Overwhelmed by large-scale issues

My life is crazy right now. I haven?t checked this fact officially, but I feel like I start 72 percent of my columns this way. It?s whatever, though?I can?t help it! There always seems to be so much weird and overwhelming stuff going on with me.

Also, I apparently have the tendency to be slightly dramatic.

I?ve always known myself to be an empathetic, emotionally sensitive person. I cry a lot, and I?ve just accepted that as part of who I am. Since the assault in February, though, I really haven?t cried much?until the past two weeks. I don?t know if it?s just the reality of being back in the same area as my attacker or what, but I?ve been an emotional wreck lately.

(Just an FYI, this isn?t going to be a depressing column. Just hang in there, it gets better.)

Not only have my friends? problems been weighing heavily on my heart (they?ve been experiencing eating disorders, deaths in the family, depression), but the injustices of the world have been getting to me as well. There has always been a soft spot in my heart for the urban world?specifically the city of Los Angeles, where I?ve spent a lot of time getting to know people who represent the brokenness of the city.

Until recently, hearing about sex trafficking and oppression in other areas of the world has made me feel like maybe I?m supposed to be sad. But to be honest, not a lot of emotion has been attached the issues. I think this is because I?ve never really known much about these things. I hadn?t taken time to inform myself, nor had I been told many stories.

In chapel a few days ago, Alexia Salvatierra, the executive director of Clergy and Laity United Economic Justice out of Los Angeles, spoke and referenced a passage in Matthew 9. It says, ?Jesus saw the crowds and had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.?

I had heard this verse many times before, but Alexia made the connection that Jesus couldn?t have compassion on the people until he SAW them. I think that?s what?s been going on with me lately. The Lord has really been opening my eyes to these injustices, and as a result, my heart is pouring out all these emotions that seem really random and distracting to my day. (What an American way to view the problems of the world??distracting.? Sick.)

Here are some examples of the large-scale issues my overwhelmed little heart and mind have been exposed to in the past two weeks:

Shane Claiborne came for chapel to teach about our nation?s disgusting consumerism problem. Did you know that, on average, one American consumes more than 500 Africans in a single year!? That is completely ridiculous.

My Mexican history and culture class has begun learning about our neighboring country?s current climate of violence and corruption. My personal class project is on the violence in Ciudad Juarez. I?ve only read a few pages in one of my source books, but it?s titled ?Murder City,? and has been every bit as intense as its title suggests.

Probably more than half of my friends are vegetarians?a fact I apparently ignored all of last year. Listening to them talk about the effects of methane gas production, the impossibly unjust and disgusting conditions in which many chickens are raised, and the level of sustainability that can be reached by forgoing meat has me seriously questioning my food consumption habits.

Alexia told us about the injustice within our country?s immigration system, sharing heartbreaking stories of working women and their underprivileged children. This area is one for which I already know my spirit breaks.

I found myself wiping my wet eyes as she talked about families who could barely afford to eat, overwhelmed with burning anger when she spoke of people in power ignoring this oppression, and shedding tears of joy when she mentioned the hope and peace that can be found.

This is all so weird for me! I?m not usually such an emotional mess. I don?t really know what more there is to say about this, actually, because I?m still mentally unpacking it all. What a horrible piece of writing?no resolution! Oh well.

All I know is that my global awareness is increasing drastically this year, and it?s only been a month. It?s making me feel a little mentally frazzled and crazed, but I know that this is the kind of Christian I want to be: aware and informed of these issues, so I can ?see? the hurt of the people, then act out of compassion for them, just as Jesus did.

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