Present and Accounted For

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Image by Vinson Tan ( 楊 祖 武 ) from Pixabay

I’m in the early stages of our social distancing experiment and I’ve already learned a lesson about myself. The biggest lesson learned is that my desire to write doesn’t manifest itself during times of solitude. This keyboard gets no work. I don’t have a story in me right now nor do I want to finish the stories I’ve been putting off for weeks. You barely get a sentence out of me. Work doesn’t keep me from writing. I do.

What you’re reading is a victory and I claim it. Sure do.

Like most creatives, I thought this time would reinvigorate my creativity. I set off this time with ideas for projects and wrote down a list of writing goals to accomplish hopefully by the end of this thing. I haven’t done any one of those things since the creation of that list. What have I done? Watch hours of Bon Appetit Test Kitchen — God, please protect Claire at ALL costs — and tax my mind with existential questions like “God, what the f… ?”

When tragedies happen, people go searching for God — or for answers that only God can provide. Seriously, “The Story of God” is trending on Netflix. This moment in time makes absolutely no sense to us as human beings who need to know the “who, what, where, when, why and how” about everything that happens in our lives.

I’m just happy to exist. As a person with a history of substance misuse and a desire for men when tragedy strikes, just to wake up in the morning by my-damn-self without an empty bottle next to me is a win. To shower, figure out some semblance of an outfit and make something to eat out of the randomness of my pantry is all of the creativity I can muster. It’s my example of having faith during these times because other than that, the examples of faith given to me on Instagram ain’t cutting it for me.

When you’re bombarded with so many decontextualized Bible verses about faith and trust in God, you begin to believe that any amount of anger, anxiety and general WTF-ness is somehow in competition with what it means to believe in God. Like, fam … I’m not just worried about me but also the people around me. Bodies are dropping like flies and folks are going without what they need. Citizens are taxed by hazardous work without protection and leadership elected by the people fail to quell our worries. It’s a hot mess out here, straight up, and I’m supposed to put on my “Choose faith over fear, God got us” face for the people ie. social media? You’re bugging. I’m bothered.

And if I’m not bothered, then that means I’m ambivalent and that emotion is an affront to God. Ambivalence means you don’t care to stay home to keep others safe. Ambivalence means that you don’t support local businesses if able to do so. Ambivalence means that you reach out to your vices for comfort instead of the people who care about you the most. Ambivalence means a lack of empathy toward essential workers and apathy toward those who may not make their rent next month.

God heard their cries and rescued Her people, remember?

I’m totally cool if God never answers why this is happening to us. I’m super cool if God isn’t trying to teach me a lesson during this time. I’ve seen a thousand memes and posts about how God created this pandemic to supposedly take our idols away so we can have time with Her, or teach us resilience in the face of discomfort. While I understand those thoughts and hold them true to a degree, I feel a tinge of selfishness about it all. Everything God does isn’t always a lesson to be learned just for myself. God doesn’t need a pandemic to remind us of what She wants from us. Moments like these teach us to not always think about ourselves and to be grateful for what we may have and how we can aid others in peril.

Or to wake up in the morning and exist because that’s always enough.

Memoirist in spirit and in truth. Christian essayist when both the spirit and truth move me. email: crjtwrites[at]gmail.com

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