Wednesday, August 29, 2012
an open letter to Jesus
Listen. You need to cut this shit out. When i stood in chapel week after week and sang, "Break my heart for what breaks Yours", i didn't mean it like this. I didn't mean that i wanted to fall to my knees in tears when someone uses their misunderstanding of science to harm women. No one has called me a slut. No one has pressured me to keep the baby of my rapist. I've never even been raped. I didn't want to feel this much for those who have. I wanted to be able to continue living my life while feeling sort of vaguely bad for people who are worse off than me, and i really think that You should have understood that.
I didn't want to be reduced to tears of rage when hate exploded toward the LGBTQ community, when a chicken sandwich became the symbol of discrimination and intolerance. I'm not a lesbian. I've never even been bi-curious. I mean, sure, it sucks that gay people find themselves disowned by their families, friends, and churches, that they lose their jobs, that they get bullied, that people are actively raising money to prevent them from accessing basic human rights, but i don't even want to be involved in this discussion, so why am i so heartbroken over what other people are saying?
Did You know that a version of Jim Crow is back? Did You know about the Invisible Children? Did You know about homelessness, malnutrition, AIDS, cancer, cyberbullying, domestic violence, mental illness? Did You know that some people preach hate in Your name?
Come on. I don't have time to worry about this. I don't have the emotional capacity to feel for all of this. I have problems of my own, You know: rent, terrible roommates, college loans, student teaching, family drama, health concerns, depression and anxiety, separation from friends and loved ones, work stress, a fight with my boyfriend, my car is unregistered and uninsured, and i hardly seem to have time for myself anymore.
When i said "Break my heart for what breaks Yours," i didn't mean actual heartbreak. I didn't want to empathize, i wanted to sympathize. I wanted to feel gently sorry for people who were worse off than me, and then get back to my caramel iced coffee and air conditioning and wishing i could buy more organic food. I wanted to cling to my first world concerns.
Empathy fucking hurts. Is it too late to take it back? Is it too late to return to fuzzy sympathy? Because You know, all these feelings are too much. If i keep feeling all these feelings, i'm going to have to do something about them.
If i keep feeling these feelings, if You keep breaking my heart for what breaks Yours, i won't ever be able to return to sympathy. I'll have to be an advocate for the voiceless, a lobbyist for the powerless, a trailblazer for those lost in the wilderness. If You keep peeling back the layers of my ignorance, removing the blinders from my eyes, softening my heart, i won't be able to feel sympathy ever again. I won't be able to return to personal, first-world concerns. If you keep this up, i will be consumed by the least of these. I will feed the hungry, instead of merely buying food from companies that promise to donate a fraction of the proceeds to a "feed the hungry" charity. I will clothe the naked, instead of merely buying shoes that promise to give one pair to a child. I will visit the sick and imprisoned, instead of merely praying that Your spirit will visit them.
If You don't cut this out, i will have no other choice than to become You, to be Your hands and feet, to love with Your heart, to see with Your eyes. I will have no choice except to be transformed into Your image, to become the light and the salt, to be Christ to a world that desperately needs a Savior. And just because that's what You told us all to do doesn't mean i was supposed to actually do it, right? I thought it was more of a combined teamwork thing where everyone does a little from their armchair and suddenly the world is in harmony? When You allowed me to be born into privilege, when You made me white and straight and American and pretty and healthy and sturdily middle-class and intelligent, You didn't really intend for me to use my position of privilege to help those of less fortunate births, did You?