America the Afraid

I spent a lot of the last few weeks crying. Crying because I cry a lot, I’m really emotional, hate violence, and frankly nothing else seemed right, there aren’t any easy fixes. Heck there are very few difficult fixes, actually only one, His name is Jesus.  I cry out to God to understand, to hear His heart on these matters. All I hear is pain, hurt, sadness and I sit here confused. Why? Why does this keep happening? Why so much pain, so much violence. I know we live in a fallen world and sin will always be here until Jesus comes. BUT we are called, all of us who claim to love Christ, to make disciples.

My heart is sick. Sick for the families and friends of the men shot by police, the police shot, the terrorist attacks, and for all of the outright meanness and complete lack of empathy and love that I have seen on social media and heard people speak. It makes me so sad and frankly nervous. Can we really have our heads buried so far in the sand that we actually believe that only our own feelings have value? That only our experiences speak of reality? That if it doesn’t happen to us or in front of us it doesn’t exist? I won’t pretend that I haven’t been guilty of those thoughts. I think if we are all honest with ourselves it is most difficult to step outside of ourselves and try to understand someone that has experienced things that we never can, because our worldview is colored by the experiences we have and the experiences of those closest to us. Our worldview then frequently dictates our feelings.

Feelings are the most complicated pieces of human beings. We all have them and they are all our own. You should NOT under any circumstances to be in control of someone else’s feelings. You can try to manipulate someone’s feelings (but don’t because that would make you a jerk or a politician), but you cannot control them. It is often difficult to be in control of our very own feelings. Yet most of the arguments I have seen on social media are trying to tell people how to feel. Don’t be upset they deserved it, don’t feel angry, don’t feel that because I don’t feel the same way you do, don’t feel that because I don’t like how it makes me feel. Just don’t feel anything I don’t like, understand, or that will make me uncomfortable. That CANNOT be our response as Christians to anyone on any side of this discussion.

Now some people will try to argue “facts”. I have two things to say to that… the “facts” are different depending on who your listening to and are often interpreted by our worldview. And if you have a close relationship with anyone and have been in an argument with them you KNOW that people don’t just feel things because of the “facts”. Frequently the “facts” in an argument, where someone is hurt, are not the most important part. My point here is not to say anything about the facts in these cases, but to say that the people we are arguing with have feelings. They are real people, they have real experiences, and those experiences may be things you can never experience. So let’s stop letting a computer or phone screen make us forget that and let’s not hide behind the so called facts. Could we honestly tell the crying son of Alton Sterling that he really shouldn’t say Black Lives Matter, shouldn’t call this racism, or be worried about cop brutality? Could we really tell this cop he shouldn’t cry over his fallen cop friends because cops deserve it?

I surely hope we wouldn’t be able to. I hope that once we were face-to-face with people we would be able to listen, try to understand, and put aside our own thoughts and feelings and really hear someone else’s heart. The same goes for our “friends” on Facebook that have different opinions than than we do. The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18. And healing is what we all really need. 

The anger has to stop. Why are we all so angry? Stop and think about that rant you just went on or that angry post you just shared and really ask yourself, why am I so angry and what is my anger doing to further the Kingdom of God and to help others? The funny thing is anger is a secondary emotion. That means anger stems from something else, most likely fear, hurt, or sadness.

So what are we afraid of and will being angry really help to fix that problem? Let’s stop being angry and get to the core of the matter. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9. We need to figure out where our fear comes from because we have been commanded not to be afraid, but to be strong and courageous. Being strong and courageous in this situation may mean swallowing our fear, trusting God, and hearing someone else’s pain, even when it cases us pain. 

Would we yell at someone that said they were hurt, sad, or afraid? Probably not. Hopefully not. So let’s stop hiding behind the anger and violence and start talking about why we are all so afraid and what we can do to ease each others fear, hurt, and pain. Let’s not only talk, but start listening, let’s stop thinking we’re righteous because the “facts” are on our side (There is no one righteous; not even one. Romans 3:10), please don’t forget whose we are or who makes us righteous…hint hint it isn’t you or me, and please show the love, compassion, and empathy of Christ. Our angry posts and violence are never going to make disciples and neither will demanding our way.

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