As a Christian, lately, I have been struggling to reconcile how I feel and how my religion tells me I should feel. In many situations, my heart and my head disagree with what my religion tells me I should believe. I know I am not the only Christian who is feeling this way.
One thing that has been weighing heavily on me though, is the idea of sending “thoughts and prayers” during a time of hardship. Believe me, I send thoughts and prayers in all situations. When I see something terrible on the news. When I see a car accident on the side of the road. When the weather looks ominous. When a friend has an interview. When my husband is holding on to his last nerve at work. I send thoughts and prayers all the time. There is nothing wrong with it, but we have to admit, in a lot of situations, it isn’t enough. Not even close.
When you send thoughts and prayers to a mother who lost her child in a school shooting, your prayers are for God to comfort her, but they don’t really do anything to make it better.
When you send prayers to a city who has been leveled by a natural disaster, your prayers are for their safety in the waiting periods, or for comfort in the adjustment and loss periods, but they don’t really do anything else.
When an LGBTQ+ teenager commits suicide because of the treatment they receive from peers, family members, church members, community members, etc., your thoughts and prayers are for the comfort of those left behind, but they don’t really do anything.
When you send thoughts and prayers to the situation at the border, they don’t do anything.
When you send your thoughts and prayers to an eleven-year-old who gets raped and is forced to carry the pregnancy to term, your thoughts and prayers don’t do anything.
Thoughts and prayers are a nice gesture, but they don’t do anything. They do not help. They do not fix the problem or the root of the issue. Honestly, all I can see that they do is remove any weight of personal responsibility to help that you may feel.
We don’t need to look at any kind of gun control laws, because I sent thoughts and prayers.
We don’t need to go volunteer in the town not far from us that was leveled, or donate money or any of our belongings, because we sent thoughts and prayers.
We don’t need to protect the rights and dignity of the LGBTQ+ community, especially if we disagree with their “life choices”. We don’t need to change ourselves, because we sent thoughts and prayers.
We don’t need to help immigrants seeking asylum, because that’s just uncomfortable and inconvenient for me. We are “good” because I sent thoughts and prayers.
We don’t need to let women have rights to their own bodies, or stricter punishments on rape, or protect and support the funding of programs like Planned Parenthood, Food Stamps, etc. that help that mother care for the child we want to force her to have. We don’t need to do any of those things, because we sent thoughts and prayers.
Even as a Christian, I am so tired of hearing the phrase “Thoughts and Prayers”, because all I see is a way for us to excuse the fact that we do nothing else to help. It is a brushing-our-hands-of-guilt-or-responsibility move. At least, that is all it is when you do not follow it up with actions. We send thoughts and prayers, and then move on to the next disaster which is surely only a few days away.
I’ve spent a lot of my adult Christian life walking a fine line. I was careful about what I said or what I shared on my personal social media pages, mostly for the comfort of others. And honestly, I went round and round on if I should post this today due to fear of repercussions. I did not want to put myself in a position of opposition of those in my family, my community, or my church. I did not want to rock the boat.
But I can’t NOT rock the boat anymore. I cannot be quiet for the sake of comfort, mine or anyone else’s. I must speak out on the things that are important. And I understand if you need to get out of the splash-zone of my swaying boat. But I’m done only sending thoughts and prayers.