On Monday, I wrote about autoimmunity (full post here) and how I function daily in January 2020. Many of you wrote to thank me for sharing my journey. In light of that, I thought it might be useful for this week’s re-visit to be my very first post on autoimmune disease from way back in July 2014 — my second blog post ever. A lot has changed since then — my diagnosis, my symptoms, and my reality. Everyone’s struggle with illness is different, and many of those struggles we cannot see.Many more than I are invisibly ill.
In my first entry on this blog, I mentioned that my doctors had advised me to take some time off to rest. Some of you who know me might be thinking, “Well, shoot, you…
On Monday, I wrote about finding “Common Ground” in these polarizing political times. In the summer of 2019, I wrote this piece, which challenges the premise of dichotomy – that all issues can be sorted into two sides.
The other day, a news reporter said that people on both sides of the immigration debate were upset by a recent decision. Senators from both sides of the aisle are contemplating impeachment, and both sides of the abortion debate are reeling from recent legislation. This language might lead us to the conclusion that many of our issues are binary — pro or con, Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, black or white.
But isn’t most of life more complicated than that?
Is it even possible to break the US population, which today is 328,983,273 strong, into “both sides”? Can we…
January 2020 is the start of a new year and a new decade. It is also a leap year, and, in case you hadn’t noticed, an election year.
It’s been pretty hard not to notice, what with the numerous debates, countless political ads, and the twenty-four hour news cycle.
And, for me, talk of the election and all things political has seeped into daily discourse, family gatherings (much to my mother’s dismay), and, most notably, my social media feeds.
I am happy to say that I have a pretty diverse online community; I’m quite sure it includes representatives from the far right, the moderate right, the moderate left, the far left, and people who claim to not care about politics at all. I don’t block people, even when their posts piss me off, because I want to hear divergent views. I don’t want to live in an echo chamber, so I sometimes see, as I scroll, posts that encourage me, posts that confuse me, posts that irritate me, and posts that make me want to reply in a way that I would likely regret later.
Recently, I saw a post from a friend who said it was all the [insert specific political party]’s fault that [fill in current political issue] was happening. I saw that another friend of mine had replied, so I scrolled on.That friend said that, no, it was actually the [insert opposing party]’s fault because “look at all this evidence”. And so it ensued — a virtual exchange between representatives of two different parties. Now, I will say, that these two individuals, both intelligent and well-read, were able to isolate some key issues and continue their exchange beyond the typical name calling and finger-pointing, but neither granted any space to the other; no allowances were made. Both stood firm in their convictions, unwilling to budge.
When I saw this conversation, I wanted so badly to step in and ally myself with one of the speakers. I placed my cursor over the “write a comment” space, started to type, then, in a moment of sudden good judgment, hit the backspace button and closed the lid on my laptop. (I would like to here record this adult-like behavior since I don’t always make such sound-minded choices.)
I considered those two friends over the next few days. I am aware that they have known each other for decades. They have fond memories together, but they, at least in this post, had positioned themselves against each other and were unable to find common ground.
I wonder what would’ve happened if they had had the same conversation across the table from one another, over a sandwich and a coffee, looking into one another’s eyes. Would they would have been able to cede some of their firmly-held ground or been willing to step across the line into one another’s territory if only to look around?
It’s hard to know.
Another friend posted about a family gathering at Christmas where a [insert family member here] had come in spouting rhetoric from [insert political figure here], inciting an argument. Both parties continued to engage, firmly arguing their own positions, until one asked the other to leave. They couldn’t be in the same house together — on Christmas — because of their differing political views.
I don’t think these are isolated incidents. Scenes like these are becoming common. It seems that we have allowed ourselves to be drawn into these opposing factions that position us one against the other, heels dug in, fingers pointing. And where do we picture it will end? Do any of us believe — truly believe — that we can shout “the other side” into submission, that we can prove our “rightness” and their “wrong-ness”? Do we think that one side will ever “win”?
Because guys, I’m not seeing anyone winning right now. I’m seeing a lot of anger and posturing, name-calling and accusing, and all kinds of refusal to find the common ground where we can come together.
And isn’t that what we want? Don’t we want to come together in the United States of America? Don’t we want to live in a “more perfect union”? Don’t we want to embody e pluribus unum, ‘out of many, one’?
Can we accomplish that through finger-pointing, name-calling, and accusation? Not in my experience. I picture that the longer we glare across the line, attaching blame to those on the other side, the further we get entrenched in our positions, the less willing we are to change.
And change doesn’t have to mean surrender — for anyone! If we could find, in the space between us, just enough room to set up a table, if we could invite one another to sit down, we just might have a beginning.
Of course, we’d have to shift our approach. Instead of trying to cram our own beliefs and opinions down the throats of the others, we’d have to agree to ask one another questions and listen to the responses.
For example, when one side says, “We need to do more to fight climate change,” we could respond by saying, “Oh? Tell me more about that. What kinds of ideas do you have?”
When someone says, “I don’t want anyone to take away my right to own a gun,” we could ask, “Really? Tell me why?”
If someone says, “Women have the right to do what they want with their bodies,” we can say, “I can see you are passionate about this. What’s your story?”
When another says, “We have to do what’s best for this country,” we can say, “What do you picture that looking like?”
What might happen? What kinds of conversations could we have if we just opened up some space and agreed to step inside of it, leaving our need to be right and our firmly held convictions behind?
Might we be able to see that we are indeed united on many issues — caring for our parents, providing for our children, reaching out to those in need? Could we be surprised to find that everyone on that other side doesn’t meet all our preconceived notions? Is it possible that in the space we find ourselves standing, we might see new possibilities that we’d never before imagined?
I’m just saying, it might be worth a try. Of course, we might decide that it feels safer to stay in our own yards, fists clenched, jaws set, unwilling to compromise the beliefs we hold so dear.
What were they again — those beliefs you hold so dear? What were the causes you were willing to fight with an old friend about? What issues kept you away from the Christmas gathering? What might you gain by clinging so tightly to them?
It could be a really long year if we stay in our trenches flinging grenades at one another.
Can’t we find enough common ground to stand together on? Can’t we reconcile with one another? Don’t we have enough grace for that?
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
I wrote this post in January of 2016, and since I’ve been on the topic of New Year’s resolutions, I thought I’d revisit it here.It serves as a reminder that while New Year’s resolutions are great, if we find ourselves on a wrong path, we can turn at any time.
When I was younger, I participated in the whole New Year’s resolution hoopla. Each January I would determine to exercise more, be more diligent in my Bible study, write more, save more money, etc. Like many, I started off strong, then missed a day, fell off the wagon, or went back to my old ways feeling defeated and guilty.
At some point over the years, my pendulum swung to the other extreme, and I determined that I was fine, thank you very much; I didn’t need to resolve to…
I wrote this on January 1, 2017…and here I sit on January 1, 2020, resolving to return once again. This year, I have a little support — our faith community has committed to reading the Bible through chronologically, following The Bible Recapreading plan and podcast. Maybe you’d like to join me.
My daughter and I spent yesterday morning together at a “Breathe out 2016, Breathe in 2017” yoga class and afterward talked briefly about resolutions — the positive thrust toward change and the set-up for unrealistic expectations and imminent failure. The yoga instructor, intentionally or not, seemed to suggest that we could will good things to come to us by just opening our arms and our spirits to them.
Oh, that it were so.
Last night, at a New Year’s Eve worship service where my husband was filling in for local pastors awayfor the holidays, we sang the words, “Christ has…
This post, written right after Christmas 2015,seems relevant today. As you gather all the pieces of your holiday celebration and ponder them in your heart, may God grant you the wisdom to see the big picture.
This morning, I opened my morning devotion from Beth Moore’s Whispers of Hope: 10 Weeks of Devotional Prayer and found this verse from Luke 2 — the Christmas story:
But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
When I’ve read this verse in the past, I’ve pictured Mary holding baby Jesus in her arms kind of shaking her head in disbelief; I’ve imagined her saying, “Well, you weren’t kidding, were you? You said I would conceive and bear and son, and here he is!” I’ve imagined pondered to mean “wondered in astonishment.” However, Beth Moore, a biblical scholar, corrects my image a bit; she says pondered
Back in December 2014 when I first wrote this post, I was just starting to recognize how hard the holidays can be — how isolating, how anxiety-producing, how uncomfortable. I’ve always loved Christmas, but I’ve had a taste of how celebration can feel during a season of grief. I’ve begun to understand how difficult it can be to be with family and friends — even when you love them. And I’ve been learning a new way.
We spend a lot of time and money getting ready for the holidays. Over the last month many of us have attended parties, dinners, and gift exchanges with family, friends, and coworkers. We have cooked special foods, decorated our homes, and dressed in finery in order to celebrate.
We celebrate the love of family. We celebrate that we get time off from work. We celebrate our friendships. We celebrate the birth of a Savior.
In Monday’s post, Honor One Another, I mentioned the effect of social media on the psyche of our culture — how comparing our own lives to curated perfection can leaving us feeling less-than. While that post was a challenge for us to recognize the inherent value in one another despite accomplishment or status, this post is a friendly reminder that social media does not reflect a complete picture of anyone’s lived reality but a collection of snapshots from our highlight reels.
’tis the season of social media celebration, is it not?
If you’ve scrolled through Facebook or Instagram in the last few weeks you’ve seen photos of families posed in their Easter best, grads celebrating in caps and gowns, and smiling moms lauded as nothing short of perfection.
How you doin’?
I’m feeling kind of shitty, if I’m going to be honest.
Our congregation published an Advent Devotion Book that you can find here. In it, you’ll find a short excerpt from this post. I wasn’t thinking Advent when I wrote this in September, but it makes sense to reshape our worry into longing for Christ’s return when we will see the end of the story play out.
Walking through the grocery store, I heard a ping, then another. I looked toward the sound and saw a woman grabbing her phone, looking at the screen, then smiling. She put the phone down and continued pushing her cart down the aisle. I saw her several more times as I made my way through the store. Each time, it was because I heard the ping first. Her phone was calling her attention; it caught mine, too.
As I pulled into campus the other day, I drove past a half a dozen teenagers who…
I’m re-visiting this post from November 2015 because ’tis the season of nostalgia. I have such fond memories of my childhoodChristmases and many of the center around music. This Christmas hymn sank deep into my fibers way, way back, and its truth is an anchor for me today.
I can still hear us sing-shouting the words:
God loves me dearly, grants me salvation
God loves me dearly, loves even me…
I was standing in the front of the church dressed in my Christmas finest — floor-length dress with plaid skirt and white ‘blouse’ top, black patent-leather shoes, white tights, and a bow in my hair. The place was packed. We had practiced and memorized each word to each song and all the words of the Christmas story…”And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field…” Our grandparents had driven an hour to see the event.