National Gaslighting:After The Attack on the Capitol

I think the hardest part of the attack on the Capitol for me has been the constant deluge of posts dismissing anyone who is upset about it. From a parody on the parable to “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone,” to comments about self-righteousness, to posts about how if you are worried you just don’t trust God enough, and even to republicans begging democrats not to pursue impeachment in the name of unity, the constant pressure to NOT FEEL ANYTHING has been tremendous.

I have let myself sit in fear and distraction instead of posting because when I am faced with this particular struggle, it is very hard for me to sort through what is God and what is people using God to silence their ‘enemies.’ Let me be very clear, this is a form of abuse when it doesn’t use God, and spiritual abuse when it does, and I am not being melodramatic when I say that. It is important for me to point it out because people are associating what you say with who God is and who they are and the lessons they are learning could destroy their relationship with themselves and with Him.

What happened at the Capitol building was a fundamental attack on the foundation of our country, from within. It was a manifestation of the constant verbal attacks that Trump has railed against the democrats and American politics since he entered office, but never more intensely than now when he is backed into a corner. We have been attacked at the heart of our government while the man who is supposed to lead us and encourage us is instead leading the charge against the country.

That should be unsettling. Our country has been built on peaceful transitions of power, because George Washington stepped down on purpose, shocking everyone and showing the world that our leadership is different than a monarchy. He knew absolute power corrupts, and so he showed us how to limit the power of our leaders. Now, we have a movement that is actively trying to start a civil war, and keep a president in office. No matter which side you are on that should be terrifying, especially when people have already died and been abused in ways that are unjustifiable.

I am not saying this to say that we should all hide under our beds screaming in our panic attacks, but instead that concern, worry, anger, sadness, are all perfectly legitimate feelings to be feeling right now. To claim they are not is to ask people to do a mind game that is severely damaging-I know this firsthand from my own experience with anxiety and depression, secondhand from all of my friends with it, and even from authors, therapists and scientists. Denying your emotions is not healthy, and leads to a multitude of other problems.

Worse, most of these people are doing this in God’s name, as if in order to be loved by God, or to be good, or a good Christian or Catholic, you have to remain nonplussed by what feels like the collapse of our civilization, and you also cannot be angry at the people who created this. When you do this, not only are you asking them to play a dangerous mind-game, but you are telling them that in order to be good, or loved by God they have to succeed at it, which is physically, psychologically, mentally, and otherwise IMPOSSIBLE.

I can tell you firsthand what happened to me when I was subjected to that kind of speech for a long period of time and that is that I blamed myself for everything, because I was failing to not be upset so it must be all my fault, so I hated myself. Then when I couldn’t handle the visceral anger at myself any longer, it turned into anger at God that severed our relationship for a very, very long time, and He and I had to work very, very hard to heal it.

What I learned later is that God cares about our feelings. He asks us into relationship, and that means that He wants to know us as we are, not some twisted forced perfect image. He wants us to grow better as people, but He does not want us to do that by pretending that nothing is bad in the world. Scripture is full of people proclaiming problems with the world, Jesus himself threw tables in the temple when he saw money changers taking advantage of the poor in the very building that should have been a solace for them. Isaiah, Jeremiah, even King David in the Psalms lament the state of the world in their times and beg God to help them. Ironically, even the people who are now telling us that we should not be upset, are the same people who are always talking about how evil and bad the world is.

I think part of it is a sense of revenge. Many of these people did not understand the riots this spring, and so they are using those as evidence of why we should not be upset. What they do not understand is that the “revolution” we have seen from Trump’s followers, and the protests that emerged from the unjust deaths of hundreds of people are so wildly different in nature that it makes no sense to compare them. Even if you are only comparing the violence itself, one does not negate the other. This should not be seen as some fact of life and “this is what you get.” Any violence ever is a tragedy, every single act of violence, nothing in this spring negates what happened now and to act like we should not be upset now if we wanted justice this spring even if we had no part in the riots is not ok.

I could go on and on about the reasons and the problems with what is happening right now, but I want to close with this. If you are feeling anger, fear, anxiety, rage, and any other negative feeling right now, it is a perfectly legitimate and reasonable response to what we have suffered this past four years. God loves you, even if you are feeling all of those things, even if you want to scream every day, or you can’t focus on your work, or you just want to cry, or hide. God loves you. Not only does He love you, but He wants to be with you in your pain. Before He was crucified, He was so afraid He sweat blood, and cried to God to take the cup away from Him. He knows your pain, and I believe He came to know it so He could comfort you in it. Be at peace in His love for you and know Him, even when His people hurt you.

I love you,

Me

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