I started freaking out last night. My anxiety had been grating my nerves all day, and I have not been getting much sleep lately. It’s quite the combination. While I was talking to both of my soul twins, Dragon and I spoke lightheartedly and Halo was helping me get through my worry. Both were much needed and much appreciated.
A few of my friends have changed their profile pictures on Facebook to the same picture. I finally got the chance to ask what it was, and I was very much unprepared for the answer. It’s the Islamic symbol for Christianity, which ISIS is painting on the houses of Christians. This blindsided me, as did the shocking news of Robin William’s passing. I managed to avoid focusing on it for a while by writing and chatting away, but the explanation of the pictures broke my heart and my grip.
I’ve grown a lot this summer. I’ve come to understand myself and others this summer. I’ve come to love in new ways. I’ve come to deeper experiences and understandings with my faith. I am not the same person I was in May, or in January, or last August. I am more myself now than I ever was then, than I have ever yet been. So much has happened, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally My anxiety’s so far have centered on the fear that I might regress, go back to who I used to be. I don’t want to have to hide who I am, now that I know. Interestingly enough, I will have to do just that for reasons of health and safety. I’ve come to accept that, but I dread falling prey to the lies that I used to believe. Now that I know and understand who I am and what I’ve been given, I would hate to lose it.
Those fears were coupled and tripled last night. Looking at all the positive things this summer has brought, I find myself torn too many different ways. I look at the world and there is news like that from last night, and I have to wonder. Should I be happy for the growth I’ve experienced when so much tragedy is at hand? Should I shut out the events that don’t directly affect me simply to ease the emotional toll they take on me? Should I fight for my own happiness and health when people who profess the same faith as I are being terrorized and slaughtered?
Halo told me that “it’s a good idea to separate from the world so as not to feel too bogged down by emotions.” He also pointed out that for me, this is especially important since I don’t feel firsthand but rather through others. I considered his words, and was reminded of a phrase that a pastor once said–that the broken places in life and in this world should give us a low-grade fever of sadness. It’s not enough to cripple us with sickness. It’s enough to feel, persistent, but leaves enough strength and ability to do what needs done. The phrase has stuck with me, and it’s a precarious balance that I’ve been learning to manage. I often don’t do it well.
Last school year, I experienced this sort of anxious worry quite often. Tragedy seemed to have set up camp around my school, visiting the people there in terrible ways. I didn’t really know how to respond, what to make of it all, and often agonized for assurance of one kind or another. But if I learned anything, it was to surrender. I can get myself worked up about a shit ton of stuff, and the world is a terrifying place and a tragedy is always waiting at one point or another, but at the end of the day, my God has me. He has triumphed over the devil and dammit one day this will all pass away I will see Him face to face. And i will dwell and drown and dance in the depths of His love forever.
When I am thrown off course, when tidal waves crash and the earth quakes, this is the anchor, the deeper bedrock, which I grasp, take hold of, cling to, stand on. People ask me why I’m a Christian, why I keep my faith when it would seem more profitable to let go, to leave and lead my own life however I like. This is all I have. This promise, this hope, not from the word of any man or woman but from Someone wholly Other than human. And yet, Someone who became wholly human and wholly God in order to demonstrate perfect love and grace and faithfulness. If I cannot trust anything or anyone man has made, sure I can and will trust this Other.
As I closed my eyes last night and reminisced the stress and anxiety of the day, I was struck by how bittersweet this experience in life is. To speak the words–even just to think them: that someone has died, that life has been taken and ceases to exist, that terror and persecution walk the streets–this leaves a black taste on our tongues, ash on our lips, the bitter bit of brokenness weighing our minds and hearts. Yet at the same time, there is conversation. There are Halos and Dragons who remind you to love yourself, to love others, to stay strong to have hope. You cannot separate the sweet from the bitter; they are much too connected, one much too necessary to the other, shaping the whole of our existence. We are beautiful, we are tragic, yet we are resilient. And we will survive.