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Last year, our church held a series of discussions based on the book Waking Up White by Debby Irving.  Irving sensed racial tensions in her relationships but as much as she wanted to do right, she worried about offending people.  She knew she was missing something, something that kept her from truly getting it.  The book is the story of how this all changed.

Trying to get people to come to a discussion about this book was brutal.  Most of them expected to be told that they had done something wrong.  At best, they had hurt someone’s feelings.  At worst, they had done actual damage.  Thank you but no thank you.  They just didn’t want the discomfort.

The reality that they missed?  We are all products of our past.  By discussing issues of race, we have the opportunity to learn how our upbringing effects what we see and how we interpret it.  These discussions allow us to be products but not prisoners.  We can see a new way ahead.

Not that we will ever be perfect.  Perfection belongs to God alone but God does give us opportunities to grow.

It’s up to us to take them but first we have to see them and recognize them for what they are.  Opportunities to leave behind something broken and replace it with something better.

–SueBE

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Every year one of my writing buddies picks a “word for the year.”  Instead of a group of resolutions, things she will try to do or stop doing, she looks to this word.  For me, this word choice is fairly simple.

Hope and change.  Hope for change to come.

As always, this will be anchored in prayer. Why? Because prayer anchors me when I feel adrift.  It turns me toward God.  Facing into His Light, Love and Grace it is so much easier to have hope.

In our study of Ephesians, we came across an interesting passage in the lesson.  When we pray, we acknowledge what we can do and what only God can do.  The example that the author gave was praying to lose weight.  We don’t do this if we know all we have to do is eat right and exercise.  What would be the point?  The solution is on our hands?  But, if the issue is addiction or depression or something that keeps us from moving forward?  Then it makes sense to pray for the guidance and help we need to move forward.

This has me thinking about how I pray.  Do I hear NO when I should be hearing GET GOING ON IT?  Am I not seeing what is holding me back when I mysteriously don’t make progress?

Lord, Open my eyes.  Help me to see things as they are and not as I believe them to be.  Help me to create positive change in this world, change that will help people to see the Love and the Hope that you make possible.  Amen

–SueBE

Some quotes pull me in because it is something I need to remember.  “All things are passing.”

Yesterday was a day that really brought that home. Stan Lee passed away.  While he wasn’t a personal friend, his death has impacted our household.  My husband is a serious superhero fan.  He and our son go to Comic Con. He and I even took an online class from the Smithsonian, The Rise of Superheroes and Their Impact on Pop Culture.  Lectures were pre-recorded and there was a series given by Stan Lee.  It was an amazing class.  The flawed hero?  That’s a Stan Lee creation, my friends.  Heroes who like other human beings are flawed.

Ever since I took that class, I’ve been playing around with graphic novel ideas.  When hero who has taken up residence in my head is based on a Mayan god.  I’d also like to write something for young Christian readers.  This is something my minister and I discuss.  We think the book of Judges would make an excellent graphic novel.  But I’d also like to engineer a Christian hero.

It may be time to rewatch those lectures.

–SueBE

I just read an interesting article: “NASA Chief Wants to Send Humans to the Moon – to Stay.”  Well, now. I can think of a few people I’d like to give the old heave-ho into the heavens right about now.

I’m out of patience, for instance, with the pope. Forgive my bluntness, but how long should we expect to wait until he makes real reforms in the wake of multiple sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church? I hear him saying a lot of words, but nothing is changing. Could it be he’s not sure what steps to take? Let me help, if I may.

  • Defrock all priests proven to have abused children
  • Give them no retirement plan or benefits, just cast them out
  • Same goes for the bishops who covered up the abuse
  • Removal of statute of limitations re: long-ago abuse
  • Class action to remunerate all victims
  • Criminal action to put offenders in jail
  • Global database documenting all confirmed abuse cases
  • Total transparency and public access to the data
  • Sweeping reforms to protect children in the church

So. All of the above. Or, option B: Pope Francis resigns.

This may sound harsh, but I’d also like religious leader Joyce Meyer to retire. In a sermon last week, she recounted the sexual abuse by her father she endured for years. She said, flat out… wait for this one… “I’m glad it happened.” She said it had made her a better person.  

Well. Okay. She’s canceled!

Where to begin? What a disservice this is to victims of sexual abuse. Some child is going through this right now. And her abuser, who probably thinks he’s a good Christian in all other ways, hears his preacher say it’s actually not such a bad thing after all.

I know I’m probably just in a mood from the recent doings on capitol hill,  but someday, we’ll look back in shame on this era of the innocent being hurt by those in power. Maybe the next generation will come up with a way to make sure it never happens again. If it means sending offenders to a colony on the moon, well, I’m okay with that, too.

I can make myself believe
that voting still matters
that good will win out
that women will be heard
and people of color respected

I can make myself believe
that redemption is possible
that no one (even me) is useless
that justice is a-comin’
and blue waves can save

I can make myself believe
all manner of fairy tales:
Father knows best
blind obedience is my duty
and we can pray away the pedophiles

But I cannot believe in America
(not really)
or in my Church
(not absolutely)
until men believe in change.

With all the church abuse scandals in the news recently, New Jersey’s attorney general has opened an investigation into child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church in our state. “We owe it to the people of New Jersey to find out whether the same thing happened here,” said Gurbir Grewal.

Where have I seen that name recently? Oh yeah. Hosts of a radio show had courted controversy by referring to the attorney general as “Turban Man.” Grewal responded with aplomb, thanking the governor for his support during the episode, noting, “Others have faced far worse. We rise above this.  Now let’s get back to business.”

Maybe pain is training. Compassion calibration. A way to learn from the inside of the “ouch” what it feels like so that, when your turn comes to give someone else a break, you’ll stand up.

I remember a Sikh boy from grade school. It wasn’t always easy for him, as you might imagine, even though his wearing a turban was harming no one.

Childhood itself shouldn’t be a high-risk proposition, but really, where can kids be safe anymore?

School? Yes but. School shootings.

Church? Yes but. Pedophile priests.

Home? Yes but. Kids are more like property than people in society today. They have no say most of the time. Just what parents decide is best for them.

Change can only come from the inside. Of the school. Of the church. Of the person. Until there’s a change inside the human heart, the chain of pain will continue.

It irks me not to be able to wrap up neatly with an answer to this problem. Yes but. All I can change is myself. All you can change is yourself. So we’ll do our best today. Assume the best in others. Let them rise to our high expectations. Maybe it will be the start a new chain – of love.

Even though we live in different parts of the country and have varying spiritual beliefs, Lori, SueBE and I tend to agree more often than not. I was nodding in agreement and Amen!-ing as I read  Lori’s timely post on the recent clergy sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church.

Hmm. Didn’t I just see an article about the Pope that I wanted to read later? Yes. It had the words “outrage” and “action” in it. As it turns out, it wasn’t about the abuse scandals, but plastics in the ocean.  So I searched online to see what his response was to the abuse scandals, and what he’s pledged to do to change the culture that allowed it to happen.

“It is my hope that the gravity of the abuse scandals, which have cast a light on the failings of many, will serve to emphasize the importance of the protection of minors and vulnerable adults on the part of society as a whole,” he said, according to a transcript published by the Irish Times.

The failings of many. Nowhere did I see him say, The buck stops with me. I’m the head of this church, and it’s up to me to atone for the past and find a way to make it right. Heads are gonna roll!

Contrast that with what he said about the the environment:

“In a message focusing on the ‘precious element’ of water, Pope Francis has called for urgent action to combat the “emergency” of plastics littering seas and oceans.

“At last year’s climate talks in Bonn, Francis rebuked those who denied the science behind climate change, and urged negotiators not to fall prey to such ‘perverse attitudes’”.

What is wrong with this picture?

Although I don’t belong to the Catholic Church, I do belong to the human race. With all due respect to the pontiff, if our children aren’t protected in houses of worship, where can they ever be safe?  

Change is normal. Change is normal. Change? Still normal. 

Fingers crossed that I’ll chill if I keep telling myself this.  Long ago, I came to the realization that I’m okay with change if I’m the one making it happen.  Decide to paint my office door with chalkboard paint?  Good.  Also going to repaint my bathroom a new color?  Also good.  Discover a leak in our water-bed . . . whoa.  What?

Yes, not only do we still have a water-bed (remember, I’m iffy on change) but it has a pin hole leak.   My husband had already fixed it once.  Yesterday it started up again so it is time to face the inevitable.  We will be shopping for a new mattress.  And probably a frame.  And the carpet is in awful shape so we’ll pull that up.  And as long as everything is out of the room, we guess we should paint.

In 30 minutes, I went from being good with the changes coming in my life to really wanting to crawl under the bed but that’s probably not a good idea.  It is, after all, leaking.

At Bible study last night, we were talking about God’s assurance that he will be with us when we are suffering.  Not that I think I’m suffering.  I’m inconvenienced. I’m a tad overwhelmed.  Suffering?  Nope.  Suffering is knowing that you can’t keep your children safe from their own government.  Suffering is knowing that other countries will condemn your leaders, but take you in?  Thanks but no.  That would be too much change.

Change is normal.  When will we learn?

–SueBE

 

The Hubble Space Telescope recently recorded a spectacular cosmic clash – two galaxies colliding into a kind of hostile merger. Even with all that space in space (!) these two blooming galaxies have to duke it out, jostling for a spot.

Doesn’t it seem as if there’s always someone with another perspective ready to tussle with you? I found it interesting how this news story was framed in dramatically different ways:

At Long Last, Flat Earth Rocketeer Finally Manages to Blast Himself Into the Sky at God Knows What Speed

Self Taught Rocket Scientist Finally Blasts Off Into California Sky

Whatever impression you may form of “Mad Mike” Hughes, there’s no denying that he put his life on the line for his beliefs.

Today, across the country, March for Our Lives rallies were held in support of gun control. It was a moment in which the youth made themselves heard.

As with every heated subject, some disagreed with the focus of the march. Former Senator Rick Santorum made waves by saying students should learn CPR, not worry about gun laws.

Still, no matter where you fall on the political spectrum, it’s hard not to admire the passion and principle of these student leaders. They’re going all in, as if they’re in the fight of their lives.

Pope Francis spoke to a crowd during his Palm Sunday address, encouraging young people to continue speaking up. “Even if others keep quiet, if we older people and leaders – so often corrupt – keep quiet, if the whole world keeps quiet…I ask you: Will you cry out?”

Hope.  It isn’t something you have, use and never need again.  Why?  Because so many of the things that require hope are not quickly achieved.

But how much better to think of it all as an adventure vs an ordeal.  Have an adventure.  Have a forward journey.  Definitely a better way to go.

So – have hope!

–SueBE

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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