I have never left a protest or a demonstration ever really feeling fulfilled. Not ever. Mostly I feel disappointed. Full of promises and false hope. Some anger. Agitation. And a feeling that I don’t really belong in their movement. Whichever movement it is.
Isn’t that surprising? Because it is to me. Every time I walk away from a rally, a protest, or a demonstration, I drag my sign behind me on the ground pushing away trash that was left behind as my head swims with chants, poems, and slogans aimed against the enemy.
“Hey, hey, ho, ho, Donald Trump has got to go!”
Indeed. Though, I’m unsure who all is listening. Listening to speakers and poets and musicians inspiring the crowds is usually the high point for me, but that too doesn’t last very long. Their voices fade behind me with every marching step and get lost in the chants of the crowd. It’s easy to feel lost and forgotten. Because the moment that you disagree with any one person around you they will turn on you in an instant. Oh, you disagree that your heteropatriarchy got you where you are today?! YOU’RE THE ENEMY. I mean, not that they’re wrong. Smash the patriarchy! But you’ll never see anyone turn on your quicker than your own tribe. And it makes me anxious. Nervous that I’ll slip and say the wrong thing. An insensitive, non-inclusive thing. Something that shows these passionate activists that I’m actually a fraud. A white, Christian, cis-gendered, heterosexual, suburban mom fraud. And such are all of my intersections.
After I marched in the Women’s March on Washington this past Saturday, the streets were so crowded with people that I was afraid my friend and I wouldn’t make it home. The lines to the metro were insanely long and a 5 mile Uber ride out of downtown was $100. Once we finally squeezed onto the train, I stood smashed against the chests and backs of other marching women, most of whom were wearing those bright pink pussy hats, holding tightly onto the bars above me, closing my eyes and looking for my people. Because I felt alone. These weren’t my people.
I know that this probably isn’t the experience of most of the people that attended the march. I’ve heard story after story of kindness, camaraderie, friendship, solidarity, and unification, and they all make my heart sing with joy. But that is not my story. I was glad to show up and march. I was glad to hold up my “Beautiful Resistance” sign alongside my friend who held her “Black Lives Matter” sign and march towards the White House against generations of racism, sexism, and antagonism against immigrants, trans people, queer people, those who are homeless, and who are differently abled. But if I’m honest with myself, if I dig down into my heart, I know that I left not feeling unified. I left feeling like an outsider looking in. Quick to be ousted if I give a critique or offer another view. You mean Clinton and Obama aren’t our only hope?! And out of the tribe am I thrown.
Though, I’m not in distress. Actually, I’m full of joy and hope. Because those marches and rallies and protests don’t function as a unifying place for me. They are a place of public agitation, resistance, and awareness used to push against the status quo and make our voices heard. But unity? Solidarity? I have to admit that those all fall miserably short of any type of lasting unification that can fulfill and sustain us.
I woke up on Sunday morning and eagerly got showered and dressed, walking around on my cold hardwood floors with my sore bare feet, ready to go to church. The only thing that my heart desired was to be in worship with the people of my church. The people who I disagree with politically and culturally more than any other people I’ve known, besides my family of course 🙂 , were the ones who I wanted to be around the most. My heart longed to sing with them, feast on the Lord’s Supper with them, pray with them, and be unified through the body and blood of Christ, whose spirit indwells inside of us, knitting us together in a sustaining and powerful unity that no political movement, party, or protest could ever touch. And isn’t it beautiful? That a people who are supposed to be separated and split apart by their political parties, cultural beliefs, races, genders, sexualities, and any other number of intersections are all brought together in love by Jesus? The holy spirit moved me to tears and profound worship this Sunday when I was brought near to my people. The adopted family of God. Those who are my brothers and sisters. Who extend love, repentance and forgiveness in ways that the world will never extend to me. All as an outpouring of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of the Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. And that’s the only reason I can protest with hope: my trust and unity is not with the crowds or their slogans or their hats. It is in God who has adopted me into His family and made me His.