Have you read much about Chernobyl? Or better yet, have you watched the HBO series Chernobyl? No one thought the nuclear power plant would ever blow up and, when it did, no one expected the damage to be what it was. It was huge. I learned about it in school but watching the HBO series allowed me to put some faces to the story. I love that about movies and television. Even when the story isn’t one hundred percent accurate or they’ve taken liberties with some details for the sake of entertainment, I still love it.
I was sitting at my desk today, dealing with all sorts of fires. Fires for work, fires for school, fires for health, fires, fires, fires. I got up to go get a glass of water and take a breath. As I crunched a piece of ice in my mouth, allowing the cold melt down the back of my throat, not only quenching my thirst but the fire within, I started thinking about Chernobyl. I started thinking about the people who knew there were problems before it blew, who knew there was a problem after it blew, and denied the problems all the while.
I reached out to friends today, asking them to pray for a handful of the fires I was dealing with. I was feeling stressed and worried and was doing my best to tick off each item. I was being kind and professional and behaving as I should with each issue yet I still felt like I could blow at any minute. The pressure was huge and now I was feeling guilty for the pressure. I had a sudden wave of guilt for even stressing about my life.
The little voices in my head whispered to me, as they are known to, “Who do you think you are? You don’t have real problems. You are a white suburban mom. Your kids are healthy. Your husband has a job. You have no right to complain about anything. Shut up.”
More ice. More crunching. It’s true. I live a very cush life. But does that mean I don’t have a right to feel my feelings?
I took a deep breath and prayed, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you, Oh Lord.” It was the prayer I used in the children’s message I recorded today. It’s a prayer I say frequently. So why was it now bringing tears to my eyes?
Because that’s where the world wants us to live right now, isn’t it? In fear. We are told to fear the virus, fear going back to school or church, fear going outdoors without a mask. We are told to fear the politicians, to fear the government, to fear the police. And if you have an opinion about anything, you learn to be afraid of sharing it because you may offend someone. And if you have a fear of anything, you have to be afraid to share it because someone may jump all over your fear and tell you why you do or do not deserve to have that fear based on the privilege you may or may not have experienced. It’s sort of like when Forest Gump went to Vietnam and his commander kept yelling, “GET DOWN! SHUT UP!” If you say something publicly or on social media and someone disagrees with you, there’s going to be an explosion. Someone is going to tell you to shut up.
What has our world come to that we can’t share what’s on our hearts? And why is it that if my problem is perceived to be smaller than yours, then I am whining? Or if you disagree with me then you must hate me and tell me I am stupid? When did we become so uncivilized? When did hate become so mainstream?
Please don’t comment and tell me it’s Trump’s fault. He is certainly not the picture of civility and charm but this is a problem that has been rising for a long time. It’s pre-Obama, too, so leave those comments alone. I don’t think this is political at its root. It’s been a slow boil, maybe since the dawn of time. And maybe that’s the answer. Maybe, as this world continues to turn, the sin in the world will get bigger and angrier. I suppose it’s possible that shame will feel deeper and worry will feel harder and all the things will burn at a quicker pace. I am praying that the quickening pace of rage in the human race means the clock is ticking closer and closer to the return of Jesus.
If I could wave a magic wand and fix a few things in this world, I would sprinkle a light dusting of empathy over all the people. And I would toss out handfuls of grace. And would give time-outs to people who yell and blow up online. Shaming would not be allowed. Ever. Ice cream trucks would be in every neighborhood and pass out goodies for free because when you’re having a bad day, a fudgesicle with your best friend usually makes it better. Families would sit down together to dinner and hold hands when they pray. And if you got stressed out, you could take a nap without fear of someone telling you you’re weak or lazy. When you cried because your day was a mess, there would always be someone there to give you a hug. And when the world told you to live in worry and fear, you wouldn’t do it; not out of shame of someone knowing you worried but because you would know that Jesus is bigger than your fear.
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” -Jesus (Matthew 6: 25, 34)