Are You Tired Too?

Since the election I have felt at a loss for words. Despite what you may see or read from any of my social media or even in person, I have felt a loss of words…a loss of energy…a dimming of…something…which has impeded my ability to emote in the ways which typically come easier to me. The 2016 election, the new presidency, Black Lives Matter, Standing Rock, PULSE, and now this…Charlottesville…high profile snapshots indicating and peeling back just the thin skim of the broader festering in our American values. And unfortunately those examples are only a sampling of what has come (will come) so far.

So I’ve retreated. Or it feels that I’ve retreated. To try and regroup, re-center, orientate anew in this season unknown.
*
We recently had the pleasure of visiting family in South Dakota and my kids spent their days to the hilt with their cousins; their differences and similarities quite obvious, sometimes comically so to their parents. We were there for a week and pictures were taken, the obligatory cousin picture of course taken a few million times to get at least five out of six of the cousins present looking somewhere near the camera. It’s these cousin pictures that I keep coming back to during and post Charlottesville.

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It’s a picture like this one that I keep returning to, mulling over the faces that I so dearly love and desperately want to protect. These smart, funny, imaginative, and compassionate little people who have little knowledge of what’s “out there.” Hopes and dreams largely untainted (though Nellie now knows she does not indeed have super powers—she’s still holding out for her owl), their aspirations set high bolstered by the love and support received from our family. They are different and unique in the best and most annoying ways that only parents will tolerate.

And when I look at this picture, my heart swells a thousand times over…and breaks in a bittersweet *han that only parents of color will ever fully understand. Because when I look at this beautiful picture of my family I also am reminded in times such as these that the precious people here will not be seen for the family that they are. They will not be treated as the family that they are. They will not experience life for the family that they are. They won’t be treated for their unique preferences or personalities. They won’t be treated for who they are. They’ll be treated for who someone else thinks they are. Who someone else thinks they should be. And for my kids who are both equally parts of their mother and father, who have already felt the stinging smack of racism towards themselves and others…it’s just too much for this parent who has also walked this pot-holed road of race in America. Of race in the Midwest. Of race in small-town, apple-as-pie, nice MN/ND.

It’s too many feels.

And I am tempted to continue retreating. To continue insulating and consciously hedging my life experiences in order to avoid finding myself on the blunt end of those humiliating, demoralizing, and de-basing moments that the out right hateful and the blissfully ignorant would inflict. And truly it’s those blissfully ignorant, willfully ignorant comments that burn the longest. That feel the deepest. And I have the right to retreat, don’t I? To retreat to protect myself and my family?

No.
No, I don’t.

I’m mostly told and sometimes asked over and over that it is my job to educate others. To give them opportunities for learning and growth. …How can I judge them if I’m not willing to speak with them? Teach them? …Be their target? Be their mea culpa? Be their “safe” space? Use my experiences for the greater good they say. And while I try, and I offer myself up for that scrutiny day in and day out in real life conversations, in relationships, in organizations, marches, and through my keyboard…what work is being done by others who do not live this burden? Those who continue to ask me, demand from me “How can I help?” “What can I read to learn?” “I don’t hear about that stuff, how did x, y, and z affect you? (And while you’re at it, convince me to believe differently otherwise it’s your (my) fault for being a reverse-racist, liberal, snowflake-y bitch who thinks they’re better. Because what’s an insult without a little misogyny thrown in?)”

How can I fight this fight for my children who deserve so much more? For my family and other families and a community of beautiful people who deserve so much more?

I am tired.

But I will press on.

I will continue to fight through my loss of words. I will wrestle with my table-turning-in-the-temple anger and wretched despair. I will put up with the lazy questions and some (I’m only human) blatantly ignorant statements and I will continue engaging them in conversation. I will continue to speak and will not retreat.

I will push through this battle because I don’t want Charlottesville to be a legacy for my children to bear. Or yours. I don’t want this hate, this bubbling, festering, virulent wake to pour over. Charlottesville cannot be a rallying call for white supremacists, bigots, and Nazis, to be emboldened in their hate. Take note that it is not a rallying cry for those opposed to the white supremacists agenda either. The rallying call for equity has been ongoing and continuous with each deep, unjust loss felt by the communities delegated to the back of the proverbial bus. But don’t allow being late to the party assuage you of the importance of showing up now. Do not bow out saying that your contribution is so small it wouldn’t matter. Start your work now. If you choose to sit on the sidelines, understand that the movement for equitable treatment will carry on with or without you but that you have then made a conscious decision to be complicit with those who carried out the torch-carrying riots in Charlottesville and their message.

So all of these “no words” to say that–I’m tired. And I don’t always have the right words, hell, most days I don’t even have words. And certainly I don’t always know where to go or even where to start from. But I do know that all people deserve to live in a community in which they have equitable rights, treatment, and opportunity regardless of their skin color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, physical ability, or political affiliation. My children believe it. And I will work into the grave so they might be able to live it.

*Han: Han is a difficult concept to describe and the context in which it’s used must be understood in order to really “know” it. I borrow from Wikipedia (yes, I know, I hear the eye rolls) to explain what I can’t but know to be true here: “Han is frequently translated as sorrow, spite, rancor, regret, resentment or grief, among many other attempts to explain a concept that has no English equivalent. Han is an inherent characteristic of the Korean character and as such finds expression, implied or explicit, in nearly every aspect of Korean life and culture.” [Though I believe that han, even without an English equivalent or having Korean ancestry, many people of color or largely marginalized groups will be able to understand in their own unique way.] “Han is sorrow caused by heavy suffering, injustice or persecution, a dull lingering ache in the soul. It is a blend of lifelong sorrow and resentment, neither more powerful than the other. Han is imbued with resignation, bitter acceptance and a grim determination.”

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#BlackLivesMatter

“Better a little righteousness than much gain with injustice.”

Proverbs 16:8

Tonight my heart burns so deeply there aren’t words to describe.

I am #2599

I am #2599.

I am a mother of two daughters.

I am a woman and a wife.

I am a daughter and a sister.

I am an aunt and a niece.

I am a grand daughter and a daughter-in-law.

I am adopted.

I am a sister-in-law, a mentor, a friend, a cousin, an ex-girlfriend, a woman of color.

I am a woman saved by Grace.

I am a bad poet, a jaded idealist, an adventurer, a writer, a musician, a dreamer, a baker, a cook, an artist, a reader, a lover of fashion, a crusader, a supervisor, a change maker, a change yearner, a decorator, a believer of prayer, a searching soul.

I am passionate, loud, stubborn, sensitive, brash, compassionate, competitive, loving, annoying, zealous, animated, joy-seeking, inquisitive, independent, dependent, pessimistic with a twist of sunshine, goal-oriented, achieving, path making, privileged, and humbled daily.

And yet it feels that the church only focuses on one thing.

My vagina.

I am so much more than my lady parts. My vagina. My uterus. My birth control. My reproductive rights. My fertility. My pregnancies. My miscarriage. My sexual history. My purity. My impurity. My female-ness. 

Christ knows I am more.

He knows women are more.

I am a daughter of His.

I am a follower.

I am a player in humanity.

And because of this,

I am #2599.

NOTE: I am stealing and reposting Rachel Held Evans’ comment policy concerning the positional content of this post. It reads as follows: Please stay positive with your comments. If your comment is rude, it gets deleted. If it is critical, please make it constructive. If you are constantly negative or a general ass, troll, or hater, you will get banned. The definition of terms is left solely up to us.

Pondering an anniversary

2 Loves

2 Loves…how I miss those chubby chins.

My Facebook feed was blown up yesterday due to a 40th anniversary. I read an article from Eugene Cho: To whom it may concern: Imagine the possibilities. Imagine the life that could be lived out. because of it. I’ve read many articles about it, on it, the whys and why nots for and against it. And I have to be honest with you.

I’m a fence rider.

Not because I don’t believe in the sanctity of life. Not because I don’t believe women shouldn’t have a right to determine what happens to their bodies. Not because I don’t believe that God intended humanity to be filled with beauty and life. Not because I believe that church and state are mostly and should be separated.

Not because I am sinful…or maybe because I am.

But truthfully, where is the argument or at least the point, when at the end of the day both sides are hurting? Woman, baby, families, broken in two by the loss of love? The loss of compassion? The loss of grace?

I’ve been reading a book that my sister-in-law gave me for Christmas, Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. It’s focus on grace, on thanksgiving…I think is a genius answer to the hatred and pain that is felt throughout this argument. It’s exploration of the basis of sin and evil in the world being rooted in our ungrateful hearts, in a lack of thanksgiving. Through these reflections on faith and practice she connects the pieces together a little bit more for me on my own beliefs. Grace. What is grace?

I’m not looking for a debate or a fight or really anything, mostly I’m just shifting through my thoughts. I realize this won’t make sense to some and maybe will to others. As a mother, as a daughter, as an adoptee who doesn’t know her birth parents, as a child of God, and more simply as a player in humanity…I don’t dare to profess I have all the answers. I long for the goodness, the gratefulness that we once had as perfectly created and perfectly seeing, and in that longing I attempt to make a life and a belief that emulates what could have been. What is if we humble ourselves to embrace grace.

I’m thankful for…

Day 6: I’m thankful for technology. To be truthful, not always, but generally I am thankful for technology and that it allows me to know what’s going on in the world with real time updates (BBC 2012 Election coverage anyone?).

Day 7: I’m thankful for my morning cup of coffee (okay, coffee in general). I’m not sure if it’s a physical need but more of a routine, an emotional need to get my day started off on the right foot. No matter how scream-y, whiny, or angelic my family is in the morning, if I can just get that one cup going it makes everything so much better. And really, a cup in the morning with some toast or at work with some co-workers, a cup in the afternoon to stave the post-lunch slump, or a cup in the evening with good company…I am very thankful for coffee.

I’m thankful for…

Get out and VOTE!

Day 5: I’m thankful for my freedoms. I’m thankful that I live in a country where, even when it might not always seem obvious, I have the ability to choose and to make a difference. Sometimes I may feel dismayed or discouraged by the bureaucracy of freedom (ironic, no?) but ultimately, I am so blessed to be able to live my life how I see fit. Tomorrow (or yesterday or today if you’re an early or absentee voter) I am going to vote at my polling site, and tomorrow I will help to decide the future–for better or for worse. As a woman, as a person of color, and as a member of humanity, I am eternally grateful that I live in a country that deems my person-hood to be worthy of choice and worthy of a say.

Is God Glad Osama Bin Laden’s Dead?

I feel the need to address the death of Osama Bin Laden. Not that my thoughts really matter all that much, but after reading and seeing so many things over the last couple of days, it seems as though it would be peculiar for me to not take a break and respond to his death.

I lack the words. My husband did a good job over at his blog here in his post “What Are We Celebrating?”

But I did happen to stumble upon this article by John Piper and I feel as though it’s made better of an argument (or rather, explanation) than I could about my warring feelings concerning the topic. So…without further ado…here it is:

Is God Glad Osama Bin Laden’s Dead?

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God’s emotions are complex—like yours, only a million times more. Right now, your emotions about bin Laden are not simple, i.e. not single. There are several, and they intermingle. That is a good thing. You are God-like.
In response to Osama bin Laden’s death, quite a few tweets and blogs have cited the biblical truth that “God does not delight in the death of the wicked.” That is true.
                                   
It is also true that God does delight in the death of the wicked. There are things about every death that God approves in themselves and things about every death that God disapproves in themselves.

Is God Double-Minded?

This is not double talk. All thoughtful people make such distinctions. For example, if my daughter asks me if I like a movie, I might say yes or no to the same movie. Why? Because a movie can be assessed for its 1) acting, 2) plot, 3) cinematography, 4) nudity, 5) profanity, 6) suspense, 7) complexity, 8) faithfulness to the source, 9) reverence for God, 10) accurate picture of human nature, etc., etc., etc.
So my answer is almost always “yes, in some ways, and no in other ways.” But sometimes I will simply say yes, and sometimes no, because of extenuating circumstances.
Here is why I say God approves and disapproves the death of Osama bin Laden:
In one sense, human death is not God’s pleasure:
Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live? . . .  For I do not pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live. (Ezekiel 18:2332).
In another sense, the death and judgment of the unrepentant is God’s pleasure:
Thus shall my anger spend itself, and I will vent my fury upon them and satisfy myself.(Ezekiel 5:13]
[Wisdom calls out:] Because you have ignored all my counsel and would have none of my reproof, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when terror strikes you.(Proverbs 1:25–26)
Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, for God has given judgment for you against her! (Revelation 18:20)
As the Lord took delight in doing you good . . . so the Lord will take delight in bringing ruin upon you and destroying you. (Deuteronomy 28:63)
We should not cancel out any of these passages but think our way through to how they can all be true.

God is Not Malicious or Bloodthirsty

My suggestion is that the death and misery of the unrepentant is in and of itself not a pleasure to God. God is not a sadist. He is not malicious or bloodthirsty. The death and suffering considered for itself alone is not his delight.
Rather, when a rebellious, wicked, unbelieving person is judged, what God has pleasure in is the exaltation of truth and righteousness, and the vindication of his own honor and glory. (For further discussion of God’s heart in judgment see the section in The Pleasures of God called “How Is God Like George Washington?”, pp. 147–149.)
When Moses warns Israel that the Lord will take pleasure in bringing ruin upon them and destroying them if they do not repent (Deuteronomy 28:63), he means that those who have rebelled against the Lord and moved beyond repentance will not be able to gloat that they have made the Almighty miserable.
God is not defeated in the triumphs of his righteous judgment. Quite the contrary. Moses says that when they are judged they will unwittingly provide an occasion for God to rejoice in the demonstration of his justice and his power and the infinite worth of his glory (see alsoRomans 9:22–23).

A Warning

Let this be a warning to us: God is not mocked. He is not trapped or cornered or coerced. Even on the way to Calvary he had legions of angels at his disposal: “No one takes my life from me; I lay it down of my own accord”—of his own good pleasure, for the joy that was set before him.
At the one point in the history of the universe where God looked trapped, he was in charge, doing precisely what he pleased—dying to justify the ungodly like you and me.

Happy 2009!

We bid 2008 adieu with Brian, Britney, Becky, Steve, Salty & Moses (Ada couldn’t man up and went to bed at 7 pm). We feasted on fondue and chocolates, all the while watching the ball drop…twice. To top off the wild night, we played a cut throat game of contemporary Yahtzee that Britney suspiciously won at the last minute.

We look forward to a new year and all the possibilities that it brings.
What does that mean? We don’t know.
But we look forward to finding out.