Argh and ugh are my two favorite kind-of-not-real words for expressing what is almost inexpressible. I use them when life seems so DIFFICULT. Lately, I seem to be using them more.
Many things seem to be increasingly hard, uncertain and antagonistic. From Will Smith to fill-in-the-blank here, we all are not our best selves these days. We are somewhat post pandemic but still so affected. And, of course, it isn’t just the pandemic, it is all of the things, right?
Our world now has war going on, a few of them actually. We have inflation. We have ugly rhetoric in schools, churches and politics that just won’t stop. People are still acting strangely in planes, cars and meetings. It seems almost every day a shooting occurs. Every day is our planet melts a bit more.
I keep hearing of friends and family with layers of troubles and really hard health and grief situations going on.
In addition, it seems like uncertainty abounds. We still don’t know if there are more Covid surges coming. We don’t know how most things will turn out.
It is horribly uncomfortable to keep doing life when you don’t yet have all the facts you need to decide things.
The Atlantic published an article recently by Olga Khazan titled Why Everyone is Acting So Weird. She reports more disorderly, rude and unhinged conduct everywhere from ski slopes to hospitals. The murder rate has risen, car thefts have spiked and so have carjackings.
Khazan, in consultation with health experts, suggest a few reasons why life is so strange right now: One, we are all stressed out and rudeness is contagious. She suggests we might be “catching it” from social media and spreading it. Secondly, people are drinking more, using more substances, buying more guns. Thirdly, isolation is changing us. She even makes the point that mental illness can’t even explain our behavior.
She concludes, Improvement may be slow…. The rise in disorder may simply be the unsavory side of a uniquely difficult time–one in which many people were tested, and some failed. There have been periods where the entire nation is challenged…and you see people who do heroic things, and people who do some very defensive, protective, and oftentimes ridiculous things.
The bottom line is this, life is just hard right now for most of us. It is argh and ugh and a few other words. It is uncertain. It is painful.
We do not like to stay immersed in that which is difficult. I sure don’t.
My favorite theologian, Richard Rohr, spoke into this yesterday in a devotional on suffering. He reminds us that suffering is part of life, and we suffer collectively. When one of us hurts we all do. When we run from it, resist it or deny it, we suffer even more.
When we try to run from Ugh and Argh our faith invites us to a more generous response. We are called to stay with it. He writes, …the soul must walk through a kind of dying to go further, deeper. These hard times are called “nights”, darkness, or seasons of unknowing or doubt. Our society has almost no spiritual skills to deal with our personal and collective pain, so we resort to pills, addictions and other distractions to get us through. This does not bode well for our society. (Richard Rohr, April 4, 2022 Daily Meditation from the Center for Action and Contemplation.)
He writes, (Spiritual) Integrity is often a willingness to hold the hard side of things instead of reacting against them, denying them, or projecting our anxiety elsewhere. Frankly it is just another name for faith.
That phrase captured my attention: hold the hard side of things. For a couple of days now, I’ve written it at the bottom of my to-do list because that is the one document I look at several times a day. I wrote simply: Hold in the hard. It = faith.
Does life seem rough right now? Is it filled with argh and ugh? Does it seem uncomfortable and uncertain? Are you or those you love in a tough season? Are you having to make decisions without knowing how all this will unfold? Are you wanting to be among those who choose love, grace and trust over rudeness and bad behavior?
Hold in the hard. It = Faith.
Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three, breast cancer survivor and Mosa to Keller, Pace and River. She is the co-founder of Connect GCISD, a non-profit connecting economically disadvantaged students with community resources. To read more blogs go to http://www.drcindyryanblog.com.