It’s past midnight. I’m keeping myself awake by reading posts from white Christians arguing about white supremacy, or a lack thereof, on Twitter. Somehow, the “woke” ones are pointing out that the Middle Eastern Jesus we've worshipped our whole lives wasn’t actually white like our wall hangings led us to believe.
This seems to be a new thought for many people.
It’s a sad world on Twitter right now, which feels par for the course. I've always known to log in carefully, it can be a swamp. I just wish that wasn't true. Part of me wants to follow in many of my wise friends' footsteps and get rid of social media all together. I don't because I do PR, and it's a pretty important tool. But I also don't because I've seen movements grow because of social media. But, there is a flip side to that coin. I've also watched people die on social media. Tonight, it feels more like death than life, with the exception of the videos from NASCAR showing the drivers and crews walking with Bubba today.
Calls for the Church to act with such unity are fair outcries, I think. But while we're on that subject, I'd also love to see the Church walk alongside women in the same way... if we're discussing reform and repentance. What am I talking about? For those of you not torn down by "Christian Twitter" lately, screen shots of comments left by men who have publicly posted evil and gross things about certain ladies in leadership have surfaced. I'll spare you the actual content but I'm grieved yet not surprised. People sometimes wonder why I hesitate to lead anything faith-based as a woman. These posts are part of the reason why. It takes thick skin to hold up to that, especially when those posting hold the esteemed title of Pastor. If I'm honest, my skin's still relatively thin. No wonder so many people aren't interested in identifying with Christianity anymore. It looks totally fake.
Man this is a word thrown around a lot these days, huh? Fake news. Fake videos. Fake boobs. Fake platforms. Fake faith. Fake leaders. What a dangerous situation—truth seems fuzzy and we're not quite sure what's real anymore. Out of all the posts on Twitter tonight, what's feels most dangerous is the overall idea that very few statements are actually true. And while this is pretty scary, I have found one way to ground myself. When things get murky, I listen to the voices of the oppressed. And, I ask the kids. Usually, they help point me north.
You may be wondering where this post is coming from, not only the midnight ramblings but also the transparency. I'll admit I usually keep a thick filter on what I say and write, it's a filter constructed by a layer of wisdom and a layer of fear. Some days I'm certain the wisdom layer is the majority. Other days, I'm deceiving myself, or at least I believe it's 50/50. Maybe I'm saying all of this to feel better about the fear. It's hard to admit what actually drives us sometimes.
But one reason I'm so unfiltered tonight is because I just finished The Unwinding of the Miracle, a memoir by Julie Yip-Williams. (I finished the book and then logged into Twitter—bad idea.) Julie is a woman who passed from colon cancer a few years ago and her book is written beautifully. Her words poke at a fire that lives deep inside our hearts, a fire many of us don't realize we have. I love being an author for this reason, our words carry so much weight and help open people up. Julie just did that for me.
Her words were elegant and honest, yet also difficult and brutal at times. She managed to evoke nearly every emotion out of me as I read her story, and mostly because she shared her emotions first. With brutal honesty she talks about what it's like to die—especially the negative and the ugly sides. I'll be honest, it was tough to read when she (in a way) shamed some in the cancer community for embracing the challenge of cancer, calling it a journey, and emphasizing hope. But, she had every right to say what she did, and I'm taking her statements to heart.
Something she also said was many patients live in denial. Is she right? Are those who find hope and light despite a cancer diagnosis in denial of the real pain and struggle of facing death? I'm not sure, maybe. I can relate to this and see it in my own story. I can see why eternal optimism feels a little fake at times, especially when some who carry it take it to their graves. After all, I did eventually get angry at God. But then again, optimism is how some choose to see the world and it's tied deeply to what they believe. Does that make one patient's experience with cancer more right than the other? I don't think so, but the book definitely got me thinking.
Had we met over coffee, I think Julie and I would have had a lovely time. On the surface, we don't have a lot in common other than being a mom to daughters, but cancer's a great equalizer and I think we could have swapped some stories. Had we dug into some of the deeper topics she touches on in her book, I think we would have agreed to disagree, and I think that's OK.
I'll turn 37 years old this year, the age she was at her diagnosis. Twenty years ago, I was told my cancer was curable and expect nothing shy of a long life. She was told she's terminal and prepare to die. So yeah, we faced colon cancer very differently. Our brains were likely in two different spots, as I'm just now processing my cancer in (for lack of a better word) adult terms. Also, we don't necessarily share the same spiritual stream. But, I don't believe that would have been a barrier had we grabbed coffee. There's much to learn from one another even when we're different. All of that to say, I am really thankful for Julie and her story, even if it was an "unwinding."
That word—unwinding—fits how I feel tonight. I feel unwound by this book, it's left me processing my own emotions and experiences with cancer in new ways. It has me questioning many things, which is uncomfortable, yet it's something I embrace. Surely I don't have the only lens to view the world.
I love reading about others' stories. I love seeing different points of view. Except when I'm on Twitter, which I don't always love. Tonight, Twitter brought even more unwinding as I realized many pastors are not good people. Racists still exist. Jesus was indeed not white, and that's a subject causing people to argue and divide. Leaders cannot always be trusted. COVID-19 still exists and people are still dying. And, one day my body will also die. It's an unwinding indeed.
But I'm embracing this because unwinding leads to our core, and as scary and vulnerable as that is, our cores make life worth living. And blogs worth reading. I trust in what I'll find when I hit it, at least this is what I hope is there: A commitment to keep learning. A resolve to keep believing in absolute truth and my genuine faith in Jesus, someone I met when I was just a few years old. A heart that is quick to listen and loves everyone. A resolve to not judge and hate. And, a wisdom that says it's time to get off Twitter and go to bed.
MONDAY MORNING SURVIVAL GUIDE
Can I encourage you next week? Let's get through Monday mornings together.