Each year for the last 8 years, I’ve prayed about and had a word or phrase for the upcoming year. It’s usually not until the end of that next year, that the word(s) make sense. So, when I felt like the phrase for 2020 was “hidden no more,” I was excited and nervous, not knowing what to expect.
Like a lot of people, I had plans to travel (to at least 1 new domestic or international place each month), attend a graduation, parties, and be a bridesmaid for the first time. Diana Ross’s “I’m Coming Out” would be my theme song as I explored the world.
Then things began to shift. I witnessed a traumatizing family emergency, received news of my church community disbanding, the pandemic, lock down, school and work moving online, and social distancing. I was locked away in an apartment by myself wondering how in the world this was “hidden no more”. I watched Tangled to see if Rapunzel’s story would inspire me, but no charming man was accidentally showing up to find me in quarantine (especially while living in a 55+ community).
After a month in, I started therapy again while taking a class for school on Pastoral Care and Abuse. I began to get a deeper understanding of what healing looks like, while learning about emotional, spiritual, and verbal abuse like never before. I suddenly began to see the why behind the things that happened over the past decade in my life. Being shut in with nowhere to go forced me to sit still long enough for soul care. Psalm 23:2-3 came to mind a lot – “He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.”
As billions of people sat still, because so many things around the world were cancelled, other things started being exposed. There were no more distractions. Nothing to keep our gaze away from the tragic killings of Ahmad, Breonna, and George. Killings of black and brown people by those in authority who get away isn’t new. It’s been happening in this country for 400 years. But the response this time was different. A global call that justice be rendered, but also revealed was the painful silence and distancing from people who showed they’d never really have my back if it was my black body… or people who talked the talk before this, but when it came time to actually walk it out and risk losing something, retreated in silence.
The government’s (state and national) response was also interesting. Everything went from being shut down to a swift response of opening everything back up and bringing sports back to TV. Meaning “quick, let’s do something to distract people again before they really uncover everything, and demand change.”
But the uncovering continued; things that were there all along, but not really paid attention to. The lack of affordable healthcare, and an industry held hostage by horrible policies that only benefit the pharmaceutical & corporate billionaires. [And in case you didn’t know, 400 U.S. doctors die by suicide every year, which in proportion is twice as much as the general public, and this pandemic has been catastrophic for doctors and nurses on the front line who constantly have to deal with horrible system.] More things uncovered included this country’s lack of communal care, and the idea that wearing a mask to protect everyone is an infringement on a person’s rights. Side note, the places in California that are open are the places where masks and gathering sizes can be mostly regulated – stores; the places closed or have hard restrictions are the places where people in large gatherings are more likely to remove their masks – theme parks, churches, large gyms, etc. The American Governments isn’t persecuting the church; it’s a once in a century global pandemic. If anything, the pandemic has exposed the fragility and insincerity of many people’s beliefs.
Lack of resources for students and teachers, and parents realizing that their children’s teachers really have been underpaid all along (and your kid isn’t as well behaved as you think). (Half of) the government’s lack of concern for anyone but the wealthy, and those who desire to build their own empires with the trickle-down economic scam, forgetting that there will be a breaking point some day that will bring this country to its knees. Lack of leadership from a President who refuses to care. Instead of uniting this country to the best of his ability, he’s still talking rambling on and tweeting about election fraud almost 2 months after over 81 million people decided to fire him. Revealing that for the past four years it was never about the country or the American people; it was about his fragile ego, and how the position of power can soothe the wounds he secretly harbors. The bigger the grandiose, the deeper the wound the person’s trying so desperately to mask.
And finally, a lack of fear of God from Christians who’ve manipulated and abused those in their care, and Christians who’ve bowed to the gods of nationalism and trumpism. Both groups (sometimes the same people), dug their heels in, while condemning anything that comes against white supremacy or their spiritual abuse. I will save my comments about spiritual abuse for another day, but 2 weeks ago someone invited me to consider joining their church because, in their words, their pastor “speaks biblical truth.” They hoped to persuade me by telling me about another leader I know who now makes the long drive with their family to this same church. This past weekend, I decided to check out the church’s Instagram, and everything was as if there’s not current global pandemic – childcare, packed services, hanging out, etc. all with no masks. Then I looked at the pastor’s Instagram, and every other post was Trump and the Republican Party. This is being presented as biblical truth. I literally cried.
All the brokenness above were always there, just hidden by distractions. There is so much more I can say about other broken systems that came to light this year, but… I will add that this year I learned the importance and value of simplifying life. Almost all of us (in the United States) were doing way too much before we were all benched. Although grieving all the losses and changes, the resilient bandwidth of some people shined brightly as they pivoted, adjusted, and adapted to this new normal to the best of their ability. Meanwhile, some people tried to cling even harder to life as they knew it, completely refused to acknowledge the shift, only making life that much harder. There’s a saying that “hard times can make soft hearts,” but hard times can also harden hearts. (So much more I can say about that too.)
I didn’t understand what “hidden no more” meant back in December 2019. But 2020 has been a revelation, an unveiling, an uncovering… at least for those who were paying attention and didn’t allow themselves to be lulled back into complicity with numbing distractions. Like Walter Wilberforce once said, “you can choose to look the other way, but you can never again say you didn’t know.” We will all be held accountable. So with this revelation, and this present luminal space of transition, what’s next? Where do we go from here? Perhaps a genesis or new beginning, or did you make it this far just to continue with business as usual?
Thank you for this eloquent reflection. I pray that I never have the urge to wanna go back to “business as usual”.
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