What a week: For the first time in decades the Congress of the United States passed bipartisan legislation on gun control and after half a century the Supreme Court of the United States struck down Roe V Wade. The former not getting much attention given the magnitude of the latter. I stop watching the news only to scroll on my phone. Protests, elation, devastation, yelling, chanting, blame, credit, strategizing. Countless emails and texts telling me how to feel and where to send my money. All of it too much on top of COVID, the war in Ukraine, the January 6th hearings, the endless stories about the tenuous state of the economy, the dire prognostications about the future of the planet.
I want to yell, “Stop the ride! I want to get off.” But like that time years ago at the fair, the person running the rickety roller coaster seems to delight in my terror and makes it go faster instead.
My kid who is queer is devastated, certain that LGBTQ rights will be next to go. Will marriage be an option? Healthcare limited? After a few minutes tears well up, “If I keep thinking about it, I won’t be able to function.” Another of my children called wondering about the wisdom of having future children in a world in such upheaval. Would it be ethical? Moral? All three of my children ask aloud what it means to come of age at a time of “historic” events happening one after another.
Meanwhile, I feel totally inadequate to answer their questions or assuage their fears. I have too many of my own. How do I talk about the division, the death, the fear, the fatigue, the mass shootings, the inadequate safety net, the evidence that the least of these are not just neglected, but singled out? I am struggling to form cohesive thoughts let alone persuasive words.
Only snippets of Bible stories come to mind: the woman who suffered from bleeding for years, exiled and exhausted, broke and desperate, lunging at Jesus’ garment, the so-called sinful one weeping on his feet, Joseph mercifully deciding to send Mary away, Hannah, assumed drunk by the priest, pleading in prayer. I get glimpses of those biblical people in complicated, painful, life-altering circumstances and I remember none of them were seen as an issue to be debated, an example to be exploited, or a problem to be solved.
Posters, pundits, political speeches and precedents don’t capture nuanced stories of real people trying to make their way through complicated, painful, life-altering circumstances. Perhaps if we meet people where they are, as Jesus did, we might be less invested in winning and losing and more interested in listening and loving. Perhaps then our world would look and be different.
So, while I am at a loss for answers and struggling for words, I am going to sit with my incredibly kind kid who happens to be queer as they weep about what their future might look like in our current context. I am going to check on the woman who once called me needing to talk to her pastor after a visit to the OB/GYN revealed a diagnosis that made for a devastating choice about terminating a pregnancy. I am going to text my brother, the one my parents adopted when his birth family made the unspeakably hard decision to sign away their rights, knowing they didn’t have the capacity to care for all his medical needs. I am going to affirm the angst of my young adult children worried about the future even as I trust God is in all of this somehow, working for good.
I am going to pray for courage and wisdom and the capacity to see and hear, honor and value people, in all their complex, beloved, divine image reflecting humanity, individuals often in complicated, painful, life-altering circumstances, one story, one encounter, one moment at a time until the ride starts to slow down and comes to a stop. I am going to be still and know that God is God, now and always. Then I am going to do everything in my power to shape a world in which everyone can flourish.