This week my friends and I engaged in a robust conversation on Facebook regarding THIS post. (See also, THIS post, THIS post, and THIS post and THIS post I feel also apply, even though some aren’t directly talking about OCC) These posts focus on the western mindset and at times harmful consequences of the mass distribution of Christmas shoeboxes that we fill and ship this time of year.
These posts will challenge your everyday assumptions and they will expose the reality that we unintentionally miss at times when it comes to missions and our approach to it, especially this time of year. I love what one author says about opening our minds and thoughts to new ideas from those who are on the ground and have given input… “it’s not something we should repent of but learn from!” So if you haven’t read them… dive in. Try to keep an open mind, and know that nobody is saying you’re only making this about you or that your church is wrong for collecting shoeboxes. It’s just saying… hey, there’s more to this than meets the eye and we need to talk about it and change our actions if we desire to be truly intentional, holistic and helpful to our missionaries overseas. These posts also don’t set out to discount any positive experiences one might have had with the shoeboxes.
I decided to list a few ways that one might still have just as much fun and yet have more intentionality as well as an ongoing relationship that can blossom into a deeper and more effective impact on missions. This isn’t exhaustive… but it’s five I came up with fairly quickly after listening to those who are serving in countries where these ideas might be more helpful long term as well as helping them have a Christ centered Christmas season.
- Find a family or a team on the ground in another country instead of going through a big company. (If you need contacts, see your church or I can point you in some good directions) Talk to them about what would help/what you could send/what they’re lacking to help people there. You can even use regular shoeboxes to fill, wrap and ship!! Then get a picture of them to hang on your fridge or feature in such a way that your family is reminded of them often. (And that way you can think of ways to bless them during other holidays or tough times as well)
- Pool your churches would be shoebox money (often that pile of boxes represents a TON of money!) and send a family in your church with lots of needed items to spend Christmas or for a time afterwards with a missionary family overseas who would love having friends/family with them during or after the holidays.
- Pick a smaller organization doing local work that resonates with your heart (I.e. I personally love the org @shearlove who professionally trains women who have been victims of the sex industry how to be a hairdresser/makeup artist). Contact them and see what specific needs they have and if they have any wish lists for more fun gift ideas.
- Have your church partner with a local overseas church and see what you can send and what monetary needs they have in order to have a Christ centered Christmas season with their congregation and community! Skype with them during the Christmas Eve service!
- See what countries your local refugees/asylum seekers represent and where they are living (ideally some will be attending your church already) and find ways to celebrate Christmas in ways that introduce American traditions but also infuse and immerse their own countries traditions. Maybe bring several families a Christmas tree and decorations at the beginning of the season so to bring joy the whole month! (Sometimes having a joyful hope cultivating environment is more important than an abundance of things during seasons of need or loneliness)
The other day a friend posted a question in a support group for mom’s with a child who has Down syndrome… “What are some hurtful things people have said regarding your child with Down syndrome?” Here were some of the over 500 responses:
“He must not have a bad case of it, you must really work with him”
“She must only have a touch of it, she’s so pretty.”
“Was it a bad egg then?”
“Don’t worry; he’ll out grow it.”
“At least he will die in your life time so you won’t worry about him after you are gone.”
“How downs is he?”
“the down syndrome doesn’t really seem to be affecting him”
If you pray enough…. (Also, have faith enough, anoint with oil, have the church pray over her, baptize her, repent, read the Bible in the greek/hebrew, pray for a miracle…..) God may heal her.
“Sometimes God gives a few special people a large cross to bear in life”
“God will change your baby’s DNA if you believe!”
“Did you drink (do drugs, vaccinate, smoke, partying, ate the wrong things…) while you were pregnant?”
“It’s because you had sex…. with someone of another race, outside of marriage, while you were having your period, someone you didn’t know you were related to”
“Have you always wanted to adopt a baby with problems?”
“There are surgeries and therapies out there that can help make her look not so Down Syndromey”
“You can cure down syndrome by breastfeeding and giving him vitamins.”
Needless to say…. we still have a lot of work to do in educating people in our day when it comes to not only Down syndrome but about disability in general. These mama’s I know tend to respond in grace and a desire to see change in our society happen. But also, sometimes it makes you want to go off on the question asker or disown family because it HURTS! And rarely once educated do people come back and ask for forgiveness for their insensitivity and selfish perspectives.
So…. next time a friend receives a diagnosis or delivers/adopts a child with Down syndrome (or any syndrome for that matter) Sit with them as they process…. but be the first to say “I’m going to let you process this, and while this might not be what you expected… I’m here, and I love this baby, and I think Congratulations are in order!!!
Don’t EVER say “I’m sorry.” They will get plenty of that from others.
We want to be the ones who know now what everyone with a child with an extra 21st chromosome will eventually discover… that there is NOTHING to be sorry about!
When your eyes start to be open to the injustices facing marginalized communities…. it feels like taking an overseas mission trip that is at the same time the most amazing life-giving and heart breaking experience. And then you come back home and you can’t decide if you’re awful for kissing the ground you live on or awful for wrestling with hatred towards the comfort and ease with which you live. You just know this… you’re not the same person you were before you left.
You are broken yet you are more complete.
You are angry yet you are more joy filled.
You are resentful yet you are grateful.
You are bold about what you do know yet painfully aware of all you don’t.
You are drained yet you are energized.
You are grateful to be among family yet you no longer feel at home anywhere.
You are so glad to have your comfort yet it feels hollow.
You left a part of your heart with them yet wonder if you will ever see them again.
You went to impact their lives yet they drastically changed yours.
Usually when I’ve taken these overseas trip they happen once a year or every other year with weeks and months of processing that follows. When it’s dealing with communities of the poor, hurting, oppressed, abused, minorities, immigrants, sexual minorities, mental illnesses, and calloused hearts all this can happen within a few hours or a days time, and happen repeatedly.
I feel like I re-live this including the whole spectrum of emotions over and over on a daily basis. I long for a day where I don’t feel like I’m leaving the comforts of home just to walk along side of the marginalized. I long for a day where we don’t have to ask for those who are more wealthy than I to support the efforts of justice that everyone should be pursuing yet often times we feel alone in, because a day is coming where every need will be met by One! I long for the day when the Kingdom of God reveals to all the upside down economics of the Savior and I can rejoice when the last shall indeed be first and that they will say that the hope of the Gospel was the good news they clung to on earth because their day to day didn’t represent the good news so many of us mistakenly think it is.
I’m weary and worn….. but I’m changing and growing like never before.
It’s worth it.
They are worth it.
He is worth it.
Here is one thing that I’ve learned to challenge myself to do when it comes to listening and learning about and leaning into the realities of POC (People of Color).
When I feel like what they are saying doesn’t match my reality or my experience or even what I could even conceive of and thus feels overblown, too sensitive, too angry, wrong attitude, wrong approach, or whatever. I ask myself…
– “What will it cost me to admit that I don’t live in the same reality they do?”
– “What will it cost me to dig deeper and read more about the systems they are complaining about and are declaring unjust?”
– “What will it cost me to FULLY believe them and to give them the benefit of the doubt as well as my unconditional support?”
– “What will it cost me to stand up for them, to be a witness for them, to have my life be one that shows honor where dishonor has been, to show deference where neglect has been, to show preference where disdain has been, to empower where forbiddance has been?”
Generally it costs me very little… maybe my optimistic view of the world around me, maybe my discomfort, people thinking I’m a know it all about black people or anti-white person, at most it could be my point of view that I believe to be right. But usually not much of significant cost to me personally.
BUT what COULD it possibly cost me if I don’t do those things.… friendships, being on the wrong side of justice, apathy, an inaccurate view of history and society, missed opportunities to change the world around me, being a light in the darkness, correcting lies with truth, and treating people as image bearers who are begging us to believe and see the proof that they are not treated as such. (and this is without even taking my black children into consideration)
That’s too great of a cost. That’s the true risk… NOT fully believing and supporting and taking action to change our very lives.
As Believers, we HAVE to believe #blacklivesmatter… as well as the marginalized in our country and in a way that opens our minds to the fact that they haven’t mattered, and haven’t for some time…if ever, here in America.
But do we begin? where does change in our perspective start happening?
It can start with…. the questions you ask, the things you google, the articles you take the time to read, the movies you watch, a smile and eye contact to someone passing by, a saying you don’t say anymore, or a neighborhood you stop avoiding, or a grocery store you stop slamming, or a relative you speak up to when a joke is made, the car locks you don’t reach for when someone is approaching, the name you remember and strive to pronounce correctly, the dialect you don’t dismiss, the overgeneralization you stop making, the catching yourself when you think or feel something, the misunderstanding you will face, the church you attend, the ability to say I’m sorry, the books you read to your kids, the schools your kids go to, the person you approach, the people you follow on social media, the stranger you stick up for, the friendships you cultivate, the privilege you relinquish, the humility you show, the dignity you affirm.
Let’s be white voices who become witnesses to what the black voices around us are saying. Let us change our thinking, raise our voices and open our arms. It will cost us something… but it’s far less than what it will cost us if we don’t.
I’m not saying that believer should adopt. It wouldn’t be even possible…but EVERY believer should champion the idea that MORE believers SHOULD than are currently, as well as holding each other accountable to the reasons they are or are not pursuing it when such a staggering but attainable need exists. And that no matter how one chooses to grow their family that tending to the cause of the Fatherless (in the womb and for decades after birth) isn’t optional.
I’m not saying that every believer should live and shop and make a life in under resourced neighborhoods (the areas of the city people don’t want to live or don’t feel safe in). But EVERY believer should champion the idea that MORE believers SHOULD take their lives and families and invest in the kingdom work that is taking place there as well as advocate for justice in areas where systemic injustice has ruled for far too long. That knowing where and speaking up against oppression in our cities isn’t optional.
I’m not saying that every believer should be for or against a certain health plan. There are many facets that are involved that impact many people… but EVERY believer should champion the idea that MORE believers SHOULD be concerned about the health and care of the poor and marginalized, and be knowledgeable about how health care impacts abortion rates and those in poverty. We should be a people who know biblically our own care is directly related to the care we champion for the poor. Taking care of the sick and disabled isn’t optional.
I’m not saying that every believer should send their kids to public school. It wouldn’t be feasible…. but EVERY believer should champion the idea that MORE believers SHOULD than are currently as well as holding each other accountable to the reasons they are or are not pursuing the betterment of education equality when such a sobering but fixable need exists. And no matter what education choice a believing family makes, that tending to the plight of the poor and oppressed isn’t optional.
IF you are a believer who has chosen the latter in each situation then please know that championing those who are choosing the road less traveled means they need your encouragement, your resources, your support, your advocacy, your “YES!! EXACTLY, What can we do to help?” when they report from where they are….. not a list of reasons why you don’t feel called to join them or why they shouldn’t sound so judgmental to those who aren’t doing exactly what they are doing. You praying and encouraging and cheering means more than you could possibly know!!
I wonder if intentional ignorance or convenient silence will hold much weight or feel like very legitimate reasons when good godly people are held accountable for not speaking up and taking action about policies and leadership and systems and religious practices that hurt the marginalized, the poor and the oppressed.
From my understanding of scripture those are the people we are COMMANDED to think about and care for and to be a voice of hope within. It’s not optional.
So I just wonder… will “I did what was best for my kid”, “I didn’t live near those schools, those neighborhoods, those communities.”, “I was too busy being on staff at a church”, “I thought it was just a liberal agenda”, “I was too busy leading a bible study”, “I just thought she was too biased/angry/liberal”, “I thought helping was enabling”, “I had too much on my plate”, “I was afraid of getting hurt or taken advantage of”, “those things didn’t effect me”, “I didn’t feel called to deal with those issues”…..I wonder, will those be worthy responses to “Why didn’t you say or do something when so much injustice and wrongdoings hurt and oppressed and killed people made in My Image?” “Why did you think you were better than they are?” “Why did you fear them more than you feared Me?”
I’ve been doing a lot of reading about heroes of the faith and crucial leaders in the history of evangelical denominations…. and it’s taught me a lot of incredible things, and I can’t wait to share more about it tomorrow.
BUT one thing it has taught me is that the church at large can be dead wrong or silent and apathetic on an issue regarding race and humanity and fully feel like they are doing God’s work. Looking back we say…. “How could they stand for that?” “How can they not see it’s a gospel issue?” “How did they just do what was easy for them at the cost of others lives?” without ever thinking that we probably would have not risked what those who stood against it risked. Let’s be honest, statistics show we probably wouldn’t have.
Standing on the side of systemic racism today won’t cost you hardly ANYTHING comparatively speaking to what it would have back then. If we are wrong about it existing, okay then people feel loved and seen and given the benefit of the doubt unnecessarily, we don’t get every privilege known to mankind, and gasp, maybe “democrats/liberals get their way” come what may.
But friends, if we are RIGHT and we raise our voices strong and unapologetically about racism in all it’s hidden and systemized forms…then the history books (and eternity for that matter) will show that the Church stood up and fought for a HUGE injustice against humanity!!
This is not something little…. or something only some people are called to speak up about… or something that is way better than it used to be so what’s the big deal…. THIS IS WAR on behalf of Image Bearers of the King!!
D.L. Moody – 5th grade education, manuscripts full of spelling and grammar errors. He failed the test to become a member of the church when he was 18. Never went to college, seminary or was even ordained. His humble beginnings meant that as an adult he never lost touch with common poor people; he disliked pretense or deference toward those of higher social position.
FOR THE SAKE OF THE CALL.
Charles Spurgeon – Attended local schools for a few years but never earned a university degree. Started preaching as a teenager. Preached to tens of thousands, started an orphanage and a Christian college. Strongly opposed the owning of slaves and held to a strong biblical innerency. Because of that he lost support from the Southern Baptists, sales of his sermons dropped to a few, and he received scores of threatening and insulting letters as a consequence. He enjoyed cigars. His wife was often too sick and weak to leave the house to hear him preach.
FOR THE SAKE OF THE CALL.
Billy Graham “World Renown Evangelist”- Took 6 years and 3 schools to complete his undergrad in anthropology and was told by Bob Jones, Sr. if he left BJU after one semester that….. “ At best, all you could amount to would be a poor country Baptist preacher somewhere in the sticks… You have a voice that pulls. God can use that voice of yours. He can use it mightily” He didn’t listen and left anyway. He once said… “When God gets ready to shake America, he may not take the Ph.D and the D.D. God may choose a country boy… and I pray that he would!”
FOR THE SAKE OF THE CALL.
William Carey “Father of Missions” – very little education but self taught greek and Hebrew. Took his family to India where the hardships (unemployment, preaching illegally, sickness, death, depression, loneliness) cost him the life of his child and the sanity of his wife. Took 7 years to see the first person become a believer.
FOR THE SAKE OF THE CALL.
David Livingstone “Africa’s greatest Missionary”- Has background in botanical and medical studies. Known for standing against slavery. Was often accused of being too fiery and had an explosive Irish temper. As far as Christian education, he self taught himself greek and Hebrew, but one christian professor described him as “worthy but remote from brilliant” and he would have been rejected by the London Mission Society had the director not given him a second chance to pass the course. Created roads and maps in rural Africa that led ways for the gospel to go to places where it couldn’t before. He lost his wife and ultimately his own life due to the conditions of their missionary journeys.
John Bunyan (1628 – 1688) After returning from serving in the English army he took up his fathers tinkering trade (fixing pots and pans) His family was not wealthy. In 1658 Bunyan’s wife died, leaving him with four small children, one of whom was blind. A year later he remarried. Two years later the freedom to preach became curtailed with the restoration of the monarchy He was threatened with imprisonment if he continued to keep preaching. He refused. it got him arrested and as Bunyan refused to agree to give up preaching, his period of imprisonment eventually extended to 12 years and brought great hardship to his family. Eventually the mandate was lifted and he was released. While he was there serving his time in prison he found he had plenty of time to devote to writing. He penned at least nine books between 1660 and 1672. But he probably spent most of his time on his greatest legacy, The Pilgrim’s Progress.
Charles Finney “Father of modern revivalism” – Never attended College, was interning to be a lawyer but then stopped when he felt led to preach the gospel. Didn’t find a true theological home in any mainstream denomination due to issues with each. Preached to thousands using methods (praying in the common people’s language, using an alter call, that were decades old but not popular in the church at that time and was rebuked for doing so. Championed the Abolishment of Slavery and Women’s rights.
FOR THE SAKE OF THE CALL
Amy Carmichael – uneducated, poor, single, started a Sunday school group. Wanted to pursue missions but was rejected due to a chronic health issue that kept her in bed for weeks on end… ended up going to India with another missions group that would allow her to. Was a mother to many many orphans. Wrote several books. Once said…. “It is a safe thing to trust Him to fulfill the desire that He creates.”
FOR THE SAKE OF THE CALL.
Hudson Taylor “Missionary to China” – Medical education background. Self taught Theology. He was passionate about God providing the means for missions work not relying upon solicited support. Lost his wife and children to serious illnesses. His medical supplies were destroyed by fire and was robbed of nearly everything he owned.
FOR THE SAKE OF THE CALL.
George Müller – “Evangelist and Missionary” Was rejected by the London Missionary Society due to his health and inability to keep up with their requirements. Renounced his regular salary, believing that the practice could lead to church members giving out of duty, not desire. He also eliminated the renting of church pews, arguing that it gave unfair prestige to the rich. cared for over 10 thousand orphans in his life. He was well known for providing an education to the children under his care, to the point where he was accused of raising the poor above their natural station in life. He also established 117 schools which offered Christian education to over 120,000 children, many of them being orphans. He never made requests for financial support but was grateful when they were given, nor did he go into debt and often food and supplies were provided at the last possible moment. He did this all while preaching three times a week! At the age of 70 he began a 200,00 mile (a big deal in pre-Aviation times) 17 year missionary travel trip with his new second wife, after the loss of his first wife… all through the unsolicited gifts of supporters.
FOR THE SAKE OF THE CALL.
11 heroes of the faith. Eleven people who the world didn’t expect much of, but represent what happens when the Lord says…You are who I SAY YOU ARE!!
I hope by sharing these stories today of faithful men and women in history, you will be empowered to not be constrained by the limitations you feel like you may face, within you or outside of you. But that you would pursue His leadings of your heart and GO… DO… SPEAK… GIVE… TELL…LOVE!! Not allowing fear, fear of man, wealth, safety, or position keep you from pouring out your life for the Kingdom. These stories tell us He’s worth it.
Here are all the common threads in the stories that I chose to highlight today!
- Formal theological education (seminary or bible degree) wasn’t required to fulfill the calling God had on their life.
- Came from humble beginnings in challenging times.
- Often God used a non-theological interest or skill to further the Gospel in unreached places.
- They were often rejected by the majority church’s or christian organization’s way of going about doing things in ministry.
- In hindsight everyone of them could be said to have had certain areas where they were probably wrong or misguided in.
- Strong friendships with others in ministry were catalytic in beginning movements and organizations.
- Theological differences often inspired greater spread of the gospel through multiplication where they couldn’t agree and networking where unified.
- They had a undying commitment to the poor and marginalized.
- They often started schools and provided the basic needs for marginalized children. (Kids who couldn’t offer them anything back in return)
- Spoke up about controversial public issues.
- Would not have the qualifications or requirements to even be considered to hold positions on most church staffs or theological institutions today.
- They often lacked for money, a place to live, good health, a spouse, and safety for them and their family, yet that wasn’t ever a permanent deterrent to following His calling on their life.
- Nothing save death seemed to stop them…..even the death of their spouses or children.
I think those who want to be in Ministry (Vocational, bi-vocational or non-profit work) here in America have many times been told by spiritual leaders, people in position, school professors, job resumes, or mentors that in order to GO or DO or START they need to…
-be assessed and prove faithfulness in the little things for a good amount of time
-pursue leadership but not clamor for it, show humility and submission but prove you have drive and self motivation
-spend the right number of years getting the right degree
-have a well laid out plan
-be financially stable/responsible
-have stability and success be a probable outcome in a decent amount of time
-have the right connections with the right churches
-have successful experience in whatever ministry they are passionate about
-know beyond a shadow of a doubt that’s where they have been “called”
Y’all, When we look at the life and ministry of Jesus and his followers we don’t see any of that!!! We see men and women recognizing Jesus for who He says He is, hearing His call to come follow Him and then laying all aspects of success, career, comfort and reputation aside and going and preaching the gospel…to the point of it costing them their very lives.
Church, let us not be at a loss for words when Jesus asks us why we squashed the gifts and desires of His children who wanted to do incredible things that just required great faith and obedience to a Big mighty God but we demanded so much more.
Brothers and Sisters, if you’re desiring to be a leader and to lead a deeper, more vocal, more risky, more demanding, more out of the box, more needed, more focused ministry but your church is asking you to prove yourself beyond the biblical requirements to the extent that you are putting off what you are passionate about or they aren’t fanning the flames of ministry you know are there …..then please push back on them, pursue ministry with zeal and ask them to come along side of you and let their faith and joy increase with yours, and if nothing changes, know that ultimately you don’t need the permission of your church, church planting org., ministry org, parents, paid position, “the way it’s always been done”, previous success, or anyone’s permission or approval to fulfill what Gods asked of you and put in your heart.
Run hard after His fame and the flame He’s lit in your heart…the reward is worth it!! So worth it!!
Another problem with this process/system of ministry advancement is that seminary and typical forms of ministry preparation are often reserved for those with access to them either because of means or their proximity to traditional contexts. Further, placement within ministry training programs often depends upon “intellectual ability or academic promise”. This is especially true in graduate level education where in undergraduate degree towards ministry training is necessary. Our current context in the West for training ministry leaders or preparing individuals to be missionaries in various domains, is largely not available to the poor, the marginalized, or those without access in proximity to networks that would help them. Any future understanding of how to train people for ministry must change this! Ministry advancement is a paved path for those with some level of higher intelligence, wealth, charisma, network. Let’s work to pave the path where the rocks and ditches and barricades are for those who don’t fit that certain criteria. Because it’s not biblical criteria. Not saying the steps one takes to prepare are bad… I’m saying, it shouldn’t be what’s required!!
And lest anyone think I’m anti-church or anti-seminary or anti-counsel, I’m not. As a seminary educated person myself, Lord knows I’m not. I just see a tendency in our churches here in america to hoard power and position and to not empower those who are deemed ready and qualified by scripture, but we set up hurdles in the name of caution or wisdom that were never meant to be set up. Again, im not saying Christianity can be lived apart from the church or missions should be a solo mission…. I’m saying that too many churches/organizations have a process that stifles and limits what God is doing and can do in the life of someone desiring more vocational ministry. So if that’s the case… find a place where the gospel is needed and churches are needed and begin to cultivate a body of believers who will empower and uplift and belong to them and lead them!
The other night at the dinner table one of the kids said something to the tune of “he be in my class.” in reference to another student we were talking about.
I was kind of surprised at my own quickness to correct him and the other adults around the table were just as eager to as well. “That’s not how we say that!” we echoed.
The next day I was in the school office and a student asked the vice principle “is you comin’ to lunch with me?” Again, he had 3 white women scolding him in a flat second. ” That’s the WRONG way to say that. We don’t talk like that here.” The kid hardly seemed fazed at all. But I was.
Something about those particular moments kept nagging at me. WHY? Why do my kids classmates talk the way they do? Why were black people known for communicating a certain way? Was it lack of education? Was it culture? I wanted to know more. So… you know me, yep, I started researching.
What I found out was…. what so often we think of as the “wrong way” of speaking, as uneducated talk, as a tale tale sign of a certain class…. really is part of a heritage and a blend of several cultures that have developed over time, tells a rich story and is passed down from generation to generation.
It’s called African American Vernacular English (AAVE). It is it’s own dialect. It has patterns and is rule based. It has it’s roots in French, Creole, and older Southern American English.
It’s not Ebonics as most call it, It’s not slang (though black slang exists), It’s not lousy english, and while it’s not Standard American English, it’s not “wrong”. There is absolutely nothing wrong with AAVE, but yet it is stigmatized for social and historical reasons, related to race, socioeconomic class, and prestige.
Teachers today should not spend their time correcting or marking off or shaming when their students are bringing their home dialect into their school life. But should be aware (and many incredible teachers at title one schools already are) of what AAVE is and provide them with the tools to help them switch from one dialect to another as needed…. They are doing it anyway, why not be their champion in the process!
I bet that little boy from the school office adjusts his speech to please those in majority culture around him while shifting back to the way he grew up communicating when at home. But imagine how our response of “that’s wrong” forces him to view his family? Either they are wrong and stupid and probably wouldn’t be thought of respectfully if he brought them up to his school… OR they are passing down an aspect of who they have been and who they are, even if they don’t fully realize it, because that’s what their parents did for them. What if we honored..dare I say celebrate, the latter while at the SAME TIME give them the tools to succeed in a predominantly American Standard English country?
After reading… and listening… and thinking about all this…for me…. it’s not a matter of right and wrong anymore.
It’s a matter of honoring the past, celebrating different cultures today and equipping students to engage their world in a way that teaches them confidence and deference as they navigate both majority and minority cultures around them.
I hope in the years to come, the time spent around our dinner table does just that.
“Feel all the things. Feel the hard things. The inexplicable things, the things that make you disavow humanity’s capacity for redemption. Feel all the maddening paradoxes. Feel overwhelmed, crazy. Feel uncertain. Feel angry. Feel afraid. Feel powerless. Feel frozen. And then FOCUS.
Pick up your pen. Pick up your paintbrush. Pick up your damn chin. Put your two calloused hands on the turntables, in the clay, on the strings. Get behind the camera. Look for that pinprick of light. Look for the truth (yes, it is a thing—it still exists.)
Focus on that light. Enlarge it. Reveal the fierce urgency of now. Reveal how shattered we are, how capable of being repaired. But don’t lament the break. Nothing new would be built if things were never broken. A wise man once said: there’s a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in. Get after that light.
This is your assignment.”
– Courtney E. Martin
This challenging quote popped up on my Facebook feed today…. and along with several people over the past few weeks telling me that I need to cast off fear and be bold in the things I say online, I’ve decided to start blogging my heart on here again. To own what God’s been doing in my heart currently and to be honest and raw about the hurt and rejection I’ve faced in the past.
I started blogging when we were told at 28 weeks that the child growing inside of me had several birth defects that would end up taking his very life. Over the next 10 weeks of his life and the following year or so of intense grieving I found this place to be a sacred place where I could talk about my pain, my passions, my Savior and this hard life He’s asked me to follow Him into. It was a place of sitting and feeling the pain and a place of healing for me.
I was talking to a friend a while back who had had a bariatric procedure done and she said the best and hardest part about her new reality is that now she can only run to food so much before she can’t eat anymore and is forced to sit and face the pain. She said it’s been healing for her not only physically but emotionally because she has to feel all the feels. Something in me realized that I used to do that… I used to embrace the pain.
I started this blog from a place of brokenness. I used to write whatever I was feeling and experiencing in the pain of losing a child and during the emotional toll of each adoption journey, and even a few years ago the rawness of my marriage struggles and God’s goodness within that. Which is probably why those experiences are probably some of the hardest yet more healthy journeys I have been through.
But when it comes to some parts of my current reality and the discomfort of growing and stretching outside my “safe” zones, the frustration I have with some of the theology/religion/worldviews I was brought up with and embraced…and judged from for most of my life, and the rejection I and others have faced because I’ve dared to live openly about the things God has been changing in me, and the muzzling I feel about speaking openly about the wrongs done and harmful thinking just because of who have done the harming and indoctrinating are people with authority and power…. when it’s come to all THOSE things… I have stayed relatively silent. In the name of “honoring”… In the name of hoping… In the name of holding people together. But, if I’m honest it’s taking so much of my mental and physical energy from day to day.
So a part of me wonders…. is this my space where I can’t escape feeling all the feels? Is this where I can process and deal and give validity to and confront the things my heart is in turmoil over? Can this be a place to be free to be broken again?
Is this where I dare to expose my thoughts and let those who can’t handle it back away if they must and those who may relate nod their heads and find solidarity, and those who think nobody understands draw in closer and know they aren’t alone and that there is a Savior who is closer than a brother to us.
well… let’s see shall we?