Frustrations About Race Talks…

I have a love hate relationship with the current dialogues about race, discrimination, and racism going on right now in the media and among friends.

What you read below is a random splattering of thoughts on the issue. They are not all connected to each other, and are thoughts based off of discussions I have been a part of, heard, read, watched, and my thoughts in response to them. These thoughts below are in response to every side of the discussion because I have friends from every perspective.

To give some understanding of myself first.. I am from Michigan (grew up in the Metro Flint area), I have lived in Ohio (briefly), the south, the Metro DC area, I have traveled to many areas around the country and several countries in Africa, East Asia, a couple Central American countries, and European countries.

Please note before you get into this post, I am most certainly not intending absolutes in what I say, these are my experiences and perspective alone. I have (a few or a lot of) exceptions to virtually every thought and frustration below. My thoughts are in reflection to the entire discussion as well, not to one or two things said by people.. Please read below with a thoughtful and compassionate voice, not anger or argumentative one.

Good luck reading my rambling!

I find myself so incredibly frustrated at every side of the “discussion” on race, discrimination, and racism.

I am frustrated because (all) people do and say terrible things for a slew of stupid reasons.

Maybe I’m frustrated me because I am a white woman from the north.

Maybe I am frustrated because I have traveled around the world and have seen and experienced what this topic looks like through the eyes of so many people from all walks of life that I find the discussion often frustrating, ignorant, and shallow.

Maybe it frustrates me because I (personally) have seen and experienced more women (of any color) discriminated against than blacks in America. (I am not saying it does not happen, just that this is my personal experience)

Maybe it frustrates me because I have seen Africans (in various countries in Africa) hated and treated horribly, and it’s awful.

Maybe I’m frustrated because people are people, no matter how they look. Individuals all have good and bad and beauty and personality and preferences and understanding and experiences and many times that is all boiled down to what “group” you are supposed to fit with.

Maybe it frustrates me because when I try to engage in a conversation to gain perspective, my thoughts on race are dismissed because I’m on the “white side” of “privilege” and therefore my understanding boils down to my skin color too instead of my experience and knowledge.

Maybe it frustrates me because my parents are in an interracial marriage, but because both their skins are white everyone dismisses it.

Maybe I am frustrated ’cause I find darker skin tones more attractive and that instantly puts me in a group to be hated upon.

Maybe I am frustrated because American culture tries so hard to make mixed people choose sides… (ps. They are the prettiest people!)

Maybe it frustrates me because I see so much hate and absurd things said on every side of this issue and I just want to facepalm people who refuse to listen and gain perspective.

Maybe it frustrates me because I have watched more of my “white” friends try to seek out diversity and understanding while some of my “black” friends say “that’s right, you should” instead of also seeking out diversity and understanding.

Maybe I am frustrated because some of my white friends are clueless.

Maybe I am frustrated because I don’t understand the issue at all because some of the people I look up to the most and have learned the most from are not white Americans. They are some of the most well-rounded people I have ever met and I want to be like them.

Maybe it frustrates me because I want true authentic dialogue, not just to be accused of having privilege or being racist or ignorant or for having been born white… I can’t do anything with those accusations, but I can change what I am educated with and so can you.

Maybe I am frustrated because personal experience is belittled and trustworthy news sources are held up as the reliable sources when it comes to the topic of race, discrimination, and racism.

Maybe I am frustrated because in America, the vast majority of people (everyone) are melting pots… even the African-American community is a melting pot… Don’t believe me? Go to any country in Africa or the Islands, they look entirely different, and in some places even kill each other for being from a different tribe.

Maybe I am frustrated because there has been a clear confusion between dislike and hate.

Maybe I am frustrated because I watch “race” being pulled in as a factor more often than it should (from all sides), instead of identifying the hate or actions of people as being just that: Hateful.

Maybe I am frustrated because I get judged for my opinion on race simply due to my skin color too.

Maybe I am frustrated because people on every side love to claim discrimination or a lack there of while they take the media to be accurate and reporting the whole story.

Maybe I am frustrated because racism still exists, but now it is tricky because every side expresses racism.

Maybe I am frustrated because avoidance, dislike, or ignorance is not actually racism at all… doesn’t make those things right or wrong, good or bad (depending on context), but it does not make them racism either.

Maybe I am frustrated because I just don’t understand, why does this need to be an issue? People are people, God made you, beautiful and perfect, and sin ruined us… I wish we could just move on everyone.

Maybe I am frustrated because racism and discrimination won’t entirely go away ever, until after Jesus returns.

And, I’m frustrated cause I am fairly certain there will be freaking out and anger in response to this post… Although, I really hope not, I would love for this to be a time of seeking to understanding and dialogue instead.

Single v. Married…

I have been watching an interesting debate discussion lately about the benefits of being Single or being Married.. Or getting married young.. Or staying single longer.. whatever.

It has felt recently as though there are two teams and they are at odds with each other. I think it is a little odd that we seem to be “fighting” or trying to convince others that our current state is the best or correct one.

Here are a few of the articles in the discussion so you can follow along with why I am writing this post:
23 Things to Do Instead of Getting Engaged Before You’re 23
The Results of a Closed-Minded 23 Year Old
I Got Married at 23. What Are the Rest of You Waiting For?
Marriage Isn’t For You
Why I Did I Get Married so Young

(There are more, and you possibly have read different ones)

The “conversation” as a whole really just interests me quite a bit. Obviously some of the blog posts are in direct response to one another, whereas others seem to be oblivious to the conversation at large, and are merely adding their thoughts to the world.

I also think it’s interesting that 23 is the number that keeps getting brought up.

Let me start out by saying, I am not loving on or hating on one side of this conversation or the other, merely responding to the conversation as a whole. I think it would be helpful to highlight some things.

Some background on myself so you can be more aware of where I am coming from:
I am a turning 29 years old, still single, never married or engaged woman.
I am not at all against marriage, and not only did I think early on in my life that I would be married by this point in life, I still would like to get married to the right man someday… But, I am content single, actually love aspects of it, and I am willing to wait for the right man because I have seen the destruction of divorce in too many people (of all ages).
I also have done quite a bit of reading of research on Millennials (those born between 1980-2000) because I find people and culture fascinating (especially my own).

Now that my vantage point is known, here is my personal perspective and thoughts on the Single v. Married conversation:

Not everyone who is single loves it.
Not everyone who is married loves it.

Not everyone who is single thinks they have made a better choice than getting married.
Not everyone who is married thinks they have made a better choice than to stay single.

Being single has some major pros and cons.
Being married has some major pros and cons.

Singleness can be hard.
Marriage can be hard.

Selfishness is pervasive among single people.
Selfishness is pervasive among married people.

Some people “do” single better than being married.
Some people “do” married better than being single.

In some cases staying single was the wise choice.
In some cases getting married was the wise choice.

Grace, compassion, and selflessness is common among an astounding number of single people I know.
Grace, compassion, and selflessness is common among an astounding number of married people I know.

Life is an adventure when you are single.
Life is an adventure when you are married.

Staying single is better/healthier than getting divorced.
Getting married is better/healthier than sleeping with someone you’re not married to.

Remaining single “late” into your adult life does not automatically mean you are wiser than a young married couple.
Getting married young does not automatically mean you are unwise or pathetic.

Being single “late” into your adult life does not mean you are against those married young (or older).
Being married young (or older) does not mean you are against those still single “late” into adult life.

Being single does not mean you have purposefully chosen to be so to “get your life together”.
Being married does not mean you have purposefully chosen to be so because you’ve “gotten you life together”.

Etc..etc.. See?

For me, there are days that singleness is just straight up hard, and other times I love the advantages of flying solo. But, from my plethora of friends (married at all ages), there are days that they remind me that being married is just hard too or they love every little bit of the married life…

From where I sit, both have the same qualities, it just depends on the person or couple.

My perspective is that regardless of if you are married or single, you should have goals.. Good goals ones, fun ones, hard ones, solid ones, frivolous ones, and seemingly impossible ones, I think that is how you help yourself grow, and a way to help measure success as a single or married person/couple.

So, please, let’s stop justifying why one is better than the other as if our choice was the right one for everyone… or the perfect decision forever.

If you are single and loving it or wish to be married, that is awesome and good things can and will happen during this season.
If you are married and loving it or wish you had waited, good things can and will happen during this stage of life.

Offense vs. Love…

I was thinking a while ago about the idea of taking offense at something versus choosing to love anyway. Whether the offense is intentional or not, whether it is directed at me or someone I love.. I am not sure where offense is something that should be compelled out of justice, and where pride really ends up being the true root (said in my very northern accent) of the offense.

Once a long time ago one of my friends mentioned that as Christ followers we have no reason to get offended at anything (I cannot remember his exact wording, but the gist is the same). He went on to explain that Christ paid for it all, He created it all, and therefore it is our job to love, not be offended when people disagree or lob assaults our way. While on the other token, an individual that is going through life without knowing the freedom of Christ has only offense to take. They have no greater foundation, and no one who has literally created a wall of defense on our behalf. So, it makes sense for them to get offended, because really whatever is said can only be absorbed by them (again, this is a basic meaning re-telling of what my friend said).

So, I have been thinking about this idea of offense lately. Where do I stand on topics like this. For example, there are so many political moves going on right now, and really I think most everyone is in the wrong about the debt crisis, who’s to blame, who really has a plan to fix it, oh wait, do we really want THEM fixing our debt plan, I mean they are ok with or against gay marriage…. Wait what?! How are those two connected?

Seasame Street!!.. Used to enjoy that show as a kid.. now people are stating Bert and Ernie are really gay movement… Really?! Why do we have pre-determined agendas where our children just need entertainment?

What about all of the moral corruption, famine.. people are LITERALLY dying because they do not have water or food, and all some people are worried about is whether their particular agenda is getting moved forward. So, what does this do inside of me?… It breaks my heart. It shows me how totally and unequivocally we are broken and shattered forms of what we could be.

So, bringing this all back around to offense. I easily could get worked up and offended at the things said about Christians.. or BY Christians right now. There seems to be a never ending river of issues (sorta just comes with the fallen and broken territory I guess). But, while I certainly have my opinions about virtually every topic, I have not been called to be offended. I have been commanded to love. It is not my job on this earth to lobby on behalf of Christ and Christians everywhere.. If you believe that is your job or purpose, you are sadly mistaken.. And, if you are surrounded by “those” Christians, I am so sorry (it’s ok to get offended right now and say, think or feel however you want to.. but keep reading..). My job, your job, every other person on the planet’s job is to love. True, unconditional, unrelenting force of nature to be reckoned with love.

Now true, love can take many forms.. Sometimes it is in the form of a war to protect the innocent, sometimes it is in the form of not saying a word, and other times it is in the form of getting your hands messy and engaging in someones (or multiple people’s) life. I do not know why this is God’s plan, how it all works out, or why some go to hell. I do not know why some people’s names are in the lambs book of life, and why others are….. I have no concept of how that works.. None. At. All.

But, what I do know is, my job is not to take Christ’s offenses on my shoulders. He does not need me to, nor has He asked me to. However, He has commanded me to love. To reach out to every single person I ever meet and show them Him. I am really bad at this most days, but I try again always without ceasing. Yet, if I spend more time being offended at someone else’s stance or belief I have forgotten to see their heart for what it is. Broken, shattered, bleeding, and maybe dying…

How can I choose to be offended in this moment instead of put aside my own personal feelings to love them. It is never easy to love, it is not a weak choice to choose love/care/compassion.. in fact I think it is the harder, more courageous choice because it takes purposeful intent rather than a simple reaction.

My God has already taken the offense, He has already paid for the sin, and He does not need my two-cents on the matter. What He needs is for me to seek out the person He created me to be, and to rock this world with a counter-culture perspective of what type of response seems natural.

Do I have an opinion about politics, Bert and Ernie, gay marriage, the debt ceiling, the famine in Africa, etc..etc.. absolutely I do. But I am not God, it is not my place to fix these things.

Lastly, do not confuse your own emotions with the Holy Spirit’s calling in your life. That is a very crucial fine line to pay attention to.