Spitting in its face

This week I’m reminded of my favorite quote from Helen Keller, which is indeed my favorite quote of all time:

“Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it. My optimism, then, does not rest on the absence of evil, but on a glad belief in the preponderance of good and a willing effort always to cooperate with the good, that it may prevail.”

This mess isn’t going away anytime soon. It won’t stop just because we vote for so-and-so. It won’t stop if we take away guns or give out guns to everyone or throw money at people who say they’ll do either. It won’t stop when we sing God Bless America or when we don’t. It won’t completely stop at all. There is simply evil in this world. If there’s any doubt of that in your mind at this point, then I certainly am at a loss to try to convince you. As long as we live in this world there will be evil. There will be wrong. There will be suffering. There will be things for which we have no explanation or framework to understand them, other than just calling it out for what it is: pure evil.

Our job, then, is not to explain it or make excuses for how it could have happened in the first place. Our only job is to stare it in the face, call it what it is, and do whatever small part we can to offer some hope.

Evil is a person who take lives for no apparent reason. Offer to mourn with the grieving families. Evil is a person who preys on innocent children to do them harm. Offer a safe haven for children you know so this doesn’t have to happen to them. Evil is a lifetime of horrific abuse visited on a person from which they had no escape. Offer them the truth that they need not be ashamed, and that they are special and loved no matter what.

Evil is all around us, my friends. But so is hope. As long as any of us are standing, so is hope. Let’s not just sit In our cozy homes wrapped up in cozy blankets on our cozy couches, shaking our heads at what the TV tells us. Offer up some hope… Look evil square in the face and tell it that you’re launching an assault and there’s nothing it can do about it.

Then GO. Do some good. ANY good. Good just done for the sake of doing it offers a glimmer of hope and spits in the face of evil. And I think that spitting in the face of evil sounds like the most lovely thing I’ve heard all week.

Cold Turkey Detox Day

I’ve been dying to get to this keyboard and write for the past week, but I’ve been working about 6 million hours a day so that hasn’t left much room for me to actually have a life. As usual. But that’s about to change.

Today marks an important day for me. One that my husband and I have planned and discussed for quite some time. Earlier this year, we had [yet another] conversation about my severe workaholism that turns on with each new school year. Ever since I’ve been a teacher, I’ve had this problem of working way many hours, to the point of excluding and neglecting  much of everything else in my life including my husband, my health, my home, my family, my friends, my hobbies, and worst of all, my relationship with God. I worked so hard to become a teacher because I wanted a career that I loved as much as the rest of my life. I thought I’d attained that. But in truth, what I’ve actually done is become nothing but a teacher. My whole personality (and even maybe my identity–I’m still figuring that one out) has become wrapped up in my career.

I’ve tried many different ways of making this more bearable over the years, but nothing worked because I never just decided I wasn’t going to be this way and did something serious about it. Until now. My husband is 100% hard-core about something when he makes a decision. JUST DO IT is definitely a motto he rolls with. So, I’m taking his guidance and I’m quitting cold-turkey. ( Not teaching, you goofs!) I’m quitting my workaholism. Cold. Turkey. TODAY.

We set the date of October 1st to start my detox from working like crazy…after which I will no longer allow myself to voluntarily stay at school past 5pm (with the exception of one “late night” each week which will be the same night Todd has another committment until 8pm) and I won’t be bringing home any work in the evening or on weekends.

GULP…

So, even though I’m excited about it, because I will actually have a life (!) I am also very very nervous. I have lived so out of balance in this way for so long, I’m not sure what to do to make it go well. I’ve thought about it, talked about it, prayed about it, and I still just seriously cannot see how I’ll physically be able to be the teacher I want to be without at the same time working at least as much as I already do right now. Which is probably why I just need to stop allowing myself to be out of balance, and just figure out how to cope with the fallout later. I know that there is a way to make it happen, I just can’t see it yet. Lord, help me!

So would you please pray for me? Even though I am having a mini freak-out realizing what a big deal this will be for me, I know in reality that my priorities really are out of whack, and that speaks more about me than just saying I’m a little bit of a workaholic. My life is made up of so much more than just my career–even as important as it is–and I need to remember what those so much more parts actually are. I’m praying for wisdom, for God to show me what’s on my plate that needs to be moved, changed, reduced, or kicked off completely. Interestingly enough, I’ve already had 2 different but very obvious attacks on this new goal that have come up in the past 2 days… I was giddy when I realized it, because that means I’m right on track with making this change. 🙂

I’ll be writing about how things are going along the way (duh) whether it’s good, bad, or ugly. Thank you in advance for your prayers and for kicking me in the boo-tay whenever I need it. Keep reminding me of what’s most important.

I’m looking forward to getting my eyes back on the One who matters.

Abolition U

A few weeks ago I wrote this post about human trafficking. It’s hard to believe it is even real, but it is. And it’s closer than any of us want to think. What can any of us do to fight such a huge, ugly monster?

One of the ways is to become informed. There are many great organizations and people who are already devoting their entire lives or even just a few hours a month to fighting this sick modern-day slavery. Sign up for this class, Abolition U, with me. It’s offered by a locally-founded organization called Doma International, and these good people are kicking some serious butt against the enemy of human trafficking. They are life-changers. 

 I’m just getting my feet wet with all this, I’m certainly no expert. But every time I see or hear anything about people who’ve been forced into working for no pay, or selling their body for the gain of another, I get angry. No, I get furious. I get furious on their behalf and I want to do something to make it stop. But I don’t know how. But I do know that there is hope for them, and there’s a good chance that God’s people are part of that hope. So I plan to pray about how I might be involved, and I plan to learn whatever I can about it. 

Check it out. Pray about it. Sign up if you’d like to be involved. Below is the email about the class that was sent to me by one of the hard-working folks at Doma. It includes an overview of the course. Hope to see you there!

Hello, Wonderful Potential Abolitionists!

Get ready to change your life–Abolition U will teach you exactly what’s going on with human trafficking around the world and here in Columbus, but even more importantly, it will help you to learn how you can fight slavery with your own resources and talents. For many people who fight slavery, it takes a long time to figure out exactly who’s missions we believe in and how we can help–Abolition U can slim that down to a powerful three day journey.

Here’s a mini-syllabus. All classes will meet at the Vineyard Church, 6000 Cooper Rd. in Westerville, Saturdays, 9-6. People of any and all beliefs, backgrounds and ages are welcome.

October 8
Field trip! We start with a trek to the Underground Railroad Freedom Center. On the bus we will introduce ourselves, pass out the real syllabi, and learn how we all would like to fight human trafficking and have fought it so far. At the Freedom Center, we will eat a great lunch (bring a little cash), and tour the facility, really understanding the role slavery has played in history and how its evil head has reared back up. It’s a truly enlightening experience.

On the way back, we’ll discuss the trip and hand out books to be read for discussion at the November 5 class.

October 29 and November 5
We will meet with representatives from the strongest arms of abolition in central Ohio–top folk from Gracehaven House, CATCH Court, the FBI/CPD, doma and CORRC, who unites us all. We will learn about HT from every angle possible, and how we can best fight it.

Money
It costs $15 to register, please do so by pasting this into an address line:

https://app.etapestry.com/cart/domainternational/default/item.php?ref=1569.0.48486423

Your entrance fee to the Freedom Center and books are paid for.

Teachers
Julie Clark, founder of doma International, and I, an abolitionist for the past three years, teach this class. Please contact me at this email or via phone, 614.684.8060, with any questions at all.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your interest in this issue. Slavery has been knocked out before, and we all need to work together to do it again.

A Week’s Worth of Accusation

How about we have a little share time, shall we?

Here’s a list of some of the things I’ve heard being said to me this week:

  • You’re too much to deal with.
  • No one takes you seriously.
  • Why bother? You’re just going to go back to the same old crap.
  • No one really even knows you
  • Why would anyone care what you have to say?
  • Wait until they all find out you don’t really know what the hell you’re talking about.
  • You’re never going to be anything other than some fat chick.
  • You can’t do anything right.
  • Apparently the only thing you know how to do right is to eat.
  • You talk too much.
  • No one cares about your issues.
  • You’re not even a good friend.
  • You always expect too much.
  • You will always be let down.
  • Why are you such a fake?
  • You’re so embarrassing.
  • If you were more [fill in the blank with 100 different things] that wouldn’t be a problem.
  • You bring this all on yourself
  • You should feel sorry for yourself
  • Your husband isn’t interested in what you have to say. No one is, remember?
  • No one really notices you or cares to.
  • Failure is all you have going on.
  • Why do you have to be so needy all the time?
  • You are such a freakin’ loser.
  • You’re ridiculous, thinking some God cares about your issues.
  • If you really believed in that anyway, wouldn’t you be a little better by now?
  • You’ve always screw everything up.
  • Can’t you do just one thing right?
  • Get yourself together.
  • What is wrong with you?
  • Why do you always have to say something?
  • Just keep your mouth shut, no one wants to hear it
  • You’re a joke
  • You’re never going to be good enough
  • You haven’t changed a bit.

Here are some other (more pleasant!) things that were also said to me this week:

  • I love you
  • You’re the bomb
  • You’re an awesome teacher
  • You’re beautiful

Now these two lists are actual things that went through my mind this week. Some were literally said to me out loud. Most were things that I heard in my own mind. I don’t share these thoughts so everyone can be like “oh, don’t worry, none of that is true” or anything like that. In fact, I’m not trying to have a pity party at all. I had been trying to earlier this week, but quite frankly right now I am just pissed off.

You see, it dawned on me yesterday that these things have been rolling around in my mind all week. I mean, everyone thinks a negative thought about themselves every now and then, but I have literally been bombarded with negative, self-loathing whispers in my ears all day and night since I woke up Monday morning. I began just thinking I was “in a funk” like I occasionally get in to. Just one of those “off”  kind of days. But then the next day and the next day were the same and it just seems to be getting worse.

What is the deal!?

Today it clicked. When I was again hearing the 556,345,234,0293  things about myself that were hideous and awful, I reminded myself to stop and just try to think of all the positive things that had been said to me this week. The 4 listed above were truly all I could recall.

I am not a miserable, unhappy person. In fact, I am one of the happiest, upbeat folks I know. My life is pretty great, actually. I have a wonderful husband, a job that I love and I’m excited to start up again soon, we don’t want for anything, I have wonderful friends who I love spending time with, a church I am proud to be a part of and I get to live the rest of my life as a new creation because of my relationship with God. So..seriously, why would I be hearing all of these loathesome things about myself?? I don’t worry much but I was starting to…Why am I hearing/thinking all these things about myself? Are they true?  Do I just think I am happy? Am I really unhappy deep down and these things are starting to come to the surface? I had a momentary thought to that effect, but then quickly shook that off started to get mad because I saw it. I saw that ugliness for what it really was.

Accusation.

I already know that the enemy of God –my enemy– is like a lion prowling around, seeking whom he may devour. How does he try to devour me? With accusation. With lies. He is the father of all lies and just as God can only speak truth because He is Truth, our enemy can only speak lies because he in himself is nothing but deceit. That’s a sad existence. No wonder he wants to beat us down with lies…to make us just as miserable as He is.

So, I began to do what I know we need to do to overcome our accuser:

 For the accuser of our brothers and sisters
      has been thrown down to earth—
   the one who accuses them
      before our God day and night.
  And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb
      and by their testimony. -Revelation 12:10-11

I started to say out loud all the facts that I know about myself…that I am a new creation in Christ Jesus, that the old things have passed away, and the new has come about….that I am now called a child of God and I’ve been adopted into His family and He gives me my identity. I started to combat those nasty lies with the truth… spoken out loud, and in-his-face with an attitude that I know I can afford to have because the God of all creation literally has my back.

But as soon as that flood of words began, I realized that they were being used more for my own self-comfort than they were for weaponry this time. There is something to speaking truth aloud, don’t get me wrong…it is powerful. Many things have been conquered by the Word. But when scripture says to us that “they [all of my brothers and sisters] have defeated him [the accuser] by the blood of the Lamb  and by their testimony,” That means it has already been done. That means that they have defeated the accuser simply by having the blood of the lamb (their covering in Jesus) upon them. They have defeated the accuser simply by their testimony…by the life they now life in Christ, imperfect but new, and being made more like Him every day.

Just by us being one of the brothers or sisters of Jesus, we can be sure our accuser is already defeated. So even though I felt like a big fat failure this week…even though last night I went to bed feeling sure that somehow I had let a friend down… even though I see myself not being the best version of me I could be… the fact is that I have already defeated the accuser who keeps coming at me with false accusations, or by taking the true not-so-great moments in my life and twisting them to sound like they are actually who I am rather than just some dumb stuff I’ve momentarily done. I just need to remember that I have already defeated the accuser, even if he does stand day and night ready to continue accusing me.

“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”  -1 John 4:4

I know who I am. And I know Who is in me.