Posts filed under Culture

Freedom to be Small

Freedom to be small

 

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.

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, 

Dear 2017

Dear 2017,

Perhaps this is a little too soon seeing as you haven’t quite arrived, but I feel the need to get a headstart in light of the last, or should I say current, calendar year. 2016 has lost it’s dadgum mind. Honestly, it’s bizarre how quickly things got out of hand, so we’re really looking forward to January 1 and all it brings: a clean slate and a new year. 

You see this past year we did a lot of weird things. For starters, we gave the American people the choice of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump for the highest elected office in our beloved country. And after months of yelling and screaming and lots of wine, we elected the reality tv star for president. 

We got really angry about a lot of things. People on twitter and Facebook lost their minds over disagreements from sports, to politics, to religion, to starbucks cups (again). Meanwhile, black lives were lost and half of our country was devastated while the other half was yelling “IT’S NOT OUR FAULT YOU DIDN’T FOLLOW A POLICE OFFICER’S ORDERS.” And then a few angry people decided to go and shoot Police Officers to avenge these deaths to make a point. (I mean… WHAT IS HAPPENING?)! Some of us peacefully protested, while some of us violently rioted. And yet we saw more social outrage about the peaceful protest of a man taking a knee during a national anthem than we did when violent protests were raging our streets or when actual lives were lost. 

Then there were the horrific events going on outside the USA, the refugee crisis, Aleppo, the many terrorist attacks. Some of us cared, some of us lived in fear, others used these attacks on humanity to fuel their political game. 

Brangelina broke up. Taylor Swift had a boyfriend. Then she didn’t. Then she had a boyfriend again… then she… Well, you get the cycle (which I guess isn’t so odd now that I think about it). I refuse to write anything about the Kardashians, but I’ll just say that I think their crazy years started long ago and 2016 wasn’t much of an outlier for them. 

There were a few good things 2016 gave us, like the tv show This Is Us (THANK YOU JESUS!), the Chewbacca lady, and personally our family grew through the amazing gift of adoption. Plus Saturday Night Live and Jimmy Fallon helped us cope with our crazy (God bless them) and a guy driving around in a car doing karaoke with celebrities stole our hearts. Star Wars made a BIG comeback, as did Full House and Gilmore Girls. And my husband and I who had NEVER HEARD of Harvey Specter were introduced to Suits and have successfully watched 5 whole seasons (thank you Amazon Prime... speaking of Amazon Prime... 2016 also gave us AMAZON PRIME NOW... YES LORD!). 

So there definitely was some good amongst the insanity.

Maybe it was because it was a leap year, or maybe it was something else all together, but I don’t think we can handle another 2016. So 2017, we are REALLY looking forward to you. Now, don’t be nervous, you don’t have huge shoes to fill. All you really have to do is just not implode. That’s it. Just don’t be as bad as 2016 and we'll all be eternally thankful. But if you’re feeling up to a challenge, wanting to go above and beyond, I do have a few additional hopes for 2017 if it's not too much to ask.

So here we go, my above and beyond hopes for ALL of us in 2017:

I’m hoping that we, as a society, will stop acting as individuals and start taking responsibility as one nation, one society, built from many peoples. 

I’m hoping that 2017 will be a year that we listen more, yell less, and attempt to see the best in people… especially the ones with whom we disagree. 

I’m hoping that black lives will matter and blue lives will feel supported and loved. 

I’m hoping and praying that 2017 will be a year that justice and equality are held high. 

I’m hoping that military families and veterans feel honored and valued. 

I’m hoping that refugees and people from other religions experience the same safety, equality, and rights that I, a Christian, enjoy in this great land. 

I’m hoping that holidays and the ordinary days in between will be spent with family and/or friends, enjoying the love and comfort of true community.

I’m hoping that we as a society care for our poor, sick, wounded, and broken. I’m hoping we don’t continue to turn a blind eye and that we get creative in our efforts to dignify our fellow man.

I’m also hoping for better laws, systems, jobs, innovations for our country, but honestly… all those things don’t matter if we as a people, a society, if we lack character and resilience and hope. So ultimately, that’s what I’m hoping for. That we will all strive to be a bit kinder, a bit less selfish, a bit more empathetic. That we will fight for what’s right, but realize that fighting for something doesn’t always have to look like we’re fighting against something. That this year we’ll reach across the room and link arms with someone we wouldn’t typically partner with… and that we’d do something grand. 

2017, those are my hopes for you (well that and that I'd be able to eat more carbs, cheese, and chocolate without gaining a pound... but I get that's asking a bit much). So mostly… please… 2017, I'm begging you, JUST DON’T BE LIKE 2016 and I think we'll all be so incredibly thankful. 

Much Love & Happy New Year,

Posted on December 28, 2016 and filed under Current Events, Culture.