“It’s the end of the world, as we know it” plays in my head on repeat today. Thanks, R.E.M.
Last night I had an entire night full of dreams that I could only describe to my husband as being trapped inside the Pacific Rim 2 trailer. “That sounds awesome!” he said. If you don’t know what I’m talking about it, look here.
Here’s what was similar from my series of dreams: It was intense from beginning to end, monsters were coming up out of the ground, total destruction, and people were running everywhere.
Here’s what was different: There were no giant fighting robots, there were no trained professionals to control them, there was no one on earth who knew what the hell was happening or how to fix it. Also, there was a sudden downpour of what I can only describe as lava rain.
I awoke once in the night. I have no idea what time, I awoke to find myself cover-less and cold. This is not really unusual, I have to fight my husband for the blankets on a regular. I re-situated them, scooted my body next to the man-furnace and fell back asleep hoping it was over.
I was right back in it.
This time I was watching it like a video game, and there were mutant animals climbing out of city buildings to join in the apocalyptic rebellion.
When my alarm finally went off I wanted to be awake, I couldn’t take anymore. I had slept all night, but received no rest. I lay there, eyes closed, waiting for coffee running through my “am I depressed” checklist.
I have a history of situational depression. If you want to understand how that is different then chronic depression, here’s an article. After Sunday’s shooting in Texas, it is no surprise that I haven’t wanted to get out of bed. Sadness overwhelms me, and if I am completely honest (thanks dreams…) I, at this moment, really do believe this is the end of our civilization. And therefore, through that conclusion, the end of the world as I (at least) know it.
This isn’t a shock, every great civilization falls, the American Empire (or “experiment” as some refer to it) will too. We cannot sustain ourselves the way we exist, the question was always when and what will be “the thing” that does it, the question was never “if” it would happen.
“Trump’s America”, gun violence, the unveiling of racist, xenophobic hate, the manipulation of our country’s (or any country for that matter) citizens by Putin is terrifying to me and if this isn’t bottom, then what is coming is downright Apocalyptic.
This is the depression talking. Or is it?
I have a nasty habit of waiting for the other shoe to drop. I’ve worked through this in therapy, but I still try to anticipate how it will happen so I can best take care of myself. It’s the consequence of a lifetime if dropping shoes. But in America’s case, the shoe dropping and it all coming crumbing down, may by apocalypse to our way of life, but may actually save our humanity.
In a recent interview Ta-Nehisi Coates did with Stephen Colbert he responded to the question “Do you have hope in America?” with a simple answer. “No.”
“You’ve had a hard time in some interviews expressing a sense of hope in this country,” Colbert said toward the end of the interview. “Do you have any hope tonight for the people out there, about how we could be a better country, we could have better race relations, we could have better politics?”
“No,” Coates said, to scattered laughter. “But I’m not the person you should go to for that. You should go to your pastor. Your pastor provides you hope. Your friends provide you hope.”
“I’m not asking you to make shit up,” Colbert interjected. “I’m asking if you personally see any evidence for change in America.”
“But I would have to make shit up to actually answer that question in a satisfying way,” Coates explained.
I can’t shake this exchange. I am a pastor, my job is to provide people hope. He’s not wrong, that is my job. But not in the way Colbert is asking. If I, as a pastor was sitting in Colbert’s chair and he asked me if I saw any hope in this country I too would have a hard time coming up with something.
Because even though I am a pastor my hope DOES NOT lie in America, or to be completely honest, in its citizens. And if I have hope at all, it is from God.
For God alone my soul waits in silence,
for my hope is from God.
God alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken. -Psalm 62:5-6
My job is to have hope and to spread that hope to other people, but sometimes, I tell you, America, you’re making it really hard right now. We lie to ourselves and we let other lie to us because we don’t want to face our fears. We have made ourselves so comfortable that what we refused to deal with the fact that we are actually vulnerable and fragile.
Time to dust off Micah.
We have made ourselves God. We have put love of country synonymous (at best) with love of God. That, my friends, is idolatry.
So I don’t need Mr. Coates to make shit up, in fact, that’s what got us here in the first place. And he’s absolutely right, come to your pastor for hope, but if we’re doing our jobs right, we won’t be making shit up either.
My hope comes from God alone. I still have hope for all of humanity, I still believe through God’s grace humans are naturally good, and that God is working through each and every one of us in any way God can find to make us individually and as a society better.
I know this in my head and I experience people’s goodness and god’s grace on a daily basis, but I would also not be doing my job if I didn’t worry that it’s going to be too late for us. It’s both my sin and my sainthood to be Jonah in this moment screaming to the people of Nineveh to repent, but also believe we are too wicked to deserve redemption.
Which is why I am not God.
And why I need to let the sadness roll over me. I need to hold and kiss my babies tight knowing that while I stand in the pulpit I would not be able protect anyone fast enough for a AK-15 assault rifle, bought and sold, readily available in this country, not even my children who sit in the front row. I need to take the time and weep knowing the truth of that sentence, and the implications of it.
Then, I will pick myself up and proclaim my hope that comes from God alone.