think. I didn’t start out believing I’d ever write about politics – it always seemed like an “in the background” space that we all had to live with but none of us were particularly invested in it, no matter who was in office. Now that the former administration decided to force himself into our very existence with the onslaught of media hype and shouting, it has become un-ignorable.
And I do love the writing, too. I haven’t built the connections you have – your energy, commitment, and persistence is inspiring – but I’m hoping that I will create more of a conversation rhythm with people I admire and start strengthening relationships.
Take good care… xoxox
ps – your family pictures do bring light into a dark world. Keep them coming.