I might’ve mentioned that I’m not actively working at the moment. The shelter is barely funded and we have to prioritize what funds we do have for the colder months, so typically we’re closed in the summer. This means our guests have to camp or something and our staff has to scramble. Last year, I picked up some work helping a mentally unstable friend do renovations around his house. This year, there wasn’t much in the way of work, but I did manage to get a gig doing some painting at the local children’s museum, which led to a mural, which got enlarged halfway through. After finishing it, I turned in my hours and went out to the woods to play in a creek.
The shelter is actually gonna re-open early this year. We expected September, but then something happened and we have money, so we’re re-opening, with modified hours, 12 July. This is earlier than we’ve ever been able to re-open and a dang good thing acause it’s been pretty hot. Not hot like the Pacific Northwest, where the power lines are melting off the poles, but still pretty hot. Heat actually kills more Americans every year than cold, and the population we serve has issues other than weather. I’ve called the squad many times for folx having seizures or overdosing. Some of them would survive without medical attention, but every summer a couple people don’t, so it’s good for the guests that we can provide them with a place to get inside and at least have the option of accessing some basic services.
Meanwhile, on the Blue Berd, some preacher by the name o’ John Piper tweeted “Worry is a subtle form of atheism”, which is actually a misquote of some guy name o’ Rick Warren, and my time line went nuts with people pointing out what a load of victim-blaming shit that is, and some folx trotted out some other shit that had fallen outta Piper’s mouth and there was a general pile-on. I don’t know this Piper. He’s apparently famous in some Baptist circles or some such – the branches of Christianity that I avoid – and has a history of saying dumb shit like God causes tornadoes because He’s mad at gays. A lotta folx pointed out that it’s easy to not worry when y’re rich and stuff like that.
Earlier today, I went downtown to get stamps because I had to mail some checks – mortgage, electricity, internet – and I swung by my bank to check my balance which was somewhat lower than it would need to be for me to pay my monthlies. Now, friends, I have a long history of being financially uncomfortable. One could go so far as to say, as I did recently when the subject came up in a conversation with my kid, that I am poor. I’m not as poor as the guests at the shelter, but I am firmly in the 99%, whether you’re talking about the American 99% or the global 99%, though I am pretty close to the top of the global 99% – in the top quarter, at least. I have been worried about money on a few occasions, but I wasn’t this week. Since I became a Christian, I have actively tried not to worry about shit. It’s fairly easy for me to dodge worrying about my academic career since I don’t actually want to be in college at all. I am only pursuing a Masters because I believe God wants me to, so I’m happy to have Him worry about it. I think I’ve done fairly well at not worrying in general – except for when I got overwhelmed by forces beyond my control, for example, my own mental illness. It’s a work in progress.
When I started doing painting at the children’s museum a few years ago, we had a talk about pay. I know the children’s museum is a non-profit and I like them. I been taking my rotten kid there for years. So I told the woman in charge of that kinda thing that I normally get $15/hr, but that I’d be willing to do $12/hr for them. She said she’d pay me $15 and I didn’t argue. Then I shaved a bit of time off every job. I’m not gonna let their commitment to fair pay prevent me from giving something anonymously.
Well, the check arrived in the mail today and danged if they didn’t pay me $20/hr this time. At $15/hr, I would’ve been okay. Work starts at the shelter soon and I know how to live cheap. At $20/hr, I’m flush. I can do fun stuff with my kid, get groceries and keep on feeding the useless cats. I’m set until the regular paychecks from the shelter start coming.
Meanwhile, the Virginia Synod has $5k for me for seminary. I’m signed up for one class for Fall 2021, Bible: Telling the Story, and actually almost looking forward to it. College has been annoying so far, but I’m kinda into the Bible, so this class could be fun.
Speaking of the Bible, there’s a lot in there about worry –
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” – John 14:27
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:7
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is life not more than food, and the body more than clothes?” – Matthew 6:25
“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” – Psalm 55:22
And so on. We’re repeatedly told not to worry. That doesn’t mean worrying is in the same category as stealing – I don’t think we’re being ordered to not worry. I think we’re being assured that we don’t need to worry, that we can be easy in our hearts and minds that God is taking care of shit. When things don’t go how we’d like, we can choose to believe that God knows better than we do. We can also recognize the fact that God provided pretty clear instructions, which people have straight up furkin’ ignored all down the line, so it ain’t exactly His fault when things ain’t right.
Saying that worry is a subtle form of atheism, to an audience who aspires to be good Christians, is weaponizing a very common human emotion. It is throwing people’s insecurities in their faces and saying that they are at fault because they have failed to have faith. It’s bullshit. But the opposite is also bullshit – worry, though human and perfectly understandable, is flat out not what we’re supposed to be doing with our time here on God’s green earth. Every moment we spend frettin’ over anything, climate change or the neighbor’s cat, is a moment we are taking away from more productive, useful, fun shit we could be doing.
There’s nothing wrong or sinful about worrying. It is also not beneficial. Learning to let go of worry and just let God take care of things is a process that takes time. I have been given enormous advantages that the average person doesn’t have – the “mental illness” that I have actually makes it fairly easy for me to say “Well, fuggit, I reckon I’ll jes’ trust on the Lord and if’n He lets me fall, I’ll jes’ fly away to Gloryland”. (I really should delve into that in another post.) If I lose the house, I’ll be bummed, but I’ll be okay. I work at the homeless shelter, fer fuck’s sake. Other people, who do not have the advantages I enjoy, may have to invest some little time and effort into letting go of worry. It is worth the trouble though.