I’ve found myself creatively stuck. I’m not sure I want to write about my first experience with all-natural deodorant getting me banned from future family reunions when the world is going to crap.
The news for the past two months has been horrific on multiple levels. And, oh the opinions! We all have so many, many opinions. Some of us expressing those opinions with a touch more compassion and tact than others.
I’ve been wanting to write about the need for approval, the desperate need to be liked and the creative debilitating disease called “Caring about what other people think.”
And I will write about it. But, not today. Because today, it feels all so … trivial? Even the word trivial seems trivial.
Because Christians, Muslims, journalists are being tortured and beheaded in Iraq. Little Christian girls are kidnapped in Africa by terrorists and despite all the #bringbackourgirls selfies, the girls still aren’t back and at least according to my news feed, we’re pretty much over it.
Israel, Hamas, tunnels, terrorism and dead children. Ebola. Ferguson. Robin Williams, suicide, depression. I know I’m neglecting at least 2 million other tragedies, but the point is – it’s bad.
Even so, I refuse to admit it’s the end of the world like bad things started happening to good people just recently. History just didn’t have a 24 hour news loop. Ancient civilizations would sacrifice their babies and use their bones to build their sacrificial monuments. Rape was pretty much the norm. Ancient Romans sexually idolized their little boys. A townsman slaughtered during a Viking invasion probably wasn’t thinking, “Y’all think this is bad, just wait until you invent cars and then crash them into each other!”
Slavery. Segregation. The holocaust. School shootings. When my mom and dad were little, they used to have nuclear war drills in school because it was assumed Russia was going to blow them up any minute. Pick a generation from the beginning of time and it’s easily riddled with atrocities.
My (what turned out to be a horribly depressing) point is, just because tragedies are happening all around us doesn’t mean our lives, hopes, dreams, gifts and talents are pointless in the face of such horrors. Nothing about your sweet spirit is trivial.
Of course, it may mean we need to be more grateful. It may mean we need to be more compassionate. Maybe more quiet, maybe more loud, or less self-absorbed. It may mean we need to get involved, take action. We may need to pray, or give money, or call a friend who lost a loved one on the phone instead of putting a heart emoticon on her timeline.
But it doesn’t mean we should quit. No, no. Or throw up our hands and say “What’s the point of waking up and working hard towards becoming a graphic designer? What narcissistic psychopath would want a logo for their beauty products when PEOPLE IN THE WORLD ARE DYING!” while emotionally eating the top off a gigantic muffin.
Well, I mean – you can eat the top off the muffin, that’s the best part. Just don’t give up.
In a recent Facebook post by Anne Lamott, she wrote about feeling deeply sad and a bit lost after her beloved dog died. She was avoiding going home where she knew her pup would no longer be and didn’t know what to do during that time of sadness. She said, “They say that when all else fails, follow instructions. The nudge on my heart said, “Go to your friend’s kid’s school.” So I said, “Okay,” the fourth great prayer.”
Her friend was apparently horribly overwhelmed as she needed to get her daughter enrolled into school, but couldn’t get anyone on the phone at the school to help. Anne followed the nudge on her heart that told her to just go to her friend’s school. In early August. When no one is actually at the school.
When she arrived, she ran into the new principal in the parking lot (of course). She was able ask the questions her friend desperately needed answered, and ended up blessing her in the process. She was even able to bless the principal. According to a commenter, the principal wrote on Facebook, “I was just approached by a charming, slightly deranged famous author! This is going to be an amazing year!”
Because Anne’s a writer (a deranged one, probably), she wrote about what had happened and people rushed to her words, many suffering and desperate for a silver lining in their own lives. Many were encouraged, shared their own stories and thankful she took the time to write it.
So what’s the point when the world is going to crap? That’s the point.
Sometimes we can let the daily global, local or personal tragedies put us in such a malaise that we zip right by the old lady struggling to carry a bag of groceries up the stairs. And then we slam the door in her face.
Why should our gifts and talents only benefit us and others while we’re walking on sunshine? I can’t help but feel like our gifts are suited exactly for troubled times like these. If it’s to make someone laugh, tell a lighthearted joke. If it’s to write, share an uplifting poem. If it’s to sing, softly serenade a baby to sleep. If it’s math, help me figure out how much my local furniture store’s 25% off sale will get me on a new writing desk.
I bet your heart will eventually nudge you to do something. In many cases it’s doing what you do best however trivial it may seem at the time.
But you know what? That’s all well and good, but sometimes we need to lay in bed and pull the blanket over our heads. The burdens we carry often overwhelm to the point of paralysis. That’s why Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Sometimes we just need to chill the eff out.
If you need rest, please rest. But don’t lose hope. Don’t lose sight of your purpose. Don’t shrug off your gifts, talents or your dreams as trivial pursuits in light of a fallen world.
Take a pause. Take a break. Take a hiatus. Take a nap. But set an alarm. We think, “What’s the point?” when we’re hopeless. Our gifts were given to us so that we may give – hope.
So get up. Give hope.
And when all else fails, follow instructions.