I accidentally stopped blogging again. I'm a full-time psychology undergrad, a full-time photographer and a full-time Netflix binging, puppy mama, vegan recipe making extraordinaire who spends a lot of nights loving in an off the record relationship at the moment. Basically, I'm terribly suited to be a writer in this season of my life even though I'm okay at it sometimes and time management is a huge reason why I stopped.
More than anything though, I stopped writing because what I do in the world somehow boxes me into very narrow, stereotypical categories that make me feel kind of scared to share my world views because apparently when you love orphaned babies and Jesus you start getting social media followers who expect you to love guns and hate gays and talk about 'Merica like it's something to be proud of right now.
I hate to stereotype the stereotype but I've been afraid to write because I will get inevitable side eye for coming out as a non-conservative, Jesus-lover and that's just the way it goes. Cue boos because how dare I make a generalized blow to Americanized Christianity and then call myself a Jesus lover.
I know I'm walking a narrow line voicing what I'm about to voice but the thing of it is, I don't like coloring books and I'm not about to let my life become one. Maybe for a couple months post Zimbabwe I lost myself trying not to upset a lot of people in my personal life/on my social media handles but I don't like lines and I'm not going to stay in them anymore because no change has come from the one size fits all persona that "people like me," are supposed to fit.
What am I even talking about anyways? What's the backstory to this rant?
Backstory one - a glass of chardonnay.
Backstory two - I'm feeling liberated because I took my last final of the semester today and I'm officially not a college student until spring semester which means that I have more time to write rants on the internet for my mom to read and my old bible study teacher to choke on her green tea over.
Backstory three - I don't like molds and I don't fit one so feeling like people looking in on my life, even if it is just a handful, have this overwhelmingly false understanding of who I am or what I do/believe really frustrates me.
Backstory four - I don't get to reach the people that I want to reach because I'm stuck in an assumed mold. People know I'm beginning a documentary on the global orphan crisis, they assume I'm a missionary and suddenly I've been placed in a lane -- not even a car lane, more like a bike lane, of ideas and ideologies that I'm assumed to follow and believe. I get questions like, "what church are you with?"
"So are you spreading the Christian gospel?"
"Why don't you talk about your faith more on your social media handles?"
"Have you talked to God about your Uganda trip yet? How is your pray preparation?"
....My what preparation? Do I need to go to the doctor for that?
You guys, I'm not coming out as an anti-Christian. I love Jesus hard and my relationship with him blows my mind -- this guy works crazy, unexplainable miracles over and over again. I literally cannot even explain how crazy/amazing/insane the things that happen in my life are when I call up my homeboy. I'm not talking about a fuzzy feeling in my chest, I'm talking about hardcore cosmic miracles that leave me shaking in my skin because I've let myself go there -- I've let myself be used by him. I'm coming out as someone who puts hands on love before the Christian dialect.
Here's what happens when I write that paragraph ^ in a blog post combined with the paragraphs before that ^^^^^ -- crickets happen. Crickets are literally born out of my audacity to put these things together. I don't appeal to the conservative Americanized Christians who are still trying to figure out why I have a computer in my kitchen and I don't appeal to the agnostic/atheists/open-minded individuals who aren't ready to accept the validity of anyone who calls Jesus a miracle-worker.
So yea, I stopped writing. I pay my bills by taking adorable pictures of children on the beach and I bite my inner lip when someone tells me how amazing it is that I'm educating people in Africa about Jesus and for a couple months I found myself okay with that version of myself. A version of myself okay with fitting the mold of what everyone is most comfortable seeing me as.
I stopped writing because the truth is I love to be liked, I thrive on being liked, I bend over backwards and forwards and put my head up my butt to be liked -- and I've lost myself trying to be liked. I don't know if it's daddy issues or because I was basically excommunicated by some of my peers in high school for being just a little too unconventional in years 13-17, but I literally cannot say or write anything that I feel like people will shut me down for so I just stopped -- and it's terribly sad.
On the way out of my last English class of the semester today my teacher stopped me at the door and said, "I hope you write in the world the way you write in my class," and I looked at her, said what she probably wanted me to say and left with the realization that I don't write at all anymore and then I cried.
So what do I believe? What do I want to write about? Why am I all up in Africa's business if I'm not there to convert every last orphan and farm worker and grasshopper to Americanized Christianity?
I believe in everybody. I believe in second chances and fifteenth chances and thirty-eight thousand billion versions of forgiveness. I believe that when historical Jesus -- the figure in the context of history -- devoted his life to loving everyone, especially the broken and the "lesser," that he didn't make an ideological error.
I believe that the focus in third world nations and on "mission trips," needs to be on getting down and dirty with the issues of the nation. I know plenty of missionaries who are doing exactly this. I love them -- I praise them -- I relate to them and work with them and keep them in close company so no, I am not saying that I am doing things better I am just addressing a very large -- like scary large -- percentage of missionaries who go to third world nations to hold a book and talk about a book and scare people that don't know any better with a book and then say "Jesus loves you," at the end.
I'm talking about the stereotype that I've been given -- about the looks I get when I tell people that I financially adopted children at nineteen -- about the way people try and tell me that it's not safe for women of God to be alone in the third world -- about how so many before me (and to come) have let an entire religion based in love divide itself from humanity and morality to protect verses in a text written in a time beyond their comprehension.
I'm talking about the way I won't even call myself a Christian anymore because I'm lucky to know, love and be loved by the Muslims, Gays, Atheists, and every other suppressed minority in my life. How HOW am I supposed to justify my heart of love with a religion fueling the hatred and uneducated bias in so much of my home country right now?
How am I supposed to speak louder than the men in the streets with signs screaming about Hell and condemnation? How am I supposed to talk over a presidential contender who is being broadcast on every news station in America as he condemns entire cultures and religions and nations for being different than him? How am I supposed to write in a world where Evangelical "Christians" erupt in joy and praise as Muslims and sweet, displaced babies are condemned for being born into their circumstances?
I begin to wonder how historical Jesus was even a Christian. I begin to wonder how far we have to wander before the universe just kind of falls over and says that it's done sustaining such assholes.
All of this on my mind and Instagram users with words like "bible" and "Christian" in their username or their bio box keep following me and I'm like no, no, no -- you can't be here because I'm not what you think I am. I know that you see me holding babies in other nations and I know that I write with a bleeding heart for humanity so you assume that I meet your standards but I don't -- I don't meet your standards because I put loving people before politics and loving people before my fear of others unlike me and loving people before I push my agenda. Actually, my agenda is loving people.
I don't have to know exactly what I believe right now. I'm nineteen and I will pull that card for every day until it's not in play anymore but I do know who I am not and what I do not stand for and what I cringe when I am associated with. I do know that we are falling apart, America. We are falling apart and cultures far and wide are watching us with wide eyes and shocked expressions using our attitudes and our closed-mindedness as lessons to be learned for their own children.
I do know that in a time of such fundamental brokenness that I don't want to be a blogger afraid to outstretch the mold that she's been placed into. I do know that the best damn things that I can do are to love people, be myself, educate myself and stand up when massive groups of people that my actions and work might immediately associate me with start to get loud about things like banning and restricting rights to everyone that isn't the color Christian.
If I really upset you with this post -- please remember that we are coexisting on a rock in space with 7 billion other people right now. If you need a list of world issues to get hyped about that don't involve my world views, please shoot me your email. Also, please keep in mind that I have so much love and admiration for so many in the Christian community but I am not addressing them tonight, tonight I am addressing the people giving Americanized Christianity an inexcusable reputation.
Have a rad Christmas for those of you that celebrate and enjoy your families and the universal love that we all have in our lives for those of you that do not celebrate.