When Emotion is Anathema to Gentleness


Twice so far this week (oh, who are we kidding? Twice in the same day…) I have wanted to get into a fight, or at the very least, a shouting match with people who have made friends of mine feel marked lousy. It didn’t matter to me whether it was a mistake or not, I just knew that they had hurt someone I care about and I was seeing red. It doesn’t help that I have been in a depleted, weary place for the past week and am finding my negative emotions easily amplified right now, but that didn’t matter either. All I knew is that these people needed to know just how much they suck. I even  gave in to internet courage and posted something to that effect on one hurt friend’s FB post about the incident.

And then I immediately felt guilty. I immediately felt like a fraud, a liar.

Here I am, claiming to espouse love and grace and gentleness, and yet I can act and say things so absolutely contrary to any of those things. I wanted my friend to know that she was supported and loved but I tore someone else down to do it, someone I didn’t even know.

I went back and edited my comment (to say that I wanted to yell at the HR person in question rather than hit them), but, obviously, I still feel badly about it. Or else I wouldn’t be sitting here, feeling compelled to write this at 6am the following morning.

Emotion can sometimes be an anathema to gentleness. Mine are currently running high, subject to amplification because of weariness and need to recharge/refresh, and I allowed them to rob me of an opportunity to show gentleness to a stranger. I lost a chance to model the gentleness that I am very much wanting and trying to internalize so that it becomes habit, instinct. That chance is gone now. I can change the post, I can apologize and try to do better, but I cannot erase that first response, that first action, those first words. They are written on time and memory. I won’t forget them, and I am honestly struggling a bit not to be consumed by them right now. I acknowledge my tendency to ruminate on things and cause myself a fair amount of emotional pain because of past mistakes. That is not what I want to do to here.

I acknowledge my humanity, my fallibility, and that I’m going to do the wrong thing at times. But I am not through. My growth is not over. I have felt that nudge of guilt, and I have listened to it. I see where I was wrong and I apologize for my behavior. I will try to be better today. I will strive for gentleness today, even with those I don’t know and may never meet. The words below were published by Jennifer Dukes Lee on her Facebook page yesterday and I am ever so thankful for them and their God-breathed truth.

“I want to be reminded that there is no failure. Failure is just another word for “try again tomorrow,” or “move on; there’s something better for you.” Failure is not the opposite of success. Failure is simply this: NOT TRYING.

Your bravery has a voice. As the week begins, listen to it. Bravery is the voice within that says, “I did not fail. I will try again tomorrow.” — Jennifer Dukes Lee

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Grace in our Belonging. Grace in our Gifting.


BloPoMo Day 10 – The day after the Day After

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Like many others, I felt heavier today, wearier than yesterday. My body has shown signs of stress that I apparently hadn’t realized I was under. Today held my larger, rowdier classes and I prayed fervently during my prep period for the passionate strength I had found in myself yesterday. As I sat and pondered what to write about today, as I thought and read about grace in its myriad forms, I was reminded of something over and over again. We belong to each other. Let me say that again. We. Belong. To. Each. Other. There are people for whom this is the battle cry of their lives and it is stitching itself more and more boldly into the standard of my own.

We belong to each other.

This means that we are each other’s responsibility. We are each other’s circus and monkeys. Jesus set the example for us by leaning into the lives of others, meeting and loving them where they were, getting into their business as Ben would put it, and showing them that, yes, He cared for them. It didn’t matter if they were Jew, Gentile, Samaritan, man, woman, child, etc. He belonged to all of them and they all to Him.

We belong to each other. So when the going gets tough and the pain gets heavy, we share our shoulders, share our strength, share our grace, share our safe places. Sometimes we are the bearer up, sometimes we are the one falling apart, but what matters is that we are there, belonging to each other, holding each other, leaning into and being for each other.

{“…so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith;  if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach…” Romans 12:5-7 (NIV)}

Not only to do we belong to each other but we are each uniquely equipped to fulfill our role in the body, in the family of humanity. Some of us are givers, some of us are doers, some of us are warriors, some of us are speakers, some of us are carers,  some of us are listeners, some of us are teachers, some of us are artists, builders, writers, musicians, healers, or creators. Each of us has a gift, a talent, a thing that we do that is indispensable to our people and to our impact upon the world. You, your gift, your thing, your grace matters. It matters a whole lot, because (if I may borrow the admonition of a little orange tree guardian), without you, this world isn’t going to get better. It’s not.

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Grace in the Unafraid


Today, I feel scared but I refuse to be afraid. I will not be afraid. Scary will not stop me. It will not!

Scary will not stop me from caring.

Scary will not stop me from doing as much good as I can.

Scary will not stop me from teaching my daughter and my students to stand in love, have courage, and be kind.

Scary will not stop me from being a decent human being.

Scary will not stop me from extravagantly showing the love of the God I believe in.

Scary will not stop me from punching above my weight to build a better, more loving, more graceful world for us all.

Scary will not stop me. It won’t stop us. We can do this. You and me and us. Every day. We can do this!

I give you fair warning here and now. I am dangerous. I will love fiercely. I will be kind. Scary will not stop me.

My Sacred Spaces: Pen and Paper


Author’s Note: Here is the second installment of my “sacred spaces” writings.

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When I started this post, I was sitting on the floor and next to me were my newest journal and my fountain pen, waiting for when I was done blogging so that I could pick them up and record and reflect on my day’s moments. This is one of my sacred spaces: pen and paper. When I open my journal, a notebook, or notepad, and am greeted by empty lined pages, I cannot help but feel the potential, a welcoming sense in that openness. Like the page is waiting for me, holding its breath as it waits to see just what I will create on that open paleness.

As I write, I sometimes feel like my mind is just pouring out through the 11863455_10153060013348133_4766593114216941972_ncracks, flowing out through the ink in my pen. Some of those cracks are repaired, healed, and stronger than before, some are still healing, and yet others are just now nicks that I am trying to tend to before they hairline and snap. My pain, my joy, my creativity, my utter lack of spoons, whatever is going on in that particular moment, it all flows through the fissures in my humanity, filling the page with emotions, perceptions (correct or incorrect), rantings (impassioned or enraged), worlds, characters, fantasies, life decisions, prayers, dreams, and reflections.

As I let it all pour out, I sometimes feel those fractures getting lighter, as if my own flawed humanity doesn’t weigh quite so heavily on my soul. Whether I share that poured out humanity with others or keep it private, the lightening is still there. My heart feels a bit freer sometimes when I force myself into honesty. To answer your question: yes, honesty with one’s self is just as hard or maybe more so than honesty with others. When I sit down with my journal or my computer, I still sometimes struggle with the idea of being accepted, ie, the freedom to write whatever I feel like I need to write. I cannot accurately describe the force of will and courage that it has taken for me to press the “Publish” button sometimes, and the reception hasn’t always been great BUT I was true to my soul and what I felt I needed to write in that particular moment. And that is worth it.

There is a peace in putting pen to paper that I do not think I have ancient or perfect enough words in my vocabulary to describe. I have been filling notebooks and journals since I was in middle school. Geek moment: I once filled three notebooks in the writing out of the film “3 Ninjas” from memory. There are hundreds of pages filled with the story of my life, with the peace that I have found in reflection and pouring out my heart and mind through the cracks. I even remember particular favorite spaces to write. One of the is the booth all the way back, against the wall, on the left as you walked into the Student Union on the University of Evansville campus. From there, I had a great view of the rest of the union and, particularly, the corner that the theatre students had claimed as their own, and, from there, I could turn inward and fill pages with silver and black ink, the sweet scent of leather in my nose from the journal cover, as I worked my way through my undergrad years, those first few years on my own away from home.

I will forever call pen and paper home, safety, peace, and portal. A deeply sacred space.

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‘He’


She watched with fascination as he took the book from her, opening its covers with immeasurably more reverence than anyone has ever approached the Ark of the Covenant with in any movie. Ever. He kept repeating incredulously that he had a book, that it was his book. 

And it was his book. And she watched him read it. Wait. Should she even call him a ‘him’? 

Yes. Yes, he was definitely ‘him’. In all her years of teaching, she had never seen a student approach a book with such unbound awe, wonder, and respect. No, anyone who held such esteem and love for paper, cardboard, marks on a page, and the wisdom and knowledge they possessed, that individual could never be called an ‘it’. No, he was definitely a ‘he’. A thinking, pondering, imagining ‘he’. 

But he wasn’t even human. Far from it. Yet he was still unique and very much still ‘he’.