Faith and Politics: Part One of Many

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Full disclosure: I’m Christian and the crazy kind that makes religious and non-religious people very uncomfortable or completely at-ease depending.

With that in mind, I have got to have this conversation with my extended family about the way you are responding to these issues with the current presidency, political and social climate, and just in general.

I hear you: Jesus is Lord. You know what? You’re right. You’re very right.

…and people are still going to jail in disproportionate amounts.

…and people are still being deported.

…and people are still coming to your pews, putting money in the offering plate, and then going home and wondering when the other shoe will drop. If you have their back. If you ever cared at all.

Gotta say, on the whole, we’re doing a terrible job and responding to this stuff. We seem to be more about trying to get our shout on than trying to care for this family we got. Than trying to bring about this kingdom we play organ music about. A bit too focused on what we are going to say at these altar calls.

If I could have a wish, it’s that we could burn things like this into our hearts:

1 “Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.
2 For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them.
3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’ “Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers.
4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high.
5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for people to humble themselves? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying in sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD?
6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. “If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.
12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
13 “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
14 then you will find your joy in the LORD, and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.” The mouth of the LORD has spoken.
That’s Isaiah 58. The entire chapter without emphasis or embellishment.
Imagine for a moment how it feels to walk into a building and know that God has a clear stance on the oppression of any person, so much so that He feels the need to say, “that’s it? You thought coming to church on Sunday was enough to get by while people are oppressed in the land where you lay your head? Come again” and in the same building of people that worship the same God you do, all you hear muttered or said aloud is that they wish people would shut up about politics and focus on Jesus.
I want you to imagine the heartbreak of hoping that your family – that you are called into – will be enough to get you through this storm only for them to tell you they don’t even see the storm.
Then I would like you to deeply consider that if this is the kind of thing that God says, but you feel free to ignore the grieving and groans of your brothers and sisters around you if you really believed in the first place.
And if you have the courage and conviction left, pray that you are filled to the point of breaking with courage to speak out against the injustices of this and any other day.

When Things Are Personal

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One of the more frustrating things that I read are people in defense of things like the executive order which is, in effect, a muslim ban. It is my thought that these people are blithely unconcerned because it is an issue they are not touched by.

For me, this isn’t a matter of “trying to protect the nation from bad people” or “making sure the vetting process is working well”. I’ve actually seen what that process looks like thanks to my work experience.

It’s a 3-inch stack of paper. It’s questions that not even native-born Americans know about our country and history and laws. It’s having to submit that same paperwork multiple times.

I took this whole executive order to heart. I have a friend who is Iranian and is serving in the US Navy. He can’t go home. His family can’t go home. We have people in a Dubai office where I work. One of them is a dual citizen of the US. I’m hoping he’s in an unaffected area because, if not, he can’t see his family, either.

I wouldn’t be so bothered by it except that there was not a single check to whether or not there would be any negative repercussions in signing this order. Had that been done, it is possible people wouldn’t be stuck abroad while pursuing their academic goals.

How do you defend that? Especially if you have a single shred of respect for another human?

I don’t know. How do you defend any of this? At what point do we stop bending our brains and finally decide to do what is right by everyone?

Letting Things Happen

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It’s been a few months of taking in information and news about everything from politics, religion, and beyond and I think I’m full which is to say that I have to take a break to process everything.

Have you ever felt so overwhelmed and sad, but just kept reading and reading and… you know what? Let’s sit down here for a moment and process things. Let’s not pick up any more rocks from these shores. If you follow my finger, you’ll see other people picking up rocks, too.

We can take a break for a moment together and talk about the ones we’ve picked up.

And stop reading.

And tweeting.

And just let our feelings about everything, dammed up behind out need to keep our composure and remain strong and resist finally just happen to us for just a bit. Break our the tea and the journals and wait for the tide to come in…

…and ride it.

Helping Hands

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Sometimes your sweat and tears become what makes someone else fertile.

When that happens, I hope you remember what it was like to think you’d always be grounded.

Sometimes, you’re dry ground waiting for rain.

When that happens, I want you to know, the clouds are waiting for your permission.

 

 

Let’s Be Honest: Part I

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Another week where my pen refuses to move so we’re here again. However, this is a special note related to social media because mental and emotional health are important as is the much-avoided subject of honesty.

So let’s be honest about things.

I’ve seen so many postings about protesters burning things and destroying their communities (football fans are immune from this criticism, of course), about being more like MLK, about how the Irish were also enslaved…

I would prefer that you just tell me that you hate me and be done with it.

That’s all, really. Just that honesty would be appreciated.

Let me give you this to chew on: it’s been about sixty years. Literally a portion of my mother’s lifetime since MLK marched for civil rights and here we are with people being murdered and paving the way to civil rights 2.0. This is where peaceful protest brought us. Which is to say, nowhere in particular.

Somehow the ability to be downtrodden but polite, quiet, and respectful as we are continuously dehumanized is the path to being respected enough by the masters of an unjust system to just be heard for a moment until the football commercial ends.

So yeah, just let me know you hate me. That you don’t see me. Tell me again how I couldn’t be associated with these riffraff on the news chanting something about systemic racism because I’m smarter than that and the media is trying to divide us.

Let’s get this over with.

Mentorship

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Over the years, I’ve carried a secret mission to find a mentor of some kind. This has proven very difficult in a time where the most common answer to a question is, “you could probably google that”.

The thing is, even though answers are a lot more accessible than they have ever been, there is still something to be said and a spot to be filled by those who have come before us and accomplished things whether great or small. That space is in relationships and the transfer of wisdom, because while we sure do know a lot, we have an awfully short memory.

More than that, there is something comforting about having an anchor and point of reference. To be around a community of adults – and especially a few that pour a bit of themselves into your personal development – speaks a few very important messages:

  1. You’re not alone in trying to figure out this adult thing.
  2. Your failures are part of a common experience and they aren’t fatal.
  3. You’re an adult in your own right and welcome to the community of adults as such.

It’s not like we need replacement parents, but the additional perspective and potential models for how to be are powerful things.

May our eyes be open and discerning for places we can offer something a bit more personal and sacrificial than the proper google search terms to the people around us and especially to those that will follow behind whatever we leave here.

Let us consider the concept of legacy and mentorship as essential, important, and crucial.

Not Quite, But Just Fine

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Today was a book report day, but I haven’t finished the book yet. That will be coming up very soon. However, I didn’t meet that goal.

I have a task management app that is also noting some things I need to do but haven’t done yet.

This article probably should have gotten written on Sunday afternoon, but I didn’t feel like writing that day.

However, in the middle of all of this “failing”, there’s been a lot of growth. Here’s what I did instead of doing what I was supposed to do:

  • Helped my supervisor come up with a possible new role and department to improve my team and all of the company around me.
  • Came up with a potential fresh idea for how to handle basic support in an fun and interactive way.
  • Spent time with a friend that needed a shoulder to lean on while she heals.
  • Educated my friends and others on varying social issues.
  • Came up with a plan for content for some after-work fun.
  • Planned a trip to Carowinds which I’ve never been to.
  • Scheduled my optometrist appointment.

This is not even to mention that every book I read this year is one more book than I read the year before. Suddenly, I’m not exactly failing, but I may be delayed and that is OK.

It is OK to not always arrive on time. Do the work and do your best and do your best to be punctual; my grandmother liked to say “Some say ‘It’s better late than never’ but it’s better never late”…

…and she gave me grace when I needed it just like I will for this book I’m taking time to understand and absorb for the next couple of weeks. Then I will be on to the next one I borrowed to read, devour, and fall in love with hopefully.

Yes. Ship.

Yes. Get things done.

And yes. Give yourself a bit of a breather from striving to meet goals for self-improvement. You’re not in competition with the world all the time. Sometimes, there’s only you.