Telling you that I’ve been hiding sounds like I’m telling you I have a reason to hide, which I don’t. But I have been hiding. I first recognized the hiding after a late night podcast recording about six weeks ago that left me feeling quite exposed. I didn’t sleep after we stopped recording and for days later, I wrestled in angst about what I’d said and how I’d said it and if I should have said it. I even debated on whether or not to give up my seat at the virtual podcast table to someone more theologically astute than myself or more fearless or more certain of exactly what she believed and why she believed it. Vulnerability is a scary thing. Unscripted conversations exposing your vulnerability is even scarier. But knowing someone might drive by your house and question your unscripted conversations is enough to make anyone lose sleep and stop talking about hard things in a public sphere.
The day after the election, I began losing followers on all forms of social media. Like not five or ten. Like over a hundred. Enough to make me wonder if someone had written an article outing me as a fraud or a heretic or one of those women writers who write from a place of emotion rather than biblical prowess. I began to question every word I’ve ever written or every thought I’ve ever shared or every question I’ve ever posed. I wondered if maybe I was too soft of a writer or maybe I was too hard of a writer. Heap all that uncertainty with the Church’s vicious stoning of a celebrity we’d raised up on a pedestal and the never ending various articles filling my feed, all saying something like See? This is what happens when women go rogue online., I couldn’t help but sit down and get really quiet.
When the Church’s response to one of our own is an angry mob crying Crucify her! instead of a heartbroken family weeping for one whom we love, we break the body of Christ. And while the whole broken world watches the crucifixion, the battered body of Christ goes into hiding for fear of being the next one condemned or called out or crawled across the carpet.
On the Thursday after the election, we drove five hours to the mountains of North Carolina for a three day Sabbath. We wandered around downtown Boone and bought penny candy for $14.97 at the Mast General Store and ate sticky buns from Stick Boy Bakery. We built a fire outside and roasted marshmallows and tried not to let the exhaustion of five years of living drive us into the bed for the duration of the trip. On day two, I confessed my heart online and then Thad and I sat across the table from one another and dove headlong into truth telling. I unloaded my heart junk and my soul regret and the growing desire to abandon the online ship because I feared man more than God and because my flesh could hardly continue to bear the burden of not assimilating and taking on the Christian culture of my city. I confessed I was tired of beating the same drum over and over again and tired of not fitting in and tired of seeing the Church choose to fight tooth and nail to preserve Christian culture while our neighbors were suffering in the shadows of our prosperity.
And I confessed my selfish desire to go back to willful ignorance, to comfortable Christianity, and to any place other than 554 Avent street because the grief that settles in my bones when I am in my place is soul crushing. The words I string into sentences in my mind don’t make themselves into posts that I find any joy in writing so I hem and haw, trying to wait God out, hoping He’ll give me something else to write.
He never does.
So I disobediently write about soup and buy more time. I snap pictures of cheeseburgers I make for my neighbors. I make cranberry salsa and give it away. I discretely share blog posts that echo my heart and ship books to friends I think are searching and asking the same questions I am asking and I play Sho Baraka while the neighborhood shoots hoops in my side yard because it’s the closest I can come to communicating my solidarity with them. I put up the Christmas tree earlier than usual and I ring wreaths in light and burn candles from sunup to sundown and I sit outside around the fire ensconced in more twinkling lights because light pushes back the dark and the Light is all I’ve got.
I also read books about lament and listen to podcasts on suffering and read more books about lament, trying to make sense of the ever present well of tears rimming my eyes while never giving myself permission to call out the injustices in my city or the suffering next door or the sins in my heart and those in the Church because the Church doesn’t know what to do with a weeping prophet any more than I do.
I think there are a great many weeping prophets among us. I think they’re proclaiming a message in song that we don’t recognize because we never stop celebrating our privilege long enough to enter into the sufferings of our neighbors. We’re so busy shouting that Jesus is still on the throne that we cannot understand that these modern day prophets aren’t discounting the sovereignty of God; they are calling the Church to wake up to the things that grieve the Holy Spirit that we might repent and hasten the day that humanity will no longer weep.
The weeping prophets among us have, in their mind’s eye, seen the kingdom of God in its fullness and hope in the day to come, while morning with humanity at its delay.
Nicholas Wolterstoff says that those who mourn are the aching visionaries. And I’d say that our modern day weeping prophets are aching visionaries who steadily call the Church to repent of the ways in which we’ve been indifferent to those who are suffering or even contributed to their suffering.
These prophets are singing a love song for a world in need of hope and their song is grace poured out on the Church.
Maybe we’d hear it if we ever stopped throwing stones at one another long enough to listen and respond.