Tuesday, November 17, 2015

His Command

I’m not blogging on grief and loss today. Well, I kinda am, but not my own for now.
I’ve not turned my profile picture into the colors of the French flag, despite my heavy heart. I wondered why I didn’t feel right about it and wondered a bit if anyone thought less of me. In true me fashion, I though “eh” and kept my picture the same as it had been. Over the last week, as more and more response to the Parisian attacks have become public conversation, I stumbled on an article that, finally, articulated the angst I felt about the flag color phenomenon...
You see, how sadly shallow it feels to mourn 129 people while ignoring the fact that ISIS is responsible for the deaths of hundreds (or more, let’s be honest) of Syrians and other innocent Middle-eastern people daily. Is it okay to just sit back and ignore them? It wasn’t until the discussion of refusing safety on American soil for Syrian refugees that I felt sickly, and it dawned on me just how narrow we Americans think. We give our sympathy, and it appears our safety and support, only to those who seem like us.

Timothy Stanley, historian and columnist for Britain's Daily Telegraph, shared on CNN’s Opinion page (http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/16/opinions/stanley-caution-on-global-war/index.html) a great piece that explains why Americans (and I might specify and emphasize Christian Americans) need to tread carefully, from what you do to your profile picture, to who you support in our presidential election…

...how we respond to ISIS has consequences for interfaith relations. Some American politicians have suggested a religious test for refugees seeking access to the United States. This kind of prejudiced rhetoric adds to that false sense that this is a world war-style clash between conservative Muslims on one side and Christian democracies on the other. It is also unChristian and cruel. Moreover, while Americans might fear Islamification as an existential concept, we here in Europe have actual experience of living with Muslims -- and I can report that the living is easy.Muslims are our friends, family and co-workers. They fear and despise ISIS as much as anyone else. And those of us in the center-ground of European politics are determined not to alienate, or discriminate against, citizens who are 100% British, French or German. Of course, it is equally irritating to see politicians who seem to counsel doing nothing and Westerners lacerating themselves because they believe their countries are to blame for all the evil in the world. ISIS is evil -- real, concrete evil. It must be stopped. But we must proceed carefully, with a grand game plan and with the desire to build just and representative Arab regimes that last. The legacy of poorly chosen words or unilateral action is there for all to see.”
A lot of conservatives like to point to American history as evidence that America was a Christian nation founded on Christian principles. To a degree, I agree. I think a better way to explain it would be to say that America was founded on the ideal of freedom to live and practice Christianity. That being said, we certainly can’t be called a “Christian” nation as we practice such blatant, racist xenophobia. You (or I) can’t certainly be called a “Christian” when you (or I) practice racist xenophobia.
If we want to be viewed as Christians, we should model what Christianity is supposed to look like - we do not get to pick and choose to whom we show the love of Christ, not based on nationality, skin tone, or even faith.  “Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”  James 1:27 
Some Christians supporting Donald Trump might want to read that verse again.
So when you throw yourselves behind governors and politicians claiming to “protect” you from terrorists, ask yourself who is ultimately going to protect America from ISIS’s evil perversion of Islam - some Republican tossing rhetoric around to scratch your patriotic itch, spewing sin disguised as political strategy just to give you an illusion of safety, or will it be the mighty Christ who took on the punishment for the sins of every soul - who defeated death - who tells you to love without prejudice?
My ball is in His court.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Lucky Charms and Flashlights

Dealing with this loss has been similar to the others in many ways. I've blogged about the aftermath so many times now. I'm a pro at this, I tried to explain to my anesthesiologist. I warned him that anesthesia makes me sob and fight, even though he didn't believe me. Six times and a middle finger was my mental response, although I gave a tight lipped smile on the outside. I know what I'm doing. I know the surgery well. I know the drill for communicating the news. I know the process for dealing with work. I know to take off some time and start super gluing my life back together in some way. 

I allow myself some time to sleep. To stay in bed. To read. To cry. To hate everything. But I set a limit and make myself live again, even if it is just going through the motions. To be honest, I have struggled with following through on the living part.

My preference has been to lie in bed and watch New Girl on Netflix and eat Lucky Charms and bomb pops and watch the episode when Nick finally kissed Jess over and over and ugly cry over how romantic it was. God, that kiss

In other words, I'd be totally okay ignoring my grief, forgetting my silence with God, and pretending my life (and all I've ever dreamed about) hasn't been ripped apart. 

But that is the great thing about friends and family. I've had to get up and get showers, vacuum, sweep. I put on real clothes and a little makeup. I talked about it. We prayed. I ate food other than cereal or Halloween candy. I've returned hopeful, encouraging messages from everyone on every social media I have. I functioned with other humans alone in a grocery store and didn't have a grief-sob when the pumpkin delights got replaced by the disgusting Christmas tree cakes at Food Lion... That kind of self control was a big deal. I went shopping with Mama. 

In other words, I'm still living. I'm not picking pretty strong trees to wrap my car around. I'm grateful to have people who text me regularly, who bring copious amounts of coffee beans and food to my house, who reassure me that my anger towards God is normal, human, healthy, and forgiven, who don't try to rationalize this or discern God's will, who make me feel like I've got a purpose, and who refuse to let me think less of myself because my body attacks the thing I'd die to save - my child. 

I feel like grief is a lot like a really, really dark place where it's easy to get lost. Sometimes finding the door is overwhelming and exhausting. And really, I'm so pissed off I don't even want to try. It's really easy to give it up, lie down, and stay in the dark and assume your eyes will adjust. 

I'm glad my family and friends won't let me stay in the dark. They come bearing flashlights in my darkness. Without them, it's just too tempting to stay.