How a white-Cherokee-Apache-Baptist-Wesleyan-straight-introvert-girl woke up.

I had a bit of a lightbulb moment this morning over my cup of coffee. Preface: Even if I agree at some level with much of the movements taking place across the US right now, I tend to shy away from the methods espoused to me on television and social media. I prefer the quiet work behind the scenes, the things no one sees or hears but, I hope, will someday benefit from.

This morning I was reading an article about the roots of the black feminism movement and how women of color felt left out of both the feminist movement (mostly white, and largely privileged) and the black equality movement (mostly men with deeply entrenched sexism – I read the pamphlets and cried), and created their own blend of the two to include a marginalized portion of society with a voice of their own. And it occurred to me that I do not march or scream or go on Facebook rants or shout at people or throw things or set things on fire, and how this perceived complicit silence has garnered me more than one critic.

In truth, I want more than some politician I’ve never met smugly signing a bill into law while surrounded by a group of the very people the law is supposed to help, but who will probably never benefit from it. I want more than yelling and screaming and bodily injury to someone who looks/acts/thinks differently than another. I want more than calculated prayers and warm thoughts and Facebook likes sent your way.

I want change from the ground up. I want the insides of every person to recognize their own humanity and, in turn, recognize the humanity of those around them. I want hurt people to stop hurting people and to instead reach out and grab a hand. I want ordinary, everyday, mundane interactions to be more compassionate, more kind, more contemplative before speaking. I want us to heed stories that look different than our own.

My silence gets me critics outside the church. My voice gives me heat inside it. I have had some tell me, rather hatefully, that I sound like a liberal. I have had others say that my faith as a Christian does not intersect in any way with the culture of the US today. Really? Because the Jesus I have heard of my whole life, confessed to and asked forgiveness from 30 years ago, in whose Name I was baptized 23 years ago, and have studied academically for the last 13 years tells me a different story. Because that Jesus, that One I claim to seek after and try to love like, well, He loved people in every group you can imagine. And He listened. Surely we can at least do that as His followers. As believers in His love and His sacrifice on the cross.

No, I don’t march or shout or throw things or post long, winding Facebook rants about the injustices of our culture. But I listen. I learn. I offer advice if I am asked. I thoughtfully consider how people are treated. I ask questions so as to gain understanding. Even if we are different, I want you to know you are heard, you are recognized, you are known, and you are loved. By a God who saved a wretch like even me.

So when you return home from your march, voice lost from shouting and heart uplifted from being around people who think like you do, I will gladly curl up in a pair of oversized chairs, offer you a mug of something warm, and listen to your story. Because at the end of the day, I care much more for your heart than our differences. Much, much more.

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Grace (and grit) under fire.

It has been one of those days. Those days where my heart aches and my mind wanders and I wonder if this is all there is, or ever will be. I was so deep in my thoughts today that I did not even take a moment to mourn yet another Valentine’s Day with no one to share it with. I couldn’t think about that today. I had other things on my mind.

It was Ash Wednesday, for one. I apparently can no longer get through an Ash Wednesday without weeping over something. I am a Baptist girl so Lent isn’t something I participate in, but I love Ash Wednesday. I think there is something so beautifully sacred about intentional communion with other believers and preparing one’s heart for Easter in practice and thought.

On top of that, some things came to light today that I wish I didn’t know. I wish people would prove my instincts wrong once in awhile. But today, I was all too right about people’s characters and their actions and I just wept at my desk with the weight of it. I said a few choice words. And accidentally spilled an entire cup of hot coffee right in my lap when I went to angrily move my notes out of my way.

And then some lies were told. Not lies about me or anyone, really. Just lies people believe that they want me to believe. And I refuse. I’ll be damned, quite literally damned, if I start down that path that the Lord plucked me from all those years ago. So I refuse.

Today made me angry. Angry at people. Angry at the way they are, as one of my dear friends once told me, like crabs in a bucket. Watch crabs in a bucket sometime. When one starts climbing out, the others start climbing on him in their haste to leave until the whole lot falls back in. I was angry at the way people get mad when I choose to believe, live, and love differently than they do. I was angry at the injustices I around them and the fact that I feel powerless to stop them because all of my attempts have failed. I feel gritty. Like in a “grit your teeth and bear it” kind of way. No grin. Just grit.

What I want, more than anything, is to feel grace. Grace like rain. Grace like the grace shown to me. Grace like the unending grace offered me by a good God who loves and saves.

I don’t feel it, though. Not even a little. Too much grit right now.

So I knelt ever so slowly and begrudgingly at the cross tonight. And these truths were graciously offered:

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still. – Exodus 14:14

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. – Isaiah 40:31

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. – Isaiah 43:2

Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you. – Isaiah 54:10

And so on and so forth.

It wasn’t this wild, earth-shattering revelation about the character of God or His promises. Nothing got fixed. But He who drew me near to Himself so long ago has promised me peace this year. Not peaceful days. Just peace. The kind that fills up your heart with calm waters and lets your shoulders be so rooted in order to bear the weight of others’ sorrows and lets you dwell in His love in such a way that you are protected not from all of life’s happenings, but from the way you used to react to it. That kind of peace. And His covenant will not be removed.

Amen.