Paper Cuts, Singleness, and Politics

Since school started up again a few weeks ago, my hands are covered in little paper cuts. As a book-wielding librarian, these little slices are the inevitable collateral damage. In the midst of a busy class, I often don’t even notice when a page I’m turning or a plastic book cover has broken the skin until after the kids file out of the library and I glance down to see yet another angry red slash on my fingers. In that moment, when noticed, the pain finally hits and can take days to heal enough to no longer irritate me.

Similarly, these past couple of years, I feel like I’m walking around with little barely-there slices and dices out of my heart, my soul, myself.

A much beloved former student reposts a meme about how untrustworthy all single people are, how married folks need to avoid us lest we seduce them away from their spouses. Supportive comments follow, mostly by men, all affirming the truth of this ridiculous cliché. And it cuts.

Kavanaugh lies and dissembles before the senate and is defended and even praised by people I know, people who claim to love God and love others. He would never assault a woman because he’s such a “good” guy. And why didn’t she report it? And if he did . . . it was just a youthful indiscretion. And if we start holding all men accountable for the dumb things they do as teenage boys, where would we be? These slices hurt more than you initially think possible, endlessly causing pain and discomfort. Even when I’m not thinking about it directly, the pain lingers.

The mother waiting for her child to finish his AR test after school strikes up small talk by asking me how old my kids are. I flinch, awkwardly not knowing how to respond, confused by this out-of-nowhere assumption. When I reply that I don’t have any kids, she looks at me with confusion, then surprise, then pity. One more slash.

Alums from my graduate school days post unwavering support for a divisive, unnecessary, and incredibly problematic statement made by many modern American evangelical pastors and leaders against social justice. Another furrow gashes my heart.

I know many people who would just call me a Snowflake and tell me to suck it up. They’d look at my sliced up self and scoff, thinking I must be weak and overly sensitive, a SJW who just needs to lighten up. But the minute I question the church’s idolatrous views of marriage, the GOP’s continued support of irrational, abusive, but powerful men, or the shirking of the church’s mandate to love its neighbor, I am faced with people questioning my faith, my character, and my intellect in shocked, offended tones.

What’s so wrong about being sensitive to others? I’m a Christian forgiven and beloved by God, a school librarian who works with little children, and a counselor who helps those in the darkest of times – shouldn’t sensitivity be a requirement in my life? Can’t that sensitivity strengthen my resolve to fight for what is right and good and just? Shouldn’t I be a warrior for all kinds of justice?

I am an educated, middle class, employed, white woman living in a first world country with a supportive family. If I walk through each day like the walking wounded, bracing myself for the next injury, flinching at each attack, I cannot imagine what life must be like right now for those with less privilege.

So each day, I walk through life with tiny open wounds – not enough to kill or cause permanent damage, but enough that even tiny movements are felt, every flex of my fingers may make me wince. Each turn of the page reminds me that my skin is breakable, that I’m at risk. I used to be tougher, better able to ignore all the incisions, but now I’m just tired and sore.

So each day, I apply bandages to these injuries, to protect myself. I fortify myself with prayer and Scripture. I deleted Twitter. I stopped going to small group at church. I give myself permission to block or mute people on social media so they cannot continue to wound me or my readers. I read fewer news articles. I seek out podcasts and sermons that lift my eyes to the Lord. I cling to my family and friends. I check to make sure I’m registered to vote. I co-facilitate GriefShare each week, and grieve deep losses with those who suffer deeper wounds than mine. I listen to music that lifts up my soul. Little things that help me heal. Band-aids and plasters to cover up the cruelty of this world. I know these paper cuts are part of our broken world, inevitable and unstoppable, but I still pray for a day when fewer of them are caused by those of us who claim faith in Christ.

Comments

  1. This is a beautiful post, Fawn. I hope it helps to know that others walk along with you, carrying some of these same wounds. Love you.

    • It is a great help to have a supportive community around me, even if much of it is farther away than I’d like. Love you too!

  2. Hi Fawn,

    So often I’ve felt that many people belong to the Evangelical church because they like Evangelical culture (which interestingly is often not particularly Christ-like as you have evidenced well in this post). As a single adult, I sometimes by definition seem not to fit in well in that Evangelical culture, and it’s really frustrating to constantly interact with people who have had little opportunity to discriminate between the true church and a false culture. Alas, all those paper cuts you mentioned are painful but ultimately very helpful in drawing clear lines between what is of Christ and what is just artifact of Evangelicalism’s trysts with worldly things. Regardless of their utility, I do hope you take time to clean and dress those little paper cuts. In my own life, I’ve seen them cause quite a bit of trouble when they get infected. Be well.

    Nikki

    • Even reading comments like these from likeminded siblings-in-Christ help heal those little cuts. Thank you for that.

    • Great follow-up to a great post. We don’t need to fit into this “mold” that the American church creates – that’s how I found you – looking for the unique & diverse, not just the “Christian mom life” groups. While there is nothing inherently wrong with those groups, the over-emphasis on them implies that single and without kids or otherwise outside the “mold” is less than – and that just isn’t true nor Biblical. Continue to seek God’s voice and use your gifts & talents to serve and glorify him. Thank you for sharing your heart and I agree with Nikki – take the time you need to address those wounds. I’ve had to take similar moves putting “media” barriers in place in my own life as well. It’s liberating.

      • Happy you found this blog, and thankful for your comment. It’s good to be reminded that God meant his body to be made up of unique parts, and we are stronger together.