Holiness at the Norman DPS

This week I finally got my Oklahoma license. I’m a legal Oklahoman again. Never knew how good that would feel. I do love where I’ve been, though. Our time was up. We overstayed our welcome. Home has welcomed us back with open arms.

I documented my journey on Facebook of my time at the DPS (Department of Public Safety). It began with a protest, but ended in a Hallelujah. I want to share these posts on my blog too.

November 14, 2022

One thing I love about resting is observing how our systems are working. And that includes my own body’s system too.

I will start with me. Even with this down time, I still struggle with the details of daily living. I now understand this is a trauma response. I work really hard watching systems and how they are affecting our lives because toxic and unsafe systems have literally sent us running for our lives. You do not just recover from that, and it is frustrating living in a world that does not listen to what this has done to our spirit. I mean really listen. I know now that preaching is not going to convert anyone. Often times we cannot see until something disrupts our own lives so we can see.

This is why it is time for us all to collectively rest.

So, I went to the Norman DPS today. So frustrating how hard it is to make an appointment. They are 8 weeks out and we still need our drivers license changed. We have been bombarded with a lot of paperwork and chaos since getting to Oklahoma. Jake’s mom died too, and that seems to have gotten lost in all the mass trauma that just violently came at us all at once. We need space and time to grieve that and it happened when we were trying to survive. It is so hard, and I want you to hear that.

I got to the the DPS at 6:30 AM today and sat in the cold. It is really cold today. It does not open until 8, and they kindly opened the doors at 7:30 to let us in from the cold. By 8:30 AM, I found out the systems are down with no guarantee they will come back up any time soon. The man said it could be ten minutes to two months.

Say what?

Listen, I understand technology issues happen, but we cannot have a system where we can say this may not be back up for two months without some kind of backup plan. Bring back the paperwork, I guess. You do not leave people with that kind of ambiguity when we need official documents. And this system failure is apparently statewide, not just Norman.

There is no coffee or anything hospitable for people while we have to sit and wait either. Nothing hospitable at all.

These are things I notice. Why are we not setting up our systems more humanly? This excessive waiting is also really hard on poor people who get paid by the hour and have to make special time for this.

Are we thinking about these things?

Scoff that we do not have our drivers licenses worked out yet, but what about this?

Are we putting too much pressure on individuals and not enough on systems that could make it a lot easier?

I do not know solutions, but I am happy to work with people on brainstorming ideas and dreaming a more hopeful and restful future.

November 15, 2022

Post #1

Day 2 trying to get my drivers license changed. 6:30 am, again. More people out today than yesterday. It’s freezing. Already spilled some of my coffee, and you know they aren’t providing any here. Crap!

We can do hard things. This shouldn’t have to be hard.

Here’s hoping against hope today works.

Post #2

I’m in. My feet are frozen. There was no letting us in early today. Had to wait until 8.

I made friends in line today. My favorite thing to do. This kind man behind me told me I needed to print my bills for verification or they’ll send me away. He let me go home and held my spot in line! How nice is that?!

Then we got to talking and he’s a raging conservative. Lol! But we still got along. He agreed with me that Christianity and it’s original formation was more of a collectivist society and wouldn’t understand this.

Y’all, I’m going to find these conversations anywhere I go. If nothing else works today, that happened.

Post #3

I’m still waiting it’s been over 40 min with the last number being served A109. I’m A110.

Come on.

But let me tell you what has happened in that is not annoying. Sometimes we have to participate in bad systems, but that doesn’t have to stop the party 🎉

A woman I met this morning did not pass her driving test yesterday. She’s back trying again today. I’m so proud of her. I stood up and cheered for her as she left to take her test. She lit up with appreciation for the support.

She just returned and I found out she passed! I cheered and we gave each other a high five. She was smiling so big and told me thank you.

We are at the party. Life is a party we do not have to throw—a child at VBS told me that in one of our lessons one summer, and I’ll never be the same by her reflection. We just need someone to illuminate there is a party happening.

imherefortheparty #evenatnormandps

Post #4

I want to say more about the man I was talking to this morning. He had no idea who I was when he kindly volunteered to hold my spot so I could print off the documentation I needed. He just cared and knew how hard it is to have the documentation ready as the system needs to see it, and you often find this out after waiting hours to see them. He had gotten turned away the week before, so he freshly knew how hard this is. Experience can create empathy, if we let it.

I had no idea how conservative he was until I got back. When I found out, there were moments I was finding myself infuriated because he began talking over me and making assumptions about things I was not saying at all. Or, if I said one word that can, without generosity of spirit, be taken as an absolute, he would tell me I lost him immediately. I want to stop right there and highlight that…

I only dropped one professor in my seminary career, and that is one reason why. Words are important—I am a word person myself—but I also know there is a spirit to them; meaning, what people say is deeper than face value. It is why I can discover God even in the horrendous parts of scripture where there seems to be absolutely no hope in the story and God is written like some kind of monster. Some people’s lives are really like that (at no fault of their own) and I am glad scripture gives word to that. We can be the hope if we will see them.

An example of looking at something without spirit is illuminated through people who are doing a flat-reading scripture and/or the Constitution. Both become a source of violence instead of living hope when we do that.

We are spiritual beings. There is always more to us than what we can ever say, do, or produce. There is this, as Pappy (Father Joe Ted Miller) would say, something more about us. About God. About all creation that will never be covered by our words. Words only point to the groaning of the Spirit.

But y’all, we hung int here and the fact that he finally heard me on Christianity being collective—not Marxist—was huge.

This is why I believe in dialogue. This man was looking for connection, not agreement. His eyes are sad because he believes the worst in people. Y’all, I just can’t. You know why? Even though people have put us through literal hell—I have been loved well. And I know the sad eyes I am seeing believing no one can be trusted, or everyone wanting handouts, etc are people who have not experienced this same kind of love. The kind that can heal and see beyond the surface.

This is why in Patch Adams I love the patient who is frustrated with people who keep telling him they see four when he is literally holding up four fingers. He seems out of his mind, but he is frustrated people are not thinking more critically. He gets Patch to see beyond the problem. Patch came up with eight when he sat with the man a moment with his own curiosity. When Patch said eight, the patient said: That is “A” good answer—NOT that is “THE” answer.

I do not have an absolute answers about this world in need of healing. I just know we need to do better, and I know we will do better when we see each other and look beyond the problem.

Just like this man at the Norman DPS did when he realized I needed some grace for the inadequate documentation I had because he experienced none the week before.

Hope lives, y’all.

Jake and I have been through a storm to get here. I got me a poster to describe how I am feeling these days. Jake has always been my partner. We have worked hard and poured ourselves out for so long. It is great to start receiving so we can rebuild, and this time build from experience.

Freezing. I just entered the building.

This season tried to take me out, but….
We are family. We love warm hugs.

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