A Letter to Louis C.K.

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Dear Louis C.K.

Before I comment on anything I want you to know who I am. I know who you are and before I ever bare my thoughts to someone, I think it important to have a bit of introductory information out of the way.

I am 21. I am an artist and a lover of art, a writer and a lover of words, a sister, and a survivor of sexual harassment and assault.

When I saw that you had issued a statement saying that the rumours were true. You had done what those 5 brave women said that you did. I sighed a breath of relief. I thought “wow, here is a man. Here is someone who understands and can stand against the heinous crimes–even if they were his own.”

So, Louis, you can probably understand my dismay and utter disgust when I read your statement.

The power I had over these women is that they admired me. And I wielded that power irresponsibly.” No. You did not have that kind of power over them. These women were not your fans but your peers– other comedians. The fact that you are trying to excuse your behaviour by attaching a character trait to these women makes my stomach churn. It is classic victimizer language to believe that you are are only wrong because you “wielded that power irresponsibly” is not up to par with what I expected from an apology.

“I also took advantage of the fact that I was widely admired in their community, which disabled them from sharing their story.” I will say you have it half right here Louis, you did disable them from sharing their story until now… but it wasn’t just you. Society is telling a story about sexual abuse that doesn’t allow for women to share their stories and not suffer the consequences. These women could have,  and probably would have, lost their jobs if they had opened up during the time of the abuse and harassment. You, on the other hand, are still profiting and even being commended for your statement. This isn’t because you were widely admired though. This is because you were in a seat of higher power and you manipulated that power to abide to your will.

“The hardest regret to live with is what you’ve done to hurt someone else.” As a survivor of sexual assault and harassment, and for all of those who are in seats like mine, you live with the regret of hurting us too– along with the 5 women you took advantage of in those situations.

This is all unfortunate to me, because I used to sing praises about the comedy that you delivered. It saddens my heart that someone who I enjoyed and was entertained by has let me down. I will no longer be a consumer of your art, Louis. I hope you can understand.

 

Sincerely,

Courtney A. Walters

 

 

 

The fact that Louis C.K. is getting commended by people for the mere fact that he offered up a statement and a lame-attempt at an apology is exactly why we aren’t moving forwards when it comes to the topic of sexual assault. In his statement, Louis doesn’t even come right out and say, “I’m sorry” instead, he warps the language and message to make it seem like he is as much the victim as the 5 women.

 

Louis is not a victim. He may have asked those 5 women if he could show them his penis but never does it say that they gave consent. Consent is not a whispered yes in fear of losing a job. Consent is not a lack of answer.

Consent is an eager and enthusiastic agreement to move forward into intimacy. It is required for each encounter. It is not an EZ-Pass on the highway, you don’t get to purchase consent and then have it forever.

 

Between Weinstein, Spacey, C.K. and countless others, we aren’t addressing the safety and protection of the victims, of the ones who are living and surviving and moving through life with the repercussions of those events. When we focus on the victimizer, we continue to silence and discredit the stories of the women and men who come forward with stories of abuse and assault.

 

Let’s do better, America. Let’s not accept attempts at apologies and statements just because they were given in a time when they are few and far between.

 

Let’s stand up for those who don’t have a voice. Let’s work towards turning the narrative and making society safe for those who feel cautious in most situations.

 

Let’s do better, America.

 

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For Such A Time As This

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My church is currently reading through the book of Esther together before we begin the 7-week advent season. If I’m being honest, when I heard we were going to read Esther, I was a little bummed out. The only thing I knew of Esther was from the Veggie Tale movie and the verse “for such a time as this.” I wasn’t sure how the congregation was going to get anything from this study.

 

Frankly, this attitude was more of a reflection of how I felt about my personal journey with God lately. My social media shows a lot of “christian content” but if I’m being honest, opening my bible hasn’t been the thing I do first in the morning, turning to God has been pushed to the back burner of my mind.

 

It’s been hard to be post-grad and not have a job. People have told me not to compare myself to others because there is no set timeline of what life should look like post-grad. People have told me not to compare because comparison is the thief of joy. People have told me not to compare because it is not “godly behavior.”

 

But I compared. And it was damaging. The more I swiped through Instagram and read updates on Facebook, the more my interior crumbled. The more I got messages asking how interviews were going and had conversations that inquired how long I would be in the area, my insides became stone.

 

I slowly began to put walls up. I pushed people out. I cancelled plans, feigned illness to stay in bed because I was tired all day but couldn’t sleep at night because that’s when my mind would become it’s worst.

 

The people I eventually opened up to all gave me the same advice: pray about it, turn to God, read scripture. But I felt like he was so far from me, so distant. It had been awhile since I had prayed for myself and for things in my life. Truthfully, I was afraid that I had forgotten what God sounded like and that my walls were too thick to let him in.   

 

The name of God is hidden from the book of Esther, it’s not mentioned even once, but his works are evident and his presence is clearly seen.

 

My depression has been so thick and cruel lately that the name of God has been hidden from me.  

 

When I think of the safety net of things to do when I feel submerged in darkness, the amount that I need people jumps out to me. But the darkness is tricky, it has this way of entering into every crevice and casting out all light and hope. When I am submerged, reaching out is the last thing on my mind. So I withdraw, I lock myself away, I retreat.

 

Henri Nouwen states in his book The Inner Voice of Love that “there are two extremes to avoid: being completely absorbed in your pain and being distracted by so many things that you stay far away from the wound you want to heal.”

 

As someone who has been in both extremes in the last 4 months, I can say with full faith that you need balance there. Scientifically speaking, pain is a sensory and emotional experience associated with damage. Pain is a wound and wounds take time, love, healing, and care. So recognize it, stay aware of it, but just enough that you can heal the wound. And don’t distract yourself from the pain. Don’t turn to media to create a numbness in you, stay away from turning to stone, stay away from becoming numb.

 

Stone crumbles. Media shuts down. That pain, that darkness– if not dealt with will still be there, festering and growing more intense.

 

Let the wound heal because you were made for such a time as this. There is no generalized timeline that you need to follow. Be present where you are, how you are, and who you are.

 

There will be days when the darkness wins but that doesn’t mean you stop fighting. When the darkness wins, rest. Heal. Breathe. Tomorrow comes, joy arrives with the morning, you will make a way in this world and suddenly, you won’t need to push people out of your life, but can instead welcome them in even when it’s hard… especially when it’s hard.

 

So open the doors, pull back the curtains, allow people and light to shine when all you want is to sink down. God wasn’t named in Esther but he was still there.

 

God is still here.

 

 

 

 

 

A Nouwen quote to leave you with:

“A friend is more than a therapist or confessor, even though a friend can sometimes heal us and offer us God’s forgiveness. A friend is that other person with whom we can share our solitude, our silence, and our prayer. A friend is that other person with whom we can look at a tree and say, “Isn’t that beautiful,” or sit on the beach and silently watch the sun disappear under the horizon. With a friend we don’t have to say or do something special. With a friend we can be still and know that God is there with both of us.”

Find Unity, Seek Healing, Search for Community.

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“One of the main tasks of theology is to find words that do not divide but unite, that do not create conflict but unity, that do not hurt but heal.” – Henri Nouwen

 

I’ve been reading a lot of Nouwen lately. I’m not sure what’s been drawing me to him, but his writing is great. When I can’t find the energy to open my bible… I open his books. I delve into his journey and his discoveries.

 

This quote is one I keep coming back to. I’ve underlined, highlighted, circled, you know it– I’ve done it. Maybe it’s because I don’t feel that unity. Maybe it’s because I don’t feel the healing.

 

Our church has been so divided and torn up by the social justice issues that seem to continually plague our society. It breaks my heart to see people who are just called to love and offer peace to their neighbor, up in arms about people and borders and possessions.

 

What if, instead of focusing on the things that make us different, we focus on the things that unite us What if, instead of letting fear be a blocker of joy, we let joy eradicate fear?

 

I know this is easier said than done. I know that changes to systematic approaches and problems take time. But it starts with individuals. It starts with you. And it starts with me.

 

– – – – –

 

This may seem off topic, but let me just tell you that October’s have always been my favorite month.

 

The soft feel of summertime grass beneath my feet while brisk autumn wind plays with my hair. It’s a magical month, a time of beginning and cleansing and vulnerability. A time of “in between” and “not quite”. I love to live within those grey areas.


This year, though, I’m not finding myself excited for October. Instead, I’m wishing it would flood by quickly and move out of my life. It carries pain this year, carries memories I don’t care to relive– in fact, I’m working on rewriting them.

 

I’m hoping that October can become a month of wonder again for me. I’m tired of feeling lost and unfixable. I’m tired of putting on a brave face as the day gets closer and closer and passes me by.

 

I am reminded of the lyrics from one of my favorite gospel songs, one that I tie to this time of year especially.

 

“Lord I will lift my eyes to the hills knowing my help is coming from you. Your peace you give me in times of the storm.

 

I’ll admit that this seems impossible some days. Lifting my arms in praise is hard when life feels heavy and dark.

Peace escapes me and if I’m honest, I don’t seek it when I should. I don’t seek it when life is overwhelming. I don’t lift my eyes to the hills… Instead, I turn away. I close my Bible. I isolate myself.

This is the opposite of what God wants for us. This is the opposite of what our heart needs in times of the storm.

 

I fought off the demons by myself for far too long. The best thing I ever did was open up to another person about the struggles I had, about the difficulty I had with getting out of bed, the anxiety I felt every time I had to step out into public places, the isolation that came with being a gay Christian. The best thing I ever did was go to counseling and be truthful about the things I deal with, to accept the need for medication to become myself again, to learn ways to cope when emotions take over too much.

 

As much as I joke about and make fun of community, it so necessary and needed. Right now, I’m in a middle ground where I don’t really fit into any community around me. It’s hard and if I’m being truthful, I could try a bit harder. Invest a bit more. Search a little wider.

 

This month and season of my life feels long and endless. But like the Israelites in the desert, God is handing me the Manna and strength I need for the day and teaching me to trust He will deliver again tomorrow. Because He always does. Tomorrow is a gift and promise of His faithfulness.

 

You don’t have to hurt alone. You don’t need to feel divided. Find your people. Pour into them. Be there, in person, for them in times of joy and sorrow. Find unity. Seek out healing.

 

And remember:

People really are the greatest gift of all.

Stay Alive // NSPD

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The first time I tried to commit suicide, I was 15 years old. Sad and lonely, I was unsure about everything– including staying alive. I remember throwing the sheet over the shower pole and my fingers trembled. I was saved when my camp counselor walked into the bathroom to announce that it was chapel time.

 

The second time I tried to commit suicide, I was 18 years old. Walking into college, I thought I would do nothing but thrive. Instead, I was floored by depression but named it “being too tired and isolated.” I remember holding the knife against my skin, thinking about how I wouldn’t be missed and no one wanted me around, as a text lit up my phone. It was a friend asking if I was free and that she wouldn’t take no as an answer. I went.

 

The third time I tried to commit suicide, I was 20 years old. My university was up in arms about LGBT rights on campus and I, a gay christian, was floundering. I was feeling alone, like I was an invalid person, and that everyone hated me because I was on the opposite side of the debate. I had pills sitting in my bag to take after I checked my CPO box. Inside, there was a letter from an anonymous student telling me that they looked up to me and my courage for speaking out and being myself. I cried and dumped the pills down the toilet.

 

~~~~

 

I still face depression everyday. He used to show up in the morning with a steaming cup of coffee, ready to begin our day together. But now, I take a small white pill everyday to keep him in another room. Sometimes, Depression calls to me and whispers lies when I allow him to get close.

 

Instead of facing him alone though, I let my friends know I am having a hard day. They send encouragement from afar and hug  me when I am close.

 

To Write Love On Her Arms chose the motto “Stay alive” for the National Suicide Prevention Day slogan. I think that is fitting. It’s so much of a choice, being here and present. It’s so much of a choice to make people feel like they can choose to stay.

 

I am here to tell you to stay. Please, stay. Stay when the days are hard, when swinging your legs out of bed feels impossible. Stay when your heart is breaking and you feel like there is no one to turn to. Stay on nights when screaming up to the stars is the only release that works, stay when your skin is crawling to be removed from your body, stay when your mind won’t shut up.

From one survivor to another, stay.

 

Whatever the situation, please please stay. 

 

You are here. You are seen. You are heard. You are loved.

You are not alone. You are never alone, friends.

 

There are people around you to talk to, my inbox is always open. Reach out, Stay alive, Be present.

 

Below I have attached numbers that are important because you are important:

Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

Crisis Text Line: Text CONNECT to 741741

The Trevor Project: 866-488-7386

The Suicide and Crisis Hotline: 1-800-999-9999

A Summer for the Books

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This summer was one for the books. It began so normal. I graduated college, I was in a loving relationship with an amazing girl, I had a potential job out west. Life was… going forward.

 

Spiritually, I was praying for God place a revival in my life. I felt stale and out of touch with my faith. Maybe it was the thought of all the changes coming or taking my life into my own hands, but I wasn’t relying on God… not enough. And honestly, I was questioning my faith and was close to walking away from it.

 

So, I prayed a prayer that I paraphrased from a friend. I asked God to break me down, to strip me of all earthly desires so that I could rely on Him, to take away any idols I had in my life that were distracting me from Him. Basically, I wanted His love to destroy me completely so that He had to build me up from bone.

 

If I’m being completely open here, I didn’t think that anything would change in my life. I didn’t think that the prayer had power. But, then I didn’t take the job. And then my girlfriend ended things, and I felt stuck and destroyed and wanted something to distract me. So, I took the first summer camp job that came my way and I worked at a 4-H camp this summer.

 

To say that this camp was a formative part of my year, or even my life, would be an understatement. To me, it wasn’t even the work… the people made my life so much better. I found friends, I could open up to them—which is big because I don’t open up to people that easily. They were sweet and caring and helped me to care less about things outside of my control. They taught me how to live in the moment a bit more and to be more spontaneous.

 

Being single this summer turned out to be exactly what I needed to heal my head, heart, hands, and health. I wouldn’t have wished it upon me, but I am thankful for the lessons it and God are teaching me.

 

You see, 4-H teaches that there are 4 important H’s to live by: head, heart, hands, and health. I went into this summer with so much going on that all four were sick to me.

But I was able to clear my head; I learned meditation and yoga and, to be honest, they helped me learn to like myself a bit more and to appreciate the uniqueness that I bring to the table.

I was able to love better; yeah, my heart was so broken this summer, but I was able to love kids and they loved me. I can’t put into words how much they saved me this summer—I am eternally grateful for every bond I forge this summer.

My hands were able to serve; I was able to put the Lord’s work first, to serve His kingdom, and to pray more than I ever did before.

My health also improved; so, yeah, I have Lyme Disease, but I am also more aware of how my body is speaking to me and am empathetic to others around me.
These lessons weren’t easy, they’re things I have to constantly remind myself of. But it is so worth it. You can rise from the ashes. Beauty comes from all kinds of pain, hurt, and despair.

So, hold onto who you are. Hold onto hope. Things get better. People won’t always let you down. People will show up when you need them.

 

Sometimes, change throws you through a loop. So instead, jump through, pray the prayers that scare the living shit out of you, and let the roller coasters take you for a ride. You’ll be stand on firm ground before you know it.

Thoughts on Discipline

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After  a walk in the woods, I phoned up a friend to talk to her about some things that have happened in my life recently. And somehow she saw right through it all and told me to tell her what was really on my mind. So, I asked her why I didn’t feel God as much these days as I used too. Since graduation, I could feel my faith slipping slowly from grasp. It was like sand—the harder I tried to grab a hold of it, the quicker it slipped. So, I asked this older woman in Christ why that was. She asked what’s been different since graduation, that we should see if there is a root cause for this issue.

 

Since leaving college I have not attended church, I haven’t prayed consistently, and I have opened my bible once. I don’t talk to people about faith related things. It was like leaving the community of believers drove me to leave my belief.

 

So, her answer to my problem was that I lacked discipline. Merriam Webster defines discipline as the “ability to train oneself to do something in a controlled and habitual way.” The word discipline comes from the Latin word disciplina which means instruction or knowledge.

 

Since I had left Houghton, I had not been disciplined in my faith. Even just saying the word discipline makes me cringe. It’s probably because that word carries negative connotations in our society. We hear discipline and we think punishment.

 

I think that discipline goes much deeper than that though. To be disciplined means to develop those habits. It means setting the alarms to set time aside. It means digging into the word even when it feels dry and bland. It means seeking out the community and investing in them… even if it’s for a short amount of time.

 

Discipline means getting your hands dirty and putting in the work. It means realizing that the consequences for not being disciplined are far greater than any earthly punishment. It means missing out on a lifetime relationship with the Creator of the universe, with the cosmic father who knows each and every one of us intimately.

 

For me, this means praying more and opening my bible up. It means finding moments of peace in turmoil, to seeing God in every tree and creature and person, to having hope when everything seems lost. It means showing up to support people who have supported me and to finding love on this earth. For me, discipline will be training myself to develop this as habit so that turning to God in the times of trial and times of goodness will be nothing else but a pure joy.

 

So, here’s to learning discipline: to dipping our hands into the waters of life, to getting dirty and putting in the work, to meeting God where we are- no more and no less.

 

A prayer to share: Lord, help me to want to know you more. Give me a taste of your love that leaves me thirsting for me. I don’t want this love if it’s only half there and I am all in if you are. Thank you for a heart that beats to learn discipline and grace, to be completely myself in your sight.

From Beautiful to Abandoned: The Warning They Don’t Tell You That You Needed

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(pic credit: Lily Brunner)

The other night I experienced one of the most gut-wrenching moments of my life: when someone stops choosing you. I really can’t put into words the emotions I was feeling. Through the course of the phone call, I felt mad and scared and sad and everything in between. Honestly, I still feel those things. Nobody warns you about the pain of your first real break up. Nobody warns you about the emptiness and confusion it brings.

 

I dated this person for basically 8 months. Ironically, that day would have been today. I loved this person… the first time I met them at a picnic in the woods with a group of friends, I had this feeling that this was the one. I had never really believed in “the one” until this moment. Until I saw them—the way they were kind to each and every person, the way their smile made me feel like I was staring at a star, the way their laugh put everything right in my life.

 

I saw her and everything bad melted away in my life.

I saw her… and my only thought was “I’m going to marry this girl one day.”

 

Of course, I wanted to be sure. So, I befriended her. I supported her over the summer and swapped crazy camp stories. Then school started up again and I sought her out… not because I wanted to date her. Not because I had a second agenda. I sought her out because she was such a good person, such a good friend.

 

And eventually, I realized that the feeling I had in the spring at the picnic was still there. I liked her… kinda a lot.

 

Everyone tells you about the amazing feeling of your first love. They boost it up in stories, they make it larger than life. But honestly, I think they have it wrong. The feeling of your first love is subtle. It comes on gently and builds you up like a beautiful building—foundation, to walls, to roof. It builds you up and makes you stand tall, it makes you feel like everything will be okay.

 

This first love turned a reckless, live in the moment girl to a thoughtful, awaiting and planning the future woman. This first love… it came sweeping in and softly molded me into the person I always wanted to be.

 

And yet, the other night, it ended. And I feel like a hole has been punched through my chest with a jet plane. It’s the worst feeling imaginable—to see your future ripped from your grasp and tossed aside like it didn’t matter. To be asked for space when all you want is to speak to them about the process they went through, to try to understand the decision so that you can respect them and love them through it (even if from afar).

 

And so, my only advice to those who haven’t been warned about your first break up is this:

 

It will hurt like hell. You’ll wake up every morning and forget the peace you had while asleep. You’ll cry in the kayak aisle of K-mart because they are currently on a kayaking course. You’ll try to breathe like you used to but everything is different and you need to learn to live and be again, by yourself.

So you’ll feel desolate and broken, abandoned, like a building that’s been tossed aside. You’ll cry and you’ll hurt and you’ll wonder about where things went wrong, but ultimately you will stand. And the lesson will continue to teach itself to you: love is a choice and there is always the chance that they will stop loving you.

 

People aren’t things and you can’t keep them against their will. I miss her more everyday… but I miss the friendship the most. I miss the laughs and the support. I miss my best friend.

 

Of course, I still feel the “I’m going to marry this girl one day” feeling. And maybe that is true. But for now, space and time and friendly love is all that I have to hold onto.

 

And that is more than enough when I think about the countless people who are loving me through this… even if it can’t be her.

Lies Cannot Drive Out Lies, Only Truth Can Do That

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Here’s the thing:

If you scroll through my instagram from the last five months, I can guarantee that you will see happy, uplifting posts. Rarely digging below the surface. Rarely touching on issues of the heart.

Social media has this way of covering up all the darkness in our life. It’s simple; we apply filters to the pictures and in turn, filter our lives of anything that doesn’t match our aesthetic.

Online we are scarcely honest with others, let alone ourselves. It is not something that gets shared. It doesn’t get the likes. Instead we write pretty poetic words and hide behind the screen.

I’m breaking that. I am going to be really truthful in the post. I hope you’ll stick around.

This past semester was the hardest group of months I have ever faced.

I had just returned from a fantastic summer working at a camp with the most amazing kids and fellow staff members. God was integrated into every aspect of my day and I was feeling so close to him.

Then I arrived back to school. My college is a Christian liberal arts school. It is wonderful. I honestly thank my university for the ways that it has grown me the past three years.

But things got tricky. I was in withdrawal from the community that I had over the summer but was also tired of the lying that had taken hold of my heart. I had been working for years on the idea of reconciling myself and my faith and I finally felt like I had achieved that.

So, in October, I came out. I posted on Facebook that I was unveiling the masks in my life. That there was a facet of my identity that had been hidden for far too long.

I am a Christian

and I am gay.

I thought freedom awaited me after revealing that truth.

But instead, I got messages that told me I was an abomination. Telling me I would burn in hell. That my opinion on this matter was not as equally valid as others. That people like me, who held the belief that our identity could be multifaceted, were underdeveloped.

I held a strong front. I interacted with those who openly stated their defiance to my claim and I tried to do that cordially. I met with peers, I excused their naivety and ignorance– the hurtful statements that they made and the ways that they dismissed my hurt.

I met with leaders of my school. The president of student life, of the college, of Student Government. I wanted to know how my peers could be acting in these ways, how they could be so isolating, and how my university could stand by while this all occurred.

My college did an okay job at starting discourse. There were public conversations on the changing of the covenant language to be more minority inclusive (especially in the area of LGBTQA+ youth). Professors gave talks. But still, the student voice felt muffled.

 

and I pushed others away because I couldn’t stand the feeling of not being heard or seen or valid.

 

We were throwing ourselves against an iceberg and it didn’t seem to ever move.

You can only throw yourself into something before the isolation and the pain of your breaking point is met.

I was diagnosed with severe depression before Christmas and started medication early January.

There is a stigma around medication that makes me cringe. There is a stigma that makes me want to pull my hair, scream into the void, and flush my medication down the drain.

But, I have an imbalance in my brain. The medication allows the proper amount of serotonin to be produced. It allows me to swing my legs over the side of my bed. It allows me to go to class, to get back into the conversations, to actually empathize and care about other people.

Medication is not bad. It does not zombify all people. Instead, my medication allows me to fight back against my depression. To fully embrace the person I know I am inside.

 

I’ve been praying this past week for God to break me.

That may seem drastic and insane and crazy but let me tell you why it needed to happen.

I started praying this prayer because I had built up myself into some sort of hard-hearted pirate who didn’t need anything underneath her feet but the pedestal I had built myself. I started praying this prayer because I needed God to break me down and then to build me up from bone, to make breath enter me so that I will come to life and know that He is God (Ezekiel 37:5).

 

And I am not sure yet how much I will break. I am not sure in what ways this play out. But I know that He is the source of my strength and I want to be able to stand only because it is on the rock of His salvation.

This past semester was hard and testing and trying. But without it, I doubt I would have been able to stand up so tall today and talk about love and reconciliation and prayer.

We need to love each other so much right now. With hate and darkness and not-knowing surrounding the United States right now, we need to love each other fiercely.

Because as Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. said “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Future Daughter (Vol. 2)

12/13/16

Part 1

Last time I wrote you, I told you about Joy and Despair. I told you to feel things… even when you don’t want to. Maybe even especially when you don’t want to.

This time, I don’t have a pretty little story for you. I’m sorry babygirl. Sometimes, I think of stories and go to write them down and the words don’t come.

There will be days when the words don’t come.

There will be days when the words don’t come and you will feel like your whole purpose has disappeared. You will feel distant and you will push those who care away.

On those days, pull people closer. Pull them to you so tightly you can hear the wild bird of a heartbeat raging in their chest. Pull them so tight you can feel humanity bridging itself back together.

Part two.

There will days, my angel, when the words might come but, you will wrestle with yourself to even understand if you are actually feeling the contradictions inside you. Because you are a mess of contradictions all tied up pretty with a shiny red bow. And that is okay. That is human.

It is human to be happy one second, to be eating at the table with Joy, only to find that Despair was sitting in the living room the whole time. Invite Despair to sit with you. He gets lonely sometimes, just like you.

Joy will flash him a sad smile and say “Despair, don’t you want some hot cocoa? It’s snowy and cold and grey out. We need to keep our spirits up.”

Despair will snort. “What’s the use, Joy? Do you really think that a cup of hot drink will change that it’s hard to get out of bed? And you–” he’ll whisper, turning to face you, “how did you do it? How’d you get out bed?”

Part Three.

You need to answer Despair honestly. Tell him the truth, sweetheart. Tell him about how the snow falling down so steady and light makes it easier to breathe, makes it easier to go outside because you feel the sharp intake of your breath.

Tell him how some days it’s actually a war inside your head to sit yourself up, swing your legs over the edge of your mattress, and stand. Tell him how sometimes you don’t. Sometimes, the darkness will win. And the words won’t come. And you will feel so alone.

Joy will set her hand on your shoulder now. She will sigh. Because even Joy knows that some days are hard. She knows. She fights to keep Hope around too.

Part Four.

Babygirl, keep your head up. This sounds pessimistic, but right now I am fighting. To stay afloat. To stay breathing. To stay Hopeful and smiling and holding onto Silver Linings. You’ll have those days too. You’ll have those seasons.

You will fight. Harder. Because I am a worrier, but you are a warrior. You will grasp Hope tightly and I will be there every step of the way, braiding silver linings into your hair.

You’ll be okay sweetheart. I promise you, you will be okay.

Part Five.

But don’t feel like you need to be. It is okay to not be okay, angel. It is okay to be broken and unsteady and unsure.

It is okay to feel your feet slipping under the weight of everything you are carrying. To know that on  the bad days, you need to curl up under heavy blankets and have a friend hold you together when you are breaking apart. It is okay to feel your feet give way. It is okay to feel small and insignificant.

But know that you are curled up in that bed with lies. It is time to wake up and tell the lies to leave. Tell them to get out. Tell them that they are no longer welcome, nope. Go home and don’t call again.

It is okay to not be okay… as long as you work on being okay again. Because you will be. I promise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part 1

Last time I wrote you, I told you about Joy and Despair. I told you to feel things… even when you don’t want to. Maybe even especially when you don’t want to.

This time, I don’t have a pretty little story for you. I’m sorry babygirl. Sometimes, I think of stories and go to write them down and the words don’t come.

There will be days when the words don’t come.

There will be days when the words don’t come and you will feel like your whole purpose has disappeared. You will feel distant and you will push those who care away.

On those days, pull people closer. Pull them to you so tightly you can hear the wild bird of a heartbeat raging in their chest. Pull them so tight you can feel humanity bridging itself back together.

Part two.

There will days, my angel, when the words might come but, you will wrestle with yourself to even understand if you are actually feeling the contradictions inside you. Because you are a mess of contradictions all tied up pretty with a shiny red bow. And that is okay. That is human.

It is human to be happy one second, to be eating at the table with Joy, only to find that Despair was sitting in the living room the whole time. Invite Despair to sit with you. He gets lonely sometimes, just like you.

Joy will flash him a sad smile and say “Despair, don’t you want some hot cocoa? It’s snowy and cold and grey out. We need to keep our spirits up.”

Despair will snort. “What’s the use, Joy? Do you really think that a cup of hot drink will change that it’s hard to get out of bed? And you–” he’ll whisper, turning to face you, “how did you do it? How’d you get out bed?”

Part Three.

You need to answer Despair honestly. Tell him the truth, sweetheart. Tell him about how the snow falling down so steady and light makes it easier to breathe, makes it easier to go outside because you feel the sharp intake of your breath.

Tell him how some days it’s actually a war inside your head to sit yourself up, swing your legs over the edge of your mattress, and stand. Tell him how sometimes you don’t. Sometimes, the darkness will win. And the words won’t come. And you will feel so alone.

Joy will set her hand on your shoulder now. She will sigh. Because even Joy knows that some days are hard. She knows. She fights to keep Hope around too.

Part Four.

Babygirl, keep your head up. This sounds pessimistic, but right now I am fighting. To stay afloat. To stay breathing. To stay Hopeful and smiling and holding onto Silver Linings. You’ll have those days too. You’ll have those seasons.

You will fight. Harder. Because I am a worrier, but you are a warrior. You will grasp Hope tightly and I will be there every step of the way, braiding silver linings into your hair.

You’ll be okay sweetheart. I promise you, you will be okay.

Part Five.

But don’t feel like you need to be. It is okay to not be okay, angel. It is okay to be broken and unsteady and unsure.

It is okay to feel your feet slipping under the weight of everything you are carrying. To know that on  the bad days, you need to curl up under heavy blankets and have a friend hold you together when you are breaking apart. It is okay to feel your feet give way. It is okay to feel small and insignificant.

But know that you are curled up in that bed with lies. It is time to wake up and tell the lies to leave. Tell them to get out. Tell them that they are no longer welcome, nope. Go home and don’t call again.

It is okay to not be okay… as long as you work on being okay again. Because you will be. I promise.

 

Issues of the Heart. Part 1.

10/21/16

I think the church is having a major heart problem right now. Maybe this heart problem is just confined to my college campus, maybe it’s not. Either way, I feel the need to personally talk about it and address it. I feel the need because it has become a part of my story and my journey and my life.

I’m going to preface this with scripture . Mark 12:30-31 says “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
No. Greater. Commandment.

 

None, zilch, nada.

 

There is nothing we are called to above loving God and above loving our neighbor.

I think we struggle with the latter. I think we have a hard time loving those who are different. The weird neighbor, the one who looks like us but has that secret—the one thing that we don’t talk about.

I’m guess I’m the weird neighbor. I have a not-so-secret-anymore secret. It’s out. People know. They talk. Assumptions get made. And honestly—the church is doing a shitty job at loving us. They are being prejudice, and extending hate over grace, and being flat out cruel.

They aren’t loving their neighbors as they love themselves because anyone who wants to feel the way that I am being made to feel needs to work on other things first.

They are making me feel dehumanized. Every message. Every insinuated post. They are making a naturally extroverted verbal process shrink inside her head and stay there.

They are making me feel invalid. Like my stance doesn’t matter. Like there is a right and wrong. It’s like because I hold the belief that I do—I am not worth hearing out. Or if they seek out conversation it’s to shove their belief down my throat or make me feel like I am somehow at fault for my view. I feel like I’m being shoved inside a box. I feel like I am being condemned.

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Romans 8:1 promises us that we are free from condemnation through Christ Jesus. We all are and we are supposed to love our neighbors.

I am instantly reminded of the story in John 8, the one with the woman who is being charged with adultery. The people of the town are about to stone her for her actions. I feel like that woman. I can imagine the fear in her heart, the way it resembles an iron fist wrapping around her ventricles and atriums, choking off her life but yet she still has to go about her days. She had to stand there and accept her fate. I feel like I am frozen and having to accept my fate.

That’s not right. And I find hope in the rest of this story. I find comfort, like I often do, in the words of Jesus. I find comfort in the implications of the line ““Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Because they couldn’t. They couldn’t throw a single stone.

Loving your neighbor means exchanging stones for grace. Exchanging stones for buckets and buckets of grace and just when you think you’re on the right track, request more grace.

I think we get caught up in the moment, of the reactions, of the feelings that we don’t match against truth. We speak out in anger and pride and self-righteousness.

But to love God with all our heart and body and soul and mind means to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

Sin is a heart problem, love is not.

I’m going to say that one more time, because it’s important.

Sin is a heart problem, love is not.

Sin destroys. Sin is dark and secretive and addictive.

Love wins. Love is light and joyful and freeing.

I have sin in my life that I struggle with. I am an idolater. I place things on pedestals and let them take the place of God. I think that is one of my many sins, it’s definitely the root of many of my sins. I sin every day when I lie, lust, speak out in anger, give into my prideful thoughts, etc.

Love is not a sin. Love is waking up every single day and deciding that you are going to choose someone over and over again. Love is vulnerability and intimacy and support. It’s talking about the dark things and the light things and the medium things. It’s talking about all the things and then putting Christ at the center of everything. Love is good. Love is patient. Love is kind.

So once again I’ll say this: Sin is a heart problem but, my dear, love is not.

And I am so thankful that is so.