There is so much happening in our country lately, that I find myself not being able to focus when I need to because quite frankly, I don’t know how to process it all. The recent ban on transgender in the military and the actions of the alternative right in Charlottesville, seem like the climax from a toddler’s tantrum in the on-going hatred that has been churning just beneath the surface of complacency and in the under bellies of fear. Too many people are losing their lives out of what I like to call weakness. Whenever people resort to violence or disengaging completely from learning about difference I consider them weak. I feel that way because those who show strength, recognize their own vulnerabilities, know when they need to grow, can engage in their emotional distress, rely on words or some other creative outlet to express those emotions, and have the imagination to come up with a solution where they put their emotional wellbeing and the other’s onto equal footing.
As a parent, watching the news I find myself feeling like I need to curl up into a ball of shame. I want to hold my children and apologize to them for the lack of empathy, value, and care that so many are not showing for the other, which I spend endless hours trying to teach as a stay-at-home mom. When my kids are angry with each other they yell, “I hate you!” I chime back, “You don’t hate them, you’re angry. You are mad because they are taking your time away from being with me. You feel like you are not being seen. You feel like they get all the attention. You are feeling anger, but more so sadness. That is not hate.” How often has this message not been told to others? Have we not been able to decipher true emotion on how we feel? Is all this hatred that is being expressed actually built up sadness in relation to something else that has now manifested itself into rage? Will we see more of this because the busyness of life is not allowing us to slow down and engage without interruption from our cellular devices, the demands of work, and the battle with the economy from the increase in the housing market and basic needs? In all of these things, are we forgetting about wonder?
I took a small vacation for myself this summer because I needed some self-care to be a better mom and wife. Part of that self-care was going for a hike. As I was hiking I often would stop and pause and just look around me. I am always quite amazed when I take the time to really notice. I love being wrapped up in wonder at all the different kinds of plants and flowers I see or to realize that there must be hundreds of different species in that one forest. Please take this moment to come with me on this mental journey I had. I mean really, have you ever stopped like me to think about how many different species there are on this planet? Think about insects and how many different kinds there are. Then head to the ocean and all the different sea creatures. Some have not yet been discovered. Imagine all the animals, birds, plants, trees, and food; it’s endless. Think about how even air can be different, how clouds take on different formations and sometimes release water or snow. Or think how water can be still and serene or loud and treacherous. Consider all the different continents and how land structures vary. There are desert climates, rain forests, glaciers, prairies, mountains, and more. Whenever my husband and I watched National Geographic or Planet Earth, we naturally sat and watched in amazement. Why? Because the difference among these species and land forms are fascinating. Knowing that there is so much that I don’t know or have experienced in my life is intriguing and makes me want to learn. As a Christian I marvel at the fact that all of this stemmed from a creator with an imagination and vision that I will never come to fully understand, but am happy and willing to fully engage in.
This vast array of amazing, different, beautiful, confusing creations made me think. “If we can appreciate and marvel at the many elements and species in this world, then why do we limit humanity?” If all around us is difference, imagination, and awe, then why do we expect what many see as the greatest creation—humans—to not share those same qualities? This is why my heart is broken when there is so much hatred towards the LGBTQ community or those who don’t have white skin, or (dare I say it) anything non-male oriented! With all of these categories, some Christians tend to use the Bible as a way of spewing forth hatred, which I can theologize till my face turns blue on all of these, and will be happy too, just not in this blog. But please, understand this. When I went to seminary I learned that God is very big. For many that realization rocked people’s faith. For me it made it stronger. When I went to school to study sex I learned it was also very big. Each—religion and sexuality—have layers we won’t understand until maybe our death. But what I want to say is that the God I have come to know is intimate and purposeful with who and what God creates. When it is said, “God saw all that God had made and it was very good,” in Genesis 1:31, I am going to believe that. When we think that humans are supposed to be only one way, are we not limiting God’s abilities and imagination? When we think that humans can’t have different stories, cultures, genders, skin color, or orientations, then this shows how small we think.
In this day and age it shows weakness for us to not fully engage in awe and wonder around difference. For us to look at difference still with fear and hatred shows a lack of imagination, intellect, and grace. Difference among humanity can be amazingly fascinating and induce learning. What we need to focus on is how we are each a creation of God and should be shown love and care from the moment we are born. We all started out the same, a cluster of cells being nurtured in a woman’s womb. We have hearts that need love, bodies that need nourishment, minds that need exploration, and souls that need connection. Let’s focus there and live with tender hearts and open minds to the many marvelous and albeit different things God has up God’s sleeves!