Tuesday, August 16, 2016

One Wild and Precious Life

I'm sitting here, trying not to think about fact that my arms are on fire. If they burn this bad right now, how bad is tomorrow going to be!? This is the result of me attending my first boxing class tonight. Learning to box is something I’ve had on my brain for the past two years, but I’ve always found a reason not to do it. It’s too much money. I can’t find a place that isn’t a hard core boxing gym. I’m too fat to keep up with the class. That gym is too far away. The excuses go on and on and on and on… that is… until late Sunday night, lying in bed playing on my phone, I googled “womens boxing in the twin cities” for the millionth time, and this time, I found it: Pink Gloves Boxing. As I started reading their website, I felt an all too familiar feeling rise up in me: fear. The second I felt it, I knew I’d be boxing this week.

Let me back this train up to last September. Late one night my friend Katie called me to break some terrible news. My friend Ryan’s wife, Kate, had passed away unexpectedly in her sleep. Kate was 31. A mom of two small kids. A woman who I followed on social media, and respected, because she was one of the few Christians in my peripheral who didn’t drive me crazy with her love for Jesus. And as quickly as she was posting photos of her day adventures with her two children, she was gone. Just like that. I didn’t really feel much at first, but knew I need to fly home for the funeral regardless. During her funeral, I found myself feeling something I did not expect to feel; I was jealous. Not because I myself wanted to die, but rather because this girl had lived. Story after story was told about this magnificent woman’s life, and I couldn’t help but feel envious. And then it struck me: I was jealous of someone who was not even alive anymore. I knew, sitting in that church on that weekend, that something needed to drastically change in my life.

Three weeks later I quit my job at the college I was working at. I had been unhappy for some time, and I knew that staying in such a toxic environment wasn’t good for me. What I didn’t realize at the time was how much damage it had already done to my soul. I worked in an office where people weren’t very kind and I was worked to my max every single day and paid less than a social worker’s wage to do it. Not everyone was mean, but quite a few made me feel in subtle and overt ways like there was something wrong with me. Literally, in my going away card, someone actually wrote “although it may not have seemed like it, I enjoyed working with you”. When the team was asked to share something they liked about me during one of my last days, two people didn't say anything and one said they liked “my hair”. Forget the countless hours I had spent trying to help underrepresented students afford college, my hair is what this person found of value in me. Although some said very nice things about me, I heard the things others didn’t say about me louder than the things that they did.

So I started my new job, and although I don’t love it, the people there were starkly different. They were warm and caring and thought I was a good worker. It felt weird to have people ask how my weekend was; to hear stories about their kids and families and lives. I knew right away I made the right decision to jump ship, but I could so clearly see the damage that had been done.

I had left one job in order to create a life I wanted, the life that Kate had lived… a life on purpose. I quickly learned this new job was not going to provide that for me, yet in the same breath, I knew that God had me there for a specific reason. Annoying how he does that. I decided instead to make the most of my non-working hours. A question had stuck with me from something I read once in a poem:

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

So I decided to start living my one wild and precious life. At first, it was making date nights more special, weekends more fun. It slowly morphed into getting out of the house more, getting the bikes out, going for rides. I had drastically changed my diet, and was starting to feel better, so I decided to dip my toe into something active: I asked David to go paddle boating with me. It’s funny how something as simple has paddle boating can make a grown woman scared to death. I was afraid I was too heavy for the paddle boat. Guess what? I wasn’t. It went just fine. So next, I kayaked with my friend Nichole in a double kayak. Again, I was so afraid I would be too heavy for the kayak. But guess what? I wasn’t. Then David and I went to the batting cages. Again, I was too afraid that it had been too long since I’d swung a bat, and everyone there would laugh at me and judge me. Guess what? They didn’t. I hit damn near every ball. This past weekend we went on a ten mile bike ride, and I didn’t die. I then kayaked in a single kayak after the bike ride (again, I was still worried I’d be too heavy for it), and I didn’t sink the boat. This leads me to boxing. It’s one thing to tool around in a kayak, it’s another to go to a boxing  class. A 50 minute class I can’t control the pace of? And I can’t leave or stop when I want? And did I mention its BOXING; one of the most bad ass things ever? I’m not bad ass! But I’ve learned that living in a place of fear, is not really living. Living in fear means I create limits for myself that are far too small for someone who wants a life on purpose. So, I drove an hour in Uptown traffic (I hate you Uptown!) on a rainy night and worked my ass out. I now can’t feel my arms and I’ve never felt more exhilarated.

So thank you Kate, for inspiring me. I’m sorry it took you leaving us way too soon for this to happen, but please know that I think about you every single day, and I am learning from the example your life set. Thank you for loving Jesus in a way that actually looked like love. Thank you for loving my friend Ryan. And thank you for encouraging me to live my life on purpose and without fear.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Beautiful and Hard Discipline of Being Married

This week David and I are celebrating our two year wedding anniversary. I found it fitting that on our drive up to the North Shore, I was reading this blog I read from time to time called "Momastery", and she talked about marriage being hard. Beautiful, but hard. Which prompted me to write about my own feelings on marriage.

If any of you know me or have spent any time remotely with me over the last two years, I've made it no secret that I find marriage to be incredibly difficult. Think about it. You take two people, who are going to be different from each other no matter who you marry, and stick them in the same living space and say, "Okay, now figure out how to live together, plan your time together, manage family dynamics different from your own together, financially support yourselves with no outside help, split up the household chores in an equitable way, and oh yeah, love each other to the point of sacrificial love. Try not kill each other in the process." Whhhaaattt!!!???

So being the person I've decided I want to be, sincerely committed to openness and honesty, I've been pretty transparent about how hard I find this process. More with some than with others, and that's mostly because of the reactions I get from people. I think people have this idea that marriage is meant to make you happy (probably explains why the divorce rate is so high; the second you aren't happy anymore, it stops working for you). I think happiness is a by-product of marriage, absolutely, but I believe marriage, for me at least, was meant to teach me how to be better. A better person, a better friend, a better everything. And any kind of growth, for me at least, is hard. SUPER hard. Growth means being stretched, and it's not always easy and it's not always fun. It's always always good, but it's hard.

That being said, I'm always surprised when people respond to my narrative about the difficulty of being married with surprise and confusion. I've heard it all from "how did you end up together?", to "oh that's so sad, you're in the honeymoon phase!". The list of judgmental reactions goes on and on. And then on some more.

So I guess I'm writing this because I wanted to let others know, if you feel like your marriage doesn't look like the ones you've seen on tv or the one others are telling you you're supposed to have: that's okay. Expect it to be hard. Good things, anything worth having, can be really hard to achieve, and takes work. REALLY hard and difficult work, but beautiful and meaningful work. We put in the work because eventually, it will pay off. It may take a while, but you'll see. I mean hey, I'm celebrating two years aren't I? ;)

Here an excerpt from the blog I mentioned in the first paragraph. The author's name is Glennon Doyle Melton, and she writes at her blog momastery.com/blog. It's people like her that give me the freedom to speak my truth. I hope by doing so, others don't feel so alone.

I talk about my flailing marriage because (and a year ago I’d have ripped your well-meaning head off if you’d predicted this to me) the truth is that my marriage had to be shattered before it could be pieced back together. My marriage was like a busted arm that The Doctor had to re-break before it could heal right. A year ago- it all fell apart. Yes it did. And I about died. But now. Just a year later – my marriage is excruciating and real and true and deep and GORGEOUS for the first time. For the very first time. It also still sucks. It hurts and burns and refuses to leave me in peace – like every crucible does. But damned if all that discomfort didn’t turn out to be the good stuff. Like the Velveteen Rabbit – maybe neither people nor marriages become Real until the shine and newness rubs off and they look ugly and worn out to the rest of the world but real and soft and comforting and lovely to the one who holds them.

This past year has been a special slice of hell for me and Craig-  and I never, ever thought it would get better. I had no outward hope for a long while– but I kept showing up, and so did Craig. We kept fiercely and relentlessly showing up. We did NOT commit to each other this past year. We individually committed to the Spiritual Practice of Showing Up.

And last week I looked at Craig and thought- Holy SHIT. I think I love him. For the first time. For the first time - I respect the hell out of this man. It took a year of tears and faith and sweat and therapy and prayer and more tears and it will always be hard. It will always be hard and that’s okay. We have proved to our kids and ourselves that We Can Do Hard Things.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Social Media, How I Loathe Thee

Sometimes, I just hate facebook.

I know you know what I'm talking about. It's everyone's way to engage in what many call "image management". It's our way of controlling the way the rest of the world see us: our marriages, our careers, our families, our friendships.... the list goes on and on. We project to the world the person we want others to see. And you know what? I hate it. Get that instagram filtered picture of your dinner or feet on the beach out of my newsfeed, please.

Another reason I hate facebook? Religious facebook statuses. Ugh. If I have to read another bible verse posed as am ambiguous status about what the person is going through, I'm going to barf. But more than that, it's made me realize how radically different I am than a lot of people I used to associate with, and that makes me sad.

Facebook has also become the place where we fight about social and political happenings, post photos with "social facts" written across them (like the people on welfare should be drug tested and post this if you agree blah blah blah), and generally just fight with one another by commenting on stuff. Hiding behind the computer screen in an attempts to connect and be correct, when really, it's pushing me further away from connection most days.

But then I have days like today.

I have a WONDERFUL friend from college who has recently started reevaluating his religion, or should I say, the way he was practicing religion. Daniel Koons (love you man!) has been posting all kinds of intriguing articles, and stepping out facebook style to share with us the changes he's going through with how he's interacting with his faith and his God. I've never felt more close to Daniel, and we are thousands of miles away from each other.

And then there is Ben. He's been dealing with underemployment for over a year, and has been brave enough to share his family's struggles via facebook with us. When David lost his job? I didn't feel so alone. I'll admit, some days I'd revert back to being jealous of the progress it seems my friends are making, but for the most part? I'd think of Ben, and I'd know somewhere out there, someone else got it.

And then there is Amanda. A friend from Middle School who I totally lost touch with over the years, and now she blogs about being a mom. Not the warm fuzzy "look at how cute my baby is" crap, but the "oh dear God I just locked my kid in the car" kind of crap. I'm not even a mom and I can't help but feel a total connection with her, even though we haven't spoken in years and I think kids are generally gross and sticky.

So to those of you who dare to be open and honest about who you are: thank you. You people are the reason why I don't totally deactivate my facebook and swear off social media. You bring what I believe facebook is attempting to foster: connectedness over distance. You share your stories, good and bad, so that authentic soul connections can actually happen. Thank you.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Sweet Spot

This blog post has been a long time coming. I’ve been thinking on some things over the past few months; stewing on something, but I wasn’t quite sure exactly what it was that had me so restless. I just knew whatever it was, I wanted to write it down. 

And today is that day. Today is the day I write down what’s been brewing in me for the last few months, and here is it:

I like who I am.  

How many of us can really say that? And better yet, actually mean it? I feel like for so long, I’ve felt like I’ve been suffering from the “imposter” syndrome. You know, where you’re old enough to be working a “real” job but still young enough to feel like you’re “playing adult”. Like, you keep hoping no one figures out that you really don’t know exactly what you’re talking about, and for the most part, you feel like you’re playing dress up when it comes to work and life as an adult. You keep wondering how long it will take for the other people at the table to realize you so do not belong there. 

I remember the first time I felt this way. It was my first year in graduate school, and my boss at the time (Patty) brought me to a planning session in the Twin Cities of about 5-6 people from various colleges in Minnesota; we called ourselves “The Partnership for Safer Communities Consortium”. It was a group of head honchos from higher education and the Department of Corrections, and our goal was to find ways to continue providing higher educational opportunities to incarcerated students. Funding was running out, and our programs were at risk of closing down. And all I could think was, “Do they know I don’t belong here? That I am pinching myself as I sit here because I can’t believe I’m even in this room right now? Who said that I had any kind of insight to provide on this huge, important topic of social justice? Do they really think that I, a twenty two year old grad student, can change social fabric in this state I’ve lived in for 6 months!?”

And thank God for Patty who brought me to that meeting, because she saw something in me that I certainly did not see. She saw the potential and drive that I brought to my work, and she showed me that although I was young, what I had to say was important. That my thoughts were valuable and meaningful. That I had every opportunity to change my world, even if it didn’t seem like I had the power to do so.

And seven years later, I’ve presented at national conferences with her, contributed to a published textbook on emerging technologies in higher education, and been adjunct faculty at the second largest school in Minnesota, teaching incarcerated men in a level four security prison.  I’ve started educational programs on my own, and quite frankly, made shit happen in regards to serving unprivileged students in Minnesota and beyond.

So you know what? I like who I am. I like who I’ve become, and I no longer feel like an imposter. My experiences and what I think, matters. Do I still have a long way to go? Absolutely. Just ask my new boss; I feel like I know nothing there. But I don’t care. Because I’ll learn. Not knowing doesn’t make me any less valuable of a member of our team, because like everything else in my life, I’ll give it everything I have. Why? Because I know why I’m here. My focus is on helping students change their lives through education. Nothing else matters to me except that fact. I don’t care if I don’t know all the answers today; I’ll figure them out. I don’t care if people think I’m crazy because of how much I work with students on stuff they “should know” or “be able to figure out on their own”. I do what I know is right, and that’s enough for me. It’s an awesome feeling, to finally be comfortable with who you are and what you believe enough to stand behind it even if the world thinks you’re crazy. 


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

It's Not About Me

** You're going to read me swearing in here. If that offends you, please do not read. It is my attempt to stay true to what I was/am feeling, and I won't give that up.**

 Let me start out by saying this year has been hell. Absolute hell.

It was our first year of marriage, so David and I dealt with all that comes with two people, who are used to being pretty self-serving, joining our lives together. Add to that some pretty nasty medical issues for both of us, David commuting an hour to school each way every day (and us not being able to afford it), David graduating and being in the job search, him ending his military service of eight years, the list goes on. And on. And on. And then, on Valentine's Day of this year, comes the bomb of all bombs.

My position at the college I worked for was going to be eliminated.

Funding cuts. Federal government issues. Just my position, no one else. I don't care who you are or what you believe, but just because Obama was/is in office, doesn't mean us government workers don't feel the pain of budget cuts. People who need help (what you might call "entitlement programs", which yes, I believe people should be entitled to an education) ARE having their programs cut, and I am living proof of that reality.

This came at a time where I was the only one in our new little family that had a job. And even then, we'd been dipping into our savings every month in order to get by on one paycheck. David would be graduating in three months, but still. We had until May for both of us to find jobs, in this economy. Awesome.

And then yay! March hit, and David was offered a job working in commercial real estate appraisal. Two full months before he graduated. Being offered employment before you graduate RARELY happens. So what that it meant he would be adding an hour to an already two hour a day commute in order to work part time and go to school? We knew the money for gas was worth the beauty of having one of us with a secured job. We could dig a little deeper into our pockets to make it work.

And then bam! My second to last day at my college, I was offered a position at a new college, closer to home, same federal program. We had money! We could pay off our credit card, actually make a dent in my student loans, maybe even save for a house (that most days seems so far away...).

But then, I got in the new job, and from day one, it became starkly apparent this was not right. I won't go into details, because I don't think it's fair, but the job was not a good fit for me emotionally, professionally, and physically. The amount of stress I endured during my time there made my physical ailments worse, and I became, lets just say it, a royal bitch at home. Sure we had money and health insurance, but I was miserable. So I toyed with the idea of quitting. But how can you do that!? How can you quit a job in this economy, with no back up? Every person in my life told me I was crazy, to stick it out until I found something else, who cares if you screw over that program by quitting out of the blue, focus on yourself. But something inside me said that option, wasn't really an option for me. For my health, for my sanity, for the sake of the program who needed a permanent person in there, I couldn't stay. And then my friend Mike Matthis (love you!) posted this quote on his facebook:

"The opposite of faith is not doubt, it's certainty." - Anne Lamott

And that was it. I followed my heart, I stepped out in faith, and I quit my job.

And you know what? Following your heart and stepping out in faith feels pretty awesome. For about a day. Then it sucks. It kicks in that you forfeited your health insurance for you and your husband. You are putting your student loans in deferment. Coupon clipping even more than you already did. Dipping into your dwindling savings again. And you apply to any job you can get your hands on, only to be told "no" after nine interviews in one month. 

Which left me with a thought that is the reason behind this whole blog entry. Where the hell was God? Seriously?! What the fuck? 

I've never really questioned whether God was real and personal. Jesus, yes, many questions there, many that still linger. But God? Nope. Never. Until now. All the canned Christian answers kept coming into my head:

"God's got a plan"
"He's in control even if if doesn't feel like it"
"He's got something better for you"
"He's teaching you to trust Him"

Well pardon my french, but fuck that. Seriously, fuck that. If this was "God's Plan", to make me sick to my stomach, crying every day, take away my job, that I loved, only to place me in another one that was not right, then He's a pretty messed up God. What an absolutely shitty way to bring about your plan.What a convoluted way to make me follow and trust you. How sadistic. I wanted nothing of it, and it became clear real quick this idea of God could not be congruent with a God I wanted to believe exists, a loving God who cares for me; so I started questioning whether God was real at all. Because I couldn't, in my head, make logical sense of why all of this was happening. A hiccup or two here or there, fine, but all of this! That's just messed up.

And then last Monday, Augsburg College called me. Let's back this train up real quick; I applied to a job there twice this year, only to make it to the top three the first time, and then the top two the second time, and then get turned down. This job would have answered so many questions for me. It's a short walk to my doctor (who is a specialist, so I need her), five minutes from my house, in financial aid (an area I've felt for a while I would thrive in), and who's mission statement, that serving your world is not an option, but a command from God, I could wholeheartedly get on board with. So when I was rejected, there was no bigger "f-you" slap in the face, and it felt like it was from God. The final "sorry babe, but you're not getting any answers or help here".

So when they called me, I was shocked. They asked me if I was still interested in working there, because they had another position open, and they wanted to bring me in based off my interview this past summer. If the meetings I had set up went well, they'd offer me the job.

And guess what? This past Friday, I was made an offer of employment at Augsburg College. Starting January 2nd, I'm their newest Student Financial Services Counselor.

Yay! Right? I'm so happy, and so relieved, and so at peace with what's coming up in my life. But I didn't know where this left me with my thoughts and feelings on God. Because, let's face it, all the shit I've had happen this year, still happened. There was no need to go through this; if Augsburg was where I was meant to be, why not stick me there this past April when I applied the first time and be done with it? I really didn't know where that left me.

And then, at Mr. Mike Matthis' suggestion, I picked up Anne Lamott's book "Traveling Mercies: Thoughts on Faith" and started reading it about two days ago. She's a fantastic writer, authentic in every way. It's her authenticity and desire to be raw and honest that finally led me to a bit of truth about God and faith:

It's not about me.

"It turned out that this man worked for the Dalai Lama. And he said - gently- that they believe when a lot of things start going wrong all at once, it is to protect something big and lovely that is trying to get itself born - and that this something needs for you to be distracted so that it can be born as perfectly as possible."

When I first read that I thought, "Yeah, okay. I bet." Like, it's someone grasping at explaining the problem of pain, to relieve the cognitive dissonance they have about what's going on. Been there, done that. 

But I haven't been able to shake this idea. What if, this year wasn't really about me. Without saying too much, the department I'll be working for at Augsburg has had a challenging year of transition. The two other individuals that were hired the first two times I applied had more experience than me. At the time, the fact that that was why I wasn't getting hired, really pissed me off. You can teach someone how to do a job, you can't teach people how to work with and care about people, which I know I have that quality in spades. But after hearing more about all the transition they've had this year, it's a good thing they hired those two people with that experience, because those two have already been moved around and given more responsibilities than originally intended. What if, God was working on something, bigger than me, and I just needed to wait for my turn? Maybe? This whole time I'd been wondering "why me?" when really the question I should have been asking was "why?"

I think that's where I'm at with everything at this point. I'm back to thinking there is indeed a God (yay!), but the above is the best explanation I can come up with for this year. And I guess for me, that's good enough. It's my time to be happy, so I'm done trying to figure it all out. Time to rest in the fact that we were provided for, and that we are about to embark on another new journey. 

I wrote this, in a way, to let God know that I get it. I would say I'm sorry, but I don't know if that's what He requires. I felt how I felt, and I believe I was allowed that. But I also write this for anyone else out there who feels like lately, they just can't seem to catch a break. For those who've allowed themselves to really ask the difficult questions of "why". Allowed themselves to go beyond what "they should be believing" as a person of faith, and have the courage to really challenge what the hell is going on. It's okay to do that. But also know, perhaps God is working on something else, something that has nothing to do with you, and for now, that's all you need to know.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Why I’m choosing to vote “No” on Minnesota’s Marriage Amendment this November

Disclaimer: I’m not writing this to open up discussion. In fact, unless you are still undecided on how you want to vote, and want to talk about that, please do not comment on this at all. I am not looking to start a debate, not looking to hear why I am wrong, or to hear “the devil’s advocate position”. I’ve been thinking about/struggling over this topic for years, and this is what I have come to for myself. So please, only continue reading if you are sincerely interested in hearing my thoughts, not to try to propose your own. I have disabled comments, and if email me your thoughts, I will delete them before reading them.

This Sunday, David and I went to the Minnesota State Fair. Upon entering the gates, I was stopped by someone with a clipboard. She didn’t waste much time, just got straight to the point,

Clipboard Lady: “What is your opinion on same-sex marriage?”

Why hello! Welcome to the fair. My response was almost as abrupt as her question,

Me: “I support it.”

Clipboard Lady: “Can you tell me why?”

To be honest, this is the first time someone has ever asked me why I support it. Normally this topic comes up under the guise of facebook fighting over some stupid thing that’s happened in the news, like whether or not to eat chicken sandwiches from a place that does not support same-sex marriage. So other than the conversations David and I have, I had never really formulated a clear reason for what I believe, so I spouted out the first thing that came to my mind.

Me: “Because I believe in human rights and doing what’s fair.”

She commented on what a simple answer that was, and for me, it really is that simple. Turns out she was recruiting people to volunteer for the “Minnesota United for All Families” campaign, a campaign David and I have supported since it’s origination, so we signed up to volunteer the weekend of September 8th. I was told I’d be talking to people about the amendment. It was then that I realized I better figure out what I want to say/what I really think!

For me, writing this is like coming out of the “Christian Closet”, meaning, this is the first time I’ve gone on record as supporting same-sex marriage. As most of you may know, I grew up Christian for the most part, went to a Christian university, and identify as Christian. So sitting here, typing these words, is terrifying, because I know many people reading this will not agree with me, and will potentially be praying for me because of this. But the older I get, the more desire I have to be myself, not what other people think I should be. So here it is; I support same sex marriage, and I don’t find that to be at odds with my faith.

Two blog posts I came across (both below) helped me to reaffirm what my heart was already telling me.
“Why I regret voting Yes on Prop 8”: http://www.elizabethesther.com/2010/08/why-i-regret-voting-yes-on-prop-8.html
“Apologizing to my Gay Neighbors”: http://www.elizabethesther.com/2011/09/apologizing-gay-neighbors.html

I believe in the separation of church and state, and because of that belief, I do not think it is okay to legislate my religious beliefs. Whether or not I think “being gay” is a sin, does not and should not change the way I vote on this issue. The bible is very clear about taking care of your body, and treating it as a temple, and I will not be rallying around laws to determine limits on caloric intake any time soon, so how is this issue any different? For me, it is no different. We live in a society where I believe consenting individuals should be able to make their own choices, whether or not it aligns with my religion or not.

I’ve also heard the argument that same-sex marriage will hurt the institution of marriage, and potentially the kids these couples will (maybe) adopt. Hmmm. Well, I’m not quite sure these thoughts are research-based (like literally, I really don’t know if research shows this or not, because I haven't looked), but I do know this:

Research has shown that children of divorce are more likely to divorce later in life. Research has also shown that divorce has a negative impact on the children from the union. I am a child of divorce, so therefore, according to the research, I am more likely to get a divorce, thus potentially hurting or imposing negative impacts any children I have with David.

Now imagine if someone told me that because of this likelihood, that I was legally NOT ALLOWED to get married, ever. That. Is. Terrifying.

Which is why I’m voting “No” to the marriage amendment this November. I do not believe that a group of people should be discriminated against because of their personal choice as to who they consensually marry. My call, as a Christian, is to love. Honor God, love people. That’s it; that’s the basis of what Jesus was saying. He never used the political system to change the hearts of people; he used love and acceptance of the person. I’m not convinced that using political power to get people to comply with “God’s word” is an effective strategy in loving his people. If anything, I think it sends a big message of “not welcome here” to any gay or lesbian individual, and for that, I am so sorry.

I am sorry to anyone who feels hurt or abandoned by the church. I am so sorry that the church has made you feel like you were not welcomed or loved by God, just as you are. I’m sorry that anyone made you feel like you were “less than”, like you were condemned and hated. I cannot apologize enough for how misconstrued this whole thing has become. Mostly, I’m sorry I stayed silent for so long. My call is to stand for what’s right, and the way the church and select Christians have treated you, is simply, unacceptable. It’s the exact opposite of what Jesus called his people to, and I’m so sorry I haven’t said anything before now.

To hear about how others are reconciling with the GLBT population, read this awesome blog post:
“I hugged a man in his underwear. And I am proud”: http://naytinalbert.blogspot.com/2010/06/i-hugged-man-in-his-underwear-and-i-am.html#!/2010/06/i-hugged-man-in-his-underwear-and-i-am.html

Sunday, April 15, 2012

It Gets Better

"A broken bone can heal, but the wound a word opens can fester forever." - Jessamyn West

For those of you who've read my facebook statuses over the last couple of weeks, I've been trying to raise awareness of the new documentary that just came out entitled "Bully". As the title suggests, it's about the bullying epidemic in our country, and follows the stories of kids and families who have been impacted by bullying.

And cue the thirteen year old version of myself entering the scene.

There's this kid in the movie, Alex, whose parents cannot for the life of themselves understand why their child didn't tell them about what was going on at school or during his bus rides. Why couldn't he just tell someone about what was going on. Of course I came up with the obvious answers: he had not developed fully enough to understand that his parents are a safe space, that he didn't realize yet that he doesn't have to put up with that garbage, that the "it gets better message" just hadn't reached him yet. But when it comes down to it, I don't know if the twenty seven year old version of me is any more prepared to face my own scars that bullying left behind than the thirteen year old version of Alex was. At twenty seven, I could still barely tell my husband that night after the movie about the bullying I was subjected to growing up. And it SUCKED. I was eventually able to share things with him I've never told anyone. Ever. It made me realize though, that although things get better for these kids, and I truly believe that and hope those kids choose life long enough to hear that message, that the things you've heard said about you, never fully go away.

I can still picture the faces of the kids who taunted me. Some of them even started being nice to me in high school, but I never forgot, and still haven't. The girl who barred me from her basketball court in gym class, simply because I wasn't popular enough to play on her court? I haven't forgotten you. The two boys who on the bus in seventh grade made fun of me numerous times about my weight? I haven't forgotten you. You may have grown up, maybe into bigger and better people, people who don't bully anymore, but your words, much to my dismay, will never leave me. I still struggle with who you told me I was back then. So thanks for that.

But I'm lucky. I didn't let these little punk asses take my life away from me. I grew up, made quality friends, and married a wonderful man who thinks I'm beautiful, no matter what I weigh. But some kids, aren't so lucky. Some kids believe the words of these bullies and internalize them so much, that it becomes their new reality, and inevitably, they take their own life because of it. My heart breaks for these kids, who don't know yet that the person making fun of you? Is really, actually, just an asshole who is trying to put you down because they're just as confused as you are about who they are.

The movie is a must see for not only anyone who has kids or works with kids, but really, for anyone with a heart. Period. Anyone who plans on participating in our culture and society, thus inevitably coming across kids at some point, should see this film.

What brought me back to this blog was the realization this year that silence is simply not an option anymore. Silence, because I'm too scared to speak the truth, cannot happen anymore in my life. So I am pledging to speak up for the silent, to speak truth when it needs to be spoken, and to take a stand, even if it makes me look like an idiot. To, no matter how hard it may seem, always choose love.

And really, I do encourage you all to go check out the movie if it's playing near you. You can see if it's at a theater near you by clicking here. If enough people go see this movie, it will be able to spread to more theaters throughout the United States, spreading the message of love that so desperately needs to be told.