The Political Speech I Want To Hear


Great speeches sink into our souls and linger in our bones. The best writers and orators know how to move our emotions into actions. They convict, inspire, and drive us to move.

Most of the speeches I hear to day are mere rhetoric; empty shells of hollow words meant to anger our enemies, pacify our critics, and satisfy our friends. This is a low bar to reach and a boring one.

The political speech I want to hear invites (healthy) conflict and dialogue. The political speech I want to hear challenges me to think more deeply, to love more courageously, and to admit I don’t know. The political speech I want to hear goes something like this:

Not long ago, a motley band of misfits set out in hopes of creating a new life for themselves. They faced persecution and made the courageous decision to flee. We still see their faces around the world today.

They embraced uncertainty and risked their lives for their children’s children’s children. We are those children. We stand on the shoulders of unnamed giants lost to the anonymity of history. Though their names are forgotten, their bodies long decayed, their sacrifices live on in our blood.

These misfits disagreed on much, but they were united in their quest for something greater than themselves. They were united in their quest for something greater than the world had ever seen.

In the journey for survival, greatness was born. It was forged in battle and nurtured in heartache. Good men died fighting for dreams never realized. Families were torn apart in a war against ourselves and we were faced, once again, with the thought of “will we survive?”

In our darkest times, we forgot that all men are created equal. We denied the humanity of our people and we paid the price; a price we still pay today.

We will not be able to make amends this side of heaven, for what justice can their be for enslavement, rape and murder? Still, we remember and we will fight to right the wrongs we face today – imprisonment, education, rape, and murder.

When we think of the Hassan’s and the Abboud’s and fear rises in our bones, we remember when it was the O’Kelly’s and O’hare’s we feared. We will not confuse peace and harmony with safety and security. To be a refuge, we must accept the refugee.

We will fight; fight to protect our borders and the values dear to us. We remember those who have died to protect these values of freedom, speech, and religion. We will fight the lie that the danger is only outside of us.

We will fight the evil that harms women and children. We will fight the wicked who seek harm and not prosperity; those who use women and children as shields and objects of war. We will take the fight to them so they cannot bring it to us.

We will hold seemingly opposing ideas together and fight for unity, though the force of these oppositions will threaten to break us apart. We will love the refugee and hate the perpetrator who made them flee. We will love women, all women, and stand for their right for life; be they Syrian, elderly, or unborn.

We will disagree with our neighbors and defend their rights to believe it. We will fight to protect those who disagree with us because freedom is greater than homogeneity.

To the villains who use violence to threaten or intimidate others, your time is up – be it in nightclubs, churches, mosques, or abortion clinics; we will not rest until we see justice. We will uphold the values of justice and mercy even when the force of them together threatens to rip us apart.

We, the people, of the United States will stand united in the face of tyranny and oppression; whether they come from within or outside. We have hope because we find our courage runs deeper than our fear.


7 Ways to Avoid Burnout

marathon-1494648_1920Yes, I’ve done that once. or twice. OK, maybe several times. In fact, going 90mph is my default setting. I’m not so good with the emotions and the rest and the boundaries.

Recently (as in last week), I wrapped up an incredibly busy season; perhaps my busiest yet. I had serious commitments every night of the week except Fridays and Saturdays and I had work every day except Sunday. I was busy – we all are.

The work I was doing was meaningful. It brought me great joy and I loved working hard and ending each day feeling accomplished, tired, and empty. However, as the months wore on, I found myself empty more – mornings were harder, people were harder, my brain and body felt slower.

Still, I managed to stay relatively healthy during this time – physically, mentally, and spiritually, which is probably a first. After several burnouts of varying degrees I think I’ve finally learned a little about myself, my body, and my life.

Here are a few of the ways I’ve stayed healthy this season and if you’re a chronic over-achiever or workaholic, maybe these can help you too.

  1. PRAY. When I was looking at my calendar back in August, the sheer volume of weekly commitments was overwhelming. I began praying then that God would give me the strength to handle my responsibilities well. This continued daily and hourly for the last several months.
  2. REST – I was diligent, dare I say vigilant, in getting to bed on time. For me, this was 10:30pm with a 5:30am wake up most mornings. I was at a point where even 30 minutes of variation in the amount of sleep I got would derail me. Sleep was also a reminder that I am not super-human and I am not in control.
  3. EXERCISE – As difficult as it was, I consistently worked out at least 4x per week this season. Yes, some weeks were only 3x and some were more, but my average was 4x per week. For me, hard exercise is a balm that soothes the rough spots in my personality, calms my fears, and generally keeps me happy. I not only need exercise, I need to know I have time to exercise.
  4. EAT – One of my early indicators of my mental health is my physical health. I don’t notice my emotions quickly and I feel stress physically. My body usually knows the state of my health before my mind so making sure I am well-fueled is essential. It’s easy for me to default to oatmeal, eggs, or fruit for dinner and while these aren’t bad, I definitely need more food than that. If anything, this is the one area this season where I did not excel. Lots of oatmeal, eggs, and avocados for me and not enough “real meals.”
  5. FRIENDS – As a high-energy achiever, I can easily neglect my friends in order to accomplish a task. However, my friends rejuvenate my spirit and give me life in a way crossing off a to-do list never will. Even when I was tired, I knew I needed to spend time with friends – previously, I would have stayed home and opted for sleep, but I’ve learned there’s nothing quite as rejuvenating as good wine and belly laughs.
  6. READ MY BIBLE – This could easily go hand-in-hand with prayer, but I think this needs it’s own category. Maintaining spiritual health and growth is essential (if not THE essential) to a healthy life. During this crazy season, I saw God provide for me in ways I could not have imagined and reading His Word reminded me each day that my story is just a small part of a much bigger story. When things were tough and I was tired and surviving the next 24 hours was daunting, remembering that there is a God who is in control and who sustains the universe (and me!) was critical to maintaining my sanity and perspective.
  7. SHARE MY FEELINGS – We already know that I’m not so good at the feelings, emotions, and sharing weakness thing so this step is not natural to me. BUT, I found it incredibly liberating to be honest when people asked how I was doing. The typical “I’m good, busy, but good!” response when people asked me how I was doing just didn’t cut it this time. I was also surprised by how encouraging people were and how many people thanked me for my honesty. It’s not easy admitting I am weak, but I am so you might as well know the truth.

Well, there you go. These are 7 of the ways I’ve stayed healthy this season. What are the ways you stay healthy?

Be sure to stay tuned for more observations as I rest, decompress, and re-evaluate this busy season.

Are You Going to Hurt Me?, A Response

Tim Challies recently wrote about his observations running in the early morning and the women whose path he crosses in his article Are You Going to Hurt Me?

The article resonated with me as a woman, Christian, and runner and I wrote a response. Tim posted my response in his Letters to the Editor. I’ve copied my response below for you:

Tim, thank you for writing the “Are You Going to Hurt Me” article. It brings to light the tension I have long felt as a woman, runner, (recovering) feminist, and friend of many good men.

As a woman, I walk around knowing that 50% of the population could hurt me if they so choose. Although I am strong for a girl, I am weak compared to men. Yes, I work out regularly, I lift heavy weights, I run, I do everything “right,” but I am weak. At best, I hope to be able to defend myself long enough to survive, to get away, or to get help; that is all.

As a believer, I walk around knowing I am equal in worth to men. I have strong parents who loved me and taught me true self-confidence, I am a daughter of the King. I have unique skills and talents because I am a woman that neither diminish nor are greater than a man’s unique skills and talents.

As a (recovering) feminist, I fight the lie that I have to be the same as men to be valuable. I fight the temptation to turn a blind eye to the unique image bearing of men and women. I want to be the strong, unafraid, woman confidently striding down the street or running down the dark path, but I am not. My ears are pricked, I eyes are peeled, and I’m always a little afraid.

As a friend, daughter, sister-in-Christ to many good men, I walk around with the security of knowing there are good, godly men who desire to protect me – even when I don’t want it. They care for me emotionally and yes, even physically. I know men who go out of their way to make me feel secure when I am running alone—they step to the side, they speak, their eyes do not linger with a lustful hunger. These men speak kindly, they walk me to my car, they hold doors—not because I am incapable, not because I can never walk alone to my car, but because they care. They remind me that my hope is not in myself, it’s not even in them, my hope is in the God who they reflect—the one who cares for me when I am alone and afraid.

Thank you for bringing this simple issue to light. It is a reality for many women and we need good men in all areas of our life.

The Post I Don’t Want to Write.

This isn’t a post I want to write; for many reasons, really, but I can’t not write. I didn’t want to write it because my words feel inadequate, my feelings are so muddied with grief, anger, disbelief, confusion, numbness, and much more. I don’t think I can be articulate and polished. As if there is a way to polish senseless murders. Even days later, it is hard to process.

I feel inadequate to write because my voice is not as important. There are many who have suffered more deeply, been hurt more personally, felt more afraid than me. Still, I have a voice and I must use it – in whatever way I can – to speak against this. This murder of human beings.

We live in a culture of death. Every day we are reminded, subtly and not so subtly, of our mortality. We grieve again and again when our friends, our brothers, are killed. They are killed because of their skin color. They are killed because of prejudice. They are killed because of mental illness. They are killed because of their job. They are killed because of religious beliefs. They are killed because of sexual orientation. They are killed just because.

A simple blog post in an obscure part of the internet is not going to change the world. My feelings are not going to change the world. Facebook filters, twitter hashtags, and moments of silence are not going to change the world.

The world will change when millions of people, like us, gather together and take small steps towards relationships. We grieve together, we share meals together, we fight injustice on our blocks, in our schools, in our neighborhoods, at our churches, in our government, and everywhere in between. We fight because we have a purpose greater than our safety and comfort. We fight because we have glimpsed our Creator, the Creator of all men and women, blacks and whites, babies and grandparents, police and citizens.

We cannot stand blindly by while our brothers are being killed. We cannot give into the temptation to dismiss, adjudicate without the facts, or gloss over the reality of our world. We must be willing to have hard conversations. Confront our own fears, prejudices, and blindness. We must carry one another’s burdens – even when we don’t fully understand. We must accept that the world as we see it is not as it truly is – for any of us. Our experiences, parents, skin color, gender, geography, and everything else that makes us us color our views.

We must share truth. Truth that is hard to hear. Truth that incriminates us. Truth that makes us uncomfortable. Truth that all humans are created in the image of God and are worthy of life by this fact alone – every black man, every police officer, every unborn child, every person with a physical or mental disability, every elderly person, every person. We cannot pick and choose – not for any reason. When we devalue one class of people, we devalue all; race, age, sexual orientation, gender, I.Q., are all irrelevant to value.

We must share hope. Hope that one day, the God of the Universe, who created every man, woman, and child will return and all wrongs will be made right. Justice will be served and grief will be no more. There is a God who is our great comforter; to whom we can cry for justice and healing. He is our Hope in the midst of tragedy and fear. He is good and He is just.

Today, we continue to grieve. again. Tomorrow, we will grieve and fight and hope and we will do it again and again because we cannot, we will not give up.

Orlando and Days Gone By

It’s been three days since the Orlando shootings. The worst mass shooting in our nation’s history. Better writers and thinkers than I have already written better thoughts than I will. I recommend this to you.

We often hear older generations lamenting the days gone by and I, for one, often chalk it up to wishful thinking and a rewriting of the past. Still, in the wake of the past few years, it’s hard not to take a negative view of our current circumstances.

In the last month we have witnessed a mass shooting, terror attacks around the world, the murder of thousands of unborn children, a convicted rapist receiving a laughable sentence because a longer one might “disrupt his life”, and countless other tragedies. We’ve seen racial hate crimes, religious hate crimes, gender hate crimes, and plain hate. We feel the tension to the point of apathy; there is so much to worry about, why do anything at all? Or maybe we’re afraid to be on the “wrong side” of whatever debate is currently going on.

What gets lost in all of this though is our humanity. A mass shooting isn’t just a news headline, it’s fathers, mothers, aunts, uncles, friends, spouses, lovers not coming home. 20 minutes behind a dumpster is not just “boys being boys.” It is a man, willingly using his strength to harm a woman too weak to respond. Unborn children aren’t just fetuses and clumps of tissue. They are people, created in the image of God with all the potential and hope that comes with it. People with disabilities aren’t a drain on society, they are contributors, but more than that, they are image-bearers.

We need to debate idelogical issues. We need to ask hard questions and challenge the status quo. We need to trust and still remain skeptical of governmental authority. But we also need to remember that our statistics are people – whichever side of any issue you fall on.

The mother visiting an abortion clinic is a human being, with a story and pain and hope and fear. The men and women shot in Orlando are people with dreams and families.

Our grief is good. It reminds us of our humanity and our fragile, but good life. When we grieve a mass shooting, our hearts cry out for justice and mercy from a God bigger than ourselves. We mourn a broken world and we confirm this brokenness with our tears. And still we hope. We hope for justice. We hope in our Creator because this. is. not. right. We have never known a world without death and still we know death is wrong.

In the midst of grief, we have hope. Hope that one day, all will be made right. This does not mean “our” candidate will be elected or “our” team will win. One day mourning will turn into joy and wrongs will be righted. Our hope is not the light hope that says “be happy, better days will come!” Our hope is the deep hope that comforts in the midst of grief. It says this is not OK, but there is something greater. It says, there is sorrow tonight and we grieve to our bones, but there will be joy one day.

Our hope in the midst of our helpless grief is that there is One who has already defeated death. He has made a way for wrongs to be right. Our deepest needs, our deepest hopes are satisfied in Jesus Christ. He is the only one who has faced death and lived. In Him we hope and with Him we grieve.

Now, let’s grieve and sit with our neighbors as we walk this journey called life together.

Lessons Learned from the Girls of Ablor

D-group girls | 2016

The lie of good enough. Am I good enough? Did I do enough? Could I have done more? Am I sufficient to meet this need, accomplish this task, be this friend, the list goes on. This lie continues to follow me in everything I do.

As I reflect on this season of graduation, endings and beginnings, hope and a little fear, I am quickly filled with my own doubts and aware of my own inadequacies. I over-analyze farewell speeches, words left unsaid or said in haste, patience lost, frustrations aired, and grace not given.

In these moments, my hope is (once again) in my performance. Was I good enough for my girls? The answer is a resounding NO. However, my job, my hope, and my purpose is to point them to the One who is good enough; infinitely so. My confidence is in God’s provision for them – not their own and certainly not mine.

Looking back, I realize I’ve grown just as much as my girls. I am not the same person I was when we were all just young babes trying to figure out life and high school. A few things I’ve learned:

  1. Patience. Hard work and progress are slow. Be faithful in the small things and one day you will see they’ve become the big things. Success and growth don’t come overnight, but don’t lose hope. Keep fighting. God is faithful to the end.
  2. Leadership is not about me. My purpose in leading these girls is not for my fame, ego, appreciation, or anything else. I was most frustrated when I felt disappointed because the girls weren’t performing the way I wanted instead of remembering we are all a work in progress – me especially! I’ve learned to trust in God who is bigger than all of us and realize that growth is slow, messy, and sometimes painful – for me and them. My patience is greatest when I remember I’m not their savior.
  3. Laugh. Y’all these girls are Pranksters with a capital “P”. They have pulled off a long list of ever increasing skillful and well-thought out pranks. They’ve kept me on my toes and taught me to never underestimate the craftiness of high school girls. They are funny, goofy, and creative. Laughter and the mutual bond of pranking your leaders is a great base for friendship and vulnerability. Also, revenge is a dish best served publicly 🙂
  4. Give grace then give it again. To my girls, to my self, friends, family, and strangers. It’s easy to think the worst of people, but most of the time we are all just trying our best. Be patient, forgiving, kind, and give grace. I have never looked back and thought, Man, I was too gracious to that person. I should have been harder on them.
  5. Pray. Prayer softens my heart and does more than any of my words or actions could do. When I pray I remind myself I am not their savior. I am not in control. My heart is softened and hopeful after prayer, but I still don’t do it often enough.

It has been such a privilege to lead a group of high-school girls for four years. Some of my favorite memories include time with them. We laugh, joke, and talk about hard realities. These girls have challenged me to think more deeply, laugh more often, and not be afraid to take risks. I am so excited to see how far we have all come and I can’t wait to see what lies ahead.

To the girls of Ablor, thank you!

Equal Play. Equal Pay.

I was 10 years old and riding in the car with my family; a Dodge Minivan, to be exact. The 1999 Women’s World Cup was fast approaching and I could not be more excited. My Dad starting singing the theme song from a popular commercial featuring Mia Hamm and Michael Jordan.

Anything you can do I can do better…

…I can do anything BETTER THAN YOU! was my loud reply

The women on the US Soccer Team were my heroes and idols. I wanted to be just like them. I could name every player and her number on command. My room was covered floor to ceiling in posters of women’s soccer players, swimmers, runners, and articles cut out from Sports Illustrated. I love sports. I love female sports. I love playing and watching sports.

I am part of the generation of girls who count the 1999 World Cup as a turning point in their life. I will forever remember Bob Gillespie’s article in The State newspaper decrying women’s sports and urging everyone to “wait for the hysteria to die back down.”

Well Bob, you were wrong and I’m glad. The popularity of women’s sports has only continued to rise and millions of girls around the world love and play sports.

Many of the players on the reigning World Cup Champion team were also influenced by the ’99ers. They too remember exactly where they were when Kristine Lilly saved a goal line shot with her head or when Brandi ripped off her shirt after beating China in PK’s.

The current generation of players are standing on the shoulders of these giants and they are reaching higher. They are demanding equal pay for equal play.

On the surface, this is a no-brainer; an easy decision for any non-female hating person. On the surface, I agree. Equal play, equal pay. Still, I think the issue is more complex than social media typically allows.

Let’s first acknowledge that women have been (and are still) paid less than their male counterparts for the same work across many (if not all) fields. This is not right. This should be challenged, called out, and changed.

The issue comes with how we define “equal.” I think most of us agree, equal does not mean the same. A butter knife and a steak knife are equally knives, but they are not the same. A chimpanzee and a rabbit are equally mammals, but they are not the same. With this in mind, I would argue men and women are equal, but not the same, especially in sports.

I work out regularly with guys and while there are somethings I am better at, across the board, even the weaker guys are bigger, faster, and stronger than me. I work hard, sometimes I’m more skilled, but all things (weights) being the same, I cannot keep up most of the time. This principal holds true across the majority of the male-female spectrum with regard to physical pursuits.

Drawing this out to sports, the work effort, hours of practice, and technical skills required are equal, but the results are different. The best female players in the world, the US national team, are on par with a talented U16-U18 boys team. Though the work is equal, in comparison, the result is not the same.

This being said, the women have achieved what their male counterparts have not – multiple world cup titles, olympic medals, and higher world rankings. All things being equal the women are competing at a higher level than the men and succeeding.

Admittedly, there are more factors than just the play on the field. Marketability, media coverage, sponsors, all factor into an athlete’s value to a company. I do not know the exact dollars, but I would imagine the marketability of the female players as reigning world cup champions is equal to, if not greater than the men. The players leading the charge for equal play, equal pay are some of the most highly marketable athletes in the world, particularly when marketing to women, though more than a few Sports Illustrated magazines have been sold as a result of the work of these women as well.

My concern for the movement, and the reason I desire clarity, is because I see a trend in sports (and Western culture in general) towards declaring men and women the same, and not merely equal. I fear a day when women’s and men’s sports will be combined and women will be excluded not because they’re women per se, but because after around age 13 they simply cannot compete on the same level as their male counterparts.

Women and men are different, but equal and those differences need to be celebrated. Women and men are much more similar than they are different, but much like a painting by Monet, the beauty is in the detail.

I still say equal play, equal pay, but let’s not confuse equality with sameness. Women and men bring different strengths and people to the game and that should be celebrated, valued, and rewarded, not minimized.

Why President Obama Should Nominate the Next Supreme Court Justice (and Why I’m not voting for Donald Trump)

1200324_1280x720Over the next week, South Carolina will become the third state to cast its vote on the way to nominating the next candidates for President of the United States.

Personally, I’m on the AnyonebutTrump bandwagon so if that disqualifies me in your mind, feel free to stop reading now.

If choosing a President isn’t enough, we are also fighting for the nomination of the next Supreme Court Justice. If there was ever a time to be interested in politics this is it. In what I think is one of the greatest strokes of beauty in our system of government, multiple bodies hold tremendous power over the decisions made for the nation and yet, none of them is independent from the other.

The death of Justice Scalia has only ramped up the fervor and spit-fire that has already accompanied this election cycle. Blinded by passion, many people have abandoned their principles for the convenient (and self-serving) position.

It is the role of the President to appoint Supreme Court Justices and the role of Congress to approve or block the nomination. Period. There is no clause that states except in an election year. Principles, laws, and rules exist to maintain order, longevity of government, and as close to fairness as we will get in this world. You don’t get to pick and choose when you want the system to work for you. Principles are meant to guide us in the difficult times, not merely support our argument when it’s convenient. If you espouse the virtues of democracy (ahem, republic) then you must accept them when you disagree – THAT is the beauty and power of the system; individuals with conflicting ideas coexisting and even thriving among tension while working for the betterment of all.

It is not always convenient to have a conversation with someone you disagree with. Sometimes, our beliefs lead us down a path we would rather not go. Justice Scalia was famous for and skilled at following and argument to its logical end.

The decisions made by the next President, like many before, will have grand implications for the future of our country. This is one of the main reasons (among many) I wholeheartedly cannot support Donald Trump for President. His pandering to voters is a thin mask concealing his love of self (and only himself). A man who does not ask for forgiveness is a man who values himself above all others. Power and selfishness together have destroyed many more people, families, and nations than any flawed government program.

As you prepare to vote I challenge you to think critically about your own beliefs – what are the far-reaching conclusions that result when you follow out your line of thinking? What about the views of your candidate? You may not always like where they lead (I know I don’t), but at least you will be honest about what you (and they) do or do not believe.

Don’t Get a Mentor

Nearly every millennial has been given the advice, “get a mentor.” We know we are lacking in experience, knowledge, and wisdom. We go off into the world and beg the most popular and influential people we know to be mentors. Often, they are smart, successful, wise, and busy. We expect lots of time, energy, and emotion directed towards us – after all, we’re the selfish generation.

In our hyper-individualized world, where texting is more comfortable than talking, we are often isolated not just from our own peers, but especially from older generations. Wisdom, knowledge, and experience that was once learned in the context of daily life now has to be gleaned in curated conversations over coffee.

What if this didn’t have to be the case? What if instead of clamoring for mentors, we sought to be friends instead? What if we made intentional efforts to spend time with people 10-50 years older than us, just because?

Two of my dearest friends are 60+ years old. They are kind, easy to talk to, can be funny or serious, they give great advice, they listen well, laugh quickly, and remember small details about my life. They tell great stories and they love people.

These two women are wholly committed to God and his Word. They love the Scriptures and they love people. They are active in their churches and they love talking about their faith. They are skilled in debate and often challenge me to think more deeply about my own faith and life. They refuse to settle with platitudes or shallow thinking. To engage with them is to draw water from a deep well.

They encourage me to be more fully me while challenging me to dive deeper into God’s Word and his plan for me.

It would be easy to call these women my mentors, because they are. They counsel, exhort, and love me, but our relationship is deeper than a formal mentor relationship. Each of them came into my life for what I thought was a particular season, but our relationships have bloomed into something longer lasting.

Individuals of my generation are often told to “find a mentor.” The implication being, in this individualistic society we need the wisdom of those older and wiser than us. This is sound advice.

However, too often, we look for a “mentor” without having a clear idea of what that relationship should look like. I’m guilty of this too. If I know someone has skills or wisdom I need, how do I best ask and get that information from them?

Embedded in this thought process is a self-focused “me” attitude. I am only looking to get, not give. Part of this is true humility because I am painfully aware of my weaknesses and lack of experience/knowledge. On the other hand, it is much easier for me to go to a lunch and drill someone with a set of questions without ever pausing to really get to know them. It’s efficient (of my time and theirs), purposeful, and gives me a sense of accomplishment when I leave.

Still, when I think about the people who have meant the most to me and from whom I’ve learned the most, these two women immediately come to mind.

They have laughed, cried, and prayed with me and for me. Their perspective in my life is invaluable. Their age gives them a tranquility about crisis that is refreshing and calming. They have spent decades studying God’s Word and are able to exhort me in the kindest, most gentle manner. They have a gift for telling stories; grandkids, vacation, death, dinner plans, physical weakness, and dreams of the future all flow  through our conversations. In these conversations I’ve learned more about life, being a women, and myself than I could ever have with a pre-determined set of questions.

I rarely leave our conversations feeling like we accomplished “the agenda” and yet, I always leave feeling full in the deepest sense. They share hopes, fears, challenges, and praises with me and asked me to pray on their behalf. I’ve felt the weight of the responsibility of friendship not as a burden, but as a privilege. In the technical sense, I would consider these women mentors. They advise, cheer, support, and counsel me regularly. More than anything though, they are my friends and my life is better for it.

*As a disclaimer, I do not think mentors are bad and I know some relationships last for a specific season or a specific topic, but what if we actively sought to be good friends and not just good mentees?

What to do about Refugees?

refugeesRecent events have once again thrust the values of compassion, life, safety, and responsibility into the forefront of our conversations. After the most recent events in France, the issue of immigration and refugees is at the center of conversation.

To be clear, America has not always been kind to the immigrant or refugee, be it Mexican, Irish, Jewish, Catholic or Sudanese. We are not unique in our circumstances – fear, compassion, and safety have forced many generations to face their ideology. As a nation, we have an ideology that touts compassion, but when faced with the reality of perceived safety vs. ideology we, the people, often choose perceived safety.

I see many posts and statuses (thanks social media) saying some version of a few ideas like:

“If we can’t take care of (homeless vets, children in poverty, mentally ill, etc) in our own country then we should not take more refugees” or “It is shameful that we care more about refugees than our own people.”

and my favorite…

“If I had a bowl of 10,000 m&m’s and I0 were poisoned, how many people would be willing to eat a handful?”

First, let’s make sure we understand m&m’s are not people and they do not bear the image of God and they are not escaping war and terror.

Second, does our compassion for one group of people negate our compassion for another group? One person cannot do all, but all can do some. My question for those in the “care about our own people first” camp is this: In what ways are you already caring for these populations (homeless, orphaned, impoverished)?

My experience has shown me that the people who are actually working with at-risk populations are the same people advocating to bring the refugees into our community.

Now, let’s be clear. I am not saying we should abandon our due diligence in screening those who want to immigrate. I am not saying we should have open borders. I am not saying our actions are without risk. I am not saying we should not seek justice for the perpetrators of terror.

It should be remembered that without welcoming refugees fleeing terror, the United States would have never known Albert Einstein, Madeleine Albright, or Sigmund Freud. Also, if you are of Anglo-Saxon descent then at least one of your ancestors was likely fleeing religious persecution in some form.

Immigration, war, and refugees are complicated issues that deserve complex and diligent thought. We cannot afford to be either bleeding heart liberals or closed-minded conservatives.

Most of us are not in a position to directly influence public policy (we are a republic, not a democracy, after all) so I will not address the issue of public policy. What I do know is that there are already immigrants and refugees in almost every community in our nation and there will likely be more. Isolation, poverty, and lack of opportunity are 3 main drivers of radicalism in any culture (neo-Nazi, IRA, radical Islam, to name a few). Perhaps the way we combat extremism is not through isolation and fear, but through community and relationships.

If you are a believer in Christ, then you must examine his word and let his authority determine your actions. We have been sent as sheep in the midst of wolves, to be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves. We are immigrants in a foreign land, longing for home. Our actions and beliefs should reflect an ideology greater than personal safety and deeper than political dogma. We should seek both justice and mercy, safety and sacrifice, wisdom and compassion.

When we think about an issue let’s think deeply, slowly, and be willing to say “I don’t know.”