When People Are the Worst: The Christian Edition
“Man, humanity sucks today.”
That’s what I told my husband after a day full of unpleasantness. That’s putting it nicely really. Sparing you the details, let’s just say, Monday was the culmination of a long stretch of seeing people be absolutely miserable to each other. Different situations, a couple of which targeted me specifically and others that attacked my friends, were piling up.
I think it’s something about summer. At least three of the last five summers, I’ve had some event(s) that rattled my already fading faith in people (I’ve written on it before). It’s like it’s so hot that hell just starts leaking into the atmosphere and no one notices ‘cause it’s already 100 degrees outside.
What burns the most is that a few particular situations were amongst Christians. People, who proclaim to live a life based on the love of Christ, doing everything I believe He stood against—bullying, gaslighting, disregarding one another, and thinking it’s all okay with a “we’ll pray for you.”
This ain’t my first rodeo. I’ve been in church a long time, and there isn’t much I haven’t seen in the way of ministry gone awry. The Church is full of people, and despite our best efforts, people can still be the absolute worst.
So, here we are. Sitting the muck again. What now?
A friend texted me this morning with a podcast suggestion, and when I opened the app, an episode I’d forgotten I was listening to started up again. And just like the God I know, the speaker (who happened to be author Rob Bell) was in mid-thought addressing exactly how I was feeling.
He was reading various parts of Psalms and sharing how much of the book is a person expressing how God has forsaken His people and pondering the idea that there’s no one here to save us. We brush past these Scriptures a lot because they’re usually followed up with a resolution to trust God. That latter part is important, but doesn’t it say something that all the crying, complaining, and near denouncing is still an essential piece of the story?
Bell goes on to explain that these moments when our faith takes us on a ride and drops us off in the desert are all on the same journey. They are unpleasant and often unfair, but somehow, some way, they’re necessary for where we’re going. It’s just part of this whole being human thing.
He adds that these feelings of disillusionment can either drive us deeper into despair or we can use them to be that much more resilient—like lifting weights and other forms of strength training. Let’s be honest, people won’t change. We, however, can meet these challenges wiser than before. We’ll know what to expect, and rather than see God as failing us, we will see Him as making us stronger and more adaptable. Not to mention, we build resources of empathy, so that when we are in a position to choose between inflecting pain or showing love, we’ll make the right call.
What I know I never want is to let the stupid things people do affect my worldview. That’s not easy. But, my faith isn’t in humanity and thank God for that!
So, let’s just all take a collective sigh, trust in more than we can see, and flex our muscles at the situations that try to bring us down. In the meantime, I continue to pray, “Lord, save me from Your followers.”
Edit: The Rob Bell podcasts I’m referring to make the most sense when you listen to his unintentional two parter, Episode 244 and 245: “Some Days I Feel Lost” and “A Bit More About that Last Episode". Both are available here.