People are not afraid of change;
people are afraid of loss.
“I’m not even close to you!”
While I was walking back to my car in an open field, this couple chastised me and instructed me to put my mask back on. I was a good 20 feet away and didn’t appreciate being patronized for something that seemed nonsensical. So I yelled back to them, “I’m not even close to you!” Of course, my barking back was not met with warm acceptance. We exchanged words as we angrily walked past each other. I could see them talking amongst themselves aghast at how disrespectful I was. Inside I was fuming, contriving reasons why they were wrong and I was right.
As I walked away, moving away from my anger, and coming back to my Christian senses, I felt confused and embarrassed. Before I could really understand why I acted that way I knew what I needed to do. I ran back to the couple and apologized to them for my behavior. They appreciated the gesture but the questions remained for me.
I walked back to my car wondering about myself: “What was that about? Why am I so angry?” As I’ve been processing this event, the answer, I realized, is answering a larger question of “Why are people so angry in 2020?”
How can we explain the rage we see within us and around us? It turns out the answer, I believe, has to do with grief and our ability to grapple with the rapid changes that have happened in 2020.
People often think of grief as something people experience after losing someone they loved. However, grief, as I’ve come to learn, includes both tangible and intangible loss. There are things we lose that are tangible-people, jobs, money. Then there are things that we lost that are intangible–freedom, companionship, being known. And because of those losses, I had not realized it before, but I have casually walked through the stages of grief.
I realize that I have been experiencing frustration in the anger phase over things that I feel that I have lost in 2020. This week, I spent time journaling and writing the different things I’ve personally lost. Here are some things I scribbled in my journal:
I’m grieving the loss of personal freedoms
I’m grieving the loss of the privilege of living in a stable society
I’m grieving the loss of my sense of control
I’m grieving the loss of seeing friends and family
Not having processed this, the anger has come up to the surface in unpredictable ways. 12 months ago, I would have never cursed out someone in public; yet here I was doing so.
Why is everyone so angry in 2020?
It’s becoming clear to everyone that 2020 has produced some significant changes, and subsequently, loss in everyone’s lives.
If I could superimpose the stages of grief in our world today, it seems that our society is in a melting pot of anger through its many losses.
When I look at pictures and videos of all the people who are so angry, I realized that I am no longer looking at someone who is angry for no reason; I am looking at someone who has lost something.
2020 has produced a whole swath of intangible losses for many.
People have lost their sense of freedoms
People have lost loved ones
People have lost their sense of stability
People have lost their jobs
People have lost their sense of control
People have lost their sense of peace
People have lost their sense of normalcy
People are looking for civility. But civility cannot be found when people are in pain.
We are a wounded bear. It is our anger that you see, but the anger is simply a mask for a bear who has lost their cubs to the lion of 2020. The anger is simply a mask for wishing someone that could recognize what we have lost. We wish that someone would recognize our pain.
Yet instead of recognition, we are met with the output of other people’s anger. We are a room with two people in deep pain and in deep anger.So the cycle of rage and finger-pointing continues. It is a flame unabated, a wound continually breached. Welcome to our society in 2020.
Finding Healing in Grief
I have spent more time journaling as of late. Simply naming the things I have grieved over has started a healing process. However, being a Christian, I have the advantage of turning loss into prayers. I have not prayed much bold prayers lately. I feel more like David, who weakly offered his prayer of complaint to God.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
In that place of groaning, I am met by one who hears and heals the pains of my heart. I walk from the place of groaning towards the journey of healing and wholeness. I am walking away as a wounded healer. A wounded healer can navigate the changes because they are walking with one who heals them continually along the way.
How about you?
In what ways have you experienced grief in 2020? What have you lost? How has God met you in the times of pain this year? I want to hear how you are processing this season. Leave your thoughts in the comments below.