What to Do When the Needs Are ENDLESS
Feb 4 2017
The needs of this world are endless, and I cannot meet every one of them, which I hate. I particularly hate it right now while I watch refugees suffer, and our LGBTQ neighbors suffer, and people of color suffer, and women suffer, and my children with disability suffer, and more, and more, and more. Nearly every day, I resent Magical Jesus for failing to issue me the Wand of Solving Everything or make me Benevolent Queen of the Universe with Awesome Cosmic Power, and then I remember that Magical Jesus isn’t real and didn’t come to issue wands, damn it.
Real Jesus and I are working on this tiny bitter attitude I have toward Magical Jesus.
Real Jesus makes more progress on some days than others.
Real Jesus, when I’m willing to listen, reminds me that he came as Love Incarnate and to show us how to love one another in turn. Which means we have to do the hard work of love. And I don’t mean to complain here — really, I don’t — but I feel like Real Jesus could have made this all just a LITTLE easier. (Psst…see: idea above about the magic wand, Jesus.)
It’s just … interesting … these days the way love looks. The way love takes shape. The way love, if we listen very, very hard, unmakes and remakes us, and unmakes and remakes our boundaries, too.
I’ve been in my pajamas for 7 days now. Sick kids + a sick me will do that to a girl. Plus I like my pajamas.
I’m tired right about now. In fact, I look like this this very minute:
No make-up. Wonky hair. Frankly, I feel good about this choice. I plan to change nothing about it in the foreseeable future.
But I have spent the week wondering, as I suspect all of us do, whether I’m doing enough to meet the needs of our hurting world.
Which is when I ran across a blog post by my friend Doreen called “the personal cost of living on high alert: wringing out the sponge that is my self.” Friends, I’m telling you right now, if you, like me, are living on high alert, and, well, also like me, you don’t plan to stop anytime soon, you kind of totally have to read this. I’m going to put the beginning right here, and then you need to click on the link to read the rest, because then she tells us about the sponge… and you need to read about the sponge. Like, if we’re going to live through the days to come, and if we’re going to love each other well, and if we’re going to spend our time defending the vulnerable and creating safe spaces, and if we’re going to be cleaning out our kids’ puke buckets while we do All the Things in our pajamas without a magic wand, we NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE SPONGE.
I have a million things to do. Writing deadlines, research to review, thank you cards to write, parties to plan, news to catch up on, causes to research, and, and, and. It’s all a lot and it’s all things I’ve promised myself I’ll do or things I’ve promised others I’ll do or things I feel as though the-world-and-everyone-in-it NEED me to do. Seriously, there are so many needs right now. Needs that pull at my mind and my heart. Needs to feel and to process and to know and to act. So, a bit ago, I closed my laptop, went into my kitchen and roasted a squash. I went in to get a glass of water but the squash was right there and slicing it brought me close to the earth. While it was cooking I lit my favorite candles and got out old calendars to cut and fashion into valentines. I tossed some nuts and spices and quinoa in with the soft flesh of the roasted gourd and taped and glue sticked and sharpied the most rag-tag valentines ever made. I feel a lot better now.
More than any other time that I can personally remember, we are all on high alert. With the world feeling topsy turvy and fear, anger, and grief all around and within us, we stoke the fire of our overwhelm by trying to make sure that we are informed and active. We put ourselves to sleep with the news and wake up with it. We scroll through endless Facebook posts, finding ourselves falling down rabbit holes of discontent and disagreement, even though we’ve promised ourselves we’ll stop. Out of a sense of powerlessness and insecurity we buttress our weary selves by clinging to the few things we feel that we can control or we become hyper vigilant, being sure that our call is to attend to whatever need we see.
Let me remind us: The need is not the call. The call is the call.
What I mean by this is that every one of us has a unique part we are made to play in this world. We are who we are by intention. I choose to believe that came to be by a Creator in whose image ALL OF US are made. Even with radically different how-we-came-to-be stories, however, I believe that we can universally hold to the idea that each of us has specific and special resources that we are to invest in this crazy thing called life where ever we happen to live it. The trouble is, when we are tired, scared, overwhelmed, under-informed, in denial, or rushingrushingrushing from one thing to the next, we have no way of being with our selves intimately enough to hear what our unique call is. We know what we wish we were good or skilled at. We know what seems most important based upon that which is in front of us (or that which we put in front of ourselves). We attend to our surroundings and the news and our friends/family/neighbors in hyper vigilant ways, trying to ascertain what we should be doing or thinking or feeling in order to make change in the world/be liked/get by. So we keep researching, doing, acting but we never really feel we’ve arrived on a meaningful or sustainable path.
When we feel like this, and there is no break on the foreseeable horizon, it is likely time to step away… [READ THE REST HERE]
Go read the rest.
Did you read the rest?
Here’s the thing: I’m not stopping now, nor am I stopping anytime soon, in doing the things I feel called to do. HELL, NO. But I needed Doreen’s reminders that a) I am NOT called to meet ALL the need by myself, b) I have a unique part I am made to play, so I’d best prepare to play that part very, very well and not get distracted by all the rest, and c) I can better play my part and answer my call when I take the time to step away… for an hour, for two, or for 20 minutes… to wring out my sponge.
Fiercely, lovingly, tirefully yours,
P.S. I’m going to go take a bath and read a trashy novel. The end.