Someone needs to hear this today:
You have permission to not engage in every single debate swirling around you.
And certainly not publicly. We live in an Information age that gives us more access to news and information than any one person can keep up with.
And here’s the thing, everyone’s threshold is different. Some personalities naturally have less bandwidth for the unending information and debate of our culture. I think it’s safe to say all of us have less capacity to shoulder the constant news in our face when going through periods of illness, loss or transition.
On top of that, we may feel the pressure to speak up when something collides with our core beliefs and values. If we choose not to engage, does that mean we don’t care? What will someone think if I don’t pull out my megaphone too?
And then I see my kids arrayed in their mismatched socks frolicking around like the world is theirs and all their tender hearts want to know is, “Do you see me? Are you here with me?” And that’s when I remember they’re first. They are my core sphere of influence in this world. Yes, I want to continually educate myself and grow as a good citizen, but not at the cost of being present to the ones I love the most.
So then how do we honor our convictions even as we steward our time, energy and connection with our fellow humans? I don’t have all the answers, but here are a few things that keep me sane when it seems the world is going bonkers.
Peace comes from Christ alone.
Anything else is shifting sand. Practicing the awareness of His presence in my life and walking in friendship with Him is the most anchoring thing I can do.
How does Christ see the people involved?
Unsure? I go back to #1. I can read His Word, pray for them and be open to what God shows me.
All sound wisdom flows through love even when a strong vocal stand is called for (James 3:13-18). Jesus is a powerful model of what it means to be angry and take action without harboring bitterness or contempt for a fellow human created in the image of God (Matthew 21:12). We can’t get away from it; we fellow travelers are inextricably connected.
Not only will seeing people the way God sees them help us to avoid the pitfalls of unnecessary hurt, it increases the effectiveness of our words when the time comes to make a strong stand for what we believe in.
Limit input to what I know I can handle.
Again this will look different for everyone. I know that if I’m drained from giving my energy to the latest news or squabble – whether that’s family or on a larger scale – it won’t be long until I’ve violated my core value of wanting to be present and love the people right in front of me.
Wisdom says there’s a point when we need to turn the mayhem off. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries whether it’s turning off phone notifications, lovingly redirecting conversation with a loved one or setting up safeguards about how much time you’re willing to consume news and social media. I am not called to every discussion. It’s okay to show up and just love the person in front of me.
Practice awareness and self-compassion.
When something feels overwhelming to us, there’s usually a reason. If your internal or physical response to information or debate is particularly strong, it’s likely that it intersects with something in your heart or story that feels tender.
Do yourself a favor and don’t ignore that. If you’re looking for an exceptional tool in navigated your story and triggers in a sustainable way that will help move you toward wholeness, I highly recommend Try Softer: A Fresh Approach to Move Us out of Anxiety, Stress and Survival Mode & into a Life of Connection and Joy by Aundi Kolber.
For now, notice that your reaction is strong and let God love you in that place. Take some deep breaths, compassionately acknowledge the tenderness and do at least one thing that helps you feel more grounded. Taking a walk outside, calling a friend or hugging my husband works wonders for me.
Lastly, notice and honor areas of passion.
These are fairly easy for me to locate because my entire body responds when something comes up on a topic near and dear to my heart. Maybe it’s tears, excitement, or a rush of adrenaline.
If you track those things, usually themes will emerge. Raising kids, empowering women, cultural literacy, financial freedom, living in community. It could be anything.
Now pick 2 or 3 of those areas and brainstorm ways to proactively engage those passions. It could be something personal like hiring a therapist and continuing the inner work you’ve been doing to move toward wholeness. If your passion is empowering women, maybe you teach a class, start a group or simply use social media to inspire others.
Usually when something pricks our heart, it’s because we want to make a difference. That’s good. When we’re healthy, we can respond and stay in the driver’s seat of our words and actions. When reactivity drives the wheel, it’s often because we are feeling tender (see #5 above) or because we feel powerless in the presence of this huge thing. We don’t have to be at the mercy of the lie that we are powerless. When we notice those passions and proactively invest in those areas, WE decide what our capacity is to pour into that area rather than feeling swept up in the drama around us because our neglected passion is now demanding a voice.
What’s burning in you? Give it space. Because you carry something this world needs. By all means, let’s be brave voices. Let’s just have the wisdom to sleep on it, say it only in the way we would say looking deep into someone’s eyes and have the humility of knowing none of us know everything.
When all else fails, we’ll go back to #1 where the joy is. God is our safe landing and our shelter when we feel overwhelmed.
There will always be a debate. There’s only one you. Love you well.
I’d love to hear what resonated with you. Add your questions or insights in the comments below. If this encouraged you, I’d be honored if you shared this with a friend.