For When the World News Just Might Break You

An open barn door

Sometimes I feel like I cannot breathe the air anymore. It is so thick with anger and fear and grief. I know you know what I mean.

The news is dark and depressing. Shootings, murders, kidnappings. Racism, Oppression, Bigotry.  Sex trafficking, climate change, and children in detention camps.

The air is very very thick. But we need to breathe. Here are some ways to do that.

1. Stay close to your people. 

You know the ones. The people who help you believe that pain is never the end of the story. The people who help you believe in unbelievable things, like reconciliation and redemption and resurrection and hope.

Speak to your people. Tell them when the world has become so overwhelming that nothing on this planet feels right and good and true anymore. We all ebb and flow with hope and despair and by the grace of God our cycles don’t align, so when you are out of hope I may have some to spare, and vice versa. 

2. Take a break. 

Don’t bury your head in the sand for too long. That doesn’t help. But take a break from the news long enough to come up for fresh air.  Our hearts aren’t meant to carry the barrage of negativity that our digital lives can throw at us.

3. Cry.

Cry proudly and publicly if it helps. Margery Kempe, a mystic of old, marched around her town beating her breast and sobbing and it was an act of courage and faith. Do cry into the telephone, spill tears on to your keyboard, mourn a world that is broken and bent. It is a natural reaction and it is a sign, not of weakness, but that you are attune to the world around you.

4. Rally. 

Whether it is to march with signs or gathering to help paint a friend’s deck doesn’t much matter.  But rally.  Join hands with another human being and dare to be a prophetic witness that this world can still know love and truth and life.  The small acts of kindness and revolt won’t go unseen. They matter. 

5. Write. 

Write letters you will never send and some that you will. Fill journals with poems and laments and prayers and confessions. We think in circles, but we write in straight lines. So write. If you can, write without thinking about it so that God and truth and hope can spill onto the page. Poets and prophets and mystics and revolutionaries have done it in times as dark as these and it still works today.

6. Pray.

Pray for the oppressors and the victims alike.

One day I caught a glimpse of a television show my son was watching, and trying to understand the plot, I asked “Is that the bad guy?” My son looked at me surprised and said “Mom, there are no bad people. Only people who do bad things.” I taught him that. Because I believe that. But sometimes I forget. 

Prayer changes us. Prayer for the oppressors reminds us of our shared humanity. It is a hard work of the heart, but it is powerful.

7. And know. 

Know that you are not the only one who feels like they cannot breathe another damn breath of this dark thick air. Know that there are people in your community and mine making pinpricks in the darkness to let the light in and it is making a difference. And know that there is always hope where there is breath.

Breathe, my friend.

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