• Melanie Renken

Sigh

Updated: Feb 12, 2021

There comes a point with depression when you don't even feel sadness. You're just numb. And anger comes as a welcome reprieve.



So I said I was going to write a book. But I'm not. Not right now, at least.


There are lots of reasons--not the least of which is people would be hurt if I shared my whole story, but a story is not a proper story unless it's the whole story. And while we can't go through life without hurting people, we can get through without hurting them on purpose. Putting it all out there would be too close to hurting on purpose.


So no. Not now.


But even if I could convince myself that the helping would outweigh the hurting, truth is: I haven't felt inspired to write. Kind of hit a wall, I guess you'd say.


More honest truth is: I haven't felt inspired to write because I've been battling depression.


My writing comes easiest when I'm feeling strong emotions, but for the past several months, strong emotions have been hard to come by. If my general disposition could be summed up in a word, it would be sigh. I've been feeling sigh.


Sigh isn't sad.


Sigh isn't despondent.


Sigh isn't weepy.


Sigh isn't angry.


That's not to say I haven't felt all of those emotions, too, but they're not sigh. In fact, sigh came along after I thought I had worked through all of those more intense feelings--which I now almost miss, because sigh...well, sigh sucks.


Sigh is that feeling of being out of feelings.


Sigh rears its head when you're pretty sure you're out of tears, and you're even more sure the people you love most don't want to hear about your tears. Because there's no easy way to explain to those people you love most that your tears are over a ballot they cast. One vote that may not have changed the result of an election, but did change your worldview.


Sigh creeps in when you realize your rage is a dead end. After you get tired of being angry at ignorance, and just accept that education isn't easy for everyone--especially when it could mean challenging what families, friends, and pastors have always said is true. Sigh comes along when the voice in your head turns hoarse from screaming "HYPOCRITE!" at all the people who say they've opened their hearts to Christ, while slamming doors on people who don't look or worship like they do.


Sigh happens when you lose your faith. Not your faith in God--your faith in your faith. And your faith in people's capacity to love. Like when you come home after marching, knowing--having faith--that everything really is going to be okay because you saw with your own eyes all of the love out there, only to have that faith crushed by ridicule and judgment aimed straight at you. Because you marched.


Because fellow self-proclaimed Christians thought it was more important to make fun of the hats people wore at that march, than to be angry with the man who brought "pussy" into our living rooms. Because members of my "church family" deemed it more Godly to demonize women who believe in reproductive rights, than to take action that says touching a woman without her consent is never, ever, in a million years okay.


Sigh is losing your faith because you realize the people who you thought shared your faith are the ones who actually helped destroy it.


So you feel lost. And alone. Even though there are networks you can reach out to online to remind you of others who are in the same fight you are, you feel disoriented because you know you will never see your friends, your family, your church--the world--the same as you did before. Before--when you, perhaps naively, believed we were all on the same side at the end of the day.


Before sigh.


But then something happened. Something that is so terrible, so awful, and so undoubtedly un-Jesus, it's started to deliver me out of sigh and back into a place of feelings. Not necessarily good feelings--but feelings nonetheless.


Our president equated warriors against hate with the haters themselves. The man who is supposed to set the moral tone for our nation said that acting to eliminate Nazism is on the same moral footing as advancing an agenda that executed six million Jews and nine million others.


He espoused a concept that is so repugnant, so anti-Christian, and so unconstitutional, his chief of staff could only hang his head in shame--or disbelief--or embarrassment: the idea that our country is no longer one where Jews, Blacks, or any minority can expect to enjoy the same security as their white "Christian" neighbors.


To that, I call bullshit.


To that, I start talking.


To that, I stop respecting anyone who won't speak up and say This. Is. Wrong.


To that, I say I'm tired. Of ignorance. Of closet racism. Of back-to-being-acceptable sexism. Of hypocrisy.


Of pretending I feel secure and like I belong no matter where I am, because that's exactly what's brought me to sigh.


So...


If you proclaim that Jesus wants us to protect the unborn at all costs, but turn your back on women, men, adolescents, children, toddlers, and babies who are going to die if we don't give them a place of refuge, we do not know the same Messiah.


If you believe Black Lives Matter is a terrorist group and is equivalent to the KKK, we do not share the same respect for education and reason, because there is no factual or rational basis for any such nonsense.


If you care more about a tax break for yourself than you do about children of the less fortunate having food to eat and a warm place to sleep, we don't place the same value on a dollar.


If you think God loves the people of the United States of America even a rat's hair more than he loves the people of any other country--and wants Americans to love and help other Americans more than they love and help people of other nations--you must have been provided with some supplemental Biblical text I was not.


If you claim to teach your child kindness, but ridicule people with different political beliefs from the safety of your computer keyboard, we have different definitions of kindness. And integrity.


If you believe it's your Christian duty to speak out against homosexuality, but not against racism and inequality, we don't speak--or apparently read--the same language.


If you are a woman who is more concerned about paying less in taxes than you are about earning less than your male peers, we have different levels of self-respect.


If you are white and you don't believe there's such a thing as white privilege, then we have had much different life experiences (and you're talking to a woman who had an alcoholic father and a single mom during her childhood).


If you think a statue should stay where it is even though it reminds an entire race of people of a time when their ancestors were owned, raped, beaten, and lynched, see my note above about kindness.


And if you're turned off or pissed off by anything I've just said, that's okay.


We'll call it even.

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