My heart has been heavy with the pain I see we inflict upon each other. I feel like the little girl watching a movie with her dad. When it gets to the hard parts, she buries her face in her dad's chest, "Turn it off, Daddy. I don't want to watch anymore. Make it stop, Daddy."
As I ponder what's going on in the world and question where this all will lead, I find I have questions about my own self as well.
There is a poem Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote while in prison before he was murdered by the Nazis near the end of their regime. It is a poem filled with questions, and as I look at my days and the dark times we are facing in the United States, I often come back to this poem and ask the same questions.
I am asking them today, but not in the context of being in prison for subversive activity.
I ask in the context of what people say they perceive in me:
Who Am I
By Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Who am I? They often tell me
I stepped from my cell's confinement
Calmly, cheerfully, firmly,
Like a Squire from his country house.
Who Am I? They often tell me
I used to speak to my warders
Freely and friendly and clearly,
As though it were mine to command.
Who Am I? They also tell me
I bore the days of misfortune
Equably, smilingly, proudly,
Like one accustomed to win.
Am I then really that which other men tell of?
Or am I only what I myself know of myself?
Like a bird in a cage,
Struggling for breath,
As though hands were compressing my throat,
Yearning for colors,
For the voices of birds,
Thirsting for words of
Tossing in expectations of great events,
Powerlessly trembling for friends at an infinite distance,
Weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making,
Faint, and ready to say farewell to it all.
Who am I? This or the Other?
Am I one person today and tomorrow another?
Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others,
And before myself a contemptible woebegone weakling?
Or is something within me still like a beaten army
Fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?
Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.
Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God. I am thine!
Who am I? I wonder that myself. Am I really as loving as people seem to think? People tell me I have a "sparkling personality", that I can "handle" myself in uncomfortable situations.
But I know myself. In these days of yelling and screaming about who and what is to blame for the pain in this world I wonder what I have caused to contribute to the pain instead of being an agent of comfort.
I don't know myself. Most of the time I don't know the pain I have inflicted on others.
There is only one thing that brings me comfort in these uncertain times and questions about myself and it's best said in the words Paul wrote centuries ago while in prison, to his friend Timothy, "…I know the One in whom I believe and trust, and I am sure that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until the day of His return." (2 Tim 1:12).
So, as I bury my head in my Father's chest, and say, "Turn it off, Daddy. I don't want to watch anymore. Make it stop, Daddy." He says, "Don't worry, I'm with you and won't let anything hurt you. Just trust me."
I may be uncertain about our days, and about myself, and I know I am as fragile as a dandelion, but there is one thing I am certain of and it's the only thing I need to hold on to: I will give my burdens to God the Father, the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit and know I and those I love will be cared for. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall. (Psalm 55:22)