Thank God I Don’t Understand

I sat in our district elections as the rule was explained. As confused and shocked faces starred back and forth around the room, I could tell what they were all thinking. “White…white…black…hispanic…white…black….” I wanted to leave. It hurts me to watch that happening. High school kids that previously had no opinions of eachother based on their race, all finally were looking around the room and realizing they were different. It truly bothers me.
This particular statement in our bylaws says that each district may elect 2 conference representatives, however if one of these representatives is an ethnic minority the district may elect 3. This rule was created in the spirit of diversity. To encourage a larger base of races represented. However, this rule is all too often explained as “You’re a minority. So we get a bonus rep!” or “We should elect HER so that we can pick someone else, too!”
It breaks my heart to see that switch. To see the exact moment when kids look at eachother differently. And to know that it’s not because of the way they were raised or the society around them. It’s because someone is standing in front of them saying “You’re different because of the way you look.” As much as they’ve been taught that all of God’s children are made of the same image, that the color of your skin doesn’t matter, to not judge people on what they look like, we still stand in front of them and say “The color of your skin changes everything.”
The rule is there to encourage diversity, and I’m sure there was a time when this rule served the students of the church and made the team better. But I feel like my generation has been blessed by those that come before us in a way that we don’t have to fight the same fights-internally or externally. Our thoughts and morals and prejudices are completely different than those our parents or grandparents had in high school. Our struggles with society’s prejudices are more often over our pants size than our race. By enforcing a rule such as this, we stir up something that wasn’t there before. We a sorting machine in our heads that labels everyone as “majority”/”minority.” We create a prejudice among our youth. Isn’t that we’ve tried to avoid all along? Isn’t that the thing we’re so afraid of? So afraid, in fact, that we make rules and bylaws thinking we can fix it on this giant regulatory scale.
I don’t think that’s right. I think that this is the wrong scale to handle an issue like that on. I feel like “dismantling racism” or “breaking barriers” or whatever you want to call it is something to be fixed on a much smaller scale. On the scale of our own minds, our own conversations, and our own actions.
It’s a nice thought. It really is. But the thoughts it shakes up are far from nice. They are disturbing. I hate hearing people introduced as “bonus reps” or watching someone’s face drop as they are called the “minority” over and over again during a district election. As far as I’m concerned, the true minority is the group that isn’t worrying about being or not being the minority.
It wouldn’t bother me as much if it was even just SLT, but I see it all over the church. People fret over something that I, as a member of the Internet-Youtube-No-Good-For-Norhin’ generation, don’t even notice until I notice the fretting.
Martin Luther King, Jr said that one day he hoped we would all be judged not on the color of our skin, but on the content of our character. I don’t think my generation knows the true meaning of the civil rights movement. We can’t grasp the gravity of this giant cause that people died for. Thank God for that. Thank God that the world has come so far that my generation will never be able to comprehend the pain of those before us. Thank God we don’t understand.

“Are You My Me?”

What’s your favorite quote, and why? (A plinky topic)

“Be who you are, and say what you feel. Because the people that matter don’t mind, and the people that mind don’t matter”
-Dr. Seuss

When I was little, I read Dr Seuss’s books over and over and over again. My first day in elementary school I had a very hard time with understanding the library system. I couldn’t find any book. And I was really embarrassed by the fact that every other first grader could navigate the entire catalog of swirling authors and topics. Some kids had Clifford, some were reading from the American Girl collection. There were kids reading about Submarines and Alligators. I really liked the pick-up-every-book-until-you-found-one-you-liked method I had learned from years and years of Garage Sailing with my dad. Everyone started leaving the library that day. They had all been in school for a few weeks and had it all figured out. I found a poster I regonized and grabbed the first book I saw underneath it. Dr. Seuss’s Are You My Mother?

In the book, a bird hatches from it’s egg. He runs around The Creation looking for his Mother. And he asks all these different people: “Are you my mother?” “Are YOU my mother?” “Are YOU my MOTHER?” “ARE YOU MY MOTHER?” “ARE YOU MY MOTHER!?” I always felt bad for the bird, because he didn’t know where he belonged. He couldn’t live with the turtles or the monkeys or anybody, because he was a bird. And he knew he belonged some place. He just couldn’t find it.

I started to do something similar in the library. Every week I got two books. The first was always Are You My Mother? the second was just a random book I picked up and thought “Are YOU my book?” Pretty soon I picked up on what authors I liked, what kind of books I liked, how to use the computer and eventually¬† became one of the most well read kids around.

Spending so much time with that book was a much bigger thing than you might think. Even though I was young, that book helped me to figure out who I was. I don’t think you ever really “find” yourself. You more of find things things that are not yourself. And the little bird never says “You can be my mother, because you’re right here. Because you’re convenient. Because people will like me. because it will make my life easier.” Nope. That little bird found HIS mother. His REAL mother. And I always looked at myself kind of like that. I wanted to be the real thing.

I like this quote for lots of reasons. One of them is that Dr Seuss had such a big impact on me as a kid. He’s my definite hero (as some of you have heard about:) I like this quote because it pertains to me. I never did like worrying what people thought about me. Half the arguments between my Mom and I are because I want to leave the house looking like a circus clown. Maybe I’ve got some part of my brain missing or something. I just like looking like I’m ridiculous. (Partially because I AM ridiculous-why would I try to lie to people with my clothes?).

The people that are bothered by me doing the things I do have always hurt my feelings. But not because of what they thought. Because of what they say. Or what they do. About being bothered. By me.

I like this quote because it’s true. You can’t please everyone, so why not please yourself and please the people that care about you, too. The people that don’t care about you or are bothered by you can reap more benefit from your true self then from something pretend anyway.

How am I essential?

“We know [beauty] has causede untold pain in the lives of women. But even there something is speaking. Why so much heartache over beauty? We don’t ache over being fabulous hockey players. Woman ache over the issue of beauty-they ache to be beautiful, to believe they are beautiful, and they worry over keeping it if ever they can find it…A woman knows, down in her soul, that she longs to bring beauty to the world. This is not just culture, of the need to ‘get a man’. This is in her heart, part of her design.”
-Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge

I am reading this book right now. Only a day into my relationship with John and Stasi, I know what they think about women. The problem with women today, the problem with how society treats women, what every woman wants, what every woman is made for. 40 pages in, and every one of them discusses Beauty.

They talk about how women are around to bring beauty into the world. How their bodies and souls and minds and hearts radiate just an overall happiness and wonderfulness and Beauty. How we all just need to feel beautiful. Need to be beautiful.

I’m a teenage girl, and I have been for awhile. I know all about looking into the mirror and seeing the zit so big you can’t believe your neck can support the extra weight, seeing the bump in the bridge of your nose, seeing you small eyes, seeing your falt hair, your thighs, your stomach, your boobs, you toes, you cheeks, you ears, your clothes that don’t hang on your hips like anyone else’s do. I know all about that.

As I read this book, they are trying to relate to me the wonderful litte-girl-feelings of what it’s like to wear sparkly shoes, what it’s like to twirl your skirt around and around, what it’s like to have your hair done up in braids and dance through the house. Whatever happened? We all remember being little and giddy over what we looked like, how we felt like an extension of the flowers and the trees as we pranced around our backyards. To be part of something bigger, beautiful and sweet-smelling.

Why is it that so many of us, girls, sit staring at their phones waiting for a text message? Why is it that the biggest compliment can be “hey, I just wanted you to know that I’ve been thinking about you all day”?

I always thought this was the problem with being a girl. That girls are unsure about themselves and needy, and if we were more like boys we’d be better off. This book puts it differently though. God made women beautiful, to show His own Beauty. God wants to be sought after. He does not want to be an option in our lives, an appendage, a tagalong. Neither does any woman. God wants to be essential (Eldredge).

I don’t think there is anything wrong with wanting to be that girl that Dream Street was always jammin’ out over. Or wanting to be twirly-skirted. Ot sparkly. Or listened to. Or thought about. Or sought after. Wasn’t everyone made to be essential?

I think that we ARE all made to be essential to something or someone. To be able to make “What would I do without you?” An unanswereable question. Unimagineable. Unbelievable. Because, someone, something, somewhere wouldn’t exist without YOU.

I guess what I’m trying to say, or rather what I’m trying to figure out, it “What are you essential to?” Or “What makes you beautiful?” It seems like an easier question than “what am I supposed to be doing?” Or “why would God put me here on earth?”

What makes you essential?
What makes you beautiful?

I think that’s a better place to start.