I have really been feeling these apocalyptic readings lately.
Yes, lord, yes! Come down! Fix this!
Lord everything is awful - where are you? Why have you hidden your face?
Come back God!!!
It's good to know that I have good company throughout history with whom I/we can feel these feels, and writings to look to to help me move forward in spite of how paralyzed I/we might feel with the chaos in the world or in our own lives.
This season, we here at Disrupt have decided to embrace the theme Embody, so our commentaries will tend in that direction if possible. We wanted to focus on the physical nature of the work of preparation, the birth of Christ, and the way we are called to live in the world because of Christ. This week is a perfect way to start.
I have chronic depression and anxiety. When I am overwhelmed, my deepest desire is to take a nap. Napping is how I escape from the world, from my feelings, from being overwhelmed by life. Now, sometimes this is necessary self-care. But other times it is a clear running away from myself, my problems, and life itself.
My therapist encourages me to sit with my feelings (not in them, and it took me about two years to learn the difference). He tells me to sit with them, to observe them, to maybe see what part of me needs attention and how I might tend to it better. He asks me where in my body I feel what is happening, what that feels like, and what I can do about it. Instead of running away from my problems through a nap (or a wide variety of distraction techniques I have honed over the years), I now do my best to sit with how I feel. Usually this leads to me realizing that I am feeling afraid and/or vulnerable and I take some time to nourish the part of me that is afraid.
We live in a time in which there is a lot of fear. It seems as though most of us are feeling really vulnerable and tender and instead of tending to our own wounds, sitting awake to our own crap, we push our pain onto others. We turn our anxiety and fear of vulnerability into anger and take that anger out on others, often the most vulnerable among us or those the most different from us. We fall asleep to reality and create our own fever dreams in which everything is everyone else's fault and we don't have any problems of our own creation. We reach out with anger instead of love, or we don't reach out at all, sleeping on the pain of our neighbor.
To be awake is to do the difficult work of owning our own shit, digging into it and working through it. To not do this is to sleep through our own lives, only seeing rare glimpses of abundant life as we seek to live in a dream world where we are invulnerable and so much is someone else's fault. Even when the cause of our pain is someone else's fault, it is up to us to work through it so we don't pass on our pain to those around us. Survivors of trauma definitely get a period of sleep, a period to process, but at some point, we have to dig in and do our work.
This work is emotional, spiritual, and physical. To be awake to our own pain and to work through our crap is physically exhausting. It requires us to feed ourselves well, to exercise, to physically go out into the world to experience life instead of being asleep.
The prophets call us to wake up to our own sins, to look inside of ourselves and see where we have wronged God, wronged others, and wronged ourselves. They call us to do the emotional and spiritual work of going inside of ourselves, wide awake, to look at our sin and repent and the embodied, physical work of going outside of ourselves to ask for forgiveness and crying out to God for forgiveness and healing.
The words of Christ call us to be awake, to do the work of cleaning our house(s), to not allow ourselves to fall asleep to hide from the pain of vulnerability, the fear of the uncertainty of the world, the fever dreams of everything being okay in us and the world being the place that is wrong.
Do not sleep.