Tell me you’re racist, homophobic, and judgemental and I just may hug you.

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No, really.  I mean it.

Look me in the eye, and admit that you have racial biases and have judged people based on race.  Look me in the eye and say that Gay and Bi people and Trans people make you nervous.  Look me in the eye and tell me that somewhere in your life you learned to believe that poor people are lazy and rich people don’t care about anything but themselves.  Look me in the eye and tell me these things,  and I will wrap my arms around you and say “Thank you!”

Thank you for being honest.

Thank you for being real.

Thank you for being willing to put down your defenses and speak the truth.

If more of us did that, this world would be a safer place for my son, who happens to be a young black man.

If more of us did that, this world would be a safer place for kids like Leelah Alcorn and Taylor Alesana, who happened to be Transgendered Teens.  Or these 5 young people, who happened to be Gay, all from the same small town in Iowa.

Now, please understand, that I am absolutely NOT saying that you should be proud of your biases. And you shouldn’t be proud of unjust actions or words, or behaviors that were the result of those biases.  The thought of any human being, including yourself, making snap judgements about someone based on their race, (or gender, or sexual orientation, or financial situation, ect…) should make you cringe. Should make you want to work really hard to change that trait within yourself, and within your community.  But until we actually admit that those thoughts and actions exists, IN OURSELVES, and until we call them out and bring them to the surface of our consciences and shine a big old spotlight on them, NOTHING will change.

NOTHING.

Not in us, not in our communities, not in our nation, and not in our world.

I am a middle-aged (44) white woman who has privilege up the wazoo. I strive to be the best human being I can be, but, just like you, I carry around a suitcase packed full of biases and judgements. Some of them i put there myself, and some were packed for me. They are a by-product of the country i live in, the family i grew up in, my religious background and upbringing, and my financial status, and a myriad of other crap, and i couldn’t tell you exactly how they got there, but there they are. And the funny thing I spent a lot of my life not even aware that I was carrying these ugly things around.

One of the by products of growing up in the 70s and 80s, in a white, middle class, Christian home is that I have racial biases. I had no idea HOW racially biased I was until i was 30 and I brought home my oldest son, a beautiful baby boy with chocolate-brown skin and ebony eyes, and a headful of tight black curls. At first I shrugged off the comments about how “lucky he was to have people like us,”  and how we were so GOOD  for being willing to give him “a better life”. When the old lady said that it was sad that we were adopting him, and not the blond-haired blue-eyed girl we were also caring for, I shook it off.  At first, I really did think that race would only be as big a deal as we made it, and that loving him would be enough to get us through whatever came up.

In other words, I was clueless.

I knew NOTHING.

But you see, I didn’t KNOW that i didn’t know anything, so I didn’t know I had to change.

Until Trayvon Martin.

His murder was my catalyst. I looked into the face on my TV screen and Facebook news feed and in his eyes, I saw my own innocent son. I saw my little boy with the radiant smile, who was so obviously harmless, and I realized that my sweet little boy was very quickly growing up. He was going to be a teenager. And then a young man. A young black man in a town that was 92% white. And then, in the blink of an eye,  I would be the mother of a full-grown,32-year-old,  black MAN. And I realized that although i knew how to love him, it wasn’t enough.

I looked into my world, and my heart, and my mind, and examined it all from a different perspective.  I talked to a very wise friend who shared her truth with me, and urged me to look closer at my world. I decided i didn’t like what I found. I admitted, and then confronted, out loud, my ugly racial biases. I saw, for the first time, just how privileged i was to be me. I saw, clearly, and really for the first time, how my ignorance fed into the culture of discrimination in my community, and my world.  I turned the spotlight inward, and it changed me forever.

And thankfully, it continues to change me, but only when i allow myself to be real, and say things like “Oh crap! This poem ROCKED MY WORLD. She just called me out on some stupid racist bullshit that I still do!! I’ve thought those things, and made those judgements. SHAME ON ME! But now I know, and when I KNOW, even when I don’t like knowing that that garbage is in there, THEN I can change for the better. Because I am Jennifer, and sometimes, I am still racist.

My son is now 15 and as we watch the video of the shooting of Walter Scott, I watch his almost man face for his reaction. “This makes me sad. And mad. That could be me, mom.” he says, and my heart breaks. And I want to make the world better for him. Safer. But I need your help to do that. I need you to be willing to go into the darkness.

Imagine what the world would look like if people could admit, if only to themselves, that they do indeed have racial biases? If cops admitted  that they do indeed profile young black men or even that they get a little rush from the power they hold with a gun at their side. Imagine if they shined a spot light into their dark places because they job required them to make life and death decisions, and they NEVER, EVER wanted to make the wrong one. Imagine how much better they would be at their job if they did that, and SAW their biases and racism, and spent time and energy CHANGING,  instead of just denying the fact that they, just like you and me, are products of a broken culture?

Can you imagine that world? Can you join those of us who can?

Or will you continue to insist that YOU are the exception. That you are kind, and nice, and really, really, NOT (insert bias here)  Are you going to keep insisting that the problem is those other people over there? Just because you are NICE, doesn’t mean you can’t be racist, homophobic, or judgmental.  Here’s a test. Did you click on the link to the poem? Have you ever, even once, thought those kinds of things? Have you ever said “That’s so Gay!” and really meant “That’s so (insert derogatory or negative word here) Have you ever passed by a homeless person and had the thought that if they could stand there holding a sign, they were probably capable of getting a real job? Then guess what, sugar? I’m talking to YOU!

Will you admit it?

And then, will you change it?

If so, then know that I’m wrapping my arms around you and giving you a great big squeeze hug.

Thank you.

The things I know.

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I call it “the place of knowing.” The deep center inside of me that is solid and unwavering. That doesn’t change, ever.

The place I come back too again and again and again.

The place where I find comfort, and heartache, and frustration and where I lay my broken pieces down.

It is the place of knowing, and the source of all I believe, and the reasons I do the things I do.

It defines my trajectory, like the sun defines the trajectory of the earth, and all the planets in the galaxy.

It is the place of knowing, and no matter what is happening, when I go there, it’s song never changes.

It sings the same thing over and over and over again.

This is the song it sings.

God exists. and God is love.

Evil exists, and Evil is the opposite of love.  Evil is real, and can seem overwhelmingly powerful, but it’s power is only an illusion. Evil finds footholds of darkness, and whispers lies, and although it can be a destructive thing, when met with love, evil melts like wax

We are free creatures, and although there are things we can not control because we live in a world with other free creatures, we are responsible for what we can control.

This life is not all there is, and what we do here is not about this life at all. The very most important thing, always, every time, is Love.

God has no gender. He is she, and she is he and really God is both and neither. There are not words to describe God, because they are all so terribly inadequate, but every now and then, if you’re looking, you find God in the most unexpected places. The laugh of a newborn. The eyes of a stranger. The powerful crack of thunder in the sky. God can be in the eyes of a lover, the wag of a dog’s tail. Whenever there is good, there is God, and whenever there is Love, there is God.

We are not accidents of nature. We are far too complex and intricately made to come from swamp sludge. The best illustration i have for KNOWING this is that if you take all the parts needed to create a pocket watch.. all the dials, and tiny sprockets, springs, and gears, and you place the pieces in a box and shake the box for a thousand years, when you stop shaking and open the box, you will still not have a pocket watch. You must have a creator who knows how to put it all together. I think that you are too wonderful to be an accident. I think that I am too. I think we are here on purpose, with a purpose, and for a purpose bigger that we will ever know while we are earthside.

This life here on this earth is not all there is, and what we do here is not about THIS life at all.   The very most important thing, always, every time, is Love.

.It is just that simple. And that complicated.

Those are the things I know.

The things I know for sure.

The things that reside deep within me in the place of knowing.

 

 

Not what i was going to say….

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I was working on another post today.

It was going well.

I was going to work on it some more this evening, but then a dear friend sent me this, and the words that needed to go out into cyberspace changed dramatically.

My problems became petty, and my musings about life, unimportant.

This became important instead.

The MOST important

This is written by a friend of mine. An amazing woman. A source of light and love, and inspiration to those who are blessed to know her, or to read her words.

I beg you to read them now.

And if you are a parent,  pretend that she is describing YOUR child.

If you are not a parent, pretend that she is describing anyone you love.

And then,

PLEASE,

HELP her.

Prayers, love, light, good thoughts,,, those are all nice.

Do those things.

But do them as you donate some cash, and share this with everyone you know and tell THEM to give her cash,  so she can get her kid some real help.

Please.

Pay it forward if you want to feel good.  Pay it backward if you’ve ever been given help when you needed it.  Pay it because your child is healthy, or because your child isn’t or because she moves you with her words.

She will be blessed, and so will you,

and isn’t THAT what living is all about?

http://www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/Treatment-Expenses-for-Asia-Canaday/38797

(her words below.  Click the links to donate.)

 

Dear Friends,

I am writing to you today about my daughter, Asia. Some of you are very intimately acquainted with Asia’s situation, and some of you know nothing about it at this point. Here’s the thing, Asia needs help of the lifesaving variety, and if you are included in this group it is either because I know that you know her and love her, or that your faith and good energy/prayers/thoughts are powerful, or that maybe, just maybe you have some connection to someone or something that may help her.

Asia has anorexia, and is in the fight for her life. We first noticed some issues with her when she was in 8th grade and took her to a therapist, which led to a psychiatrist, and so on. She was misdiagnosed, first with depression and anxiety disorder, then with bipolar disorder. Her father, sisters, and I all brought up concerns time and again about her weight and eating habits. Each doctor, nurse, and therapist we spoke with dismissed these concerns. They told us that when the meds kicked in and her mood stabilized, she would eat. Only she didn’t eat.

What she did do was get thinner and thinner, more entrenched in body dysmorphia, more anxious, more depressed, more sick. Finally, after nearly two years, a couple of months ago her psychiatrist diagnosed her as having an eating disorder.

Asia is not just thin and in emotional pain, her health is in serious peril. She has a subtype of anorexia in which she not only starves herself, if she does eat, she purges. She has anxiety attacks, insomnia, her hair is thin and brittle, her nails pitted and peeling, lanugo grows on her cheeks, she has the classic “chipmunk cheeks” caused by thyroid malfunction due to the disorder, her arms and legs swell due to fluid retention, her pulse regularly registers between 40-50, and her blood pressure has been as low as 60/40. She suffers from hypothermia, her teeth are eroding from vomiting, and regularly has bouts of crushing chest pain and an irregular heartbeat.

Due to the severity of her illness, she requires around the clock supervision and her dad and I have worked together to make that happen. I lost my job after calling in so many times to take her to the doctor, therapist, grab her from school after she blacked out (she doesn’t go at all now), etc… Neither of us can remember our last full night of sleep, because we are up so often checking on her, taking vitals, making her drinking electrolytes, etc… and because we are very afraid she will go into cardiac arrest in her sleep and we will find her dead.

She is fifteen years old. Right now, she is in a short term inpatient facility, her third such stay since April. They will release her tomorrow, even though she is in no shape to be home. The psychatrist there is wringing her hands. She told us last night that although she knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that Asia needs intensive residential treatment, our state insurance will not cover it until she has taken and “Failed” an intensive outpatient eating disorder program. She said, “I am afraid that if you ever want her to get better, you will just have to figure out how to pay out of pocket. If she were my daughter, I would skip the outpatient, fire her current psychiatrist and therapist, and get her somewhere that knows this disease.”

Today I am going to be calling every single reputable eating disorder program in the country to beg them to take her on a payment plan until I find one that will work with us. In all likelihood, proper help will cost between $30,0000-75,000. I could care less about that, though it may influence whether or not they will allow us to make payments for many years.

If you wonder why we are not utlizing a facility in AZ, it is because they are sub-par, have terrible long term recovery rates, and anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness. My daughter has stated that she would rather die than eat. There are NO current treatment options that have great recovery rates after 3 of disease onset and we are on year two. The Maudsley Method, also known as FBT, has the highest adolescent recovery rate of all therapies for anorexia, at 60-80%. This is almost double the other modalities, which are not backed by strong clinical studies. So, Maudsley it is.

If you pray for her, think of her, know anyone who works in eating disorders who may have some ideas for our family, etc… I would be so grateful. She is a wonderful daughter, and I want her back. I want her to live.

Love,

Mani

I see you.

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It’s hard to look at these beautiful kids. I can’t do it without crying. But looking at them, reading about them. celebrating them is important. So much more important than looking at the face of the person who took their innocent lives. My daughter is 7. She is a remarkable miracle, and the light of my life. If her tiny face was among these photos, I would want the world to see her. I would want people to know how amazing she was, and how kind and smart, and happy, and fun, and utterly perfect she was. Join me in honoring these lives, and honoring those that love them. Read about them, and find one that seems like your child, or seems like you and vow to remember, forever, their name and their face. Tonight, I get to hug my daughter, who shares her name, and her blonde hair and blue eyes with Grace. My daughter, who, like Emilie, loves to make cards for people. My daughter, who would’ve been great friend with Jessica, and had big ears, like Jack. I get to hug her, but their parents don’t get to hug their babies, so although it hurts, I will really LOOK at these faces and  I will remember these kids. I will remember, always, because it’s the only thing I can do.  Won’t you join me?

Home.

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Dear Jesus,

I’d like to go home now please.

I appreciate the life you’ve given me here on earth. Really I do. And I don’t want to seem ungrateful  But today, especially today, my heart is heavy, and tired, and my eyes cant blink enough to keep the tears from falling.

Today I am aware of just how hard it is to move when the laws of gravity are in effect. I want to be weightless. I want to rise up with the trumpet blast, and become pure spirit. I want to shed the shackles of grief that have encased my soul today.

Today, my heart hurts so.  I weep, and weep, and just when it seems I can dry my eyes, I new thought rushes in, and the tears continue to fall.  I see a UPS truck delivering a package to my neighbor, and all I can think of is a UPS truck in Connecticut that will deliver something that was ordered a week ago, but will never end up in the little hands it was intended for. And how that brown truck will cause fresh hell for a family.

I think of gifts under the tree that will never be opened. I think of the helplessness the adults must have felt, and the fear in the hearts of the little ones that you now hold. I think of the crushing grief of waiting for your child in a sea of other terrified parents, only to have your child never come.

Oh, Lord, I think these things, and it makes me weep.

I want to go home, Lord.  I want it to stop. I don’t want to be subject to the laws of nature, and physics, and to the will of evil that runs rampant on this earth. I don’t want to try to explain the actions of a madman to my children.  I want to go to a place of peace, and rest.  I want to go to a place where an explanation for evil isn’t needed, because it doesn’t exist there.

I want to go HOME.

But, if you don’t come today, then I will stay here, and do the best I can to be a light in the dark places. To LOVE from my wide open heart. (Thanks J) To be LOVE in this world especially on days like this when evil is in the spotlight, and  love seems to hide. If you don’t come today, then I will hold my children tight tonight, and tell them how they are cherished and adored, by me and by You.  To use the resources that I have.to try to make a positive difference to someone. I will do this as I wait here. As I wait for you to come. As I wait to go home.

And it doesn’t matter if I wait a day, and am caught up in a trumpet blast, or if I wait my lifetime, and breathe my last breath as a very old lady. I will spend my days loving You, and loving people.

But, if it’s possible, come now

Today would be a good day to go home.

Can you choose love?

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Can you choose love?

One of these guys is an idiot, and i’m pretty sure another is a felon. One is a horrible speaker and was trying to make a point, but really screwed it up. (So maybe two idiots…)

But the others? Well, maybe they’re not so bad.

Yes, you can be happy that they didn’t get elected. No, you don’t have to agree with their views. But can you find it within you to believe the best about their intentions? Can you believe that Paul Ryan believes deeply that life begins at conception, and that the tiny life conceived from rape has no guilt for his fathers crime, and punishing that life with death is heartbreaking? You don’t have to agree with him. I’m just asking if you can find your way to believe that he comes from a place of compassion. Can you believe that John Coster has true compassion for rape victims, and honestly feels that abortion would be another act of violence against a woman who has been violated enough? That his intention is to protect the victim? I’m NOT saying you have to agree with their positions. That’s not the challenge. The challenge is to CHOOSE TO ASSUME, no matter how wrong  you think their views are, that they are coming from a place of love. Maybe you don’t believe they are, but that’s OK.  That’s not the point.  The point is that we always have a choice to believe the best, or the worst.  These men could say that pro-choice people don’t value life.  They would be wrong. They could say that pro-choice people don’t value God, or can’t call themselves Christians. They would be wrong.  So maybe, just maybe, you are too?

You see, if both “sides” did that, then  maybe we could stop tearing each other down, and work together to find ways to lower the rate of unintended pregnancies and violence against women that lead to abortions in the first place. Maybe we could DO SOMETHING .

Let’s assume for a moment.

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You’ve heard the saying. The one about assuming.

At least, I’m assuming you’ve heard it…

But if not, let me fill you in.

“When we ASSUME, it just makes an ASS out of U and ME”.

Cute little saying. And kind of true. Because a lot of the times when we make assumptions about people, we do just that. But not because we make an assumption about the person. Instead we make big ole’ asses of ourselves when we choose to assume the worst about a person or group of people, instead of the best.

Confused? Here, let me help. I’ve put together a few issues and then made negative and positive assumptions about the people who may have opinions about those issues. I’ll bet you can get the point.

Negative assumption: That person who says that the’re pro-life wants to devalue women and limit their choices. They are coming from a place of power and control.

Positive assumption : That person who says that they’re pro-life cares deeply about children, and honestly believes abortion causes harm to a helpless baby. They are coming from a place of love.

Negative assumption:  The person who claims to be pro-choice don’t value life. They believe abortion is the easy answer to every unwanted or unplanned pregnancy. They are coming from a place of selfishness.

Positive assumption: The person who claims to be pro-choice cares deeply about women and personal freedom. They want to keep women safe, and want every child born to be cherished. They are coming from a place of Love.

Negative Assumption. The person who believes in a strong military is arrogant and believes the USA should tell others how to live. They are power-hungry and egocentric and coming from a place of dominance.

Positive Assumption:  The person who believes in a strong military is deeply concerned about our country’s freedom. They want the US to be strong, so that the possibility of military action will be a deterant  to those who would oppress and harm their citizens. And so that we can offer aid when needed. They are coming from a place of Love

Negative Assumption:  The person who believes in smaller government is selfish and greedy. They don’t want to help the less fortunate and think that those who get help from the government are lazy. They want to keep their tax dollars for themselves. They are coming from a place of condemnation.

Positive Assumption: The person who believes in smaller government believes that the system is broken.  They don’t have faith in the government to manage their tax dollars responsibly, They want to help real people, directly, and think that individuals and communities can do a better job of that than the government. They are coming from a place of love.

Negative Assumption: The person who believes in bigger government doesn’t believe in personal responsibility. They think that they deserve to have things handed to them and that the government exists to make sure that everyone gets what they deserve. They are coming from a place of entitlement.

Positive Assumption: The person who believes in bigger government cares deeply about the less fortunate   They recognize that people need help and believe that our countries priority should always be the welfare of its citizens. They want all people to  have an equal opportunity to succeed. They are coming from a place of Love.

Negative Assumption: The people who support same-sex marriage want to destroy traditional values. They want to force people to accept and believe things that are contrary to their faith. They want to push some sort of hidden agenda. They are coming from a place of rebellion.

Positive Assumption: The people who support same-sex marriage care deeply about family and about equality. They want all people to be secure in their relationships and know that nothing will keep them from being there for their family and children. They are coming from a place of Love.

Those that oppose same-sex marriage think that LGBT people are lesser somehow. They believe that they don not deserve the same rights as straight people. They think that gay marriage will destroy our culture and harm our children/  They are coming from a place of superiority.

Those that oppose same-sex marriage have deep convictions. They believe deeply in the tenants of their faith and are trying to live by them as best they can. They truly care about the eternal soul of  humanity, and want all to be saved. They are coming from a place of Love.

Those are just a few examples. I’m sure that we can find many, MANY more. But do you see what I mean? My point is not the issues, or what you think about them. There will always be two or 42, different ways of looking at an issue.

My point is that, no matter the issue,

We can always choose to assume the best about another human being.

Always.

Of coarse, not everyone is coming from a place of love. Sometimes they are just jerks.

But that doesn’t matter. Really.

This isn’t about them. It’s about you. And you?

You always get to choose.

So, like the really old knight said to Indiana Jones, choose wisely.

Choose Love.

I’m pretty sure it’s a choice you won’t regret.

Romans 12:19 “When possible, as much as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”