Tribalism Continued

While sorting through my feelings of tribalism and it’s non-ending cycle of inclusion and exclusion I found Joaquin Phoenix and his acceptance speech something to be thought out. Take a listen:

Words like championing causes vs commonality of passion towards any issue doesn’t necessarily include or exclude unless we have no room for opinion. He talked of an egocentric world view and while his point was a natural world view, it wasn’t lost on me that even in discussion of causes we leave no room for difference. As he so eloquently put it we are best when we support each other instead of canceling each other out. There was another layer laid on my heart as I continue to work out my thought process on this issue.

State Of Confusion

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As I have been watching events unfold I am looking curiously at the ramifications of revelation. While some ramifications are positive as it gets us to right our world some are negative as we watch the pendulum swing in the opposite direction causing an imbalance.

I heard a man say he saw a co-worker walk into the office and commented, “You look pretty today.” He then said he went to his office and immediately panicked. Is that sexual harassment? Would he be called into HR or worse a meeting with his boss? Could he be fired?

This is the negative ramification of the #METOO #CHURCHTOO movement. While it certainly is wisdom to check your comments and behavior, it is not right that an innocent comment can be taken out of context. I get it though. We’re all prickly over the abuse of women in the workplace. It went on far too long and although women had rights and were working equally as hard as a man in the workplace, this was an area of vulnerability. There are those men who make you feel uncomfortable with their remarks and then there are those guys who are work buddies who never cross the line into inappropriate boundaries, only in this climate how do we tell the difference?

Is it how it makes me feel or what was actually said? I saw an older man who was married with seven kids and one with whom I had never detected an ounce of inappropriateness lose his job before my eyes. He was walking out the door of our building carrying an armload of work supplies just as a woman was walking into the building. He stepped to the left to let her pass but she also stepped to her right to let him go through as his hands were full and they both ended up face to face on the opposite side of the door. They then simultaneously stepped in the opposite direction. It has probably happened to us all. He then laughed and said, “Shall we dance?”, which is a saying that people his age use when this happen, as he backed up and moved away to allow her to come through the door. The woman immediately went to her supervisor and said the man made her feel uncomfortable and he was fired on the spot. Did he say or do something inappropriate or was it a feeling she had?

I once reported a military officer for inappropriate comments to me and was told by his commander, “Susan, do you really want to cause problems or be a team player?” I found another job.

The question in our society is now what is appropriate for a man? The answer seems to be whatever women want it to be which is unfair. The rules are changing and there seems to be a state of confusion which only leads to further abuse and misunderstanding.

Should a man pay for a date or is that sexist and silently saying he doesn’t believe women are capable of paying for dates?

Should a man compliment a co-worker or is that sexual?

Can a man be proud that he can provide for his wife and allow her to stay home with their children or does he demean her by offering this option?

Here is some advice for what it is worth…..

Let the man pay for the date. While it may seem old-fashioned, if my need as a woman is security let me know up front that I am a priority, that I have been thought about, and that I have been worth planning for. If I’m honest, my husband and I each plan and pay for dates, okay, okay it comes from the same account but it’s that thought and preparation that is key.

“Hey, you look nice today”, is not sexual harassment. It’s a comment. An appropriate response is, “Thank you”, as you move about your day. There doesn’t need to be a discourse on how you bought your dress on clearance at Marshalls. A healthy man couldn’t care less, save that for your girlfriend, that comment isn’t a reportable offense. Now, if he comes and says, “Hey, you look nice today, why don’t you come into my office and let me see what’s under that dress”, then heck yes, report it. That is not a man, that is a male and there is a difference.

A man who can adequately provide for his family and can offer his wife the decision to stay home is admirable. I do not ascribe to the male who can’t adequately provide for his family so they are leeching off of everyone so that his wife can stay home. No one put a gun to their head to have family. You BOTH have a responsibility to provide for your family. If he works days, you can work nights but pay for your own kids. Alright, off topic sorry.  If he’s proud he can provide then good for him. It doesn’t make him a caveman, or abusive. It makes him a man and that’s a great thing. The male who demands his wife stays home has work to do.

Let’s get back to a place where we celebrate each other, we call each other on truly bad things, and we don’t look for offense in every gesture or comment.

 

 

When You Say Nothing At All

 

Opinionnoun – a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.

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In the world of ministry, as in the political arena I suppose, your own voice becomes not your own but rather you must decide and calculate, what the cost or gain will be to actually have an opinion on something. There is a unmerciful machine that rages forward and unforgiving attitudes still prevail. Just ask Rob Bell or Jen Hatmaker two Christians who dared have opinions in our world. Books, endorsements, and speaking engagements were pulled immediately. The idea of keeping a public page on Facebook and a private page of Facebook or just getting off of social media completely is in full force. Ask people privately what they think and get a view of people who are deciding that in order to speak to everyone you can offend no one.

So I stopped writing about controversies because I didn’t want controversy in my life. I    wanted to speak to everyone about anything. I wanted to hear opinions and views that weren’t my own because that is where I either solidify my view or see a perspective I    had not seen before and thereby change my mind.

Only that goes completely against who I am. I sat as a small child at the dinner table and discussed politics and world  views with my parents. In fourth grade I wrote to President Gerald Ford and I received an answer. I don’t have an opinion because I’m a Christian, or a pastor, or a woman. I have an opinion because I have a brain who is forever learning and wants to be challenged.

“But you’re going to have to minister to people who don’t share your view and they won’t be able to receive from you because of it.”

WHY? Because we can no longer tolerate an opinion that isn’t ours. We’ve become so engrained to think that if they do not think or do things as we do then they are against us. They aren’t of our tribe so therefore they are out.

Luke 9: 49John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” 50But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you.” ESV

Mark 9:38“Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” 39“Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, 40for whoever is not against us is for us. NIV

Only here’s the thing: When we say nothing we say much. While quiet observation serves while opinions are formed there are also two camps forming, those who think you are with them and those who think you are against them. Ultimately this is really not about you. It’s internal strife turned outward. It’s intolerance. Sadly, it’s prevailing in America.

What would you say if opinions truly mattered and we were really a free people?

 

Even in Rural Areas

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I had a meeting with Lara Olson, an advocate for youth in crisis,  about how we as the church can help impact our at-risk youth in our county. She said that one of the things we must do is get STD awareness out to the public because what we don’t know is harming us. That caused me to begin reading and learning.

Here are some facts:
Chlamydia is on the rise in Merced County and shows very few symptoms, pain in the eye, abdomen, or pelvis. If left untreated it can cause infertility.

Syphilis is also on the rise. Symptoms include, sores or legions, skin rash, headaches, fatigue, patchy hair loss (alopecia). If left untreated it can affect the organs.

These are two serious diseases that are plaguing our county. If you think you may have one or more of these symptoms please do not hesitate and go and seek medical attention.

Do I think the church should be involved in these conversations? Yes. We, the leaders in the church, teach about the sin of premarital sex but we often fail to teach on the why. God isn’t a fun spoiler. He is merely trying to save us a lot of heartache over decisions that have consequences that we can’t take back. He is protecting our hearts, our minds, our physical beings from the things that could pollute us and change forever the course of our lives. That word forever is no exaggeration. So while these are delicate and difficult discussions, let’s be honest, who really wants to talk about this, they are necessary conversations. We can’t pretend that it isn’t happening or that it doesn’t affect us all in some way. We must be wise and we must be informed if we are going to help others navigate what can sometimes be difficult heart-wrenching decisions. We can’t be afraid to speak up and we certainly can’t be afraid to tackle the tough stuff.

I choose to lead with eyes wide open and ears listening to the pulse of humanity and to what God is saying and sometimes that means I have to get uncomfortable as we bring to light what is trying to destroy us in the dark.

What is happening in your community that is needing your attention? Are you ready to get uncomfortable in order that it could help someone?

On Loyalty

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As the world awaits here are my thoughts.

Loyalty CAN NOT be demanded.

Tyrants demand it.

Insecure managers demand it.

Let me type that again.

Tyrants and Insecure managers demand it.

What demanding an oath of loyalty does is expose the hand of a manager, notice I was careful not to say leader, who has to avoid negative feedback at all costs to soothe their EGO (Edging God Out).

There is no need to pledge allegiance as if you were pledging to a god. A manager who is demanding loyalty does so because they can’t listen to negative feedback or can’t lead without unwavering loyalty because of insecurity. They make a terrible boss and that person is not a leader at all.

You will be loyal out of a heart that believes in the mission. A covenant of mission never demands an oath to a person. An oath to a person is always bondage. Christians have dominion over the earth not over people.

Walk away from anyone who demands an oath of  loyalty to them or one who would disguise the verbiage in the word covenant. Demanding loyalty to a person is a dangerous precedent of the abuse of power to come.

I am not loyal to Doug Young because he demands it. I am loyal to Doug Young because I love him and I believe in our marriage. My loyalty can’t be made by force and doesn’t negate his leadership when I disagree. My covenant of marriage was to the mission of our marriage under God.

In the military leaders are taught not to demand personal loyalty and they teach subordinates to avoid personal loyalty at all costs. The reasoning is that eventually the tyrant will rise up and cause you to do things you never thought you’d do out of loyalty or be cast out of the ranks. It’s too high a price.

God never demands loyalty and these oaths and covenants that are demanded by men are not of God in any way shape or form. God is looking for a people with love and a heart for Him and service in the freedom of Free Will. This is not blind ambition or loyalty. This is eyes wide open, mission-focused, unity because we want to not because we must. We give our loyalty out of love not fear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Too Poor To Date

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Couple Receiving Their Check

Here’s an excerpt from Heather Jensen’s article on Relationship Deal Breakers that for some reason popped up in my newsfeed:

If you can’t afford a cell phone bill, rent or even a dinner out, you really shouldn’t be in a relationship. Guys, this goes for you too – if you can’t take your lady out, that can definitely be a relationship deal breaker! You don’t have to be rich, you just have to have enough money for savings and not to be completely broke all of the time. 

“Of course!” I thought, “Except college students who are generally poor while studying but yes, anyone over 30 shouldn’t be dating if they have to spend every dime they have to do so. This should be a Dave Ramsey blog.” Then I did a search on too poor to date and article after article talked about how we shouldn’t be dating if we can’t pay the bills. One man said that because he had student loans, and a car debt, he considered himself undatable because financially he couldn’t offer much yet. One woman said, she had an IRS debt and until that was paid she would not be dating. No surprise there but what was surprising were the comments.

Generally speaking most women said they agreed with the concept of not dating until you can afford to do so. I wasn’t surprised by that response because a woman’s number one need to is to feel secure in a relationship. What did surprise me were the men. Generally speaking the men disagreed. They felt that a woman should pay her portion of a date and that it was archaic to expect to ask a woman out on a date and then be expected to pay for her portion of the date. In fact, a survey concluded that 51% of men want to split the bill on a first date.

Here are a couple of comments I read:

“I can afford going out to grab drinks and eat a reasonably priced restaurant but only if she foots her own half of the bill.”

“I’ve never once taken the full bill for a restaurant. Coffee or something yeah, but not full meals. Is that something that’s still expected?”

So I went to my resident expert my Southern Bred Husband.

“Baby, I’m reading about being too poor to date and most men feel that since women fought for equality that we should be paying for our half of the bill when a man ask us out on dates. What do you think about this?”

“Well, you did fight for equality.”

“So you think we ought to pay for our portion of a date?”

“Darlin’ I’m a Southern Gentleman. I would never think to go out to eat where I couldn’t pay the bill and I would never allow a woman to pay for a date.”

Which is true because even when we go out to eat and it’s the same debit card coming out of the same joint account, he always grabs the bill and doesn’t let me pay, except a couple of times when he apologized profusely because he left his wallet in his briefcase when I picked him up for lunch and that’s after being married over a decade.

So what do you think? If a man asks a woman out on a date does she need to bring her own money? Is there such a thing as too poor to date?

 

 

Having A Library Card Doesn’t Make You A Reader

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Back in 2007, New York started this Family Focused Pilot Program. It was a program that was supposed to help underprivileged people get a leg up by paying them for certain things. One of the things they paid them for was education. People were paid $25-$50 a month for their child being in school 95% of the time, $50 for going to a parent-teacher conference, and they received $50 for obtaining a library card.

I was flowing with the program until the library card. The library card had me puzzled. A library card doesn’t ensure you’re a reader. I know the government is trying to get people to read but there has to be a more effective way.

I began to think about things in church. Just because I have a bible, doesn’t mean I know what’s in it. Just because I call myself a Christian, or a follower of Christ doesn’t mean I am one.

What makes a person a reader? The fact that they read books.

What makes a parent concerned about their child’s education? Does money cause interest in making sure their child is getting an education? Money may cause a parent to go to the school to meet with the teacher when they are called, and perhaps through dialogue things could change. The incentive is followed by a way to track success.

What makes someone a Christian? The bible says you’ll know them by their fruit. This is a way to track success. I know people who say they follow Christ and have the church talk down pat but their fruit doesn’t show a relationship with God. A relationship with God causes things to change in your life. So that couple that beat each other and sing Hallelujah on Sunday do they know God intimately?  The married woman who is flirting with the man at work and is on the brink of an affair does she really know God intimately?  The person who would pass a person by on the street who doesn’t have warm clothes on when it’s freezing out, do they understand God’s love for His children?  The guy who is sleeping with his girlfriend and shaking her father’s hand as if he’s honorable, doesn’t understand why God doesn’t get it.What makes us a follower of Christ? The fact that we actually do our best to walk it out.

The reward isn’t earthly like the program in New York but the payoff is a life transformed and that is the point of the program.

 

 

Integrated

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Integrated – Adjective – combining or coordinating separate elements so as to provide a harmonious, interrelated whole:
an integrated plot; an integrated course of study.
2.organized or structured so that constituent units function cooperatively:an integrated economy.
3.having, including, or serving members of different racial, religious, and ethnic groups as equals:

I was sitting with my Godmother who is 89 years old. She was born in a time of segregation and being a Latina I am acutely aware of these circumstances on some levels and acutely oblivious on other levels. Meaning my heart hurts at the stories but to say I have experienced this level of treatment in my lifetime would be a lie.

My Godmother told her story with quiet assuredness,

“My mother wanted us to attend Cecil Avenue School. It was the white school and some of us our parents sent us to that school for a better education. Back in those days it was much different than it is today. We were not allowed to eat in the cafeteria because we were Mexican. Instead we had to eat outside. In the rain, in the heat, whatever the weather was, but we were kids and we made the best of it. Huddled under trees we stuck together.”

I sit and listen to her story and wonder if this is the reason she became a school secretary? She certainly never hesitated to give a student a what for. “You’re here to get an education make yourself a better person. You’re here so that if you desire you can go to college. You have been given more opportunities than we ever had. Don’t waste them.”

This is why segregation in any form is abhorrent to me. This ideal that it’s us against them regardless of the excuses for the behavior is ignorant. Studies show integration pulls people up not down. So why do we so quickly abandon the notion of equality? Because it requires we set our mindsets and our idea of who they, whichever they we are prejudice about, are aside for the truth. The truth being that we are all more alike than we care to think. That regardless of where we came from we are now here, wherever here is for you, and therefore should be working together to make here better.

On my way to see my Godmother I listened a podcast on This American Life. I have posted the link at the end of this post and I would ask you to listen to it by clicking on it please. I cried because here we are still squawking about equality by being separatists. It’s no better in the church. We elevate the segregation to doctrinal issues to make it holy.

Yet, I have hope. I see millennials who are crossing lines, untethered by pants, raised hands, and a tone of a voice which makes it male or female, and instead making an effort to make the world a better place in the name of Jesus. While CNN and FOX scream about Jihadists 24/7 there is terrorism of a different kind going on, in our neighborhoods and in the church. Let’s make a difference where we can. I think Jesus would be pleased if we extended our hands regardless of the color of our skin.

Click Here for This American Life Podcast

It Feels Personal

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I posted this on my Facebook page and received many comments and likes but I also received quite a few private messages with stories from women who were trying to learn not to take things personally. This was coming on the heels of the  Kelly Clarkson body-shaming tweets so I thought I’d respond with what I’ve learned.

First off, there are mean people out there. They have no filter. They mask it under the, “I just say what I think you know? I’m just being honest.”, only their honesty is aimed as the knife that stabs you to your core, and remember this, their honesty only pertains to the output not the input. In other words speak the truth to them and it’s WAR. Not everything needs to be said but so often we think what we have to say is important, because it is important to us. No one is exempt from this not even me, hence this post.

Compound that with the phenomenon of social media where because we can’t see the hurt look on someone’s face it is easy to blast people. These are your typical pounce and flounce people at a new level. I have a friend who seldom replies to online posts because she says the attacks begin immediately and sadly she is right.

So how do we not take things personally when they seem so personal? My husband taught me a great trick I’m going to pass on to you. He said,

“If they have nothing nice to say about anyone, and they talk about everyone then it isn’t personal. If they don’t say nice things about even those they love then they aren’t going to say nice things about you. It isn’t personal, it’s just how they are.” 

“If they don’t have problems with others but they have problems only with you, then it’s personal to them not to you. They have things that need to be worked out and they need to grow up and come to you about the issue.”

Listen, you’re not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. Friendships happen with like-minded people. Leave it at that. I often hear people say, and I’ve said it myself,  the solution is to go and confront the person but the problem with that is that those who talk behind your back never say it to your face so oftentimes my experience has been that  I’ve gone to the person and asked if there is an offense because I’ve heard such and such from so and so, I get the standard answer of nothing is wrong it was a misunderstanding, and more often than not, the pattern continues.

So here is a pattern that I chose to live my life by, and so far it’s working, so let me post it and hopefully help you.

I no longer take it personally. The comments, the blasts, the opinions, come from people who don’t know me. It’s okay. Those comments and opinions don’t pay my bills nor do they pour my cup of coffee in the morning. I have a choice to snuggle with those opinions in bed at night or kick them to curb. I choose to boot them out of my life. I hope you’ll try it because you’ll find your life is a lot less messy.

A Mother’s Heart

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I watch with interest as thousands of children arrive at our border. While the pundits on both the left and the right argue and do nothing but fight for political gain, I can’t help but be saddened. For us and for them.

I see a hopeless parent put their child on a train to cross borders of countries illegally in hopes of a promise. Perhaps the child will die in transit but for a parent it is better than the life they can provide. As a citizen in a country where we don’t even let our child play outside alone, let alone talk to strangers this must be heart-wrenching.

Oh, we can demonize the parent if it makes us feel better because parents of children from other countries can’t possibly love their children as much as we do. We can say it’s a political ploy and these are nothing more than pawns, and we are correct they are pawns, only the more we dehumanize children the easier it is for us to make snap judgment.

And they have lice and diseases, and we have lice and diseases, only we have access to a drug store and vaccinations and money and we clean up well and they don’t. And they send gang members and children who are incorrigible and we have gang members and children who are incorrigible in big cities sent to live with relatives in smaller towns, but somehow we measure more worthy because our poor children are a product of the lack of opportunity and a system that isn’t fair, oh wait, is that them or us? Are they simply pawns of human traffickers? If they are then what? And while we create a chasm of difference we forget that a parent sent this child on the road, and may never see them again, knowing the danger and risking their own child’s life a parent dared to hope. And what was Moses’ mother’s name because I seem to recall her story?

Your political view says I am naive, and I get why you think so! We have a messed up immigration system and people take advantage and draw unemployment on fake social security numbers and live in welfare housing undeserved and feel entitled and commit crimes and while yes, that is a real problem and I don’t like it, until you change a political system that is broken down, there will be no remedy. However I trust in a higher court, and in that court the people who cheat, lie, and steal, will have an end that will not be profitable for life despite their religious affiliation, but in the meantime a mother has sent her child across countries to find hope. And while I don’t have solutions I have compassion. “Send them to Mexico”, is the cry I heard and despite Mexico’s screams for immigration reform in the United States, Mexico does not care for the immigrant. They don’t provide medical care or education. They are country who screams for the United States to have compassion while I have seen none from them. A poverty mentality only looks after their own. So their doors are shut.

And the words of TD Jakes run through my heart in this time, “Where money rules there can be no justice”, I wonder if these parents would have sent their children away if they had not been desperate? For you see, despite America’s problems, we are still a beacon of hope. The Taliban targets us because they say we are the bearers of the cross and if that is so, then we must bear our cross. I have a Mother’s Heart and that heart keeps saying; There is parent out there that is desperately missing their child. They may never see each other again, or our government may send them back, the jury is still out. But we have a parent who thought, I can endure heartbreak and send my child away, or we can sit here until we die.