I feel bombarded with you. I open Facebook and all I see is your stuff. I see your happy days… I exclusively see your happy days. I am only able to see all the ways you are enjoying life, or I see the way you want all of your Facebook Friends to see your life. I do this, too. I only post happy things. Partially because I do not want you to know my stuff. Also, I do not want you to feel like you actually have a stake in my problems. Because you don’t, nor should you. Just like I do not have a stake in yours, nor should I.
Unfortunately, we have pigeon-holed ourselves into this glammed up, perfectionist, unrealistic belief that everyone else’s life is better than mine, because “Well, look at their facebook. Their life is perfect.” Which actually makes sense, because anyone who shares their pain on Social Media looks like a whiner.
I have started to view these avenues as the ultimate version of the egoic self (or the false self). We can edit, trim, create, and cut out all the things we want or do not want to be a part of “me” on FB. You only see the me that I want you to see.
This is harmful. This is unhelpful. This is fake.
Everything we know is fake. Everything we watch is fake. Everything we desire is fake.
This is fake. My writing is fake.
My ideas are too small.
My version of reality is no better than yours, but for some reason, I think what I have to say might be helpful in some way. So, here we are believing the fake-ness. Believing Fox. Believing CNN. Believing anyone who condenses the complexity and makes it palatable. Here I am, continually shouting into the void. I think I want to muck up the situation. I want to muddy the water. I refuse to accept the first word from those in authority. I must write on here.
I am writing about this in part because I have been shaken by the Syria attacks (theirs and ours). I am sad for the Syrian people, but do not have an outlet to help. I do not think that the World Police (us) bombing them will change anything because violence can only beget violence. At least that is what Jesus taught (Matthew 26:52).
I think we are wanting to touch something real. To experience something authentic. To see beyond the veil, and find Life. I think that is a reasonable expectation. From my perspective, we tend to do this in all the wrong places and ways. Either we accept the much too easy solutions, or we allow the anxiety of the problem to weigh us down to the point of paralysis.
I am much too “post-everything” to believe the simple solutions. Yet I am too overtaken by the fear (of opening myself, my life, or my mind) to do any sort of action to help. Thus, I continue to blabber on in my conversations about why LeBron is the best worst teammate of all time.
In my 3 1/2 years of working with College Students, I have found this to be a common refrain, “I just want what is real” or “Why does nothing seem authentic?”
I think these students are on to something important. They are desiring a depth of reality that is avoided like the plague in our normal life. They are seeking the life that Jesus calls “abundant.”
I have come to believe that this abundance about which Jesus talks holds human relationships at a premium. It does not tend to concern itself with, “what you will eat, drink, or wear.” Jesus did not accept band-aid answers to life’s hard questions. Jesus dove into the depths of the complexities of human relationships.
I continually look for the band-aid answer to my deep, difficult questions. I want badly for that answer to be sufficient. I want it to allow me to move on. I want to enjoy what short time I have here.
But the real stuff keeps getting in the way of my enjoyment. The real keeps invading my fake. The “abundance” keeps ruining my comfort.
The despair over the attack in Syria is real. The attack in Syria was real. The news about Syria is not real. The news will exploit the disaster to get me to stay tuned in for hours on end. They will show me graphic image after graphic image to keep me engaged. Then, some Cola Company pays for my time and plays a commercial about how easy it is to solve life’s hard problems. It is this whiplash from disaster and human suffering to the “perfected” life offered in commercials that make me irate. It also perpetuates my preconceived notions about the world. That everything can be fixed in one big move. We have a president who campaigned on this idea and still talks like this as well.
This is probably the worst part. Anything that does not expand my mind, is minimizing my ability to think critically. The news, intentionally, perplexes me to the point of inaction. They want me glued to my couch angry at or afraid of Trump or Assad. This has inhibited my critical thinking. Thus, I am assuming for a lot of people, like me, watching the news is a vice, not a virtue. This takes me away from being a useful citizen, not toward that end.
Therefore, when I take the time to choose (where I invest my emotional energy), I try to choose things and thoughts that lead me toward health. I try to choose life over death. I do this because when I choose life and health it invariably leads me toward justice and action. This sounds easy. This sounds simplistic. I would argue that this is the most difficult act I can choose during times of crisis. That is why I choose to write. I find it therapeutic in the life of my own mind.
Yet, what am I to do with the depth of personal problems? How can I balance my deep pain with the deep suffering I see in the world? Should my doubt, pain, anger, and suffering be seen as insignificant in the face of the chaos of the world?
I am having a hard time during this Easter season. I am struggling to reconcile Jesus’s words, “The Kingdom of God is at hand” with the reality that life really sucks sometimes. How can the “Risen Lord” be risen if chaos continues to win?
I do not want you to hear me playing the victim. I do not feel like a victim. I get up every day and go to work. I live my life in my context the best I know how. I try to influence people younger than me for the better. I try to coach my young men who I am lucky to work with toward a life of fullness rooted in hard work and self-sacrifice.
I teach these things, but do I live them? I am not sure.
I certainly hope I do.
Grace and Peace,