Tag Archives: personal musings

Three Little Words

12 Sep

It’s past 2 am on a Friday night (Saturday morning?). I should be in bed, asleep. But I can’t. It’s not Kenny’s snoring (although that’s partly the reason). It’s not the caffeinated water I mistakenly drank before bedtime (although that might be a contributing factor). No, it’s something else that’s keeping me up tonight, and has been for a while. It’s endless thoughts on the power of language, of words, of three little words in particular that have ignited a firestorm here in my community and in my heart.

Three words that, on their own and without any context, should be self-explanatory and non-controversial.

Three words that have brought hate and harm to the people I love.

Three words that I completely agree with.

Black. Lives. Matter.

If you’re already firing off any angry comment or unfriending me, I’m guessing you wouldn’t listen to the rest of what I have to say anyway. But I urge you to hold off, stick around, read a bit, and just listen.

It’s been explained before, many times, and by people a lot more eloquent than I. The New York Times and, surprisingly, Cosmo, have the best, clearest articles I could find.

I thought this was a straightforward thing. It’s simple – Black Lives Matter. It’s not that white lives, or brown lives, or any other kinds of lives don’t matter. And by saying it, I’m not saying I don’t support or even love the police officers in my family or in my community. Due to my job, I work with a LOT of cops. And I love them. They have an incredibly hard, often thankless, job.

All I’m trying to say when I say Black Lives Matter is just that: Black. Lives. Matter.

So, if you pay attention to the news in Chicago, you can imagine how this week has been for me.

Small explanation: I am a resident of two worlds. I am a member of St. Linus parish and the proud parent of a fourth-grade Hawk. I try to make it to mass as often as I can, and usually every Sunday. But I also, until recently, proudly served on the Board of the Beverly Unitarian Church. I try to take Daniel to the Sunday School there as often as I can. I was raised in both worlds, and I think it’s good for him to be exposed to both, too.

Sadly, too many time commitments and my desire to commit more fully to St. Linus caused me to resign my membership on the BUC board, so I missed the discussion and the decision to place those three little words on our church’s electronic sign.

But I did get to witness the firestorm of criticism and hate that erupted online. Before they were deleted, I saw threats made against our children. That would, by definition, include my son.

Think about the insanity of that for a second. My child’s life has been threatened because of three simple words on an electronic sign. The hate, the misinformation has spread so far and runs so deep that my son, and other innocent children, are threatened because they attend Sunday School at a church that had three words on its electronic sign for less than a week. Words that were meant to be a sign of solidarity, of support, of inclusion, have instead drawn ire and threats of violence. I’ve seen people characterize participants in the black lives matter movement as ‘thugs.’ Who’s the real thug here: the suburban mom trying to raise her child with diversity and an open mind, or those who threaten to harm that child over words on a sign?

Three words: I am sad.

Three words: I am angry.

Four words: How can I help?

Four words: What can I do?

I recognize that I come from a position of privilege. That my struggle is, in the larger picture, insignificant. But I struggle for meaning, for change, for something positive to contribute.

And all I have to give are words.

Three words: Black Lives Matter.

Two words: I’m listening.

One word: Love.

Maybe I need to click my heels three times?

30 Oct

Lately I’ve been pondering on the disconnect between saying you forgive someone and actually forgiving someone. The topic of forgiveness seems to be following me around, popping up everywhere, metaphorically tapping me on the shoulder saying ‘Hey, there’s something you need to take care of.’

I know that it’s the right thing to do, the healthy thing to do. I know that lingering anger hurts me more than the other person. And I know that ‘time heals all wounds.’

But I can’t do it. I say to myself, “I forgive her,” but even as I say it, “her” is replaced by “the queen of the pig people,” an attitude not conducive towards forgiveness. (But thank you, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, for the epithet).

And it’s not in my nature to not forgive. You can say mean things to me, hurt my feelings, you can even get me pregnant with your child and abandon me, and I’ll still forgive you. Ex boyfriends who shattered my heart? We’re now friends on Facebook. Girls who were mean to me in high school? I don’t even remember your names. Friends who betrayed my trust? Eh, you’re just not my friend anymore.

I’m usually very good at turning the situation around and finding the positive. The relationship wasn’t meant to be. The friendship wasn’t healthy anyway. And I am downright relieved I never married Daniel’s original father – the second one is much better.

So I’m stumped as to why I can’t forgive on this one. It’s not that more time needs to pass – it’s been over three years. But just the thought of this person still makes my stomach hurt and makes me short of breath.

I know I need to forgive and move on, but I can’t figure out what’s stopping me from doing it. I say I forgive the person and even use their real name, I try to be the bigger person, but the forgiveness isn’t flowing.

It reminds me of the times I accompanied my brother to his church. He’s a born again Christian, and I’ve seen the power faith has had in his life. But when I say I believe, it’s just words – the faith doesn’t flow. Something – reason? fear? – stops me.

So what’s the stone blocking the river of forgiveness? And if I can’t figure it out, can I fake it til I make it? If I say “I forgive you” to the person in my head enough times, will it happen?

I listen to Spotify sometimes at work, and one day, based on my Iron and Wine selection, it played a Bon Iver cover of a John Prine song. The lyrics cut me right to the core and I started crying at my desk (don’t you love when that happens?). But man, I thought the song was written just for me:

You can gaze out the window get mad and get madder,
Throw your hands in the air, say “What does it matter?”
But it don’t do no good to get angry,
So help me I know

For a heart stained in anger grows weak and grows bitter.
You become your own prisoner as you watch yourself sit there
Wrapped up in a trap of your very own
Chain of sorrow.

So how do I break the chain? Can I assume time will take care of it? Is it ok to keep calling her the queen of the pig people?

How do I forgive?

Since I don’t like to post entries without a picture, and I don’t have a relevant one, here’s one of my cat. The internet always needs more cat pictures.

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