A strange thing happened today. I really wanted to put up a real post this week and had a few ideas stashed. When the time came to write, I could not bring myself to invest time or energy into them. I tried looking over Twitter and some other blog sites for ideas. I saved interesting ones to look at later because I did not really feel like reading them. Today I went on a walk during a break at my day job and pulled out my phone to read those articles and I could not do it. Not because of a failing in my technology, I literally didn’t feel like pushing the button and diving in. I thought about checking Facebook and still just felt bleh about even doing that. I slipped the phone back in my pocket and just kept walking.
With all the junk going on recently in the world, I have read my fair share of posts/blogs/status updates that range from compassionate and respectful to angry and all the way to hateful. I confessed to my wife recently that I think I have reached the limit of my emotional bandwidth. I am typically able to shake things off and not get too emotionally involved but the volume on everything and every pundit and post seems to be turned up to 11 lately. Also, we have decided to clean out the attic and other “storage” areas of our house. We are looking for things that we have not really touched in a while and deciding if we really need it or not. This is also bringing up a range of emotions as we come across items that bring up old memories both pleasant and sad.
So, as I was on my walk I began to think about things I do not really have to worry about because of who I am and where I live. I started to think about this in light of the constantly running news stories and the seeming endless amount negativity flowing from our screens and speakers. Here is a list of 10 things I could think of.
- I do not have to worry about being judged or threatened because of my religious beliefs.
- I do not have to worry about being judged or threatened because of the clothing I wear (religious or otherwise).
- I do not have to worry about whether I can find healthy food at prices I can afford or being judged by how I buy my food.
- I do not have to worry about my body not meeting the popular standards and images of beauty.
- I do not have to worry about my house or family being threatened by rockets, drones, missiles or artillery fire.
- I do not have to worry about tear gas seeping into my house through the air conditioner vent or an open window.
- I do not have to worry about the security of my job or the ability to find another if needed.
- I do not have to worry my sexuality being questioned, judged or portrayed negatively.
- I do not have to worry about where I can sleep safely tonight.
- I do not have to worry about people being suspicious when I walk down the street with a few of my friends.
These are not meant to prove how lucky or privileged I am, but really to shine a light on where these are troublesome issues for people. I do not have to worry about these things, but (as the news stories show) many people around the world or even around the corner do. People who have to worry about these things generally have to do so out of no fault of their own. They have generally not done anything to call for the worry or judgment they just happen to be in a place where these concerns are real. Many residents in Ferguson are not clashing with police, yet their neighborhoods are being torn apart. Many people in Gaza have no love for Hamas, but Israeli artillery and missiles fall constantly. Many Israelis love the people of Gaza and want peace, yet rockets still threaten indiscriminately. People in our neighborhoods who live outside can live in constant fear for their life or the security of their few belongings.
The challenge of not having to worry about such things is that I have the freedom to reach out to those who do. It’s easy to get caught up in the negativity and feel powerless to address the issue. Or we may be tempted by the lack of concern to not feel like it’s something we should think about or help with. It can easily become a “not my problem” or “not in my backyard” issue that we do not want to engage with. So, while I am temporarily overwhelmed by my concerns and the concerns of the world, I can be freed to engage because of the things I do not have to worry about. I am free to not focus on what I lack and instead see what I have and am able to open up and share with others.
“You have heard that it was said, You must love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who harass you so that you will be acting as children of your Father who is in heaven. He makes the sun rise on both the evil and the good and sends rain on both the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love only those who love you, what reward do you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore, just as your heavenly Father is complete in showing love to everyone, so also you must be complete.”
Matthew 5:43-48 (CEB)