I DON’T FEEL NO WAYS TIRED – EXCEPT SOMETIMES.
I was speaking with someone recently about “being woke,” and about trying to deal with folks who ain’t woke yet, and trying to love on them, and how some folks talk about “being tired” and feeling bitter about the frustration of not seeing people, or things, change.
My friend quoted me back to myself when he mentioned at one gathering someone had asked me a question and began it, “I am so tired of people….” And I had asked him, “how old are you?” The answer was “26.” I said, “26, and tired already?”
This made me think of a few things about inter-racial dialogue and cross cultural ministry, and POC survival in inter-racial spaces. Being tired in the emotional sense doesn’t really have anything to do with the amount of hours one has put in, or even the amount of years or effort, or the strenuousness of the labor. Many people work long and hard, (really hard) each day and they are not emotionally tired. So much has to do with perspective, and faith, and love, and the patience that can come from it.
“why are you not bitter?” Is a question I am sometimes asked, although I am always surprised by it. Who the hell do I think I am that I should be bitter? This is what occurs to me, that it would take an inflated view of myself to judge others so harshly or myself so important. I certainly have felt anger, frustration, and sometimes I have surrendered to the closed door or the reality of a mountain that I seemed unable to climb. I speak here about calling for justice, or even mercy, at least for understanding about issues of race, ethnocentrism, poverty, and suffering.
Burn out has more to do with anger than with exhaustion, more to do with frustration than with a need for rest. Burn out is relieved more with hope than sleep, more with assistance and fellowship in the struggle than time off.
I have to ask myself some questions, and maybe you can ask yourself some as well. Do I believe the world needs changing? Yes, I do. Do I believe I can change it? Yes, a little, and no, probably not a lot right away. Will it ever be changed? Absolutely, because Jesus is coming and he will create a new heavens and a new earth.
Is justice delayed truly justice denied? No, but it sure feels that way sometimes. Only a God perspective can help us understand that. Do I believe that Jesus will not rest until he brings justice to the earth? Yes, that is my hope, my constant hope. What kind of perspective does it take to live in a world full of injustice, with ignorant people who don’t even know they may be perpetrators of injustice, who don’t know that their defense of the status quo is an enshrinement of their privilege? What kind of perspective will give me a positive sense of progress and help me to endure, to keep trying, to keep listening, to keep teaching? Nothing less or short of an eternal one, and that is hard for us temporal human beings.
When we are young we feel change should and ought to come quickly. Thank God for youth. When we grow old we realize change does indeed come, but sometimes it has been and is glacial, incremental, not yet come to full realization. Some people dream dreams, and they work at them and see them come true, but if the truth be told those dreams are never universal, never total in scope for all humanity, nor for all time. Human beings celebrate sports heroes and use the word “immortal,” “unforgettable” and such. Really? What is a GOAT (Greatest of all time) today won’t even be recognized in a generation, a century, a millennium. Sports statistics are possibly the most changeable of things, and all heroes turn to dust.
Some will perish still in prison waiting for a revolution that will never come, still in the wilderness, still never having seen the city that was promised to them. They will question sometimes, like John the Baptist did, “Are you the one?” What do you do with your ego when you feel you should be the one that brings the change and no one listens to you? What do you do when after all your radical speech, your passionate displays, your marching, and your advocation people act like they just don’t care?
Will you waste your time to continue to win over the resistant, will you continue to pour yourself out to institutions that don’t live up to their own ideals? Will you come to be patient with one more stupid question (and there are stupid questions) from someone who should know better?
It comes back to the question of who do I think I am? I am a small man, not of much significance after all, despite my ambition and ego. I am a man of short time, no matter how long I may live my life upon the earth. Yet, with all my frustrations I am a man infinitely loved by the God who fills the universe, who is its creator and sustainer. I am a sinful broken man, yet forgiven, forgiven, forgiven again. I am a purchased man, and I can no longer live for myself but for him who died and rose again for me.
This means I have little choice about who I can choose to love. I have to love my neighbor, as myself. I have to love even my enemies, and bless them. I have to love those who make me feel tired. Seeking significant change is important, but we can’t stay at that quest if our importance to the world is what we depend on to give us hope. We have to take our rest in how important we are to God and in that knowledge we lose all our own self-importance, our self-righteousness, our need for fame, perfection, and accomplishment. In that importance we find and renew our passion, energy, and endurance in the fight of love