When I published my previous article, I never expected the timing would be so relevant with the events that unfolded later that day at the US Capitol. While I have many thoughts on the things that took place that afternoon and evening, I’m not going to focus on that particular event so much as I would like to try and develop an argument or thesis for how we should process these events as individuals whenever something major like this occurs. I’m thinking more broadly about things like the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 election, and other similarly historic events in recent history. It can be overwhelming, but I believe there are practices we can put into place to help mitigate the overwhelming nature and instead allow us to focus on what’s really at stake and live our lives accordingly.
First, as a Christian, I process these types of events in light of Scripture.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.2 Timothy 1:7
Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with my righteous right hand.Isaiah 41:10
We see examples throughout Scripture similar to these two above that point to God being in control over all things with no need to fear. But how much do we really believe this? I see “warnings” often of the coming downfall of our country because one political party or another is now in control of government. That depending on how an upcoming election turns out, kiss our freedoms goodbye. These types of hyperbole are not helpful for one, but don’t stand up to the test of Scripture, second. If God is truly in control, and we believe the Scripture as we say we do, then take comfort in 2 Timothy 1:7 and Isaiah 41:10. Should you be involved civically in voting and advocating for things you believe in? Absolutely. But those things aren’t ultimate.
Second, approach these types of events with a charitable attitude, not seeking or expecting the worst possible outcome or worst understanding of someone’s words. Instead, approach every situation with hope and the knowledge that what we just considered above is true. The recent events we’ve seen unfold are hard to watch and read about, and it’s easy to jump to conclusions based on your own biases. I’m as guilty as anyone in this regard. Don’t rush to post your opinion or hot take. That most often leads to misinformation and regret later after all the facts are made available.
My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger,James 1:19
Finally, process these things in community. It’s not helpful to silo yourself and keep your thoughts, feelings, and questions about major events to yourself. Surround yourself with a community of people who you know you can turn to that will uplift and encourage you. Even if they may disagree with you on some things, if charitableness and love are the foundations of your relationships, using those relationships to help you process major, confusing events can be the most helpful.
As an aside here, community isn’t likely found on Facebook or Twitter. What I’m talking about here is real, thick community that is found face to face. The faux community that social media has cultivated only leads to more division and provides echo chambers for like-minded individuals rather than challenging us to be in relationship with those with whom we might disagree. That is real community.