JANUARY 16, 2020 / JOHN PAVLOVITZ
Yesterday while picking up lunch I ran into a friend I hadn’t seen in a few months.
After exchanging surprised greetings and a fierce hug—she stopped abruptly, looked genuinely concerned and said, “Are you OK? You look tired today.”
After weathering the initial sting of her honest but uninvited commentary, I assured her she was somewhat incorrect in her evaluation.
“Not just today.” I remarked matter of factly. “This is how I look now—I’m always tired.”
She smiled widely and then leaned in with genuine concerned and quietly pressed for details: “So what are you tired of?”
I couldn’t come up with an answer that seemed sufficient in the thirty seconds we had remaining before our takeout orders were ready (and honestly I didn’t feel right baring my soul surrounded by complete strangers in front of a full deli case) so I laughed and said, “Oh, you know!”—and quickly changed the subject.
But on the way home her question was still hanging there in my head: What am I tired of?
That’s it. I’m tired of hatred—like, really tired.
I’m tired of waking every morning and seeing that we’re in an another unnecessary and preventable Constitutional crisis.
I’m tired of having to once again channel the adrenaline to confront a new onslaught of real and manufactured emergencies.
I’m tired of having to desperately appeal to public servants to do the decent and humane thing and seeing them again flatly refuse.
I’m tired of trying to convince professed followers of Jesus that they’re supposed to care about other people.
I’m tired of dancing through minefields at family gatherings; doing verbal gymnastics to sidestep relational explosions and to keep loving people I’ve recently learned unsettling things about.
I’m tired of scrolling through racist, anti-LGBTQ, anti-immigrant, anti-Semitic hate speech filling my social media mentions.
I’m tired of being reminded daily of the white supremacy that my former church friends are so terribly afflicted with.
I’m tired of seeing stories of newly-emboldened bigots showing up as neighbors, elementary school teachers, local politicians, and coffee shop patrons—because they feel a kindred embittered spirit in the White House.
I’m tired of boastful, nonsensical, intentionally-provocative Presidential tweets littered with Democrat slander, wall-building taunts, and abject lies.
I am so damn tired of hatred—and yes, I’m tired of hating it all too.
I’m tired of continually confronting ugliness—and of the increasing ugliness it brings out in me as I do.
I’m tired of walking into a room and trying to calculate inside my head, how many of them there are—and resenting human beings I’ve never met based on my evaluation.
I’m tired of assuming the worst in people because the bumper sticker on their car or the red hat atop their head or the channel they get their news from.
I’m tired of the impatience and irritability always sitting just below the surface of my countenance, and how often it breaks violently through and into my day in angry words in traffic or expletives spoken under my breath or easy frustration with the normal inconveniences of life.
I’m tired of regularly losing my religion as I fight both for and with my faith tradition: being anything but Christlike while advocating for the teachings of Jesus.
I’m tired of feeling a growing hopelessness when I see the people we’re becoming.
I know this fight is emotionally and physically exhausting, that there is a profound personal cost for hating things, even things that merit hatred.I know that it makes my heart less buoyant and far more susceptible to sinking into despair.
I’m trying to make sure I stay a loving person opposing things that make me angry—and not a perpetually angry person, but it’s difficult to tell when you’re swimming in so much enmity every day.
I want to leave a legacy of kindness, a compassionate wake in the waters of this world so that other people who are similarly fatigued by the hatred they encounter here, find rest in me.
Maybe that’s all any of us can do: perpetuate decency and goodness and generosity in the infinitesimal space of the next choice in front of us.
Maybe if we make this world a little bit more loving in the small and the close and the present, maybe the ripples will eventually reach the big and the distant in the future.
Then maybe everyone who’s as fully tired of hatred as we are—will finally get some rest.