I woke up in an…interesting…headspace this morning, and I’m finding myself easily angered or easily brought to tears. After spending almost forty-five minutes typing up my response to the last link I shared, I am realizing that I really need to not be on Facebook today. The comments I wrote were basically a culmination of three different articles, shared by different people, that hurt my heart. Rin put the Piano Guys on her laptop awhile ago in an effort to help me feel better and it is helping some, but I also have to take the next logical thought step and realize that it won’t continue to help if I keep tying myself up in knots.

One of the reasons of late that I have stopped reading all of the articles that people share and I have stopped responding to things that I find upsetting is because I feel too damn much and I see what I think should be obvious solutions and yet I watch people tear those solutions to pieces, either because they believe I am too liberal or too young or too female or too whatever, and I find that inordinately frustrating.

I have unspoken agreements with multiple people that we are to never discuss politics, because that way lies madness; in some cases, it has been that way for years. And yet, I have watched some of those people’s beliefs evolve far beyond what they used to be and I hear them agreeing with things that do not even make sense, or I see them believing something simply because a republican told it to them and it makes me crazy. I posted a link about Cobb County last night and how they had basically bamboozled bringing in the new Braves stadium and if I were of a mind to build my values and politics only on considering that all democrats are out to get people as so many of the people I mentioned above do, then I would have automatically assumed that the politicians involved in the shady deal were certainly democrats; however, the reality was that they were republicans and they knew exactly what they were doing even as they tried to stand by and say that they did everything “according to the rules”. I’d like to think that people in Cobb County would remember this come Election Day, but I sadly believe that the reality is that a) they won’t remember it and b) they are so anti-the other party that they will vote for the same politicians because it “still is better than the other side” once again voting against their own best interests. It. Is. Maddening.

I am not going to lie; I tend to largely vote democrat because of the two parties, they believe in more things that I believe in, and the current brand of republican wants to do too much to inhibit my life and my choices while trying to claim “religious freedom” and other bull shit arguments that have no place in politics, and that tends to make me angry. (Also, even when I was a devout, regular church going Christian, I STILL believed that church and state should be separated because I no more wanted politicians telling me what to pray and when to pray and what type of Christianity to believe then than I want them involved in politics now.) That said, I actually research both candidates and do occasionally pick a republican option because I feel that in that office they are the better choice, but the key there is that I do my research. I all too often hear the “liberals are all evil/stupid/what’s wrong with this country/socialists/comminists/nazis/ignorant/etc.” argument as though liberal has come to be a dirty word. (In fairness, I have seen liberal friends act the same way about the word conservative and have made comments similar to the ones I am making now.) This polarization is hurting us all and the current main steam media are doing everything that they can to fuel it while still trying to make people believe that they are unbiased, but frankly, if you believe that ANY news source is unbiased then you are showing an astounding amount of ignorance. As Dr. Yow, my American Studies professor (amongst other classes because she was amazing) said, “Everyone has an agenda. Everyone.” Some people’s agenda is to live their life in simplicity and kindness; other people’s agenda is to take over the world in whatever way that they can. It is so important to remember that and to keep it in mind with everything that you read or hear.

There is a huge part of me that wants to just start smacking people’s heads together to see if it would help. I see people that I know to be smart, to be kind, to care about others forget all of that to pursue their own agendas whether it be their own interpretation of Christianity, their political beliefs, or their hate for some “Other”, and it hurts my heart. I often wonder if they ever stop and realize the message they are sending to people. I wonder if some of the people that I am friends with – some family, others I went to school with or met through other ways – have made me incredibly strident in my opinion to not call myself a Christian ever again because I do not want to be counted amidst their number. I wonder if any if them would care or if they already count me as not worth their time because I am not like them anymore. To me, even as a young child, even when I was unsure about things I heard people at church say, I understood one thing: Jesus is love and he demands love in return, not just to him, but to everyone. I remember feeling conflicted in spirit when I would join in making fun of other youth groups or other denominations, or when I would join a group of people making fun of another kid because I wanted so badly to be “cool”. I remember as I got older feeling conflicted in spirit at some of the messages that people around me were saying, and I remember looking at two men who became my adopted big brothers, who had a stronger, healthier relationship than many Christian couples I knew, and wondered how I could believe that their love was wrong. I stayed conflicted on that point and a couple of others for so long that I actually found solace and peace in the pagan community because there was too much hate in the Christian one.

It also did not help that at the point that I left church for the last time, only one person really cared why and no one else asked. At the time, I was dealing with remembering things that had happened to me as a child and as a teen and let me tell you, rape and molestation flashbacks are not fun and they certainly do not leave you feeling social. To this day, I suspect that many of the people I called “friends” at that point thought I left because of a relationship, but the truth is that I left because the secrets I had kept hidden were eating me from the inside out and there was no solace for me at church because I felt no safety. I had overheard too many conversations, usually by adults, blaming victims and after my experiences in middle school with trying to talk to authority figures about things that were happening there, there was no way I was sharing what was making me feel so utterly fragile, not even with my “friends”. One person cared enough to ask after me and even that relationship faltered at the time for reasons on both of our parts but is actually better now which is a thousand kinds of awesome. So, forgive me if my impressions of church these days sound something like, “They will love you so long as you tow the party line and so long as you look happy” as opposed to how I used to find church which was as a place for peace and love, a place to go when you were broken inside and needed strength, a place to find a kinship with your Christian family and comfort at their tables.

That craving for peace and love is one of the reasons that I love Glennon at Momamstery so flipping much. I often read her writing and I feel like I am in church, wrapped in the peace of Creator and the Universe and there is peace -for me- there, no matter how broken, scared, or confused I am. I let G be a guide for Christians for me so that I do not let my heart become full of hate for the others I see who profess to be so very holy, because I do not want to become a person who is that cold and I do not want to be a person who lumps everyone in a group into one negative category. There are a few other people that I have let into that space with G, like Julie Hatcher and Rin’s Aunt Marijo, people who have pieces of the divine inside them, who share it with everyone and demand nothing in return. I know I will never be as selfless as those types of people, but I also strive to carry a piece of the divine inside myself, to shine a light of kindness back to people. I strive to remember that everyone is fighting a battle and to that person their battle can be all-consuming and there isn’t always room for kindness and love to others.

I try to speak to others with love in mind, even when I am angry or when I feel they are terrible people because I also know that they are still people, still humans fighting a battle. In doing so, I am learning that it is possible to love someone and also know that they are just not good people, to wish them peace but also to wish justice for their wrongs. I am also learning that I have to speak to myself with the same love and the same compassion and not just because my therapist tells me to, but because it is right and good and important. If all people are worthy of love and compassion and I am a person, then I, too, am worthy of those things. In opening myself up to loving no matter what (though do not equate love with being a doormat because it is definitely not that), I have also made myself more vulnerable and oh, that is so hard. My heart seems live somewhere between my sleeve and my throat, and I sometimes wonder if it is worth being so open to love and compassion because some days, ya’ll, that shit hurts. It means not reading articles about sad things or awful things and turning a jaded eye, because my heart tends to be right there and it sees the humanity and it hurts. (Coincidentally, this is also why I am learning to be more discerning of what I am reading and to give myself permission to not read every link shared and to set boundaries for myself when it comes to things I know will make me feel/angry/sad/etc.) It also means that I make myself see the humanity in everyone even when I disagree with them, because to refuse to do so makes them “other” and when we start to make people “others”, we stop seeing ourselves in them and it becomes easier to hate them, to dismiss them, to denigrate then, to disparage them, or even, for some, to kill them.

A couple of different interruptions have broken my train of thought, which is likely for the best given that I had aimed for this to be a short but pithy post on Facebook that I have had to shift to my blog for sheer space constraints. (Later, I will likely also shift my comments on the link mentioned above, but I cannot copy and paste from the FB iPad app and I am Definitely not doing it again right now.) I honestly am not certain how to wrap this up at this point, so I think I am just going to let it lie and move on to something else. Yesterday, Dr. Maya Angelou died and it saddened me for a lot of reasons, but one of the deepest was that her words have helped me shape who I am at different times in my life, but especially lately. One of her quotes that I saw shared multiple times yesterday was the directive to “be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud,” and it seems a good way to help some up the concept that “love wins”. If we each strive to be a rainbow in the darkness, then we will make the world a better place. It might be simplistic, but sometimes, simple is truly the best answer. I have several other quotes of hers jotted down in my current journal, but one that I think fits this post nicely, and which I will close with today is about life’s mission. I want to come back and talk about my feelings on Maya Angelou at a later point, but this quote seems a fitting end to this lengthy musing.

My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive…with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.
~Dr. Maya Angelou

Love wins and we can do hard things.
Until next time,
~B