Column from Russia: The fear I have is being rejected


Christian Life

Nina Koryakina, CNE.news

Photo AFP, Angela Weiss

I feel like coming to an AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) meeting for the first time in my life. Hi, I’m Nina. I’m Russian. I’ve been Russian all of my life.

Today it feels like an embarrassing confession to make. And there is no 12-step program that will un-Russian me.

My country has started a military operation in Ukraine. People launching missiles benefit from the years of training, guidelines and protocols for any situation, for any scenario that may go wrong. Is there a manual, a guide for a civilian like me? What am I to do?

What am I to do as a woman? As a mother? As a Christian? As a Russian?

Nina Koryakina (1973) lives and works in Moscow. She is at least the fourth generation of Muscovites on the maternal side and even worse on the paternal.

Nina - small.jpeg
Nina Koryakina

She lives her life in Russian, English, and Spanish. She makes a living of teaching English as second language (ESL) at a university, while her passion is translation and conference interpreting – and yes, she makes a living of that, too.

Nina has been raised by her three kids; together they have a Devonrex cat.

I feel like whatever I say or do now may be used against me, against Russian Christians in general, and against Russia. And yet I feel a strong urge to say something or do something.

But say what? How? To whom? What will it change if I say something? What will it change if I stay silent?

These are the questions I am struggling with today. And honestly, I have no answer.

I know that my silence may and will be interpreted as silent support of what is going on and is very unlikely to be interpreted as a wise decision to stay out of a conversation that is already very heated and painful for pretty much everyone involved.

I know that whatever I say may and will be interpreted as taking this or that side, although the last thing I want now is picking a side. Honestly, this is a bloody mess, now quite literally bloody, and I want to stay as far from it as possible. Not because I’m better or more spiritual than the rest, but because I’m sheer scared.

I’m afraid of hurting someone’s feelings, however unwillingly. I’m scared of losing friendships or severing family ties – and over politics, at that. I’m scared of being exposed and vulnerable to be labelled, criticized, misunderstood, ostracized, or rejected. The fear of rejection runs rather deep with me.

And at once, I remind myself that being rejected, however bad it may feel, is not the same as being bombed or becoming a refugee with nothing but a small suitcase, if that.

I am thinking of the consequences we will be facing here, economic, political, and social, none of these looking good. And all of this is in the wake of the pandemic that has taken its toll on the economy and the people.

I see the gaps widening between Russians as the anti-war and pro-war voices grow louder, and I see the gap widening between Russia and the rest of the world.

I am reminded of the terrorist attacks we have suffered here, in Moscow – the residential buildings, the metro trains, the Nord Ost show. We have lived through horrors here way before any military operation. What will happen now? I cannot help wondering if we should brace up for more. Lord, have mercy.

I wake up and lay down every day with these thoughts whirling in my mind. A million questions, a thousand worries, and answers are elusive at best. Lord, have mercy.

I struggle to pray. Every time I start, I just cry. Never in my life, I thought I would have to live through this, praying for a war between Russia and Ukraine to stop. I cannot number the times I have travelled to or through Ukraine. I have friends there, some friends as close as family, my friends have families there. Every time I try praying, I see these faces; I envision myself sleeping on my suitcase in the Kyiv metro. Lord, have mercy.

That’s all I have for now that I can hold on to – Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy on Ukraine. Lord, have mercy on Russia. Lord, have mercy on all of us.

I am not asking you to understand or take a side. But, if you are reading this, I am asking you to pray in any way you can and with the words that you have.



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