This is what I do, don't try to understand how I do it; I don't really know either

Archive for June, 2020

Lump Me In

What an incredible time to be alive. There are so many challenges, tension, conflict, and issues that have simmered beneath the surface and have reached a boiling point. That may not seem like a positive thing but I see it as opportunities. When conflict is hidden or left unaddressed then nothing changes. The desperate reality that many people face is being brought into the light. This reality is hard to accept or understand for those who have not experienced it. It makes us uncomfortable and that’s exactly how we should feel. If we see suffering and are comfortable with it then there is something wrong with us.

Some different groups and movements are rising to demand change. These movements stand for many things. I am watching the reaction of the evangelical Christian community. I am watching them upset about the human rights violations but afraid to take a stand or position themselves too near a movement because they don’t fully align with every value of the movement. They are concerned that people may confuse them as someone that they are not or holding values that they don’t. They are more worried about how others perceive them, than they are about demanding justice. I know a guy who didn’t care about that, and it was significant.

Jesus talked with sinners. He associated, ate with, spent time with, and built relationships with people who were looked down on by the religious community of His day. We often forget the cultural context that Jesus lived in and the way He lived his life. He was not afraid to be painted with the same brush as the outcasts, so why are we? Also in the New Testament, God told Peter to have a sleepover with Gentiles – this was not done! God had a huge calling for Peter and he had to get over his cultural bias and lose the image management that often comes with religion.

I have had pictures taken and publicly posted of myself and the Prime Minister of Canada, the President of Kenya, and the king of porn Ron Jeremy. I want to get to know people because they are people. We are likely going to have things we agree on and disagree on (Ron Jeremy likes worship music so I partly agree with him on that). Christians need to worry less about being misunderstood and put that effort into justice. People are going to misunderstand you no matter how much image management you do so, to quote a Disney movie I still have never seen, let it go.

Is it more important that people completely understand you or that other people stop dying? You can view me any way you want to as long as my actions are making a positive difference in the lives of other people. I am in progress, but I find myself less afraid of being misunderstood the more confident I am in myself and who I am in Christ. So lump me in with any group you choose and you are probably partly right but regardless, I will take my stand with the hurting, suffering, and vulnerable because I am more worried about them than your perception of me.

Our Storytelling

I used to write a lot. Growing up I wrote poems, short stories, fiction, non-fiction. Writing was this creative outlet. Putting pen to paper was akin to me as a potter sitting at the wheel and molding the clay with each turn. Words are my paint that I use to portray the picture of what’s in my heart. Writing my story has been a cathartic experience of bringing the darkness to light. Telling my truth validates the things that I have experienced. These events really did happen.

My editor has me reading a book called Shimmering Images by Lisa Dale Norton. She has instructed thousands of people on how to write. I love this process of learning how to be a better writer. It’s like watching each piece of pottery get better every time you make a new one. She talks about the ancient stories that were passed down through generations. These stories help us see we are not alone – they connect us. “This is how we create the mysterious bonds that connect us as couples, as lovers, as friends, as family members, and as participants in community or a nation.” When we share our stories with authenticity and invite the readers “into the private world of our experience, the result is intimate and transcendent.”

I have been reading a lot of stories. I feel connected to the people who tell them and it makes me feel less alone. That’s helpful in a time when we have to be socially distant. When people read my story I hope they will feel connected to me. Some people will relate to different aspects of my experiences. Some people may have had similar chapters in their story and others may connect based on the feelings they can relate to.

Many of the stories I have read are difficult journeys of people from Africa who have overcome the most unfathomable life circumstances. Many of them talk about life before their difficulties began and the storytelling that would happen in their communities. I imagine the children and adults gathered together to listen. I believe many indigenous communities also have these traditions. It’s a beautiful thing when we come, not only to learn from each other but about each other.

We need that now more than ever.