In the winter months I find myself on the couch, dreaming of our next renovation project. While I scroll through social media sites and pin new window treatments, I feel my heart sink against the discord in our nation, the violence far and near, the deep hurt underneath every angry Facebook post. And so I flick back to Pinterest, where the world is quotes and recipes and new fashion trends.
I delete social media apps from my phone to protect myself from the growing and constant heartache, share only happy photos and sunsets to Instagram, tune only to audiobooks on my morning and afternoon commute, shirk daily newspaper headlines, and watch Netflix with my husband each night and laugh and laugh and laugh.
After a year of political banter, cause promotion, and speaking up on behalf of what I believe in, I am weary.
I am weary of grieving mass shootings, untimely deaths, suicides, and overdoses. I am weary of people arguing over when life is viable and when life is expendable. I am weary of friends who feel it’s necessary to obtain a conceal-and-carry permit to protect their children, who live in the wealthiest and safest communities. I am weary of political leaders. I am weary of fake news and real news, conspiracy and lies and lack of faith, lack of trust, suspicion over left-leaning journalists and right-wing publications.
I am weary of frightening things far off and distant, the horrible possible, weary of feeling so individually responsible and so individually helpless to make a difference.
The TV blares an update on someone’s tweets, another shooting, wars and rumors of wars. Images flash of buildings bleached of their color, bombed and bitten to gray powder and chunks of the dust of the earth, animal and vegetable and mineral crushed together in the background as a brightly dressed journalist reports the refugee crisis.
I am weary, and in my weariness I wrap myself in a crocheted blanket with a cup of tea and close inward. The latest winter snow presses down on the roof and driveway, but in here I am warm, comforted, fed, clothed. Some would call me blessed.
That’s what we tag our prosperous lives across social media platforms, those of us fortunate enough to have access to laptops and smartphones: #blessed. Blessed to be born here, live here, worry here, rejoice here, suffer major and minor losses here. Blessed to be able to shut down, turn away, dim the lights, change the channel, close out the news and sleep. Sleep in heavenly peace.
All I want to do is what the author of Ecclesiastes says: “Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do.” The Bible has given me this permission, right? Live this life. Be at peace. Eat with gladness and drink with a joyful heart. God approves! #Blessed!
And then I remember Jesus’s talk with the rich young ruler.
The rich young ruler was a really good guy, a rule follower. A brown-noser maybe, but a good person. He doesn’t cheat, never steals or swears or lies or kills or covets another man’s wife or donkey, even. Jesus loves him and tells him he lacks only one thing, to sell all his possessions and give them to the poor so he might inherit treasure in heaven. No surprise this makes the rich young ruler sad.
If the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and he has sought to fulfill it, what is it he lacks? What is it he lacks, except this:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
The bullhorn to pull the weary Sarah off the sofa is raised from the book of Revelation: “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked…Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”
Okay, okay. I’ll get up off the couch and answer the door, except it isn’t often that random people knock on my door and ask for food. In fact, this has never happened to me. When does Jesus knock and how do you know he’s hungry?
Jesuses fill our world, begging on street corners, caught up in addictions, crossing borders to find refuge, wearing layers of newspaper to keep warm, losing their sanity because of abuse and neglect and life, serving time for their crimes. We find Jesuses in strip clubs and down side streets, in government housing and on food stamps. They are the ones the rich young rulers love to hate for taking what is theirs, for not pulling themselves up by their bootstraps, for failing to be #blessed.
Oh, Jesus, how long have I not seen them? Worse, how long have I seen and not cared, content to flick through, drive by, divert my eyes?
Reading the Bible, I find Jesus allowing his path to be intersected by people in need. If I am going to call myself a follower of Christ, I need to walk a path that allows for an intersection. I need to stop growing weary of doing good. I need to rise, to open my eyes to see those who are hurting and hungry and lost, and love and feed and find them.
What would it be like to be filled with a terrible resolve for those whom God calls blessed? The poor in spirit, the meek, those who mourn, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness.
It would mean the rich young ruler wouldn’t walk away—“one thing you lack”—when Jesus confronts her. It would mean lifting my eyes, setting aside Pinterest posts, stepping toward people with mercy. It would mean “inheriting the kingdom of heaven.”