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

Archive for July, 2020

26 years

She was just here yesterday. I swear she was.

It feels like she was, but I know that’s only in my mind. The calendar says it’s been 26 years but I’m sure it was just yesterday. I can see her. I see her smile and her laugh, I see her frustration and her tears. She had them all. We’re in the living room while she changes diapers. One baby first and then she wrestles the second to the floor and changes him too. She’s in the kitchen cooking diner while I sit at the table and we talk. Shes folding laundry, while we talk. She’s outside on the top stoop of the stairs to the house having a cigarette and picking at the bumps on her arm while we talk. We talked a lot.

We talked about the boy I was dating, our families, her life struggles, my life struggles, and we talked about being abused. She was doing her best to work through the journey that is healing. She had a book beside her bed. The one he lit on fire. I have that book now. It stays beside my bed. It is slightly burned. She got half way through. She underlined and wrote notes in it. They are her words that I have now. The closest I can come to having a conversation with her again. When life is hard I need her the most and when she was alive that’s when she would consistently show up.

Yesterday I came to this in the book:

July 18, 1994 her work was complete.

I am sure when she wrote those words she had no idea how soon that would happen.

So now I work on my journey without her and that’s become part of my journey. Living with grief and loss, fighting for justice, and knowing that she’s with me, but it’s not the same way.

Your Platform

Everyone has a platform. Some are small and some are gigantic. Some have been earned and some have been bequeathed. Your platform may encompass your children, friends, and family or, if you are the CEO of a large company, your platform may reach millions. What are we to do with our platforms?

in 2016, Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem. His intent was not to start a movement but to demonstrate what was in his heart. It took weeks for anyone to even notice, but being noticed wasn’t his goal. When it was noticed, there was serious blowback. There is no question that his actions have hindered his career and millions of dollars in contracts. He chose to honor himself and his values and it came at a cost.

I remember discussing this with a family member. He completely disagreed with Kaepernick and felt that he was doing this action at the wrong time and place, to which I asked what IS the right time and place? Even though Kaepernick didn’t intend to start the movement that he did, which added to ongoing movements in the US and now around the world, he used the platform he had to bring attention to human rights issues in his country.

This movement has exploded all over the world and people are demanding change. It is not creating dividing lines, these were already there, but it is exposing them.  The voices of the people who are tired of systemic racial discrimination of minorities are reaching those with large platforms and they are taking action. Platforms make a difference. People have been campaigning and lobbying for years for the Washington Redskins to change their name. They have now agreed to do so but, as my incredibly smart son pointed out, it is because sponsors (with large platforms and dollars) threatened to pull their contracts if they did not make the change.

The people used their platforms of various sizes to fight for change. The people with larger platforms are using theirs to leverage change. Strongholds are breaking down. I believe this is scripture being lived out: “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms,” (1 Peter 4:10). Your platform is a gift, use it to serve others. Use it to fight for those who are suffering under injustice. Use it to elevate others from poverty. Use whatever you have in whatever ways you can, it makes a difference.

This morning I read that Kenny Stills, a wide receiver for the NFL’s Houston Texans was arrested along with other protestors who are demanding justice. The shirt he is wearing in his mug shot says it all:

stills

I am very curious to see what will happen from here. There are large implications. If his charges get dismissed will the 87 other people who were arrested also have their charges dismissed? Will his arrest increase the pressure on the judiciaries and finally bring action in this case? How much blowback will Still’s get, because you know there will be.

Using your platform will cost you. It is worth the price.

I will leave you with a photo of Michael Collins on his platform. He’s there in the middle. His platform cost him his life but won Ireland the freedom she has now.  Erin go Bragh!

michael collins

Grace for her

Every day is a new day. Some are harder and some are better.

Even if my book were not to be published (which it will be) this is such an important process. I wrote in my last post about how helpful it is to get things from the inside out and that is so true. I can imagine my story in the skin of someone else and I can have empathy for her.

I hold myself to such a high standard that I have very little grace when I make mistakes or am struggling. I see all the ways I don’t measure up and unfurl them on banners in my mind. They cast doubt on my big dreams and ambitions. They threaten to undermine the truths I have worked so hard to uncover who I am.

When I look at people who have not experienced trauma I have no problem feeling compassion for them, and so much more for those who have lived events that shattered their security. I am one of those people. I have experienced multiple trauma but I find the grace jar empty when it comes time to pour it out for myself. Writing my story has put together a skeleton, muscle, tissue and tendon on a beautiful young girl. I can see why she would make all the mistakes she did and why some things are harder for her. I can see that the measurement I use for others is a balance unfairly tipped when it comes to myself.

She deserves just as much grace as given to others.

She deserves the same encouragement given to others.

She deserves the respect given to others.

She deserves as much love as given to others.

She deserves all those things from me first and then from others as well. And whether it feels like it or not, that’s the standard I am going to live by because she is worth it.

girl silhouette

 

Writing the Good and the Bad

Some say the hardest part of writing is the writing. Many coaches advise to just put pen to paper and write – even if it’s just one word. That’s where you start. It’s why I didn’t tell anyone I was writing a book until I had written over half of it. Sitting for hours with my laptop and tears was cathartic. I have poured my heart into these pages. It’s probably why journaling is such a good idea. I do not like to write in a journal because I can not be consistent. I write what I write when I write it – check the dates on my blog for verification haha. I also prefer to write in stories or to someone.

The important part of writing is to get things that are stored inside of you onto the outside. This brings some freedom. You can then take the next step of holding them in your hands and evaluate. Was this really what I thought it was? Did I make more of it than I should have? How bad did this hurt me? What part is my fault? What can I learn from this?

When I started writing I felt these stories had to get out. It felt painful and good to get them out. It was part of the healing process itself. I started with the pain. I wrote about all the bad things. It was good in that it gave a reality to things that sometimes are easier to pretend are memories from a movie or book but not really my life. Getting them out validated me and my experiences that yes, these things really did happen. Some people made some really poor choices and I carry scars.

The next step is to write the happy things and this is more of a challenge than I thought. Writing the happy things does not invalidate the painful ones. It shows that people are human. I was in the bath 20 years ago when it occurred to me that people are not either good and bad, they are a mix of both. We grow up with stories of good guys and bad guys. You need to fit into one of those categories. Someone can be good but act poorly. This includes me! That evening soak in the tub found me wrestling in my head with a difficult relationship I had with a family member and trying to reconcile how she could be nice to others and even sometimes nice to me but other times a complete jerk. This multi-dimentional thinking changed my world.

Characters in stories are good or bad but a memoir is a real story with real people who are more than one dimensional. Writing happy memories about someone doesn’t mean they didn’t do the bad things, it means they are human. It’s still ok for me to write about my pain and its even more ok to write about the positive memories. So as I continue to write any happy memory that I can think of, I do so to honor the people that were in my life as being human. I don’t need to villainize people from my past. They are people who made mistakes. Rory’s Feek’s memoir also reminded me that hurt people hurt people. It is often out of woundedness that people make poor decisions.

What if we looked at people as being wounded instead of being villains? Can we be more compassionate? Can we help each other with our own areas of woundedness and together find healing?

writing