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Running on Empty

Updated: Jan 25

I'm struggling today. I'm struggling with big, complicated emotions. I'm struggling with spiritual doubt, probably some apathy. When I've awakened the last few days, I've thought, "Oh great, another day..." And yesterday at the hospital, I found it difficult to the kind of compassion and concern I want to exhibit. What's wrong?

Overshadowing everything is the war Russia has launched with Ukraine. I'm angry. I'm angry because Russia's attack is so brazen, and the West is dithering much as it has in the past. In the meantime, what about the everyday Ukrainians trying to live their lives, go to work, raise their children, etc? My heart breaks for them. I'm typically a pacifist, but this attacks feels different. My reaction has been different and surprising. I'm actually in favor of attacking Russia back. Screw the sanctions. Someone needs to help Ukraine, militarily, on the ground, at sea, in the air and through cyberattacks against Russia. Sure, this will have consequences, but so be it. I think some things are worth fighting for--and by fighting, I don't mean arguing online but the real thing.

I'm also struggling with chaplaincy work. One of my recent shifts was full of strong emotions from patients and families. That isn't exactly new, but this last shift, it seemed to highlight how some people can't make a good, smart decision if their lives depended on it. They make poor health decisions, for example, and then wail because they're sick and in the hospital. They treat their families poorly and then wonder why no one visits them. Or their minds are so damaged by mental illness that they don't understand that other people are actually trying to help. Everyone and everything is a threat. And the drug overdoses. Some people feel such pain and hopelessness that they want to numb it and end their lives. All of this is enough to make me feel hopeless as well.

Related to this is all the Christian privilege. "If I just follow Jesus, I'll never get sick and die." Said who? "Why is this happening to me?" Well, why not you? Are you special? And so many Christians treat prayer as if it's a magickal incantation to make things--poof!--better. Just pray, and it'll be ok, they say. What if it isn't? I had a Christian woman explain that she kept praying to get well and she wasn't. She didn't understand. I felt bad for her, but I was also thinking, "Then stop praying." Seriously, things happen in life. We all will get sick and die, eventually, no matter how much we pray. And even though I'm Pagan, I still pray about some things. But I'm questioning this, too. Does any of it matter? As a Vodouisant, I pray to the lwa--but where were they when centuries ago when West Africans were torn from their homes and families and sold into slavery? Did their prayers matter?

So why pray for Ukraine? Will it matter? Why pray for any other little random things in life? I'm feeling empty and hopeless today. There you have it.

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