The Hot Chick And Her Bottled Water

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The man and I just got home from a week in Florida. A week. Just the two of us. You can imagine how wonderful it was. It was also a bit awkward just being ALONE with him without our usual distractions. I mean in order for me to get some play around here I have to set up a few episodes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, hand out snacks, lock doors, etc. Parents you know what I am talking about…good grief..and I actually have no idea where I was going with that but nonetheless the trip was awesome.

The last day, well, we slept through our flight. Just snoozed right through it. So our final day was spent trying to remember that we still loved each other because nothing triggers moody people quite like missing a flight. We found a flight out, at a different airport, on a different airline, ate the cost of two new tickets, and settled in at our gate four hours early. We weren’t missing that second one.

Those next several hours I sat and did one of my favorite things to do. I people watched. Creeper style. Full-staring engaged. I did keep my face gentle and smiled often as to not scare the ones I was silently dissecting and judging. I watched families casually settling in at gates, and families running to catch planes. I watched kids drive their parents crazy and people argue at airline counters. I watched business professionals and snow-birds. Young hands and aged-hands holding each other. Tan-skin leaving and pale-skin arriving. People hugging, people hustling, people laughing, people sleeping, people stressing.

I watched about 20 people decide to eat a piece of delicious, greasy, Sbarro pizza-which made me join them in that horrible decision making. There really is no attractive way to eat pizza. I kept looking for it and we all just look like animals eating it. And while standing in line to buy the pizza I envied over everything the girl in front of me was wearing, her luggage, her beautiful care-free hair; she was buying a water. Of course, just a water. At a pizza joint. But then I remembered she probably looked like an animal eating pizza, so that made me feel better and worse all at the same time. JUST GET A PIECE OF PIZZA! I KNOW YOU ARE HUNGRY! But she probably didn’t want to get that perfect shoulder shawl saucy. I get it.

And so it carried on. Me watching people. (The man was intensely engaged in his work-cause he was supposed to be at work. Missed flight and all.) At one point I remember closing my eyes and putting my head in my hands and thought “God, there are SO MANY PEOPLE IN THIS WORLD, and I am supposed to believe that you know, and love them all. All of them. And this is just one corner gate, in one airport, in one spot on the planet. There are so many people HERE. So many people.”

I think-and stay-in my head so long I wonder some days if I will ever get out of the maze. But I thought a lot that morning. And I noticed that people are starkly different. Just different. Our outward differences are obvious-the color of our skin, the shapes of our bodies, the way we sit and walk and carry ourselves. The way we engage our neighbor, and the way we move towards the people we love. Even the way we wash our hands in the bathroom. We just are and do things differently.

I also noticed that we are starkly alike. That all the things we do differently are just details. That the blueprint from the beginning of time hasn’t changed. Our skin is different, but we are covered with skin. Our faces have the same functioning parts, just the details vary. We all (mostly) walk, sit, talk, stand the same way. There are variations to this of course, but the majority are a carbon copy of motor movement. We all also universally feel things. We feel sadness, we feel happiness, we know belonging and we know isolation. We know failure and we know victory. We know when love is real and when it is fake. We know what physical pain feels like and we know what emotional pain feels like. This may be the greatest unifying thread among us all. We can’t escape feeling the world as we experience it. How we handle all of that-well like I said. Details.

We are all people hustling, laughing, sleeping, and stressing.

And it is impossible to look attractive eating pizza.

I felt it sharp-knowing that I separate myself from people. I do it. I choose. I judge. I expect. I see what I want to see and hear what I want to hear. I protect myself. I know this is what we do. I know we, even more than ever, separate ourselves into camps of safe people. To camps of people who will not challenge our beliefs or argue with the safety of our theological perimeters. We buddy up with parents who parent the way we do and soap box on the same soap boxes we carry. We stay safe. The other side requires us to feel too much-to question too much-to love too deep.

The other side requires me to give the chick buying water a break. And recognize that the two of us are, from creation, more alike than different.

I think this is why God can see and love us all. He never intended for the us to be so vastly different, as we are not to him. If you remove all the details, his workmanship looks alike over and over.

I have had people in our circle preach fear. The end times. All that mess that scares people who hear it out of context. I have had many people call me naive for pushing kindness in my posts, for looking past our differences to really LISTEN AND HEAR the person on the other side of an argument or disagreement. I have been accused of watering-down the good word and giving people the benefit of the doubt. Hear me when I say, I know no other way.

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The Jesus who lives in me years ago took this heart of mine and infused it deeply with a love for the oppressed, the voiceless, the overlooked, the judged, the categorized, the ones our churches invite on marquees but shun with body language outside the church doors. I’ve tried not to rally for these people. I have tried. So many times. But I must. And when I flip the coin and do something like wrongly judge a chick in a line, I feel it. Deeply. If you were to know me 10-15 years ago, then you would know this makes no sense. I wasn’t bubbling over with acceptance and kindness. Then He does stuff like stick me in an airport to remind me of all this.

And if, if the worst comes and my extension of love ends in a way that I am harmed or my family is harmed, then I will stand before Jesus and know I did exactly as he had instructed me to do-as he prompted me to do. I will die teaching my children and preaching kindness, love, love that does not have strings attached, and that we are more alike than different. So we can rest in that. And to fear not-because the God that loves us so well did not give us a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. I will die preaching the goodness of King Jesus, of his kindness, and of his unrelenting ability to hang in there with us as we feel and experience the nasty, hurtful, crazy stuff of this life.

And now you know. I will not fear God’s creation. The only thing I have left is to perfect trying to love them. All of them. As well as I can, as God leads.

All of this, from missing a flight.

I hope you read this blog and feel encouraged. I’ve said before, it is crazy to me the amount of people who read my writing. This will be what I write about. I hope you stay. I hope you look at a stranger today and notice your similarities. I hope you smile at them. I hope you recall what a wreck you were, or are, before Jesus got a hold of you. I hope you let go of fear. Or at the very least, I hope you think about all this stuff.

Strength for being reckless with our (your) kindness and love.

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For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. ~2 Timothy 1:7~

I have to write this because I know someone will challenge me. I know there are evil people in the world. Terrible, evil, extreme, and downright mean people. I know this. I know there are extremely dangerous places, situations, and again-people. I have the common sense, wisdom, etc not to actively engage or provoke these individuals to do harm to those I love, or myself. What I am talking about above is choosing to let go of our fear of everyone because of the few, or of choosing to classify everyone because of a few. And still, in the very rare event I lose my life or get hurt for opening myself up, so be it. Jesus lost his life over it. Gave it for messed up people. For people who would still be bad. Reckless, crazy behavior. Reckless, crazy love.

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The South Will Rise Again

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This post was originally posted on onelyric’s FB wall.  This is not a usual post for this blog-but I feel strongly about the words below.

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. ~Mother Theresa~
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You are probably wondering why I posted these pictures. Especially on a random Tuesday.

This past week a picture of a drowned Syrian boy lying face down on a Turkish beach circulated my news feed. Directly under the picture, was a picture that a FB friend had posted about an upcoming confederate flag rally in Washington D.C. with a war cry I have heard many times before “The South will be heard! Our rights will not be taken away! We will rise again!”

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I was born and raised in the beautiful state of Tennessee. The controversy about the Confederate Flag has loudly taken over my FB feed, since many, many of my online friends are “Southern.”

As I looked at the picture of the little boy laying lifeless on the beach, and then of the flag boldly declaring it’s rights, I realized the two images were telling the same story. It’s a dialogue of power. Of a dividing of humanity, of people, into sub-groups of value. That the very basic principle that all men are created equal has never and may never exist in this world.

I understand the historical beginning of the Confederate Flag. I really do. I know the history behind the Civil War, that the Confederate States of America, or the Confederacy, declared their succession from the United States after the election of good ole’ Abraham Lincoln. And why? Because Abe, among other things, was against the expansion of slavery.

So began the Confederacy’s battle for independence and control.

And now, over a hundred years later, we are still battling for control. For the right to wave a flag that became the banner for an army fighting to suppress a black man/woman’s right to basic humanness and freedom.

A flag held by men who viewed these people as property. Property. And treated them as such.

With all due respect, to refute the claim that the Confederate Flag is not a representation of division and prejudice, is to hold on to the very thinking that perpetuates the great racial divide of this country.

And please don’t post another picture of the black Confederate soldier proudly raising the Confederate Flag as he marched to war as a free man to fight for the South. As if he had other options. He earned his freedom by fighting for the men who oppressed him. Manipulation at its finest.

Slavery was the sustenance of racism. It was the defining marker for the powerful and the powerless. The Confederate Army fought to preserve an institution that continues to shake this country. Even now.

And what if? What if the Union Army would have fallen? How long would slavery be an enterprise of the USA? Would this country be the one that parents were fleeing to the ocean for a chance at a better life and safer shores? Would the headlines read of our Civil War?

What if the first African-American male to step off the boat at Jamestown stepped off as a free man? What if from the very beginning he was treated with respect and equality? Would we be divided by events such as Ferguson or the North Carolina church shootings?

I think this is what we are missing when proudly flying and fighting for the Confederate Flag. We are forgetting to ask the hard questions that have escorted us to the place that rallying for the flag is even necessary.

We can’t separate the flag from the thread of history it represents.

We are still fighting for power.

If the South should rise again what exactly will be rising? Literacy scores? Healthier lifestyles? Will we see the decline of childhood obesity, poverty, crime, wellfare recipients or prison populations?

Or will it only rise by winning the right to fly a flag, carry a gun or define marriage?

We are picking the wrong fights. We are too busy pointing fingers, blaming each other, and trying to be heard.

We aren’t listening.

The flag that we hold so dear has a vastly different meaning to so many people. When they see the flag-they see the below images.

We aren’t listening.

We are trying to manipulate their opinion and control their responses with the need to define our heritage as anything but its horrific actualities.

We can’t re-define the truth.

The truth is the white man wasn’t the man in chains. He was the one holding the whip. Holding the bill of sale. Holding the power. Holding the flag.

And since our ancestors didn’t freely give equality, our black brothers and sisters have been fighting for it since. And we blame them for it.

The images of the civil war in Syria are hard to look at. Innocent lives that are bloodied and mangled, caught in the middle of a struggle for power.

The images representing a major theme of our own civil war should fuel in us the same reaction. Mangled and blooded bodies-caught in the middle of a struggle for power.

With that reaction we should fold our flags, place them in historical museums, dig down deep for a little empathy and finally free the black community from a history that we refuse to let them forget-though we demand that they do.

Meanwhile, allowing ourselves to remember, glorify and protect the role we played.

When does it change? When does the battle for control end?

I can honestly say that I am so very proud of my SOUTHERN RAISING-not history-because my parents were the ones who taught us that ALL MEN AND WOMEN are created equal in the eyes of God, and so should be treated that way.

Kindness, respect, family, hard work, prayer, laughter, FOOD; these are the banners of my Southern pride.

The South doesn’t need to rise again. It just needs to stop segregating itself as a place of superior birthright and historical honor. Birthright and honor can be freely given and freely earned. Anywhere.

(Unless of course we are talking about SEC football-segregate and dominate!)

It’s time to write a new story. It is time to re-define “white” Southern pride. If there is anything we should rally for -it is this.

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