“The sky is falling!” Plan for when worst comes to worst. The world has been ending for nearly my entire life.

What keeps me from living as if my hair is on fire or finding shelter under a rock are words. Good faith words have moved me to a deeper sense of human being and belonging in community.

I started collecting words years ago and refer to them as journey words. When I feel stuck or lost, they move me.

As an elder Millennial, I have lived through the 9/11 terror attack, several wars, a stock market and housing market crash, two recessions, a global pandemic and an insurrection.

Last year, Andrew Van Dam, a reporter for The Washington Post, called Millennials “the unluckiest generation in U.S. history.” Thanks, Andrew.

Blockbuster movies have been made about the end of the world. Stores stock their shelves with every announcement of worst-case scenarios. Politicians campaign on it. If we don’t vote for him, then it will be the end of the world as we know it.

Every four years, America needs salvation from one person, place, thing or another.

“In these last and evil days” was a phrase I heard from the pulpit as a new convert to Christianity. The impending doom days and the wrath of God influenced my decision to become a Christian and to do it quickly.

Ironically, the salvation trifecta was completed by God’s unconditional love. Still, “time was winding up.”

Consequently, I needed to hurry up and decide where I would spend eternity. Heaven or hell? It had been divided up so neatly, which made the decision so easy in my 12-year-old mind.

Afterwards, I was enlisted in an epoch battle of good versus evil, the children of light versus the children of darkness. I was taught to believe that Christians were in a tug-o-war with the world and its leaders, who were always trying to take our faith away from us.

That fight continues for many as the vaccinated versus the unvaccinated, which strangely means Democrats versus Republicans. I am not a member of either political party, so I sit scratching my head at all of this.

I massage my temples every night at 6 p.m. while watching the news and the number of deaths climb. I am already prepared to accept that this may not be the worst of it.

With a global pandemic caused by COVID-19 and energized by its variants, with record-breaking weather patterns and a United States that divides itself on the need for power, we all have lots of decisions to make.

We are in the COVID years now, and it is going to take more than a New Year’s resolution, more than a diet, a gym membership, a water bottle, a reading list, seven steps and a few tips to change this.

We must begin to work from what Howard Thurman calls our “working paper,” a living document that guides us to our soul’s goal, our soul’s salvation.

Thurman says, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” My greatest fear is not death but not “coming alive.”

Like me, you may have already experienced your worst-case scenario.

The sky has already fallen, and you have pieced it back together again. You have fallen on your face, had to pick yourself up, had to start over from scratch. When it is “all of the above,” sometimes there are no words for that.

When it is hard to put one foot in front of the other, you will need good faith words. You will need to turn to your “working paper.” For me, it is the Raceless Gospel.

Educator, scholar, pathbreaking feminist, bell hooks, who died recently, said, “When race and racism are the topic in public discourse the voices that speak are male. There is no large body of social and political critique by women on the topics of race and racism.”

I am grateful for her and to be a part of the narrative that changes this.

As a survivor of sexual assault and domestic violence, one of the first things that I was pressured to give up was my voice: “Don’t tell. You will get him into trouble. Don’t tell. It will break up your family.”

I cannot believe how strong and defiant my voice is now.

But I am sure that it is because of all the audacious, bold and courageous words that I heard and read from others who decided to be brave, to be honest, to be themselves unapologetically.

Because of you, my world keeps spinning in defiance of all the warnings that the sky is falling.

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