When where I am is not where you are.

My life looks nothing like I thought it would. I struggle with that sometimes. I don't know where we learn that our lives are "supposed" to look a certain way. I don't know why we think we need to take a measuring stick to other's lives and see where ours measures up. I don't know why we get so lost in the comparison game.

Blame it on social media, society, movies, friends, family, whatever it is, it's there...this feeling that maybe I'm not quite where I'm supposed to be, or those people over there really have it figured out. Sometimes I feel like there's a benchmark to meet. I look ahead and see everyone keeping up with the expectations and I'm just a little bit behind, always playing catch up.

I've had to let go of how I think my life should look. "Should" can be a dangerous word for me. It usually means I'm motivated by guilt or shame and those aren't the healthiest motivators.

I've had to let go of my measuring stick.  I can't look at life like a race or a competition where people are either ahead or behind me. Instead of choosing to see a line of people ahead of me and me trying to play catch up, I see people around me. Each in their own place, each with their own life, not ahead or behind me, but beside me. All in different places, all on different journeys, with not one being right and another wrong, but just being.

Because where I am is not where you are and that's okay. It's a beautiful thing actually. Everyone is on their own journey. Everyone is just living their story and like Shauna Niequist says, "With people, you can either connect or compare, but you can't do both." I can look at what others are doing, I can wonder what I need to do to get where I think I should be, or I can just let go and connect where I am and with those who I am lucky enough to be surrounded by.

So I'm choosing to let go of the shoulds in my life. I'm choosing to let go of the measuring sticks and the side-to-side glances calculating who I'm ahead of or behind. I'm choosing to connect instead of compare. I'm choosing to see people where they actually are. I'm choosing to look down instead of around, focusing on my journey and where I am rather than where I thought I should be.

With these choices I've found there's a whole lot of freedom to be had.

Because where i am is not where you are and that's okay



Last week, a horrific, evil act happened in Charleston...motivated by racism and hate. I've had this post sitting in my drafts section since I heard about it. I would type and erase, type and erase, sit and stare, and cry and cry and cry, so angry, so sad. I've been reading and listening a lot...partly in fear that anything I would say may not be the right thing, partly because who am I to even comment and partly because I wanted to hear from others, but ultimately coming to the conclusion that I cannot be silent. Feeling so angry about it all and while yes, it's hard to wrap your head around such evil, I can wrap my head around the attitudes and culture of whiteness and white supremacy that moved him there...because it's everywhere. I refuse to sweep it under the rug as just a hate crime that is isolated to this "white guy who was a loner" or explain it away as "it's just sin". It's more than that. There is nothing new about this killer's worldview. As Joshua DuBois says, "Yes, the killer was deranged, but he simply had a more extreme version of a common malady." (please read the article that comes from here). It's a further example of the racial injustices and racism that courses through the veins of our country and our society. And yes, while I was born white, a fact that does give me privilege and power, I was not born silent, I do not have to invoke that privilege and distance myself from this awful event, among so many others, and forget.

My dear white brothers and sisters, we cannot be silent and complacent, like @feministgriote said, "Black folks did not create racism, anti-blackness, or white supremacy, therefore it is not our issue to fix." Karon Walrond, says it well too. We can't even blame it just on a "white supremacist." As Nancy Rust says, "We can’t call it that because it lets too many White people off the hook.  The average White person (AWP) in America will look at the headlines, recoil at the sickening pictures and deplorable details circulating about Dylann Roof and then declare, “Wow, is he crazy or what? ...Until we are able to acknowledge the system that allows these acts to flourish, we will get nowhere.” 

Austin Channing, talks about how white supremacy affects everyone and says that we have two choices, we can acknowledge that and work to uproot it or we can let it grow...we are either nurturing love or hate. And knowing that those of us who are white, when we say things like it's not "all of us", that really isn't a comfort, but rather creates distance. So to her I say, “I see this sin in my own heart, my own life, my own church and I am working to uproot it. I don’t want to be this way, and I will do the work to submit this ugliness before Christ.”

To my black brothers and sisters, I am sorry. I am sorry that you are made to feel that your lives do not matter because they absolutely do. I am sorry your experiences are discredited and ignored. I am sorry you have to live in fear and for the pain, anger and injustice you experience, that I know I will never fully understand. I am sorry for the way I have distanced myself from things before because it was easy and have not stood up and worked to uproot this sickness.

There are so many more things that could be said, so many more articles or videos shared, so many more "explanations" about why white supremacy, white culture, whiteness is a thing (explanations shouldn't even be needed...just look around) but really...it is a time for lamenting. A time where it's hard to see the hope, joy, peace and reconciliation that should exist. Where people refuse to be comforted and join in prophetic grieving. When these beautiful people in their place of worship welcomed a stranger and then were gunned down for their hospitality and grace, with the only crime being the color of their skin...it's a time to lament. It's a time to remember the victims of this tragedy and say their names because THEIR LIVES MATTER: Ethel Lance, Myra Thompson, Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., and Rev. Sharonda Singleton.

(p.s. please take the time to read all the links. Also, the sermon below by Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil is worth the 30 minutes)


Justice Matters.

I've written and rewritten my thoughts about all of this. I've read more articles than I can count and had many discussions with those close to me. I wasn't sure how to articulate everything that I've been thinking and feeling these last few months. Hearing the latest news though has done me in and I can't be silent even if my words don't make sense. Because when I saw the officer was not indicted for choking Eric Garner to death, I was furious and felt like I was going to throw up. I haven't been able to sleep because I keep thinking about it so I decided to write. Every time I saw another article posted about it, every time I saw someone write #blacklivesmatter, every time I heard someone say "people are over reacting" or "we don't have a race issue", I want to throw up.  I'm not going to claim I even know all the details about these particular cases or argue the particulars because this is SO MUCH MORE than that. This is about something bigger. This is about a system of injustice and oppression that has roots so deep people can live in ignorance to the issues because it's what they've always known. This is about the fact that there even needs to be a hashtag that says black lives matter. No one should have to campaign for that because everyone should know their lives matter. But in our society that's not the case.

I know this post won't do much in the grand scheme of things, but I cannot be silent about this. America does have a race issue. It's rooted in years of oppression that created unjust systems that are still in practice today. Systems that benefit those in power, those with the same skin color as me. It's not fair. It's not fair that I've never been pulled over for no reason at all while my black friends have been too often to even keep track of. It's not fair that my parents never had to talk to my brother about how to be polite and act around police officers for his own personal safety, but those are conversations every black man I know received from their parents. It's not justice that five times as many Whites are using drugs as African Americans, yet African Americans are sent to prison for drug offenses at 10 times the rate of Whites. It's not justice that there are countless examples of how white people get away with the same crimes that people of color get put away for, just look up the hashtags #crimingwhilewhite and #alivewhileblack.  It's not justice that someone can be killed on video and they're treated like their life doesn't matter and that it does not even deserve a trial.

You better believe we still have a race issue. It's just getting exposed and national attention recently and for people who can't acknowledge that, live in ignorance. Ignorance to the fact that the color of your skin still does matter and injustice abounds in our world today. The fact that white people can ignore this issue or have the choice to tune it out attests to the privilege we have.

I believe that the world is not supposed to be this way and that there's hope for a better story, although it's hard to envision that better story these days it seems. But we know to hope for a story of justice and equality...that we can be a society where justice rolls down and every single human being's value and worth is known. But it starts with change...deep change.

For those of us that claim to follow Jesus, this matters. This matters because our brothers and sisters are hurting, mourning and have injustices laid upon them day after day. This matters because every person was made in the image of God and every single person's life matters. This matters because we are called to love each other and to enter into the pain of our neighbors. This matters because peace, justice and equality is not present and that is what we are supposed to be about. I pray that justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream because something has got to change.

I'm not saying anything new...so many others say things way better than I do, but with my little fraction of the interwebs I had to get it out there. Here are some others who say it better:

I highly recommend this video.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_98ojjIZDI?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

Here are some other articles to read:

http://www.relevantmagazine.com/current/nation/justice-black-lives-must-begin-us-part-1 http://www.relevantmagazine.com/current/nation/justice-black-lives-must-begin-us-part-2


http://www.awesomelyluvvie.com/2014/12/stages-injustice-against-black-people.html http://qz.com/251570/now-you-know-what-i-always-have-america-does-not-value-black-lives/

And for one final thought.