*removes earrings, puts hair on top of head*

Are y’all ready for some church drama?

Last Friday our church put up the weekly newsletter. It was a good one. Having survived Laura here in Houston we were called on to reach out and serve those people battered by the storm. There was even a heart-wrenching quote from one of our own parishioners about how much the church had helped her family during Harvey and how our community was being called to step up now.

The photograph used in the newsletter was one from our Harvey relief work. It was a room full of people packing food. It was chocked full of the gospel.

The post was up for mere minutes when someone commented with loads of explanation points and a very colorful statement that began, “What are you people thinking!?” and chastised the church (actually my husband by name) for having a bunch of people in a room without masks on. She even tagged our ecclesiastical authority. So fun! Never mind that the photograph was old. Never mind that we would be absolutely crazy to put a bunch of people in a room right now without masks on. Never mind any grace or curiosity. Never mind any humanity. Just never mind.

We were wrong and we by God needed to know.

I had a lot of thoughts. I thought about the article I recently read about clergy suicide ideation and depression being prominent in the Covid era. I considered sending the offender a message saying that if you come at my husband you come at me and sorry but I don’t make the rules. But mostly, I thought about how some other person’s rage had prompted mine. How I wanted to set the record straight. I longed to correct the corrector.

And I thought about how I probably need to defund my inner police.

Everyone is a complete and total mess right now. Anyone who tells you they are not is a liar. We are all desperately clinging to control in a world of trauma. But the handles have broken off the ride and we are being slung right and left, up and down, until we are absolutely nauseated with anxiety. Correction is the only control we have left. Even if my hopelessness is off the charts and my heart is cracked in two, I can use my last breath to call out what you have done wrong. It must please the devil that no matter how tired we are, we always have room for personal fury.

And so I think we all must consider defunding our inner police.

If you have a family member you do not politically agree with and every time they put up something about politics you see this as your time to shine, put down the polishing cloth. Save it for Thanksgiving. You will need it to polish the silver that, God willing, you will both be eating with when you share a meal together. Defund your inner police.

If you have ever posted anything about people not wearing masks on other people’s personal photographs then it is time for you to see some real life friends (with a mask on!) because honey that screen is doing you no good. Defund your inner police.

If your baseline is to assume that a church you do not attend is full of idiots who stand in a room without protective gear to do hurricane relief then maybe you need to show up at that church and get to know those people. They are lovely. Their priest is doing a wonderful job. But I hear the wife is a real handful.

Related, if you have ever plotted to key the car of someone you do not know for a comment they wrote on your husband’s church website then, dear self, you need to defund your inner police.

Our call to be Christ-like is powerful and necessary. We absolutely need to be concerned with the welfare of the oppressed. The widows and orphans are all around us, and they need our help. People cry out from the streets, and we have to heed their call.

But the other part of being Christ-like has less valor, perhaps. And yet it is equally as vital in this divisive moment. We are called to empty ourselves in cruciform shape. We are called to have less room for our own inner self-righteous voice and more space for humility and faithfulness. We are called to question the vicious reactivity our culture is drowning in.

We have to decrease and defund our inner police so that Jesus can increase in us.

It was the law that killed Jesus. And it was his death that set us free. Of course, sin in inescapable this side of the heavenly veil. Perhaps our inner police are inescapable too. By God, I hope not.