The Sounds of Silence (Charlottesville)

“Who is my neighbor?”

In essence, Jesus answers that your neighbor is the man who looks nothing like you, has nothing in common with you, and is lying in the middle of the road, bleeding and nearly dead.

And as I reflect on what it means to love my neighbors, especially the ones who live way over in Charlottesville, I can’t help but think how fitting it is that at church today, we talked about compassion and the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

And as I wished my roommate a safe flight this morning, I couldn’t help but think how fitting it is that today, my best friend left to Washington D.C. to intern with Sojourners, an organization that is committed to racial and social justice, life and peace, faith in action.

It’s all so fitting because of the state of affairs in which we now find ourselves. Racism is alive and well, while people are dying in the streets. And while I’ve always considered myself a pretty compassionate person, sometimes it seems like there are too many problems and people in the world to care about them all–especially the people I never get a chance to meet myself.

This is why I’m grateful that my love of Christ and my friendship with Eugenia have both helped me to grow in my compassion for my neighbors whom I’ve never met, for my 32-year-old neighbor who was killed in Charlottesville because of hate, for my neighbors everywhere who are discriminated against, threatened, and murdered.

Today, I am confessing to you that I have too often been silent in the midst of injustice.

The countless wars that are waged, people killed, and injustices done, are too many for me to ever be able to know and comprehend–only God sees and mourns it all. But I cannot hide behind the excuse that because I cannot help everybody, that I will not help the one.

Today, I am confessing to you that I refuse to be silent when I see injustice done, even if I’m afraid to say the wrong thing, afraid to offend, afraid that my words and efforts will fall short.

Because what happened in Charlottesville is not okay, and what continues to happen around the world–the hatred, the murder, the silence–it’s not okay.

It’s time we all loved our neighbors–those near and far. It’s time we prayed for our enemies–those near and far. It’s time we started loving God outside of our comfort zones by loving people outside our comfort zone, and by fighting against gross injustices even if they’re 2,500 miles away.

And to you who finds yourself thinking, “Well, I can’t help them all,” I say to you,

 

You’re right.

But you have a voice so use it. It’s not time to be Wonder Woman or Spider Man–it’s time to be YOU and help somebody with the resources God has given you. After all, our lives are not our own. We were bought at a price.

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” –Esther 4:14

God will bring justice and the prince of this world will eventually be dethroned, but God has given you a voice in the meantime.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan left the hypothetical world a long time ago–people are dying in the streets.

 

Do not remain silent.

What is God calling you to use YOUR voice for today?

 

More on what’s happening in Charlottesville: http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/13/us/charlottesville-white-nationalist-rally-car-crash/index.html

Beauty PSA

Goddess PSA Pt. 1

Have you ever wondered why women often tell each other they look like princesses? I realized recently that women have this innate desire to recognize beauty in other women and have their own beauty recognized. This is why we call each other princesses and mermaids and goddesses every time we get the chance. It’s why we play with each other’s hair and stare at each other’s eyelashes and lose ourselves in the deep brown or bright blue of each other’s eyes. We see the goddesses in each other when the rest of the world is incessantly shouting about how much we fall short–or ARE short. Too short. Too tall. Too thin. Too heavy. Too dark. Too white. Too weak. Not brave enough. Not funny enough. Not smart enough. Not talented enough. Always falling falling falling short.

Mermaid PSA Pt. 2

But deep down all we want is to be beautiful–for who we are. Not for the skin we reveal or the makeup we apply or the weight we lose. Not for the one thing we like about ourselves, but for the whole of ourselves. Not for the women we post about, but for the women we don’t post about–who cry everyday in the bathroom on their lunch breaks. Not for the women who smell like a tropical fruit basket at all times, but for the women who haven’t showered in two days…or four. Not for the contour, but for the acne. Not for what we can do, but also for what we can’t. We want to be beautiful because we are. So we women give each other these beautiful identities–princess, mermaid, goddess, but what we really mean is, “You’re beautiful. Wholly beautiful. And I really hope I am too.”

Princess PSA Pt. 3

Good news! You are beautiful. Wholly beautiful. And I’m so sorry because I’m absolutely certain you don’t hear these words enough–but they’re true. And I hope someday soon you’ll start to believe that you’re the mermaid princess goddess that God intentionally and lovingly created you to be.

There are steps to fully embracing the mermaid princess goddess that you are–the first is to tell the little voice in your head that you’ve often mistaken for your low self-esteem, but that’s actually Satan, to go back to hell where he belongs. Liars and thieves aren’t allowed to just walk into palaces and this liar and thief shouldn’t be able to just walk into the palace of your mind either. Protect your mind. Feed it beautiful, true words from beautiful, truthful people. For now, don’t trust a single thought that crosses your mind before you run it by a good friend and/or the Word of God. You’ve got to recalibrate your truthometer and assert your identity. You are Moana of Motunui, daughter of the village chief. You are stronger than you believe. You have greater powers than you know. You are Wonder Woman.

Which leads us to the second step–accepting compliments. When someone tells you that you’re a beautiful mermaid princess, you say, “Thank you, I receive that!” You will say those exact words until you stop sounding like a rusty robot in serious need of some WD40 because I promise you it works like Proactiv and Curology promise to. Right now, you spend way too much time accepting ugly lies about yourself, never accepting the true and beautiful things instead, and I’m telling you, girl, it is bringing. you. down. Fight back. Humble yourself. Accept the compliments–EVEN when you don’t think they’re true.

Step 3: Pray. Pray pray pray. Pray for a pure heart. Pray for no fear. Pray for the Spirit to give you the love, power, and self-discipline that you need to thrive in this world. Look at me–YOU. ARE. WONDER WOMAN. Because Jesus says you are. Because He gave you His Spirit or He will if you ask Him to. And His Spirit is a billion times more incredible than the incredible power emanating from a billion Diana Princes. I can’t even handle that–the power God gives us is freaking AMAZING. So pray! Pray always for wisdom and courage and peace. Pray and thank God for your incredible and innate mermaid princess goddess-ness. He adores you–let Him teach you who you really are in Him.

In the effort of full disclosure, I must confess that as I’m writing this my acne feels like it’s taken over my face and all that’s left is one massive painful itchy blob where my face used to be AND I’m still recovering from some unfortunate illness I picked up in Mexico that has led me to the bathroom way too many times the past couple days. Do I feel beautiful right now? Nope. AM I beautiful right now? Yes. And you are too.

You’re welcome.

(Both a reference to Maui and to the fact that you should have just said, “Thank you, I receive that!” OUT LOUD because I reminded you that you’re beautiful.)

Go forth and conquer, my beautiful mermaid princess goddess friend.

 

Special thanks to my girl, Diana, for calling me a goddess and for being my model on her layover to Cambodia.

Unbad

I read something recently in response to which I wanted to comment that the existence of worse things in the world does not make a bad thing unbad.

And then I talked to a friend today who just got back from a service trip in the Philippines and I realized that maybe I was wrong.

Maybe in some situations, the existence of extreme poverty makes the idea of taking a minimum wage job at a restaurant after getting your bachelor’s degree sort of unbad.

 

Or maybe it was just never bad to begin with.

 

I often hear stories of third world countries and barefoot orphans running through the streets with nothing to eat, but today I was reminded that the life I have really isn’t my own.

It’s God’s breath in my lungs so I will pour out my praise to the one who has ordained that I be here at the exact time and in the exact place I am this very uncertain post-grad moment.

Because I’m realizing that so much of what I thought was bad, is actually unbad, and that if I really think about it, all the unbad things in my life are actually gifts from God.

Wonderment

Today it was so hot we turned the AC on.

And then it started raining.

Hard.

I heard it before I saw it, and when I saw it, I yelled, “It’s raining!” and ran to watch water meet earth, to feel sky water meet skin.

My brother asked me why I had yelled, but I couldn’t put my finger on it–there’s just something magical about rain, isn’t there?

I went outside, then brother, then sister–we had a water day the natural way. No sprinklers or hoses or pools–just sky.

What is it about water falling from the sky to fill your life with wonder?

And then later the car ride to church was one of the best I can remember–nothing extraordinary–just infectious laughter and singing and playing and I blame it on the rain, on the unexpected wonder of it all, on the brilliant sunset and the hope that comes from appreciating small things like falling water droplets in hundred degree weather.

Mary

Today, my great-grandmother passed away at the ripe old age of ninety-one. And there’s this theme in my mind that I’m struggling to pull together, because the thing is, I didn’t know my great-grandmother, Mary well at all.

There are a couple things I remember about Mary–I remember that she smoked when she was still independently living on her own, and that she smiled a lot when she lived in her convalescent home. Beyond this, I have to rely on my grandma and great aunts and uncles to get a picture of this woman whose existence was crucial to my own.

This week I’ve been thinking a bit about how sometimes you can discover things about yourself you never even knew. Like for example, last week I found a scar on my lip I didn’t know I had, and I thought, “Whoa. How has this little imperfection been a part of me, right here on my lip, without me knowing anything about it for years?”

And today, as I was rereading some of my great-grandmother’s poetry, I remembered the first time I learned that Mary Gallegos was a poet in her own right. There was this feeling of connection, this weird sense of a sort of poetic inheritance that I had received.

I’ve come to understand something about myself–that poetry is my second language, my heart language. And reading my great-grandmother’s poetry, I wonder how it’s possible that decades ago this woman, with whom I share flesh and blood, but almost no relationship, was writing these words of deep pain and longing in a form of writing so dear to me.

There was always this poet in her that I never knew. And it makes me wonder what else I don’t know about myself and my story. But Mary’s story is a part of my own, and I have to wonder if poetry is in my DNA, if it runs in my genes like the Dutch and the Mexican do, if maybe I wouldn’t be who I am without my great-grandmother, for more reasons than just the biological.

“I can’t believe it’s been a year

I hoped the passage of time

Would ease this sorrow of mine

And maybe at night I could

Fall asleep without tears”

–Mary Gallegos