Thoughts That Can’t Stay Put: The Burn-out

Recently I’ve had a lot of thoughts that just pile-up. They are crammed in corners and crevices, pages torn out of my school notebook and tucked in my planner, post-its stuck in my journal, tiny writing cramped in corners of books. They aren’t very poetic, or incredibly nuanced, or thoughts no one has had before. But they are snippets I can’t undo. They are a cold wind rattling in my chest and catching on my breath. I can’t promise very much about them at all. The thing I can say for sure is that they are honest. I’ve never been particularly stealthy or good at keeping my mouth shut, but there are things that even I tiptoe around. They are things I’ve kept to myself, because they are taboo, or could get me in trouble with someone somewhere. I’m hoping maybe someone somewhere will have had a thought or two like this too.

Us Christian mainliners, we like to build little forts for the things we don’t talk about; we dig a shallow moat and set up a few scrawny knights in big armor to guard the doors. Not to keep anyone out, but to keep the hard things in. We build them around our hearts, spiritual fortresses of solitude in struggle. As a declining breed we try to appear stronger than we are and hate admitting when things are hard or difficult. When we have to face those things or if we hear something we don’t like we act we are cruel and petty and mean. Our meanness is more acceptable within the walls of a Church building. Our ignorance and put-downs of each other are put up with under the guise of tolerance because we are trying so hard to hold onto a semblance of our identity and to stay the majority. Sometimes we sacrifice each other just to hold the walls together. 

I do Church because I have Faith. Not because Church people are more kind by default (they are not) or because they are inherently better people (they are not) but because God is bigger than the pettiness, than the difficulties, than the politics, than the disrespect, than the bureaucracy, than the brokenness and fallibility of people.

So in any season of struggle, when I am feeling mad or frustrated or hurt by all or any of those things I try to remember that bigness, that promise of 2,000 years ago. I try to push myself even when it almost physically hurts to be present inside the building. I’m not saying anyone should place ourselves in truly unhealthy situations sometimes I just need some time to breathe too, but I am saying that riding out the storm of doubt alone is not the example we are given in our sacred text. I’m not usually successful. I understand completely why my generation leaves the Church in droves, and I have teetered on the edge more than once. I believe in community and in the potential for goodness. I stay for that.

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