OUR SHUTDOWN STORY (FINAL PART)

I was worn out yesterday.

So tired that I was in bed reading at 7:45p and asleep before the clock showed an hour later.

At times, it’s exhausting having a front row seat in this shutdown. Trying to live it and share authentically (without oversharing or stepping into arguing matches on Facebook); you can find parts one and two here and here.

Exhausting?!? Why?!? “Your hubby’s not working. In fact, he should treat it like a vacation.” (Insert super big eye roll here. Forgive me Jesus.)

Because as well-intentioned and obedient to the Holy Spirit within me as I try to be, I miss the mark sometimes. And the way that I’ve seen myself struggling with this is in the manner of this Bible verse:

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”| Ephesians 6:12

I have a largely clear understanding that God is in control in the manner of this shutdown (and the abortion bill/law passed in New York, and the over the young man who shot five people in a Sun Trust Bank in Florida, and the story I heard about a teacher disparaging a young black boy in his classroom, and the story spinning and sharing about the standoff between the teen boy and older man at our nation’s capital and so many other things happening in the lives of people we know and love) but when it comes to seeing how divisive we are among one another, forgetting that we are first and foremost PEOPLE, my spirit, mind, and body struggles with being weary.

Something most people don’t know about me, but I’ve long had a streak for social justice. Wanting people to be treated “fairly” and be included. In my desire to please people and fit in, I often muted my voice with dire consequences to my soul. But God! He blessed me by allowing me to have and raise a child who speaks out in very matter of fact ways – it’s been stretching me for years.

And now that he no longer lives under my stead and I’m married to a man who cares what I think and asks me what I think and encourages me to share what I think (even when we don’t agree), I’m resisting less. I’m stuffing things less often. I’m sharing my perspective. I’m telling my story.

And I’m tired.

Because I do believe I’m to speak. To ask the questions. Which in almost every job I’ve had before, I’ve been told that’s what people wanted from me, but when I did it, I got all of the clues and sometimes was directly told that they didn’t really mean that.

I actually believe that we’re all supposed to speak. But how we speak is also important.

I’m not sharing our shutdown story to condemn anyone. I’m sharing because I want people to know. And largely because I am called to write (I can point to a prophecy spoken over me in October 2016 that called that out in me). It’s a part of how I get this stuff out, to share with others; with restrictions…

For example, while chatting with Mister over a glass of red wine (we haven’t cut out all of the extras yet!) he told me about The Hatch Act. It basically says that federal employees can not publicly disclose their political affiliations or share who they plan to vote for or have voted for.

We don’t have a problem with that, but it’s another thing that wears me out. That makes trying to help others understand a little bit of what it’s like to be walking this out exhaustive at times. I’m sharing what it’s like for us. And most people – who are not directly affected by the shutdown – immediately turn it into a political debate.

And I guess I get it. I don’t like it, but I understand it.

Because tossing out a line of division helps dehumanize the people in the story I’m telling. It helps people focus on the fixing and the possible resolutions rather than the hearts and souls of the people being impacted by the situation and lack of resolution. Fighting about the sins of one party over another party perpetuates the idea that one “side” is right and the other is wrong, less than, more sinful than the other. That the safety of some is more important and prevalent than the others.

People have been kind to ask how they can help. And I am not joking when I tell you our aging parents, siblings, in-laws and even one of our children have made it clear that they will help us if/when the needs become dire. We have friends who have sent us gift cards, invited us to meals, and have told us when they’re bringing meals and we’re incredibly grateful. I don’t expect strangers to be in this mix, this is the importance of “doing life” with people who will help hold you up when life is insistent upon beating you down. (And let me just say, if you’ve not experienced that in any way yet, just hold tight – life does not discriminate.)

What Ephesians 6:12 reminds me to do is to keep speaking up against the enemy but to not grow weary in doing so because the battle is being fought in a different realm. We can not throw money at all of the brokenness in our country and fix it up; though the resources are helpful. For as much as we continue to try, we can not call out abortion as a sin that breaks our hearts but ignore/celebrate other people’s pain as if one sin is more offensive to God than the other.

This shutdown is not just about the financial stress on families of 800,000. It’s about us and our place in the battle, the spiritual battle being fought around and within us. I’m so glad that people posted about how devastated their hearts were for what happened in New York by lawmakers, but was there deeper digging about why women would even feel the need to consider abortion?

The shame we heap on people when they are faced with temptation and hard choices make all of these “deplorable to us” matters far from resolved because we look only at the actions and how we think we would never do fill-in-the-blank (go to a food pantry, live paycheck to paycheck, turn my back on someone in need, consider or have an abortion, shoot up a bank) but I suspect neither did many of the people walking it out.

Sin is within all of us. Every single one of us. If you’re breathing, there is a struggle within you and one bigger than you too.  Rather than judgment, criticism, marginalization, and prejudice, let the wrestling within you (whether you can relate or not) lead you to a loving response of compassion, concern, listening to hear – not to argue or be right – and prayer.

We don’t know where we’ll be in three months or heck even three days, but we’re going to keep taking steps, talking about how this is impacting us and trying to use what God has blessed us with to serve and love on others the best with can with grace. Ironic isn’t it? The term “shutdown”…

We all know what it means in terms of the government, but the definition that resonates most with me right now is this one:

“to make ineffective in competition” (Merriam-Webster)

While our politicians duke it out, I pray that we as fellow Americans and believers in Christ would refuse to take part and instead truly seek Him to learn how we can love one another.

 

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