We Can’t Do Hard Things Because We Don’t Want To

We Can’t Do Hard Things Because We Don’t Want To February 11, 2021

I thought I was going to post a video today with more of my #thoughtsandprayers about Jesus and John Wayne, but I saw this in the middle of the night and so I guess I’ll save the other thing for another snowy day. The link goes to an excessively long New Yorker puff piece about Glennon Doyle so you may not want to bother. On the other hand, you may have all the time in the world, and nothing clever to do, and therefore want to get an inside look at a person who is still selling millions and millions of books and who has millions and billions of Instagram followers (I’m not actually sure about the numbers, not being good at math—that’s “my truth”). The piece starts out this way:

Her blog, Momastery, offered readers a look at her life as a progressive Christian raising three children which was intimate, unguarded, self-revealing. “I found my thing: openness,” she wrote. “I decided that’s what God wanted me to do. . . . I was going to make people feel better about their insides by showing them mine.”

pauses in the middle to make this deep point:

God—at least, the version she had in mind back then—is not much of a presence in “Untamed,” but radical honesty is still focal.

and this one:

Doyle isn’t even sure she identifies as a Christian anymore. “Sometimes I look back on the Christian-ese I used to use, and I can’t even recognize it,” she said. “But there’s a lot about the actual, Biblical character Jesus that I’m obsessed with.” She added, “If I were going to write a story now about what love would do if it walked around on Earth, I would make it a baby from the most oppressed, most marginalized group. I would make Jesus, like, a transgender Black woman.”

And then towards the end, there is this cutesy truth-telling:

Running errands one afternoon, Wambach ordered a strawberry milkshake. Doyle did not. Back home, Doyle put the milkshake in the fridge for Wambach, who returned to find it reduced by a third. “I saw you grab it, and I knew what was going to happen,” Wambach told Doyle. “It just settled,” Doyle replied unconvincingly, pacing their kitchen. Wambach asked, “Do you think that there will ever be a time when you can just order your own?” Doyle shook her head, then tried another tack: “That milkshake was freaking thirteen dollars! Who orders a thirteen-dollar milkshake?” Wambach—who was filming the interaction on her phone—was outraged. “I do,” she said. “Guess what? I get to do whatever I want. And you get to do whatever you want.” Doyle, giggling, made one last attempt: “That just seems so individualistic and mean.” Ultimately, she apologized. The women proffered their undying love. Wambach posted the video on Instagram, where it was enjoyed by four hundred and eighty-four thousand people.

It did also dawn on me in the middle of the night that besides the redefinitions of words that is such a drag for the person trying to wander around the Howling Wilderness of the Internet (I’m making “Howling Wilderness” my word for 2021, I know it was “rage” but that one is actually too too boring. I’m going to put Howling Wilderness in every blog post until everyone gives up and goes on to read someone else—JK, I won’t do that, this may be the last time I do it) the trouble is also one of authority. Who gets credibility by being listened to is the issue. But instead of making that determination based on intellectual acumen, or knowledge, or wisdom, or anything like that, it is made entirely by celebrity and feelings.

Doyle’s “We can do hard things,” and “Feel Everything” is as deep as it goes. Of course, it is a great truthiness that “we can do hard things.” Occasionally we can indeed do them, and then feel very happy about ourselves and can go around telling other people that if they will just buck up, they also will be able to do “hard things,” whatever those things might be. Unhappily, of course, other times fall into our way where we really can’t. That’s the whole trouble. We cannot do the hard things that sit there in front of us. We cannot wake up on time when we promised ourselves we would. We cannot be chaste in mind, heart, and deed even though we know we ought to. We cannot be kind, even online, even though we know it would make everything easier and better for other people. More often, however, we don’t want to do any hard things and so we just don’t do them. We don’t want to, which is why we can’t. And so we go with the Doyle Option instead of the Benedict One (that’s Rod Dreher’s) or the Go To Church One (that’s mine). By “we,” of course I do not include myself. I do not want the Doyle Option which seems to me excessively fatuous and uninteresting. If everyone could just “do hard things,” God would not have had to come into the world because Eve would not have eaten the fruit because Adam wouldn’t have been there scrolling on his phone while she carried on with Satan.

And, just to point out yet again, if you’re picking an option whereby you self-identify with a devouring animal that rips other creatures apart with their teeth, even though they are very beautiful when they run, that’s too bad. Why not be an Ant? Or a Wombat? Or better yet, a Sheep, which, though foolish and unable to do anything either easy or hard, at least doesn’t hurt lots of other people with a brand of “the truth” and with an “honesty gospel” that yet does not acknowledge the existence of a holy, righteous, and perfect God who came to earth to do what we could not do for ourselves, to tell the truth when we preferred to lie, to shine a light into our foul and eternal darkness, and finally to drag us out of the pit that we keep digging for ourselves. “We can do hard things” forsooth—God does the very hardest thing, which is to sweep away the milkshake flood of all our wretched feelings to show us himself.

Tinkerty Tonk, and today I mean for it to sting.


Photo by American Heritage Chocolate on Unsplash.

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