Many people have asked me how I’m doing recently. Some of the questioning is because of recent personal and professionals changes in my life. Many questions, however, stem from the current reality of the political and social climate we are experiencing.
My response has generally been one of the following said with a forced smile on my face as I die a little more on the inside:
“Life is good…”
“I’m ready to resist…”
“This is the time we’ve been training for…”
But here’s the thing – these responses don’t reveal some deep seated truths that’s I can’t run from.
I’m a leader. In one role I accompany a diverse group of young adults who are finding themselves and their purpose in community.
In another role I’m a public speaker and writer, addressing issues of injustice and the role of people of faith to stand up boldly against individuals, attitudes, institutions and systems that oppress.I am both rooted in my home community and sent out to places around the country to build bridges and create connections.I’m a person who others look to for inspiration. In times of crisis and despair, I’m called on for prophetic truth telling. These are my gifts and my call.
However, today I’m struggling with this call. I am trying to hold together seemingly disparate parts of myself. I’m trying to lead in the midst of coming to terms with some truths that have recently been revealed; truths that I’m ashamed of admitting.
Truth: I want to check out of life right now.
I’m struggling to embody the things that I desperately hope to be true – to fight injustice, to resist oppressive, death-dealing forces, to speak out even when my voice shakes and to stand up for what is right, just and equitable; to believe and live my life in a way that reflects that love does indeed trump hate. However, I’m tired, sad and angry. It’s a struggle to have hope and I know that I’m not alone in this reality.
For me, the temptation has been to disconnect. I’m not talking about disconnecting from technology or taking a break from the 24 hour news cycle, which I should probably do as well. I’m talking about disconnecting from my humanity; disconnecting from that which recognizes the Divine in each and every person. I honestly believe this is what our current political leaders want. This is want anyone who operates in the divide and conquer realm wants. If we flip the switch and turn off that within us that says that love is the way; that compassion must be our daily practice; that grace is to be freely given; that resisting any and everything that oppresses any member of our society is a way of life, then they win.
Truth: I don’t want to be around white people, even the white people I love.
I HATE feeling this way. I am someone who values and respects and cultivates relationships across lines that divide. I am someone who loves people of all religions and genders and orientations and cultures. I am someone who stands up for the white people in my life. I operate in many primarily white spaces and I just can’t right now. I don’t even have the energy to explain why this is a problem.
Truth: I’m over listening to people whose eyes have recently been opened and whose hearts have just started to feel and whose ears are pounding with “new” information about the injustices of this world.
I’m tired of hearing white people apologize for not knowing or for not doing or for not caring. I’m tired of the reality that before things can change in ways that are sustained and wide-spread, they have to have a deep, personal impact. This perpetuates the reality that we really are selfish; that we only care about those things and those people who directly impact us and our loved ones.
In addition to these troubling truths, two more gently nudge my heart in ways that I can’t ignore.
Truth: My faith in God is the only thing keeping me engaged and connected and grounded.
God, specifically the God of the trinity; the God who shows up as the parent, the child and the spirit, is the only thing keeping me from losing my mind. If it weren’t for my faith, I would disengage. If it weren’t for my faith, I would sequester myself with people who look like me. If it weren’t for my faith, I would stop teaching and listening and showing up in spaces and among people who have time and again shown me that they only care about themselves.
Truth: If I let what’s happening separate me from my humanity, I would be no better than the white supremacist, the racist, the violent faction of our society that’s threatening to destroy our lives.
I can’t let this happen, even when I struggle. Even when it’s hard. Even when I’m despairing. This is the ultimate truth I must cling to.
So what am I to do? How are we, who find ourselves in the role of bridge builders and care takers and leaders, supposed to show up? Who are we being called to be?
I’m learning that I have to recognize and honor my truths. If I don’t, I will lead an inauthentic life and that’s one way of being I can’t accept. My truth is that authenticity is always the best way to go.
So, in the words of Gloria Steinem, “The truth will set you free but first it will piss you off.”