I can own my personal frustration and purported hopelessness as of late. I read my public writing – and especially my personal writing – and I can see how one might read my as hopeless. I want things to go differently, I want a different world and/or a different situation constantly.
But I am still here, and I am not running away from anything.
I read the same church statistics as everyone else. I read the same news as everyone else. I see the same chaos and decimation as everyone else.
And I want to do something! I want to fix the problems – or at least lessen the pain a bit. I want to use my voice, my privilege, and my position to improve the world. I want to improve my congregation and my denomination beyond its current brokenness.
And I feel hopeless like everyone else. I do things and it does not help. I say things and no one who need to hear will listen and internalize what I say. I find myself silent when I have thoughts on difficult topics and can feel that no one wants to hear my opinion for a host of reasons.
I feel that tug of knowing I need to do something and struggling to understand what that “thing” is. I know others feel this way; you have told me as much.
And in this moment of frustration, fear, anger, and ineffectiveness, you can start to see things fatalistically – that we cannot affect the course of history and everything is predetermined. And you may want to write off everything as doomed in this state of frustration, anger, and fear.
“Let it burn to the grown and dance in the ashes!”
But I find myself angry and tortured not because I have given up, but because I refuse to. We can do something to make this world better, even if just a tiny bit. We can do something to make our churches better, even if it does not return our past glory. We can, but we just have not figured out how, yet.
This continues to torture me – I still jump back and forth between “outrage” and “outrage hangover” on an hourly basis – but I refuse to become fatalist in my frustration and pain. It may kill me and my soul, but I will never not believe it can be better and I can do something, even if that “thing” seems indiscernable in the moment.
We live in a dark time, but not an insurmountable and irredeemable time. Let us stop diagnosing the world and the church as terminal and instead live in our fury and internal torture.
Because I refuse to accept that it cannot be better than it is now.