First off, my heart is breaking right now. I’m not angry. I mean, I have been. I think we’ve all had our moments this year. With the stress of a pandemic, whether it’s dealing with it hands on, like me as a nurse, or the side effects of the virus, like financial loss or a failing small business, it’s been weighing on us all. I’ve been described as a frontline worker since March, but aren’t we all frontline workers in one way or another? The difficulties of this year haven’t missed a one of us. That inherent stress is what I’ve been blaming public response on for the past couple of months. When someone acts like a jerk, you try and remind yourself how kind they normally are. You know, before the world fell to hell in a hand basket (minus the basket).
So, for months I’ve watched the transformation of people on social media. I initially blamed it on 2020 stress, but then I started to wonder.
I asked myself, “is this year just bringing out true colors?”
As a Christian writer I get a lot of friend requests from strangers on social media. They see my words, whether from a Facebook friend, my own website, or even other Christian sites that share my work, and they shoot me a request or a follow. I’m used to that. I usually hit their profile, ensuring they’re not a fake account or something bizarre, and unless I get a weird feeling in my gut, I’ll usually accept. But last week I had a situation that gave me pause. And when I say pause, I mean it broke my heart. I literally felt like I might weep for the way our Nation is going. The thing is, I got a request from a stranger, per usual, but when I went over to the profile I found the introductory information made me wince.
It said other stuff too. I can’t recall the exact descriptive terms. It was probably something like mother, wife, friend of animals or something. The point is that only two words made me stop and consider if I wanted this person having access to my life.
Conservative and Christian. It wasn’t the words separately, mind you, but the combination that scared me. Before this year I had never responded this way, but the magnifying glass applied by a pandemic and a racial injustice awakening had changed things for me. That. Broke. My. Heart.
I am a Christian. I am a Conservative. I am a Republican. These are all titles I have used and proclaimed when asked for as long as I can remember, but that was before this year happened. Something has changed.
Starting around the end of April (yes, after the stress of isolation), I began to see those true colors I mentioned. I saw friends (like, actual people I knew) on social media saying the most awful things. These were people who used the title, Christian, but the words they were spewing were the most un-Christ-like things ever. I saw everything from, “only nasty people with poor hygiene in poor neighborhoods get COVID-19,” to “this is God’s punishment for homosexuality.” I could have filled a notebook with the horrible things that came from the mouths of Bible-believing folks, but at the time I just tried to push it away from my mind.
Next came George Floyd. Y’all know what I’m talking about. True colors if ever there was such a thing. I’m telling you, you could spot a bigot from a mile away after that happened. My heart hurt, though, because I watched as “good” people, Christian friends I had always respected shared heinous memes and heartless words. I couldn’t believe my eyes or ears, and I watched the great divide begin.
A segment of the population emerged that wanted to embrace the hurting with love. It made my heart proud to see so many join spiritual hands to lift up the fallen and broken. Slowly, though, the snakes emerged. People intent on coming up with reasons why they couldn’t love, couldn’t speak love, show love, or be love. Excuses emerged covered in religious rhetoric, and my heart broke.