In His Image

So God created mankind in his own image; in the image of God he created them.
Genesis 1:27

 I have been sick to my stomach every time I turn on the news or open social media. I see article after article and post after post and video clip after video clip discussing and showing how racism is so institutionalized, it’s rooted in our every day lives.  So much so, that people are still still arguing in the comment sections about whether or not the Charleston murders were motivated by race.

HOW IS THIS EVEN DEBATABLE??? HOW CAN PEOPLE STILL NOT SEE THE PROBLEM?

I have not used my words.

I have shared the words of others over and over. I “like” stuff to show my support. But I have not used my words.

I have been reading comments and posts that make me so angry I can’t even see straight. I want to quit. I want to turn it all off. I want to plug my ears and sing LA LA LA to it all. I don’t want to let it affect me.

And you know what? I could do that. I could.

It would be easy to “block” anything with Charleston or racism in it on Facebook so it doesn’t show up in my feed. And then I wouldn’t have to think about it because it doesn’t directly affect my every day life.

Because I am white.

Because I am white, I could easily shut it off.

But I don’t. I make myself read it and hate it and cry over it.

And it’s not enough. All that pain I feel? It’s not even close to that being my life.

Being hated, suspected, judged…it is woven into the fabric of Black America. Of any color America other than white.

We say, “No. Not me.” But that is how institutionalized racism works. You may not consciously think, “man, I hate black people. They are all lesser humans.”  You may even BELIEVE you are not racist at all. But it’s in your brain. Our country has planted that seed down deep.

It’s everywhere. It’s in all of our cultural images. It’s in our socioeconomic system. It’s in business.

Why is the largest group of people in poverty people of color? It’s because since the day the slaves were freed, there has been no easy way to climb out of nothing. The white people were at the top and they stayed there.

“Oh, Katie,” you might say, “but we have a Black president and my neighbor is Black and he is a CEO.” Yes. Of course. But what about the cycle of poverty swirling at the bottom of America?

I’m not here to talk economics or politics. In fact, there will be those who only focus on my lack of knowing statics and miss my point here entirely.

And my point is: RACISM IS STILL A THING.

I simply cannot understand how people can hear a bowl-cutted runt of a white supremacist say…SAY…he hates black people and felt it was his “mission” to gun them down after praying with them for an HOUR and STILL say, “well, let’s not jump to the conclusion that this was race-related. This country doesn’t have racism like they used to.”

WHAT THE HELL?

Last night I stayed up too late feeling hopeless.

So white and so hopeless to help or be able to do anything ever to help.

Hopelessly helpless.

This morning, I got up, went to church and sat through a powerful sermon about racism. About getting out of our comfort zones–a small, affluent, mostly white mid-western town–and use our voice and words and anything else to break down the racism.

To be uncomfortable and examine our own prejudices which certainly are there because we are a part of the machine that is a broken world, a broken country.

I don’t know what God looks like, but, as it was pointed out this morning, we are all created in his image. Not his white image. Just “his image”.

That means Asian, Native American, White, Black, Muslim, and on and on…ALL…ALL OF US…in his image.

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Galatians 3:28

In Jesus we are all exactly the same. All of us. He created all of us. Not just white people. Not just Christians. ALL OF US.

Stop acting like the racism isn’t there. Stop being comfortable that it’s someone else’s problem and that is just “too bad” for them.

Stop it.

As a member of the Reformed Church of America, I adhere to the beliefs confessed in the Belhar Confession, but the one that I believe applies here is the one brought up this morning:

We believe…that this unity must become visible so that the world may believe that separation, enmity and hatred between people and groups is sin which Christ has already conquered, and accordingly that anything which threatens this unity may have no place in the church and must be resisted (John 17:20-23)

The Belhar Confession stresses unity and was originally drafted in South Africa during Apartheid. The church carefully and prayerfully considered its role in race issues, and the Belhar was born. The Dutch Reformed Mission Church adopted it in 1986.

We must break down the walls of hate. I believe as a Christian I am actually called to break down this hate. It is my job.

Even if it makes me uncomfortable to raise my voice and say so. ESPECIALLY if it makes me uncomfortable. Because if I am uncomfortable saying it, that means it’s there and it scares me.

And it should scare you too.

God Created mankind in His Image; in His image He created them."

complex simplicity

We are always living through something historic, aren’t we?  Every decade, every generation is marked by something that will make the history books be it economical, political, cultural, technological, whatever.

I wish I had first-hand accounts of what my grandparents were thinking as the Civil Rights movement blasted through the nation.  Or my what my parents were thinking during the race riots of the 90’s sparked by the Rodney King verdict.

What went through my grandmothers’ thoughts as my grandfathers were off in other countries fight wars.  What did they think of those wars? What did my parents think of the Vietnam conflict and how my dad ended up not getting drafted?

What about the Regan administration and the War on Drugs and Women’s Suffrage movement and…and…and…

What if my family, my ancestors were story-tellers?

They weren’t.  But I am.  And I am constantly living through history too, and while I have no way of knowing what my boys will wish they knew, I can do my best to give my thoughts and feelings about certain things that are important to me.

I’ve got thoughts on loads of things, which is why I write over at Borderless News and Views. But there are some things that feel personal.  And this is my personal space for personal things.

**************

So…gay marriage.  That’s a thing right now.  (I suck at transitions sometimes, #SorryNotSorry.)

I’ve been turning it over quite a bit in my head and read some really eloquent posts and wondered if I should even bother with the topic because others have said it so much better.  Some had statistics and a political feel, some had a beautiful, human feel.  Why should I even try?

Because it’s important.

I feel in my heart it’s not “if” but “when”.  I just know that when my boys are teenagers they will hear about this time and ask, “what was the big deal?  How is it not obvious?”

And to that I can only say I don’t know either.

To me, it’s not a question.  We are talking about human beings and giving them civil rights.

We aren’t talking about taking rights from straight people or “traditionally” married people.  We aren’t talking about what is a sin and what isn’t.  We aren’t telling anyone how to live their life.

It’s a simple matter of letting people who have been discriminated against NOT be discriminated against.

Or at least it should be that simple.

But it is not that simple, is it?  People muck it up with complications.  Complications that are, in their hearts, legitimate.  Complications that come from fear.

This entire thing is about fear.

Some people say it will threaten “traditional marriage”.  If “traditional marriage” is the marriage between one man and one woman, I think “traditional marriage” is threatening itself enough, Gay marriage doesn’t need to help with that.  “The Gays” are not making straight people cheat on each other or get divorced after less than 48 hours of marriage or put their kids through crap while they bad-mouth each other in the process of shitty divorces or…well..yeah.  You get it. “Traditional Marriage” and “Gay Marriage” really have nothing to do with each other.

Some people say being gay is a “sin”.  I really don’t know about this.  I don’t believe God originally intended for their to be “homosexual,” but maybe he did.  I mean, I do believe people are born how they are and that we are all born without sin.  So there you go.  But that is just my belief.  It doesn’t matter what my belief is. I could think being gay was a worse sin than murdering all the puppies in Idaho and I would still think they should be allowed to get married.  I mean, I believe jealousy and lying are sins and I fall under both of those categories, yet I was allowed to marry another jealous liar.  So this point seems to be moot to me.

(and don’t get me started on how The Gays shouldn’t be allowed to be parents.  That is both of the above arguments folded into each other with a side of this look: O_o )

Some people are afraid that letting The Gays marry will mean people will want to marry a horse next.  I don’t even know where to go with that.  How do you take two consenting adult males pledging to spend the rest of their lives together and turn it into the lady next door marrying her cat?  I mean really.

Some people are afraid this means we are making churches be Okay with The Gay.  But churches don’t have to perform these marriages.  There is nothing that says, for instance, that the Reformed Church of America has to suddenly make all their ministers perform gay marriages.  Nope.  It means if churches want to do them, they can, but that my friends Mark and Fred can go to the courthouse and get a legit marriage.  No church necessary.

Really I just needed to stop at”some people are afraid.”

That is really what this is about.

I have both gay and lesbian friends.  Spending time with them did not rub “gay” onto me.  I’m still as hetero as they come (which Cort is thankful for, I am sure).

I feel like this is leading to a very cheesy “They’re Just Like You and Me” type message.  Sorry.

My point is I have gay friends. I have gay family.  I have gay students.  I have kids who might be gay (or not) or have gay friends or  inherit more gay family or…or…the point is: gay is here to stay.

Treating them like they are somehow not the same as us is, well, it’s ridiculous. It’s out of style. Seriously.  It went out decades ago when the United States had to tell people that black people (or other races) were not less than anyone else.

These should not even be laws we need to pass (like “allowing” interracial marriage. I mean really? That had to be “allowed”?)   These are not things we should have to say.

People are people.

If you give civil human rights to some, you have to give those same civil human rights to all.

It’s really quite simple.

Wearing read for #MarriageEquality.

Wearing read for #MarriageEquality.

“no” is an answer

Oh I believe in miracles…

I believe in a better world…for me and you.

Oh..Oh I believe in miracles…

I believe in a better world…for me and you.*

Dear Lord, please heal Cort’s dad.  Take the cancer away and make him whole.

No.

Dear Lord, please let this bleeding be normal and NOT a miscarriage.

No.

Dear Lord, I want to be a mom so badly.  Please help my body know what to do.

Not yet.

Dear Lord, please don’t make me go through another miscarriage.  I am too weak.  I can’t do it.

Yes, you can.  And you will.

Dear Lord, please save me from being on the “cut” list for work.

No.

Dear Lord, please help Cort keep his job in these hard times.

No.

Dear Lord, please make these demons leave my head.  Please make me the mom others think I am.  Please help me fix this crazy.

No.  You can’t fix yourself alone.

Why, Lord?  Why us?  We are good people and hard workers.  We try to be like Jesus and love people and give of ourselves.  WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO US?

—silence—

Lord, I want to turn my back!  I want to do this alone.  I think you must have lost your “plan” for us somewhere.  You have left us!

Go ahead and try.

Lord, this is our plan…please oh PLEASE let it work.

No.

Lord, I can’t be in charge.  I can’t make anything work right.  Just please handle it for me.  Please let me find someone who will love me for everything I am RIGHT NOW.

Here is Cortney.

Lord, I can’t make things better with Cort’s dad.  He is going to die.  Please let me know what to do to help Cort.

I will strengthen your shoulders and pad your hugs.

Lord, he lost his dad and his appendix and now he is alone in the hospital.  What do I do?

Stay with him.  I’ll be there too.

Lord, I only have one try left.  I can only try once more.  Please bless us with a child this time.

Here is Edward Steven.

Lord, please help me keep my job.  My family needs me to provide.

You will teach Spanish.  You can also teach at the college.

Lord, I can’t change myself.  I need help.

Here is Cortney.  Here is your family.  Here is an internet full of support.  Here are your friends.  Here is your doctor.  Here is Celexa.  Here is a therapist.

Lord, what will we do?  Unemployment runs out in August.

Here is a job for Cortney.

Sometimes the answer is no.

But sometimes?  The answer is yes.

No matter how many times you falter.  He will save some “yes’s” for you.

This week?  He finally said YES to Cort’s job prayers after many, MANY no’s.

We are blessed.

*lyrics from “I believe in miracles” by Pearl Jam

If you also believe in miracles, please pray for our nephew(s)/niece(s) in Ethiopia.  Our siblings were dealt a GIANT “no” this week in their adoption process.  Please read about it here.

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