Freedom to be Small

Freedom to be small

Preface :: Just a reminder to those hitting up this post first... This post is a part of a series over at www.HopeIsHard.com. If you want to hear the WHY behind why I'm posting over there (& then reposting over here) check out this post and it'll all make sense. XOXO.

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I don’t know about you, but to me it feels like everybody is trying to be somebody these days. 

Including me. 

A few months ago, I attended a writers conference and sat around a table with women with book deals, podcasters, and women’s discipleship pastors at large well known churches. Over a two day period it kept happening. I’d sit down to eat and we would go around the table saying why we’re all there, and eventually it would be my turn and I meekly say, “Um, I’m just a mother and a freelance writer slash kinda blogger.” Everyone was kind and no one judged me for not having an “official” platform, but as the important people rubbed elbows I walked away defeatedly singing “One of these things is not like the others.” 

There is nothing like feeling like the biggest nobody amongst a group of known and loved somebodies. Frustrated and small, I cried out to God, "WHY AM I HERE?" but in that moment the Spirit simply whispered, “It’s ok to be small.

About a month later I received a few inquiries about “creating a brand” and “growing my platform” with the promise of hopefully landing a book deal. At first it was flattering as my pride grew. "See I am somebody!" I told myself. But after some time and prayer the whole thing felt disingenuous, like I was trying to force something rather than let the Lord grow something. So again, I walked away from those conversations headed down a different unknown path, again feeling defeated. 

And in the quiet I heard, “It’s ok to pursue small.” 

I tell you all this not to brag (um no), but rather to share with you something completely counter cultural that I’m constantly learning and relearning. This world has told us to pursue our dreams, to go out there and be somebody! Find a stage, create a platform, and seek fame/affirmation at any cost. But what I’ve learned in the last few years is that this desire to be seen is poisonous. And I can say that because I have fallen prey to it time and time agian. 

There have been many seasons when I bought the lie that the breadth of my audience was what determined the faithfulness and effectiveness of my work. I have spent seasons of my life writing with the goal of “getting seen” rather than being faithful, and the last few years of my life have been so sweet because the Lord has given me the freedom to pursue the small, the unseen. I’m not saying it’s easy or even that I do it well (because I don’t), but I am slowly learning the value of the unseen, the small. 

I’m learning that showing up to a Bible study and making space for other people to lead has just as much (if not more) value as being the main event. I’m discovering that discipleship can look like having the next generation over to my house while I’m in sweatpants and chasing three small kids, instead of speaking from a stage. I have learned the hard way that being a beacon of restoration can look like serving overseas and giving up a life of comfort, but it can also look like doing life faithfully here by serving your family, forgiving your spouse, and serving your local church. And praise Jesus, I finally understand that when I serve a refugee or the poor or marginalized, it doesn’t have to be broadcasted all over social media.

These lessons are hard for those of us with strong leadership/type A personalities. We long to be seen, to lead, to conquer the world! But before anyone can lead, we must first embrace that God has called us to the unseen, upside-down life that the Gospel brings. He calls us to take up our cross and follow Jesus, the one who has already conquered the world. 

Does that mean that we forsake our personalities and callings? No.

Does that mean we never lead or pursue big dreams? No.

But it does give us freedom to pursue the small. To forsake what the world tells us is grand and cling to the one thing that matters: Jesus. 

There is freedom in knowing you don’t have to be anybody because Somebody paid it all for everybody. 

There is freedom in quietly pursuing the disciplines of life and ministry without pursuing man’s praise or approval. 

There is freedom in not looking left or right at others as they pursue their callings, and just sticking to the course He has called you to.  

There is freedom in being a nobody instead of being obsessed with becoming a somebody.

There is freedom to be small. 

Hoping with you and cheering you on in the most ordinary small things,

Brittany

Posted on June 23, 2017 and filed under Culture, Hope is Hard.

Bless the Storm

Bless the storm

Another Texan storm swept in last night. 

Our house is located in a flat area with plateaus in the distance which means the view of a storm rolling in is something fierce and spectacular. 

The lights flickered, hail pelted our house, and for a few hours our home was eerily silent as children lie awake in their beds, anxious from the rolls of thunder and angry winds. 

Every so often I would stand in the backyard and watch the lightning flash across the sky, only to run back in to the whimper of one our kids. 

A few weeks ago we went to Target and purchased two planters pots for the twins to paint. We picked out flower seeds, purchased the soil, and ever since we've been waiting for these tiny flowers to grow. Every afternoon the girls and I walk outside, water the plants and check to see if any life exists. Thus far, the girls have been disappointed.

Last night while watching the storm, I looked at their little plants drowning in water and thought to myself, "Well, another one bites the dust." I didn't even have the heart to take them out of the rain because I just knew they were goners. 

In the morning, the girls sleepily woke up and after breakfast we walked outside to assess the damage. The mulch that surrounds our back patio was spread all over the place, pillows from the furniture were all disheveled, and their plants they've been diligently nurturing were knocked over. I felt a pang of guilt for not having sheltered them better the night prior. 

One of the girls ran over to the plants to pick them up and I expected tears to start pouring down her face, but instead she ecstatically yelled, "Mommy look! Our plant is growing!!" Low and behold, the storm had given birth to a tiny green sprout in both pots. The pots were laying on their sides and a little dirt had fallen out, but the storm had quite literally knocked some life out of it. 

I swept the patio, making clean lines where mulch had previously covered. There’s something therapeutic about sweeping up the mulch and seeing the stark lines between what was and what will be. The girls fawned over their new plants for a brief moment and then quickly lost interest as they weren't quite flowers yet. They ran off to the swings and the Lord was ever present in that ordinary yet holy moment. 

The sun was shining, the grass smelled of rain, and although my yard was a mess, signs of life were everywhere.

The storm had given birth to life. 

Isn’t that true of life in general? 

I continued to sweep as I looked at my kids playing in my yard, reflecting on the last few years of our family’s life. We had been through some storms. In fact, it seemed like a few years ago a storm cloud had made a permanent home in our family’s sky. Bolts of lightning flashed, thunder boomed, and as soon as the flood levels seemed to be shrinking, another storm would roll in. 

There were days when I didn’t think I could keep my head above water, but God was faithful. During my life’s greatest storm, God called me under his wings and was an ever present fortress from the wind and rain. The storm didn’t go away for some time, but the God who ordained the clouds also ordained my daily sustenance during that rainy season. He never abandoned me. 

And now that the clouds have passed and the sun is shining brightly, I see His good hand in it all. The storms in our family had given birth to life. I might have been tossed about, knocked over, and a little cracked, but the storm produced something in me that years of sunny skies couldn’t produce.

I finished sweeping. The mulch was back in its proper place. Two of my children were swinging, one was toddling around my feet wanting to be held, and I took it all in. This moment, this is why I can never curse the storm. Sure, the devastation and wreckage that comes in the storm’s wake is hard and messy and the fear can be suffocating. But the morning after you not only assess its the collateral damage and start picking up the pieces, but you also experience its collateral beauty. 

And there is nothing quite like the collateral beauty from the wreckage of life's storms. It is redemption at its finest hour. 

Charles Spurgeon said it this way, “I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the rock of ages.” 

For me, it’s that I have learned to bless the storm that both took away and gave me life. 

Much love,

Racial Bias :: The New Name for Racism that Could One Day Kill My Son.

Racial Bias

Guys, can I shoot you straight today & chat about something I don't usually chat about?

Racism is alive and well in our country. It just goes by another name: racial bias. 

This is a topic I’ve intentionally stayed silent on in light of hate-mail and threats that other interracial families have experienced from particular movements and hate groups. As a mother, I want to protect my son and daughters, but I think in order to protect and fight for their futures I cannot stay silent any longer. 

Before I get started, I need you to know that this isn’t an angry rant. That is not my tone. This is a conversation from a white mother to a bunch of other white people. It’s me pleading with you to hear our stories, and then decide which side of the line you’re going to stand on.

Because make no mistake, at this point in our society there is no such thing as pleading neutrality on these issues. Silence is no longer an option, and sticking our heads in the sand saying that something doesn’t exist when people all around you are screaming that it does IS taking a stance. 

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” - MLK

So here I am, your friend, the little girl you watched grow up or maybe your classmate from college, and I’m here to plead with you.

Open your eyes. Injustice and racism are still very much so alive. It's just that in many of our white circles it is labeled differently. 

You see there are plenty of folks who are less than thrilled about our family's make-up, but those people who give the hateful stares and say the ugly words are the people I'm the least concerned about. We take their hate and we label it as ugly. But it's the racists who don't know they're being racist that I'm most worried about. It's the people who get away with the subtleties who are just as dangerous because we take that racist seed and we don't call a spade a spade and a sin a sin. We let it simmer and then eventually it takes root and grows. 

And just in case you think I'm crazy and making up all these feelings, here are actual words said to me by people who had NO CLUE they were being racist. 

  • When Jude was just a few weeks old, I had a woman tell me (while I was wearing my precious son) that she knew a solution to the blacks' problem. The only way we could fix them was by raising their babies for them. She then commended me for the good thing I was doing.
  • “It was so great of you to adopt that colored boy. It's a such a shame. I see those kids on the street all the time and it's so good of you to save one.” 
  • I have had multiple people ask me if Jude’s birth mom was a (forgive my language… their words not mine) “crack-whore.” 
  • I had a lady from our church in North Carolina babysit the twins while we were in the adoption process. When she asked about our adoption she said it was so great that we were taking in an African American male despite their stigma because so many of them ended up (again forgive my language) criminals or gays. (Needless to say she didn’t babysit for us again). 
  • Watch out they're cute when they're little but when they get older they can get aggressive (in regards to black men). 
  • And just the other week, someone told one of my family members that he was proud to live in an all white community and that it wasn’t racist for him to say so. (I pleaded with my family to send the guy to my house and have him tell me to my face that our family moving into the community would be a disappointment, but the thing is, I know what his reply would be because I've heard it before. “Of course that doesn't apply to y'all. Your son is different, you know, because he’d be raised by, er, y’all" aka. white people).

These are all words that have been spoken over our family.

Sit with that for a minute and picture my beautiful son, not able to understand and yet he already has a culture making claims about what his skin color means. 

Typically in white communities, a person isn't a racist unless they intend physical harm or display blatant forms of hate. But if our only measurement for labeling someone as a racist is if they use the “n-word” and burn crosses in yards, we’ve missed the mark. Although these are obvious examples, they aren't the only examples. Racial bias and prejudice don’t solely come in such hateful packages. Racism is not only seen in actions, but it is also displayed in a variety of beliefs and the outcome of these beliefs is equally dangerous as our actions. 

What I'm trying to say is, you don't have to be a villain to be a racist.

I know a lot of fantastic humans who are racist. These people are church-going, tithe-giving, pro-family people. But here’s the truth about humanity: all of us are broken in need of a Savior and as a result really good people do bad things all the time.

Good people cheat, good people lie, good people have affairs, good people gossip, good people are selfish, and good people are racist because none of us are actually fully good.

As a Christian, our basic understanding of humanity is that no one is perfect but we have a God who redeems. Therefore there is no shame in standing up and saying, "I AM A SAUL, but God changed my heart and now I want to be a PAUL."

Yet instead of repentance, white people are defensive about our racially biased hearts and deny even the possibility of their existence. "I don't hate black people but [insert racist remark and label it as bias instead]"

Listen, you don't have to hate black people to have racism in your heart. 

Perhaps it's the belief that black people and white people do things so differently that they really just shouldn’t mix. Or it's that uneasy feeling you got when a black family moved into your neighborhood. Or maybe it's the idea that black males are more dangerous/lazy than white males.  Or maybe it’s not even a fully formed conclusion, but it’s just a hesitancy and natural distrust of people who look differently from you. 

In white circles these types of racism usually go by a different name like racial bias, but as someone who has now listened, observed, and experienced it, I'm telling you it's all poison. Racist poison that kills.

Now, some people have said I'm a little sensitive to all this "racial bias" because I have a black son. Here is my response to that: You are 100% right, I am sensitive about it! I'm up in arms about it. But I am also ashamed that I wasn't more sensitive about it before I brought my beautiful baby home.

As you should be.

Because the reality that this past week we had to add another hashtag to the long list of black males murdered by police brutality shouldn't be something just mothers and fathers of black children mourn over. This grief shouldn't only be carried by our black brothers and sisters. It should be carried by all of us. And until we are one people united under the truth that all men are created equal and in the image of God, racism will still thrive and our children will suffer. 

My children will suffer. 

So you're right. I am sensitive to these issues, but you should be too because this isn't a personal problem; it's a moral one.  

Racism is alive and well in white communities my friends. And until we learn to call it by its real name and repent of it, it will continue to grow. I know so many of you love me and you love my family. I am begging you, take a stand so that one day #JudeSalmon won't be a hashtag. When people in our families, churches, friend groups say or do something racist, don't just brush it off and give them the benefit of doubt. Call it by name; it's racist. And if they're believers, ask them to repent of their sin. Love them through it, but don't let them continue to live in it.

Don't let the seed of racism grow mutant, because mark my words, sin left in the dark will always grow something uglier than we could ever imagine. My guess is the friends and family of the police officer that shot and killed Jordan Edwards are shaking their heads in disbelief saying, "He's a good guy, he's not a racist!" 

Tell that to the mother of Jordan Edwards.

Racial bias is racism, and it's just as deadly.    

I share this not to stir the pot, but because I believe the way change will take place is if we pause for a moment and listen to each others' stories. The black community has been telling its story and I see many in the white community with their hands over their ears. Friends, remove your hands from your ears and ask God to give you eyes to see the injustice that our brothers and sisters have been experiencing. 

May God help us love the things He loves, and hate the things He hates, and may we be a people who do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. 

Much Love,