Use Your Words… Or Don’t

I don’t really care what you believe about anything, words have power.

I was just listening to a Lore podcast about Romani curses.  The Romani people would hold trials when something was stolen or some other crime had been committed.  In these trials they would will their community to confess to the crime, and if no one confessed, they would curse the perpetrator to an agonizing death as a group.  Then the trial would be over and things would go back to normal.  But Romani curses aren’t real because of any kind of black magic.  They’re not real in a physical sense at all.  Rather, they’re real because thinking makes it so.  It’s the power of the mind.  A Romani person could curse you by telling you your life will be hard and your death will be painful.  And it would probably come true, not because the Romani were prophetic, but because you’d probably spend the rest of your life worrying about the curse, thus your life would probably be hard.  And your death would probably be painful because you had spent your whole life worrying about your death.  Your mind gave these words power.  Thinking made it so.

I work with someone who doesn’t believe in encouragement, and only believes in belittlement.  No one could ever measure up or be good at their job.  So it’s best to make sure they know that you believe that.  Call them stupid and slow.  Because that’s sure to make them work better and faster.  “Don’t applaud a fish for swimming.”
I had to take a class on leadership for my degree.  We learned about so many leadership styles.  But as an exhorter, I believe the best way to lead is to come alongside and grow with someone.  Lead by being a part, rather than sitting above.  Encourage and help, instead of getting upset because a mistake was made.  Build up, rather than diminish.
I’ve felt very discouraged lately.  Because although those under my leadership believe that I’m doing a good job; although I know that I am doing a good job, my equals still don’t see me as equal.  It makes me want to move on.  It makes me want to give up.  It makes me want to quit.  It can always be better.  And I’ve believed for a long time now that if you don’t like something, change it.

Have you ever heard a lot about someone before you’ve ever met them?  So you go into the relationship with preconceived notions of what everyone has already told you?  I went to college with a girl that I had heard about for most of the summer before.  So I met her believing several negative things about her.  I knew her to be annoying before we ever spoke.  I believed she was something that she isn’t because of the words others had spoken.  But that girl became one of my best friends.  Words have power.  Until they don’t.

We should talk about each other less.  We should build each other up more.  We should be more careful.  We shouldn’t believe that we have to be careful.
I spend so much time afraid that I’ve messed up, that I’ve ruined everything, that I forget how to love myself.  I forget how to love others.  I forget how to be happy.  I don’t want to forget anymore.

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Because We Have to Prove We’re Right

Social media causes almost as much division as it does connectedness.  Maybe it causes more the more you’re on it.  Because I have a lot of “friends” on facebook who I really get along with in person, or I did at the time in my life when I knew them, but whenever they post their views online, they do it in a manner to tear one another down.  Today I saw a post by a “friend” that pointed out a bunch of “failures” that he is blaming solely on the democratic party, and basically said that you’re stupid if you’re a democrat because of this.  With that logic we could say the same about republicans, since our republican president seems to have just as many failures and scandals as the democratic party, uses twitter as his main source of communication, and had a “whose button is bigger” contest with the leader of North Korea.  So maybe you’re stupid if you’re a republican?

Or maybe not.  I’m neither a republican nor a democrat, my opinions live somewhere in between.  Both parties have serious downfalls, and both have good parts as well.  But calling someone out because of their political affiliation is about as annoying as not liking someone because they’re gay, or making comments about women belonging on the kitchen.

I’m just wondering why people feel the need to post about their opinions in a corrosive manner.  You can have whatever opinions you want.  You can even share these opinions, because that seems to be what social media has become about.  But putting down someone else whilst sharing this opinion just because you can?  What’s the point?  Oh right, it’s to be mean.  I think people are just too mean.  And I think I’m noticing it too much.

What really gets me is that that majority of these people, at least on my feed, are outspoken Christians.  And I thought Christ told his people to go out and make disciples. I thought we were supposed to multiply, not divide.

It’s probably because we all like to believe that we’re right.  And some of us have to prove that we’re right.   Even though not everyone cares.  And the thing that we think we’re “right” about the most is an opinion, and usually, opinions aren’t inherently right or wrong.  They’re not facts.  They have sides.

And I’m probably perpetuating the crises by writing this anyway.

Rant.  Over.

Last Time I Checked

Last time I checked, everyone in this country is entitled to their own opinion.  But it seems that if you have too many conservative people on your “friends” list, having an opinion is immediately offensive and should be shot down.  Which is why I don’t often share my opinion anywhere outside of this blog and the people that I talk to face to face.  I’m not great at arguing.  I don’t like to argue.  But I know what I stand for.  I know what I believe in.

I believe in a loving God that cares more about who I am than who we are than who we are attracted to.  He cares more about his pursuit of us and our pursuit of him than our individual “mistakes” or how conservative or liberal we are.  He is a forgiving God.  He is a relentless God.  And he cherishes every moment we spend with him.

I was listening to the BadChristian Podcast, and they were talking about Christians and abortion, now versus the early 70s and before.  Before abortion became a political issue for Christians, it seems like the Church cared a lot more about the individual women.  A single young woman would find herself pregnant with a child she was not ready for (because that’s what I believe abortion comes down to, essentially) and she would see abortion as the only option.  Maybe because her family would disown her.  Maybe because she knew she didn’t have enough money to raise a child.  Or maybe because, even if she adopted the child out, she couldn’t afford to keep working her job while pregnant.  So the Church would help these women.  Maybe help them find families for adoption, or maybe give them sanctuary from a family that will no longer accept them.  Or maybe help them with a job or with money so they can take the needed time off of work.  But then Republicans wanted to find a way to get the Christian vote, so they made abortion a political issue.  And it’s almost as if the women ceased to matter, only the babies that may or may not be killed.  Even though (I haven’t researched this, only got it from the podcast) the abortion rate hasn’t really gone up since Roe vs. Waide, it’s just become safer.
And none of this is to say that I’m pro abortion.  But I am about as pro choice as I am pro life.

So, I live in Alabama, and I decided, for the first time ever, to vote.  I voted for Doug Jones, even though he’s okay with late term abortions.  Because I don’t think that this belief that he holds is going to affect any laws, because he is one man, and this is a democracy, and most other people are going to vote agains late term abortions, if they ever vote on it anyway.  Roy Moore has a lot of allegations against him about sexual harassment, especially against teenagers when he was in his thirties.  I’m not comfortable with him being in our senate, thus, I couldn’t vote for him.  People are getting upset at me because these allegations aren’t 100% proven.  Because a woman’s word obviously isn’t important enough.  These women didn’t know each other.  It’s not like they had some plan to make him look bad so he wouldn’t get elected.  And whether they’re all true or not, the chance that they could be true is enough for me.  I wouldn’t want to work for someone that women had said harassed them.  I wouldn’t want someone like that as my leader.  I know what harassment is like, not to the extent of these women, but still.  We already willingly elected a man like this to be our president.  We already have several in our senate.  I just didn’t want one more.

Women are not meat or property, they are equal.  People with a darker skin tone are not worth less or property, they are equal.  People of a different sexual orientation are not dirty or sick or tainted, they are equal.  It doesn’t make sense to me why anyone would believe any less.  All humans were created equal.  I can’t be convinced to vote for someone who obviously believes otherwise.  And I’m not going to apologize for that.

All the Little Things that Break My Heart

A thing that I’ve been really bothered by lately is how cruel people can be to one another.  And I’m not even thinking on a large scale.  I’m thinking, small scale, people you work with, people you’re related to, people you serve or buy coffee from.

It’s like, we all try to see what we can get away with.  We tease, until our teasing turns to cruelty.  We go too far, and refuse to say we’re sorry.  We refuse to admit when we’re wrong.  And the cycle keeps spinning.

And I’m probably guilty of this.  I’ll do my best to accept some of the blame.  But really, what’s the point in making someone’s day miserable?  What’s the point in calling someone dumb, or making them feel dumb, or spreading their little mishaps around?  What’s the point in making someone feel useless?  We are all useful.  Everyone has a purpose, so why do we like to try to take that purpose away?

I’m really bummed out that so many people have excuses for their actions.  They say we’re too sensitive.  Or they ask us to have an open mind, without first having one themselves.  They’ll say it’s their religious duty.  They’ll say their protecting our country.

But this country does not define me.  This religion does not define me.  We were all made with much larger definitions, much larger purposes, much more reason to exist than just… existence.

It sounds too simple to just beg everyone to get along.  But all of this getting under each other’s skin has really gotten under my skin.  Get out of my skin.  You’re breaking my heart.

Not that Patriotic

I don’t remember often doing the Pledge of Allegiance growing up.  I went to a private Christian school up until high school, and we may have saluted the flag once a year or something, but it was never a priority.  I didn’t know the words to the National Anthem until I was in high school and was trying out to sing it at the football games.  My school was so unorganized though, that they forgot to schedule me anyway.
They sang the National Anthem before every swim meet that I was a part of, but never at any of my soccer games.  I can’t remember if we did at the track meets at all.  And it’s really never been that big of a deal to me.

Growing up, I always wanted to be from a different country.  Travel has always been something that I’ve loved, and other countries and other cultures are always so enlightening.  Learning different ways of doing things keeps us from becoming too ignorant.  There is no shame in adopting someone else’s way of life if it seems like it might work better.

I remember when I played soccer if there was an injury, or a death, or anything else going on, we would take a knee.  This showed respect for what was happening.  Last year, to peacefully protest racist police brutality, Colin Kaepernick decided not to stand for the National Anthem during his football games.  This eventually started what they’re now calling the “take a knee protest.”  He was showing respect for the lives that were lost because white police officers “felt threatened” when they had no reason to feel that way at all.  Police officers who were not often being punished for their lethal mistakes.
So, this protest has been going on for  more than a year now.  But for some reason our president has decided that this protest is about him.  And people have decided that this protest is about disrespecting American soldiers.  Because to them, our country is more than a country, and our flag is more than a flag.  It’s something to be worshipped.  Maybe they believe that our country is more important than the God who put them here.  Maybe they have decided that our flag is more important than Isis brutally enacting a genocide.  Maybe they have decided that attacking a peaceful protest that they want to make violent is more important than helping the families that have been affected by the several hurricanes that have rained down on this planet in the last several weeks.
Or maybe I’m wrong.

I never really wanted to be American.  But I was born in America, thus I am American.  And that doesn’t make me better than anyone else.  If anything, it makes me more ignorant, and probably more privileged than I deserve.

I just wonder what this country would be like had Rosa Parks stood and moved to the back of the bus.  I wonder what this country would look like had Martin Luther King Jr. stayed silent.  I wonder what this country would feel like had Abraham Lincoln decided not to back the civil war.

I hope that in the future, our country will care less about attacking those provoking change, care less about flags and symbols and their decided meanings, and care more about what we say we stand for: freedom.  If this country was really free, speech wouldn’t come with such a cost.

Two Kinds

This was supposed to go up several days ago, but my internet has been out because of the rain.

A week and a half ago I ran a 5k in Birmingham, at the zoo, with my friend, Eli.  He’s not yet a strong runner, so after the first mile and a half, we decided to walk for a little while.  It’s a 5k, it’s not like it mattered for anything either of us was doing.  Anyway, the race was pretty obviously on the road and we were walking on the sidewalk.  After about a minute, a slightly overweight, older woman passed us running, which didn’t matter.  However, as she passed, she chose to yell at us for walking because we weren’t walking single file, even though we were on the sidewalk and there was more than enough room to run on the road, where the race actually was.  People like that make me so mad.  I told Eli that one thing I’ve noticed in the South is that if you’re doing something that someone doesn’t like, they’ll say it as rudely as they can.  In California, you judge everyone, but you’ll say it to your friend, and if you really mean it, you’ll say it loud enough that the person can hear.  Yes, I know that this isn’t a nice thing to do, but I think I prefer it.  I hate confrontation anyway.

Later on in the race we were just reaching a water stop, and we had decided to run after we got a drink.  While we were walking to the table, an older lady passed us and started saying, “Come on, go go go go, don’t let an old lady pass you!”
At first, I was unsure that she was talking to us, but she most definitely was.  It annoyed me, but she was trying to be encouraging.  And after we got our water, we ran.  And we finished the race.

We passed both of these women.  One of them was proud, even though she’d never met us, simply because she was probably a nice woman.  Whereas when we passed the mean lady, I said loudly to Eli, “There’s a mean lady.”  Then as we passed her, I said, “Bye mean lady.”  You know, because I’m a child.  One woman was proud that we finished.  The other one, I was proud to have passed.  She deserved to finish far behind me.  It still irks me.  So stupid.

Anyway, we have the choice to be one of two kinds of people.  We can choose to be annoying and encouraging, because everyone deserves a good life.  Or we can choose to be cranky because not everything is exactly as we wished it was.  Who will I choose  to be today?

Why hate Mary?

I walked out of my apartment the other day and the air smelled like weed.  I first thought it was my Dukes of Hazard neighbors, but there’s a possibility it was just post rain smell.  For some reason they smell similar to me in the South.  But this, mixed with a few other conversations as of late, got me thinking.

Smoking pot is completely illegal in Alabama.  It’s not just a slap on the wrist like it used to be in California.  And you can’t use it medically or get a medical card.  Like I said, it’s completely illegal.
The Bible says to follow the laws of the land and pray for those in leadership, so from a Christian stand point, if you want to obey the Bible, you shouldn’t smoke pot if you live in Alabama.

But what about the states where it has been legalized such as Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and California?
See, the Bible doesn’t say anything specifically about smoking anything, or really anything about drugs at all.  Yes, in Titus it talks about being sober minded, but that also applies to drinking, and a lot of Christians drink.
I personally believe that anything can become sinful if it excessive.  I like to say, “anything in excess.”  So if you’re in a state where it is legalized, go for it, or don’t, just don’t let it take over your life.

So why do so many Christians freak out about it, even in those legal states?  Is this something they didn’t think they were going to be confronted with?  Seriously, I’m asking.  Well, maybe don’t answer me though.
Someone close to me was rumored to have been smoking pot.  Which, whether that was true or wasn’t true isn’t the issue (it wasn’t true and most likely will never be true).  But someone was telling people to stay away from this person close to me because they smoked pot.  And that just doesn’t seem to be a good enough reason.  That’s like telling people to stay away from me because I drink wine.  Sure, if you have an issue drinking and expect me to offer you wine, maybe let me know, and if you really think it’s an issue, stay away from me.
If someone had a problem with marijuana or was trying to stay away from it, I could see why they might let this person close to me know why they might want to spend less time together.  But the thing is, the rumor wasn’t true.  So the person close to me called me laughing, because they thought the whole thing was funny, or at least pretended to.  But I’m not okay with gossip or slander.  Especially from Christians.  Especially from Christians who are supposed to be in high standing and have influence.
Why do we feel the need to talk about people?  Even when we don’t know the facts?  Ugh, it’s just so frustrating, and I’m across the country and can’t protect my people.

But really, this shouldn’t be an issue at all.  Because in California marijuana is legalized.  It’s fully legal now, but has been medically legal for quite some time.  So Christians freaking out about it doesn’t make sense to me.  I’m not saying whether you yourself should smoke it not, this isn’t about that.  It’s about the thoughts and the fears behind it.

I’m not saying that Christians should or shouldn’t advocate for Mary Jane.  That’s not what I’m doing.  It’s not even legal where I currently reside.  But stop being afraid.  Stop spreading rumors and shunning people because you heard they might have smoked pot.  It should not matter.

Why don’t we love each other anymore?  This is why it’s so hard for me to trust.