(a spoken word poem)
I used to think the world was ending / I don’t mean this in a passing sense / I mean it was an intrusive thought in my brain / I mean I would be just sitting down having a nice warm breakfast and then the thought would occur to me that everything is going to shit and the bees are dying and the sun is going to devour us and politicians only want money and there are wars happening right now and at any moment a gunman could invade my house and slaughter my family / I expected it/ Because the world was ending / And when I thought the world was ending / My only solace was thinking I could end me before the world ended itself / Like it was me against the world / Who could commit suicide first / And that was a race I was betting I’d win / And so I used to spend what would have been my last days on earth / Plotting ways to make it my last day on earth / I used to picture my funeral because I wondered who would cry and what pictures they would hang on the wall / And if my friends would change their Profile photos to pictures with me / I wondered how good my sisters eulogy would be / When I thought the world was ending / It wasn’t a quirk in my personality / It was a compulsion / It was a lie fed by my addiction to torture myself / By reading articles and conspiracy theories and the book of Revelation / And it was nightmares and cold sweats and panic attacks in the middle of church / It was not being able to be in a conversation anymore / It was wanting to die every time I saw the news was playing on a TV at McDonalds / It was thinking of who would find my body / It was digging scars into my flesh with my nails / It was not doing homework / Not getting out of bed / Not eating / Because none of it matters when you’re dying / When the world is dying / When I’m not sure if this planet will exist tomorrow let alone my workplace or my school / The day I thought the world was going to end / I prayed and told God to forgive me for committing suicide / Because I made a plan to take all the pills in my cabinet / Once I found the strength to get off my bedroom floor / And I sent texts to friends and told them to pray / And I told them I loved them / And I learned to accept that I would never see another sunrise / I was ready to die because I didn’t want to see everything crash and burn / If I died then I would die thinking maybe I was wrong and I could tell myself that life will go on / Because when I thought the world was going to end/ I could tell myself that Suicide was okay / That it made sense / I realized that when I believed the world was going to end/ It gave me a license and a reason to do nothing / I don’t have to vote if we are going to die / I don’t have to get invested in someone or something if the world is ending / I don’t have to give a fuck about racism, poverty, police brutality, or the environment or sex trafficking or world hunger or homelessness or Loving other people / Because it’s not my problem/ Because there is nothing I can do about our inevitable, fast approaching fate / If the world is ending, it doesn’t matter / It just doesn’t matter if I kill myself / And In that one moment I realized that people believe the world is ending so that they don’t have to do anything / So they can scroll Facebook without ever feeling guilty / People believe in apocalypse so they are not obligated to get off their ass and make a difference / Because if you accept the world’s fate, it doesn’t matter how many people donate to hurricane relief/ Because we are doomed anyway / We are a lost cause and therefore I can binge watch Netflix without feeling guilty anymore / And I don’t have to give money to the homeless man on the train / Because we will both die the same death / So go ahead and scream Armageddon so that you can sleep without thinking of the reality that people with access to guns kill people / Tell me that the world is ending so you can feel better about your life/ So that you can continue to be comfortable exactly where you are / Just know that some of us never had the luxury of comfort / If I believe that the world will spin on / That means I have an obligation to help those around me / Some of us would just rather not have that obligation/ So no / I don’t believe the world is ending anymore / Because even if it is/ You better believe I think we can save it
I wrote that poem some time ago and was debating on sharing it. It’s incredibly personal and my eschatological view is rather unpopular. But today at least 20 people were injured or killed in a shooting at a Florida high school. Today a 19 year old girl was stabbed and killed. Today people are dying. And today might make me want to disappear, as it has in the past.
Today will make people talk. They will throw out explanations why this happened. They will justify not enacting better gun control. They will post things on Facebook. People will be afraid. They will tell their loved ones they love them. And if they’re anything like me, they will wonder why they choose to keep living.
And Christians? Christians will say that Jesus is coming back. They will pray and tell Jesus to end the suffering and pain. They will beg Him to intervene.
And then they will do nothing. And then years go by and God doesn’t wipe out the world. People think He does nothing.
I have done nothing.
I have been more like Jonah, sitting from a distance and waiting, longing, for justice and wrath. I want to see bad people obliterated. I want to see people get what they deserve. I am in no mood for mercy or grace. I want victims to be avenged. I wanted God to wipe out the world and just end our suffering and make things right.
But my problem is that when we take tragedy and claim it as a sign of the apocalypse, we relieve our need to do anything because it was “destined to happen.” There’s nothing we can do about it. We just keep praying and asking God to touch our world, and God is staring back at us and saying “You are my hands!”
Now is not the time for fear. I do not want you to cower away inside of yourself. I do not want you to surrender and think that this is how things have to be. Don’t you ever assume this must happen in order for God’s kingdom to come. You can pray, but as Father Ferreira said in the movie Silence, “Pray with your eyes open.”
Now is a time to mourn. To cry. To lament. We are called to weep with those who weep, so let us. Allow your heart to break every time you see injustice. But something I was taught by a friend is to seek mercy and do justice. Get up. Get up. Don’t accept this anymore. Do not be content to sit and do nothing. We do not need another sermon about how terrible the world is and how God can fix it. We need to start talking about what we are on earth to do. We are the body. Because the truth is, God has done something; God made us. And if we do not move, then we cannot complain about His inaction.
Go protest gun violence. Call your senator about gun control. Send someone a gift card. Listen to the homeless man’s story. Donate money to any number of charities. Send money to Florida. Tell your suicidal friend you love them. Open a conversation with a racist family member.. Call people out on sexism. Volunteer somewhere. Help the local food pantry. Start a blog. Start a podcast. Start a support for drug addicted teens. Listen more. Write letters to kids in a hospital. Gather your church together to pray once a week. Talk to your guy friends about the harm of hypermasculinity. Send someone a good morning text. Cry over the news. Let it hurt you. Talk to the kid that sits alone in class. Stop giving excuses and don’t let fear cripple you.
Yes, scary things happen in this world. But I’m done blaming them on God.