This post was written as a Facebook post on 3/14/2023
Okay, I have gone back and forth on how to respond to the failure of Silicon Valley Bank.
First, I need space to laugh at absurdity: The banks failed because of “WOKE.” The way Michael Kosta said that was hilarious.
Come on, GOP. Give me a break with your anti-woke sentiments that are anything but loving.
Okay, now to the serious talk. Do you all know I have a business degree as well? Because I do. When I started work in the oil and gas industry, the show “The Apprentice” began. It was fun to watch for about two seasons, and then I saw the really yucky side of a former president. Also, there was nothing ethical about the business practices on the Apprentice. That show was pure entertainment and revealed itself when it became Celebrity Apprentice. It gave the former president an illegal competitive advantage in the business world. But now I know rich people are not held accountable.
I thought I would never have to see this person again when I turned off my TV after two seasons. OY! Not only did I have to see him again, but I had to listen to him abuse us as a nation and pass laws that have had devastating effects that we are still paying for today. One is pulling back on regulations implemented after the bank failure of 2008! A bank failure under a GOP president, so please stop with the woke nonsense blame game that is only proving to be racist, sexist, and homophobic/anti-trans.
One of the greatest ironies about the posture of the GOP party is this: most people who make up the GOP party who are evangelical Christians tend to believe that humans are created sinful, untrustworthy, and are no good until they find God–their only escape from hell. But they only carry that belief spiritually because no laws on earth need to be in place to save us from hell on earth. And they claim to be the party of responsibility, but that is only for people without power.
On the flip side, people who tend to not be conservative (Not all. This is in general. There will always be exceptions, but, as a whole, this is how it is playing out) typically believe people are created good. I do. But we also DO need to be protected from ourselves. The same goes for businesses. These regulations implemented after the 2008 failure did a lot of good in keeping banks from taking advantage of people. Regulations are implemented for our protection. This is how I interpret God in Hebrew Scripture when the Israelites are being delivered from oppression and sent to the wilderness. God is trying to keep them safe. The allure of comfort is so great, and for good reason, but it takes away people’s humanity every time. God wants us to stay human. This is how I interpret God sending Jesus, whose faithfulness was not in paying for our sins but in remaining human all the way to the end.
This is why I am trying hard to create high-trust systems (friendship as a political movement) to help us thrive as our most authentic selves while being held accountable too. The temptation to be lured into the way of money is absolutely a human nature thing we must be aware of. Money is something we need, but it is a terrible God.
Okay, that is my Lindsay Talk for the day. Feel free to chime in if you want.
This post is a compilation of Facebook posts I wrote today inspired by a Pantsuit Politics episode about Political Comedy. This episode brought up points and questions I feel also need to be asked of religious leaders in their theological realms where the truth can be told in a way facts never can never deliver as deeply, just like comedy.
I am breaking this post into parts because it is too long as one post, and I hope it is more digestible this way.
I am listening to Pantsuit Politics about Political Comedy. The guest is Chelsea Devantez talking about the state of political comedy and its future.
They were discussing how doing political comedy as we have always done it is not working anymore. We are already living that political satire in our lived reality now. How do you get more satirical than Trump himself?!
They used Jon Stewart as an example of someone who revolutionized political comedy because he was/is a political thinker with a point of view. And he can speak more truth than most because comedy is truth. And also notice, he is not staying the same. Now he is going to our political leaders, interviewing them and revealing they do not know squat about why they are passing the policies they are passing. They are doing it based on their ideology, not facts. They cannot back up their claims with any verifiable data, and they believe that is okay because they have put God behind their agenda.
That is not a new tactic, y’all—this is literally when the universe steps in to blow that idea out of the water—Every. Single. Time. Notice water is usually involved when destruction and creation are both happening simultaneously.
Devantez said this: These lighthearted jokes and tiny takeaways aren’t working anymore. There is no point to them anymore. We need a comedian who has something really deep to say and someone who has solutions. This where we have not gotten to yet. Where are comedic solutions? Pointing out the problem right now is depressing and not revelatory.
Now I am going to talk about why I am a theologian and how this speaks so much into what I have been saying about religious leaders who I believe need to rethink how they are doing things. They need to give us some doable solutions for change. Not more pointing out the problems. Most of us are well-aware now.
Okay, now I want to talk about why I am a theologian. I am on the outside of the system currently for various reasons, and now I can see how necessary this time off has been for me to see what is and isn’t working.
One thing I have been told a lot is I am different. Some like it; a lot do not. But even those who do not like it know I am important to the change that is needed. And the reason I am the way I am is because I have gone through hell trying the things that no longer work. My family in various ways throughout the years have given and given, only to find ourselves at the end of it being treated like we are nothing when the moment came we needed help (to receive). It has been shocking every time, and it makes me want to scream at Acts 20:35 reminding us it is better to give than to receive. Oh, really? Just to end up abused?!
Now I am finally bringing in April Emick Fiet’s work on giving and receiving. I have been talking about writing this reflection for a while, but the time for it to be received hasn’t felt optimal until now.
In Chapter 7 of her book “The Sacred Pulse” chapter titled: Movement of Community: The Holy Rhythm of Interdependence. April addresses how giving can put us in a position of power, because giving is on our terms. “Peace through strength” (125). When we give, a sense of euphoria or happiness is triggered by chemicals in our bodies like oxytocin. I love what she said here: The act of giving rewards us physically and psychologically. However, receiving requires risk. It requires vulnerability to be open to receive something whether it is large like a large monetary gift, or something as small as a compliment (124). Receiving makes us vulnerable. If we do not open ourselves up to be vulnerable, then we miss out on the reciprocity that comes from living in community. Only giving keeps us in a position of power.
Y’all, we have been burned hard when people expected my family to remain in the position as the helpers at all times. No matter what we are going through. Two major events have happened in our lives—and it is wild how both showed us two sides of the same coin—and the minute we said we needed help, we were abandoned emotionally. We are/were not supposed to need that.
One thing a “friend” told me is this: I should have expected this treatment when taking on a leadership role. This just comes with the territory. (Oh, if you only knew what I was upset about). I had considered her my closest friend on the team. She saw me as someone to use.
And the system! This gets worse. The latest trauma required us needing help from various systems, and the more we reached out to ask for help or to share our grievance, the worse our treatment became. Every single time. It was the most horrifying and traumatic experience I have ever known. We were expected to just make it through and let it go when it was over.
Nope. Nope. Nope. We did not become helpers to become punching bags to accept any and all kinds of abuse. And to be treated like the user and the abuser when we asked for help from individuals and the various systems, is one of the most atrocious things I have ever experienced in my life—more than once.
This is why I am a deep thinker and I have a solution in mind.
You might be asking yourself: If giving can put us in a position of power, then why didn’t these individuals and systems want to help you if that would elevate them?
Well, in these situations, helping us would have made them have to receive our pain and admit wrongdoing was happening. To see people as human and not resistant to abuse and needing help, because a lot of people usually just take it, disrupts the power balance and our ability to believe whatever we want to be true. Remember, everything is now an opinion with equal importance.
Here is the rub: Part of receiving involves receiving when you are wrong. This includes systems. That what you want to be true isn’t, or the hero you think you are is actually making you the abuser. And this person is standing in front of you is hurt by your actions. Well, defensiveness and harsh treatment comes out instead of gentleness, compassion, and help.
People will go to cruelty before they will go to vulnerability. And we have been trained this way in almost every area of our lives.
Solution – Friendship
At the end of my seminary career, right before the next beast of a storm came, I was already tired and trying to figure out how to finish school knowing rest was within sight. I was ready to relax, enjoy my pool and focus on one job for a while before deciding what it is I am called to do. All of this is happening now, but I had to get through the toughest battle I have ever known first.
Right before finishing seminary, a verse finally came to me giving breath to what I had been trying to say to everyone all three years about what is missing and needed in our theological work. This solution has come from my lived experience giving me this point of view: We need to be friends.
I could not figure out how to articulate this life-or-death need theologically, though. My explanations were ordinary and did not require my theological background to make the arguments I was making. Then the verse, and the STORM, came giving me the clarifying theological background I needed. Ha! Look at the both/and I can now say without reliving the trauma. I am not thanking the trauma, because I already knew the truth without it, but I will use it to further MY CASE! You gave me a story, STORM!
My idea about friendship was met with resistance, and I understand why. But that is mainly because we do not have a working definition of what friendship means—especially in a system. Overall as a society, we see it in an anemic and unimportant way. Like it is something extra if we have time, or some kind of luxury. We quote things all the time about people coming and going in our lives for various reasons, like there is no felt loss when people leave our lives—for whatever reason, even if good. Losing friends is a traumatic experience. We need language for this. Also, we need this language so we do not lose friends as often as well.
John 15:15 is the verse that came to me and spoke to this deep groaning inside me providing clarity. It gave me the theological perspective everyone was asking me for to show our faith demands it too. And this verse is Jesus’ words! I love Jesus. He gets me. 😉 (This is a Super Bowl reference) Here is the verse—this is from the NRSV translation:
“15 I do not call you servants[a] any longer, because the servant[b] does not know what the master is doing, but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.”
Y‘All, when I read that verse, I could see the gates of heaven open up to me. Jesus agrees with me. If we are going to do any meaningful work together, we have to be friends. This means we need deep trust in ourselves and with each other. Our servant-style leadership that likes to keep secrets and disconnect is literally killing us spiritually, and sometimes physically too. It keeps a power structure in place that is more authoritative than it is harmonious and responsible. The authoritative approach actually only demands responsibility from those without power. This is why we keep getting abused.
I am so grateful Haley Feuerbacher found me a couple of years ago. Power of social media and our connection to Perkins School of Theology. She knew I was going to burn out, but saw the potential in me for the good work ahead and started inviting me to join her in the work she started at The Center for Courageous Compassion. She told me helpers get burned out and need courageous compassion to sustain them for the intense work required to actually become a survivor-centered society.
I was too busy to get involved in a meaningful way in the beginning due to school and a thousand jobs, but I have time now. And this nonprofit is currently being rebranded, and I get to be a part of it. Haley wants me to use my expertise on friendship so we can co-create a better world together. This is the project we are working on this week, and the Table OKC is partnering with us too! Glory!
I just watched the movie A Man Called Otto. Tom Hanks is the lead character, and, as always, he was spectacular. Suicide is a theme that comes up several times in the movie, so I want to issue a content warning for anyone this may be too hard to watch. Take care of you. There are other movies that can deliver this message in a way that is healing for you. But this movie gave me a message I needed and opened something up inside me I did not have the words for until I watched it. This is why we need art in all the beautiful, brutal and raw forms it comes in. Art speaks to our human experience and lets us know we are not alone.
I need to say this: I have never thought about harming myself or taking my own life. The reason I am writing this is because I think we should normalize having this kind of conversation. Destigmatize this mental health crisis that needs friendship, not abandonment. I just lost a friend to suicide recently and I wish we had talked about it. She is one of several friends and family members we have lost to suicide. It is a growing pandemic in kids too. But, not everyone who goes through a hard time and expresses pain will feel this. I like how Pantsuit Politics addressed it recently in one of their podcasts. Normalizing this conversation should also include not expecting these feelings too. By including this in the dialogue, it takes it more seriously that this is not something that is a choice or anyone and everyone experiences. Because that is not true either.
With that said, my family just recently experienced a massive trauma— which I am not going to talk about. I have said enough in other avenues about it, and it is time to heal. It is background information for what I am going to write about, though. This experience is just the latest in a serious of systems that have proven itself heartless and not interested in the people who serve it well. Harming the ones who give too much themselves away to a system that does not have the capacity to love them back. Our systems are designed to thrive off of our self-hate. Did you know that? I have been studying systemic abuse during this time of rest, and I see the pattern of this truth now.
I have been living life in a traumatized state for the umpteenth time because of systemic abuse. Once again, it has been hard for me to reorient to life as it is and to live it fully again. Living the painful experience once again on a loop in my brain keeping me traumatized because I keep reliving what happened over and over. It is hard to recover when you keep reliving it. It is also not my fault. This is what trauma does and I cannot control that anymore than people who experience suicide ideation can control their thoughts. But thing is, I always DO want to recover and live fully again, and that is why I talk about my traumas. I want to live, and I want to live with the acknowledgment these horrible things hve happened and have shaped me into who I am, for better and for worse. I need for people around me to acknowledge this part of my life too. When we cannot talk about it, that allows shame to thrive. But also, only within reason. It takes wisdom and care to balance how much to talk and not talk about it for my own well-being, and others. But, I want these abuses to end. At this time, we are not a path to change anything because we are too silent. The system wants the shame that is not even yours to keep you quiet so it does not have to self-reflect on itself and admit its own errors.
This is my year of Lent that is talking about LIFE—not DEATH. I have had enough of death. I am well-acquainted, and I know more death is coming, including my own at some point in time. I want to know more about how to live this resurrection life right now more often. What has been in me all this time choosing life anyway. I think I have an experience that is important to the larger dialogue, because choosing life when systems want you to go away is hard! And you CANNOT do it alone. This I know.
This past week, I somehow just discovered I live close enough to walk to the gymnastics studio I grew up attending. It is Bart Conner Gymnastics Academy. It was Gymnastics Chalet when I was a gymnast on the team. By the time the new studio opened up, I went there to tumble only—my favorite part of gymnastics anyway. When I graduated high school and went to Oklahoma State, I finally left that world behind “for good” and started living a new life that was new and fun. Back then, few knew, and it certainly was not public knowledge, you had to process pain to truly move forward. I did this in survival mode, I know now.
When the documentary Athlete A was released in 2020, a world I thought I had left behind “for good” came roaring back to life and sent me right back to a place and time I never wanted to think about again. And I was in seminary and in a time of Covid at this point too. This was a lot of shit I had to process all at once! I am resilient. I should not have to be, but praise God I am because I have needed to be. Life will send us back to times that need to be healed, I have learned these past few years. Here is what I wrote about my gymnastics story after watching Athlete A and realizing I was a wiser kid than I ever gave myself credit for. It made me realize I became invisible because of the shame gymnastics put me through. I started erasing myself from the story of life because of the trauma of gymnastics. Here is what I wrote then: Lindsay’s Story
So why am I sent back to this studio again in the midst of another trauma? Last one I had to revisit during Covid. Watching A Man Called Otto an answer came to me.
I think the universe keeps wanting me to remember who Lindsay was as a kid when I feel overwhelmed with how hard life has been for me to just get through and feel like I belong without a crushing blow coming around the corner. I was hard on younger Lindsay. I treated her so poorly for quitting at 7, and then again later when I really wanted to do gymnastics but the environment was so toxic I could not thrive anymore. I thought I was weak, untalented, and not cutout for the big leagues. Well, part of that is right: I am not cut out for the big leagues; few are—even the ones in the big leagues. Look what happened to so many gymnasts who made it in the period of time I was training up until now. Currently, Simone Biles had to sit out part of her Olympic experience because of her mental health. A mental health crisis USA Gymnastics caused. Several other gymnasts are speaking up as well and demanding change. Actually, a gymnast at OU, or was at Oklahoma University, is a huge reason this story busted wide open. I was also hard on my mom. A mom who actually listened to her seven-year-old crying every day that she did not want to go to gymnastics because I wanted to be a kid and play outside with my friends. I went from being pushed too hard so I quit, to I was pushing myself so hard and it did not matter because the system wanted me out. There was not a moment in this timeframe I could have won with the system.
Here is my healing Lindsay takeaway: At seven-years-old, I understood balance instinctively. Too much work burned me out and I did not think twice about what I was losing by quitting, only what I was gaining by being free to play. As a kid should! That is healthy. And my mom listened. That is a huge piece in this whole fiasco that probably has made all the difference in my life. In cases where child abuse is REAL, it usually is a parent that makes the difference for their kid who needs liberation. When I was working too hard to prove myself and the system had become too toxic. I knew to cry and quit. The gym had brought in Romanian coaches who were both in the 1984 Olympics with Bart Conner and Mary Lou Retton, and it was a miserable experience. My friends at the gym turned into competitors instead of friends at this point and I hated every second in the gym when it once gave me meaning and life. I knew to walk away before the system forced me to. I did not skip the tears either.
I remember saying this: Why can’t gymnastics just be fun? I was learning and growing, but it was never enough.
I keep asking this same question after every major heartbreak: church, public schools, politics, soccer.
Why is joy being eliminated? Why are we so damn afraid of living? Winning is great, but it is mostly toxic when it replaces the joy of just doing the thing that gives you life.
My purpose is to help people live with sustainable joy.
Which Lindsay looks happier? The one working too hard, or the one who has found deeper meaning in her work and life through play and rest?
I say this feeling the weight of my words, even though I never participated in Lent until 2016. It is the season that led me back to church. I learned lamenting is just as holy as praising—half of scripture is a lament. I learned how to let go and acknowledge that I am going to die, and how to live more deeply and fully with that knowledge.
It is a holy and sacred season, and I am glad it is on the church calendar. It belongs.
But I am passing this year.
Our lives have felt like Lent for way too long. Especially once May got here. I am seeing how the helpers in our society are the ones going to the cross way too much, and it is time for systemic change. This is my resistance.
I want to spend these next 40 days learning how to and teaching people how to LIVE in a Lent world.
I learned this in my trauma work too. Where do you still have some power to make a choice to keep going?
You know how the universe can feel like it is talking to you directly? Today I had an undeniable moment with her that is so real and beyond any words I can form adequately to describe the feeling of what happened this morning.
First, I have decided Beanstalk is now my Saturday morning routine to create a new spiritual rhythm for my body as I begin to become fully present to my life in Oklahoma. La Madeleine was the last place that served me in this capacity.
Second, April Dismuke there was a woman at Beanstalk who looked so much like you. I kept checking your facebook pictures to see if it was. But this woman did not seem to know me, and I think you would have known me even looking like the hot mess I did this morning. Ha! Also, if you ever come to Beanstalk on 36th Street in Norman, you better call me. 🙂
Third, and the wildest part of all, look at the picture that has the frame with the lyrics from a song. This is what stopped me in my tracks on my way out and made my heart almost burst.
Those are lyrics from a song by Doug Stone called “Little Houses.” Y’all, that song became my vision of everything I wanted out of life when I was graduating college the first time. When I was trying to envision what kind of life I wanted now that I get to make these choices. I told my sorority sisters about this too. Not sure any of them remember, but I did voice that I wanted a life like the one in Doug’s song. I bought the single—remember those?!—and listened to it over and over. Just like I do every time I find a song that sings my soul’s song. This was the beginning of me doing that with songs.
I have not thought about that song in years. I even forgot it existed. So, as I am walking out and I see this picture in the Cottage room with those words, I literally lost my breath. This is not a common song 🎵 and I have never seen it out in public on anything before. It also made me realize I do live in this kind of house, in a way. It is not a sad street, it is a lovely street, but there are very few walls. Love has grown exponentially in this house because we see each other so much more. Here I am, right after my second graduation—with my MDiv, and this song shows up again.
As I walked out the doors, quite stunned by this sighting, I could hear the universe (God) saying: You have the life you always wanted, Lindsay. Right now. Live into this truth. You are loved. This is what you told me you wanted. Now you can create a cozy space for others to grow this kind of love, whatever love looks and feels like to them, too.
… “But you know, love grows best in little houses With fewer walls to separate Where you eat and sleep so close together You can’t help but communicate Oh, and if we had more room between us, think of all we’d miss Love grows best, in houses just like this”
I have decided to make a return to Twitter, but lightly. I am returning cautiously, curiously, and with more wisdom—that was my first post. I can already tell I am different in that space now too, and it feels weird. I knew I would be different, because I am different. Trauma changes your brain. Any time you do not receive love and care you expect from people and systems, it will change your brain. But you know what else changes your brain?
HEALING! I will never be what I once was—none of us will ever be—but I can restore and return after the work of healing is sufficient and I feel ready.
Glennon is in the midst of being treated for anorexia, and she is talking about it real time. I need to do this too. I am being treated for this trauma and I want to raise awareness of systemic abuse. It is time to end it. If we were just a one-off, sucks-to-be-us situation, I would probably not share so much. But the thing is, we are not. We just happen to be cycle breakers. Wrong targets. I know what trauma is and I would have seen this from a mile away. This will probably be a way I can help systems that actually want to heal.
I know the source of my trauma right now and that is huge a benefit to my healing process. I will heal much faster this time around because I know what it is and what I am working on. The system causing the harm needs to do the same. Both/and. You don’t get a pass. And I can say this confidently because a faith healer I am listening to right now, Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, just happened to write an incredible piece on Leviticus 13 addressing this very thing. I will include the article in this post. Please read it and take it to heart.
People like me are not to be feared, we are the people who are needed. For such a time as this.
On Twitter Rabbi Ruttenberg sent me love and healing for however long it takes, and in whatever way it is possible. Isn’t that so kind? This is why I went back. It is easier to talk to my favorite faith leaders there. I receive her words and they did a world of good for me today.
I have subscribed to her free edition of her ”Life is a Sacred Text” substack. When we get more on our feet financially, I will pay for more. So for now, I will do my part and share her work, because people need to know about it.
Here is the article and I copied a couple of sections that seemed to be talking to me directly. But please read the whole thing—it has a word for ALL of us to consider.
“People do not need reassurance; they need honesty.”
This is a quote from the New Amsterdam episode I am watching tonight. The context is the hospital needs money. The Covid shutdown had cut out the main revenue source for the hospital for too long and now they need to make a plea for people to come back—even though they cannot guarantee everyone’s safety in doing so. At first the PR people were wanting them to give a message of assurance that just went against the doctor’s conscious, because they cannot give an assurance. The Medical Director could not do it at all. Finally, another doctor came in and tried, but even she got tripped up trying to give an assurance that wasn’t theirs to give. Here is a summary what she said instead:
I am terrified most of the time because we’ve been living in a dystopian nightmare. We lost families and children. People I know want to stop feeling scared and they want to stay alive, and I cannot reassure them of that. No one can because the world is not safe. We can’t tell people to not be afraid when everyone should be afraid. We can tell people the truth. We may never get rid of this virus, so we have to find a way to live with it. If we stay barricaded forever, we may lose things we will never be able to get back.
This series is guiding me through this next season of my life. It is helping me articulate what has been on my mind already, and it is giving me new perspectives helping me see the world differently.
The first trauma my family experienced was different than the second one. The first one was losing a lot of people over an issue that needed truth spoken, not reassurance. The system was on our side. I still love Mutiny so much. I would not be who I am without it. We saw what growing a soccer community that truly was serving the community could feel like. It was a whole lot of fun. I also experienced what happens when a travesty happens and the truth is just too much to handle. We lost almost all the teams we created together. The sad thing is, I knew what was true b/c I had observed the behavior and was already forming my own suspicion about it. It is an awful moment in time, but we made it through. And we still have amazing friends we formed during those amazing years. That is just one moment in time, but it is a significant moment. Changed us, and me, forever.
Trump was also on the rise during this time. These two things together broke me wide open. I was going to start telling the truth. I could see the world was not safe, and I was annoyed at all the messages trying to make me feel better b/c I was experiencing the world as not okay. I need to hear some honesty about this.
And I was not wrong.
I lost a lot telling the truth, but I gained more. If I could do it again with the wisdom I have now, I would have done it differently. I did not have the resources to do it differently, though. I was doing the best I could listening and sharing what I was learning in real time. I am proud of me, even though I know it was full of problems with execution (the tenderness part).
I was upset so many others would not do it at all, and they were paid to do it. But we can’t do this to ourselves. The ones not doing it were worried about their livelihoods and dealing with their own grief about what was happening in their churches. I had no idea how hard that was at the time. The things these leaders were dealing with were no small things—and, inadvertently, their silence opened me up to speak out loud—not behind the scenes. I became a person who could be seen and known. I spoke from where I was at the time, and that is all I could do. I would not have been able to grow if I did not start there. Jake told me in soccer development you cannot skip any developmental stages to get to where you want to be. The same is true in theological development. So, I will not beat myself up, or you, for things we cannot possibly know at our stage of development. It sent me to seminary anyway. Three of the best years of my life—even though I had a lot of unresolved trauma work to do. That was tough! In addition to learning how to write, think theologically, and believe in myself (no small thing!). I will write more about that in another post, because that is its own post. I also was in seminary during Covid. So dealing with that too!!!
I was ending seminary with some grounding that maybe I can do this and realizing I am worthy of love…and then BOOM. Right at the end of seminary—during my finals and preparation for graduation—the next trauma hit, and this one was way worse.
You know how I said earlier the reassurances I was receiving during an impossible time were frustrating me because I was experiencing a world that was not okay? Well, here the realization that I was not wrong. Now the problem is the system.
I am not going to go through that again, but I want to share this part because one thing people are discovering from Covid is how dangerous it is to be lonely. Our systems got overburdened and were abandoned by our government when they needed it. We often think of loneliness only as an individual issue, but it is also a system issue. I hope you are hearing my compassion now as I write this. We suffered at the hands of a lonely and abandoned system. It needs a lot more support and resources. The people are suffering trying to keep up with the burdens. As I am listening to the hospital talk about its own grief due to the abandonment of public leaders when they had to work in the worst of Covid, it made me think of the abandonment public schools must have felt too.
Say what you want about me, friends. I know there are many things I would have done differently if I knew then what I know now—and I am even talking as recent as a few weeks ago. But I survived the abandonments I feared the most. I never abandoned myself or my family, and we got stronger. I do not have to fear abandonment when I know I will not abandon me.
Here is what I needed to hear from this doctor tonight.
The world is not safe. If you stay barricaded forever, you will lose things you may never be able to get back.
I survived what I feared the most, and it came at me in a way I could have never seen coming. Hiding forever is not going to protect me; I will lose what I have gained if I let my fear of it happening again keep me from trying again anyway.
There are no guarantees. But I know I will truly live trying again. I do not have to lose that. The best love I have learned post-seminary: I have learned to love myself. And because of that, I love everyone around me—even toxic systems—so much better now. I can see the pain.
I can help, if you will let me. I am a survivor. And the trauma receives no credit for the compassion that has grown in me. That compassion has always lived in me. This compassion came because I grew compassion for me too.
“Love’s the only house big enough for all the pain in the world.” These are lyrics from a song by Martina McBride I have loved ever since it released, and the lyrics become truer and truer to me as my life experiences increase and I see how threatening love is to those who are dying—spiritually. We have people walking around physically alive but are completely void of spirit. It is wild people will tell Christian faith leaders who believe their faith makes a difference in public life, like nakedpastor, to stay in the spiritual realm. Ummm, Christians, we believe in a God who is both human and divine. When did one become more important than the other? Do you believe God became limited, by choice, just to reveal how rotten humanity is? It had nothing to do with love?
Love is not a feeling, by the way. Love is what we do. I love how Dr. Cornel West puts it: Justice is what love looks like in public, just like tenderness is what love feels like in private.”
I have experienced a fake niceness that masquerades as tenderness but turns brutal when there is talk of equality and equity. And, I have experienced the brutality of a person abusing a person I love through lies they have told themselves, and they called it justice.
Love is both justice and tenderness. Human and Divine. Both/and. Love cannot exist in either/or thinking, because either/or thinking cuts us off from a part of the story that also belongs. Love is nondual. There are no winners and losers when we are living in a state of love.
Isn’t it interesting those who believe our faith belongs only in the spiritual realm are also the ones who are devoid of spirit; the ones who believe there should be no social justice through laws because those are just spiritual problems (sin) and the next life will take care of it, are also the ones creating laws to control womens’ bodies, attempting to restrict who people love, and anyones’ body whose existence threatens their view of the world?
Things to think about.
I was talking to the love of my life, Jake Bruehl, last night about what it is I am trying to do with the message I am sharing now. Here is what I was able to articulate last night because he lets me process in a space of love:
I am not trying to fix the past. The past is what it is.
The past showed me something really important that is not just for me, though. It is a part of the larger picture of justice, and I know how to deliver this message in love (with tenderness—not with a thirst for brutal revenge).
I have compassion for even the cruelest person in our situation because I know life must be miserable for the person acting like that. Love can absorb that pain. And we did.
Love threatens the status quo. Love has also been falsely named in situations of abuse. People have gotten hurt by a principality that masqueraded as love but it was really hate. This will make people question someone who is truly tender and kind. I get it. True tenderness and kindness are both unfamiliar and scary, because it makes us vulnerable when we take a leap and trust it after being violated. I get that too.
We, as a culture, got so used to what isn’t love and came to believe that is love. Trump revealed this to me—we will crucify the one who comes in the name of love and set Barabbas free. Barabbas is familiar, even though he is the one who actually is the most threatening and hateful.
I feel like I am at the point where I am experiencing a resurrection. I am still a Christian because these stories breathe life into me and keep me spiritually and physically alive. I keep believing in a new day after each major setback that has threatened my ability to believe I can keep going.
I think about the gospel of John where Jesus is resurrected and living a life full of joy returning to the people who loved him in return. He is not seeking out those who killed him, but those who love him. Where He is receiving both the tenderness and justice He really needs to feel. That is where I am right now too.
The story continues. Love is here. We are, in fact, learning to love all of God’s creation right now. It is painful, but true joy is on the other side. Love can hold this pain we are in. That is who I believe God is. That is the vision I am living into right now. It keeps my spirit alive and full of hope and love.
Love is the only house big enough for all the pain in the world. Love is deeply political because it does not discriminate.
I have this friend from high school I’m reconnecting with via social media whose life is carrying out wonderful and much-needed healing work. It’s unique, smart, kind, communal, and fills a gap that is missing in so many different systems we live by culturally,—ie, mental health, religion, and school. But before they could get to where they are right now, they were first misdiagnosed with a disorder they didn’t have bc they were living a life that was unsustainable for their authentic self. Top religious trauma on top of it, and you’ve got a recipe for a breakdown that is actually a trauma response.
There are a couple of things that are highlighted in their videos that are important (well, way more than a couple but I’m highlighting a couple): 1) science is a process, not a piece of information 2) a lot of people are diagnosed with bipolar disorder bc they are exhibiting certain symptoms that fit bipolar disorder, but these symptoms could be caused by a number of things: grief, trauma, present-day stress, and other health factors. Having a chemical imbalance is a theory; it hasn’t been proven—they remind us.
I share this for a number of reasons:
This is not a post to say meds are never needed or bipolar disorder isn’t real. My friend is not saying that either. They work with people who are on meds and they will neither encourage or discourage any of the meds. Just to be clear on that. They just know from experience that treating a chemical imbalance that isn’t there with meds doesn’t work. They said my body was sick and was letting me know.
What they are saying, and Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, MD who wrote the book “The Body Keeps the Score”’ says this too, we are over-diagnosing with meds bc there’s money in doing it. And it’s easier than going deeper. We could be exploring other factors that are causing these systems like the ones mentioned above and trying different treatments. Bessel van der Kolk says we know scientifically yoga is good for treating trauma, but it won’t be prescribed as treatment bc there’s no money in it. (Also, some religions are against yoga—there’s spiritual violations going on here too).
I’ve also learned from mental health professionals that women are a sect of the population over-diagnosed with this disorder. Women are carrying way too much of the burden of society—also why women drinking too much is on the rise too—and our bodies are showing the symptoms. We are medicating instead of looking for the source of the problem.
I Love my friend says science is a process, not a piece of information. I say this about our spiritual life as well. It’s a process of discovery.
We set up systems that want no responsibility for the added trauma they are causing by remaining uniformed and allowing certain patterns going unexplored. I was watching a New Amsterdam episode where a mental health professional went through something that was almost identical to our situation. The system was wrong and apologized profusely for its mistake (we did not get that) and thanked him for being who he was bc they found out what was really wrong through him. Here was the Drs response:
I don’t know if who I am is good anymore. You put my medical license and reputation on the line in this haste.
Then he experienced a trauma response in the following episode when someone needed his help in a way that almost took him down. What this person needed was a basic need for human survival.
I am sharing this bc it’s time to break the cycle of trauma we are systematically spreading and not getting to the source of the trauma. We are making people pay large amounts of money to treat the poison the system put in us. These systems we have set up with prescribed methods responding to unexplored symptoms is causing deeper trauma and taking no responsibility for it. Individuals are having to do their own healing work and are becoming the cycle breakers. ￼ I know I’m being called to help heal too. Spiritual trauma is real, and it’s prevalent. Fundamentalism is functioning just like an addiction. I’m not afraid to meet it where it is for all who want to get better.
I think of Jesus when he asked the man in the gospel of Mark: What do you want me to do for you? The man wanted to be well.
Jesus: your faith has healed you.
This may mean meds are needed, by the way. Needing meds is not a lack of faith. But, it’s important that we are exploring what actually is happening.
Even the doctors will say: I can walk beside you and give you all the resources you need. But I can’t make you want to be well.
These words were cried out by Julius Jones mother and written down by Jonathan Martin. Those are words of anguish from a mother fighting for the life of her son, and the system treating him as if he was nothing. This happened right here in Oklahoma. While his life was spared, eventually, he was still given life in prison—and he is innocent. Our governor made him go through his last rites knowing he was going to give him a stay of execution too! Our governor is incredibly cruel. He has no capacity to feel and that is dangerous.
That stay of execution only happened because the Table Church formed in OKC in response to Julius Jones. Cece Jones-Davis is the founder of the #juliusjones campaign and has caught the world by storm with her advocacy. She is largely to thank for Julius Jones life being spared. Her work with the Justice for Julius campaign continues, because it is not over. She is also expanding this nationwide. The death penalty is not just in Oklahoma, but we sure are the ones making people pay attention!
Y’all, I am trying not to overshare my own family’s trauma: 1) it retraumatizes me 2) it can trigger others who do care but it can cause old wounds to resurface. So let me try this. There is a reason I am juxtaposing our situation with Julius Jones even though they are not the same, but there is a pattern that is the same.
I think when someone wants to heal from any trauma, it is going to fall the hardest on them. It requires a lot of feeling and seeing how it is everywhere in society. It makes it incredibly hard to re-engage society because it is likely to happen again. My family has been burned by two communities now in two completely different ways. But I am discovering patterns: 1) we were overextended both times 2) it is one person acting up that no one is calling to account 3) there is no procedure in place protecting leaders from abuse. 4) the system needs a scapegoat to avoid facing its own failings.
Here is an explaination of trauma by Aundi Kolber:
Trauma happens when we experience a profound rupture in safety (related to emotions/relationships/faith/health/reality, etc) & the repair does not match the wound.
That is something my family and I just experienced. It was profoundly traumatic and it is not just because of the person who acted up in a foolish way that caused the fiasco. Y’all, I know the whole story now and it is so dumb. You cannot even say it was in abundance of caution because it was not even that. It was a clear lack of procedure in place and someone untrained just fumbling around without a guide. Another leader with no capacity to feel, but loves feeling the power. I am grateful it was dumb, I guess. But the reality is I know now it does not matter how pure and innocent you are, if the system needs you to be a scapegoat, you are going to be a scapegoat.
Julius Jones seems like an extreme case, except Oklahoma—and other states that carry out the death penalty—does this to innocent people quite a bit. We should not even being doing it to the guilty. Some states have even executed children. Read “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson. But the thing is, it does not start with the death penalty to get to the apathetic way we are carrying out the death penalty. It starts when we think punishment is a good idea, and our way of punishment is via humiliation and isolation.
Pantsuit Politics discussed addressing wrongdoing differently recently. Would people be more forthcoming with errs they have made if they knew they were not going to be met with humiliation and judgement? When people actually are guilty, the hurt already happened that caused the action. Or maybe they just erred and did not mean to. That happens too. The punishment is just adding something to the situation that is not related to it, so it is NOT solving the problem at all. It not only does not solve anything, it spreads trauma to more people.
I am trying to end this cycle of trauma our systems are consistently producing all around us, everywhere. I read lots of articles with people explaining bad theology and sharing a different way to read and interpret scripture to challenge long-held toxic beliefs. That is really important work. We also need a voice educating on emotional wounds and trauma, and how repressing the emotions does not produce resiliency. When a major event has happened in your life, it needs acknowledgment and care from a community. Communities can help break the cycle of trauma with presence. Like The Table did for Julius Jones. It saved his life and they have not stopped fighting for him. Or like Damar Hamlin. When he was down everyone stopped. And a person was by his side the whole time until he woke up and found out he won the game of life.
It is time to be treated as humans. No one is strong enough to carry themselves through a horrific event that has forever altered their nervous system and how they see the world. Repressing emotions about events actually exacerbates apathy and lack of understanding.