It has been a WEEK and I think we can all agree that our great hopes that 2020 would leave so that the next year would be more peaceful may have been unfounded.
On Wednesday, my daughter and I were running a few errands – which is rare in and of itself with COVID – when I got a Breaking News notification on my phone that armed Trump supporters were forcing their way into the Capitol as the Senate was attempting to certify Election results.
It honestly took my brain a minute to process what I was reading.
As we drove around, we listened to NPR and the news was just surreal. I had the same feeling that I felt on 9/11 in that I both understood what was being said and yet could not conceive of this happening in the United States.
But this time it was Americans tearing down America.
As we parked at one of our stops, this was my honest response and what I posted to my Facebook:
I then decided to turn off the radio news and enjoy the rest of our erranding evening – because it IS so unusual for us to be out and about and there was nothing we could do.
Of course, since then, so much more has come to light, and I’m not going to go through all of it. I feel sure we were are all aware of the awfulness of this situation by now.
I’ll just say that, as I write, the evidence is being sorted – but we are certain that a Capitol police officer has died as result of this violence as well as one of the rioters, the FBI is tracking people down and making arrests, and DJT’s Twitter account was just permanently suspended for inciting violence.
All of this just seven days into the new year.
Here, on a personal level, we have had a tragic loss in our community that has just been heartbreaking, my own dear mother received terrible news about her sister’s cancer diagnosis, and our city is watching the COVID situation quickly reach a crisis level that I don’t know how to fully express.
Then, this morning, I was feeling pretty well – for me – and was getting ready and planning to spend the day writing.
I was in the shower when a blood vessel in my lower right leg ruptured abruptly. This has happened before but it has been a few years. Long story short, this involved massive bleeding and a big mess and holding pressure for about half an hour. The last time I dealt with this – about two years ago – It needed to be stitched, but – with the COVID situation – our ERs here in my city are exploding so they are overwhelmed AND it is also not safe for me to be there.
So home treatment it was.
I am fine now – but it again just brought to the forefront of my mind how fragile my health situation is – as if I need to be reminded – and I am definitely feeling a bit out of sorts as a result, a little more frail and very afraid because we chronically ill folk are in TROUBLE if we get sick right now.
With all these things on my mind, a word from the Bible keeps coming to me: selah.
It”s seen in a few places in the Old Testament – but mostly in the Psalms as an instruction to the music director – and it means “to pause.”
It’s come to my mind as I’ve felt myself get REALLY wound up with Breaking News updates on my phone about the Capitol.
It came to my mind when I saw DJT tell those who basically attempted to overthrow the government how much he loved them.
It came to my mind when I was bleeding and it took me a second to get my wits about me – because I knew that getting “regular” medical treatment is a no-go right now and I had to come up with a plan STAT.
It helps me so much. It has reminded me these past few days – when I have been really ready to go all in to situations I can literally do NOTHING about – to go back to the basics which, for anxious little me, are five deep (deep DEEP) breaths in and out (with Valor Essential Oil if need be) and then some serious praying.
In pausing to consider what we CAN do in the face of this ugliness and violence and sickness and fear, some things have come to my mind.
First, many of us are so angry at what has happened – and we absolutely should be. This is abhorrent behavior and it cannot stand. However, in our daily lives, we cannot combat the awful, hateful, rage-filled actions of others simply by tossing back angry responses – and causing harm to ourselves by staying bitter and frustrated.
Rather, we are called to be a light. I realize that sounds like a hippie-esque Pollyanna answer – but it isn’t. It is straight from the Word and it is the Truth. Matthew 5:16 says Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in Heaven and John 1:4-5 says, speaking of Jesus, In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it (ESV).
In these especially dark times, we are to shine a light – the light of Christ.
Y’all, now is the time, if there ever was one to love our people HARD.
It is so scary out there – and feels like it’s getting worse.
Especially since we still desperately need to be quarantining and social distancing, many are feeling lonely and struggling – and so we have to be especially conscious of this and creative at times.
Philippians 1:9 says that Paul is praying for their love to abound more and more and 1 John 4:18 says There is no fear in love but perfect love casts out fear.
Especially with lunatics waving a Christian flag as they commit acts of violence and terror – lead by another lunatic who claims a faith that is certainly VERY hard to see – it is SO important for this hurting world to see what Christian love looks like.
Apart from the importance of our witness though, for the sake of our own hearts, we aren’t meant to take on the whole world all the time. We were built to live in the shelter of love and family and faith and communion. That’s why God gave us our people – our greatest blessings.
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity (Proverbs 17:17 ESV)
or, as The Message expresses it,
Friends love through all kinds of weather, and families stick together through all kinds of trouble (Proverbs 17:17 The Message).
I can’t speak for everyone else, but, when I spend too much time focusing on the mess I cannot control in Washington, I feel helpless and frightened and it seems as if the world is spinning out of control.
I suspect I’m not alone in this.
So, if this is true of you as well, now is the time to. . . Selah.
Take some deep breaths and look around at the people God gave you. I know life has been insanely hard for so many of mine recently. Everyone needs extra love – and, while there are so many awful things happening we cannot change, I promise you that your loved ones will be better for being loved on – and so will you – even if you can’t “fix” anything.
We aren’t called to be the “fixers;” we are just here to love well and love our people hard.
It’s even harder sometimes to love on our people during this time of isolation – but that makes it even more important to do so.
Think phone calls, texts, emails, sending cards via snail mail, getting together over Zoom, surprise them with a pizza delivery. . . Just let them know you are THERE. That’s what matters.
We need our people.
Thankfully, we are able to apart but still “together.”
THIS is how we keep the darkness at bay.
They will know we are Christians by our love.
Be well, everybody. Take care of yourselves and each other.
Grace and Blessings.