i heart america

I fell back in love with my country yesterday.

A country that I fell out of love with in high school. I think it was the moment I was informed that the United States was bombing Iraq. No, I don’t think, I know it. I was at youth group playing sardines and I ran to the women’s restroom and sobbed. Images of trucks with American flags after 9/11 and the far too easy chorus of America the Great, instead of questioning filled my head. It was a year in the making and as human lives were lost in Iraq I mourned.

I have not loved my country for half of my life, and certainly none of my adult life. I saw glimpses of hope in the Obama administration and I came close, but still love eluded me.

Growing up, my mom would wistfully say that I should have been born in the 1970s, that’s where my spirit was. I am at my root a person of questioning, a theologian (theology is faith seeking understanding) who doesn’t assume that authority has the truth automatically. But, my mother is unfortunately wrong and the past few years have proven it. The rights that my foremothers fought for in the 1970s have been whittled down, dismantled, and the dream of equality is still not a reality.

But, the 2010s are here and I have finally found my entry into effective activism. It took me until my 30s, but I am here. My time studying theology has engrained the radical justice of the Bible, my time in the marketing department of the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington gave new meaning of what it can be to be an American, my time at the Methodist Federation of Social Action taught me how to be both Christian and American, and my time at Faith in Public Life got me to DC in a time such at these.

I should have been born when I was born.

The past few months have been hard on my soul, but through refusing to sit down, rooting my justice work in the gospel, marching for justice I am finding my way.

Seeing the 1/2 million women who rallied and marched in Washington, DC cleared my mind and filled my heart. Hearing from friends across the nation who marched and rallied in major cities, and small ones. Even friends who live outside of the United States joined. Millions took a stand and practiced our American values chanting: Tell me me what democracy looks like! THIS is what democracy looks like.

I fell back in love with my country yesterday. The hope and possibility of a justice nation seeking out to embrace of of humanity was evident. As a person of faith, I saw a glimpse of the Kin-dom of God, the Beloved Community, and I will continue to dedicate my life to actualizing that hope and possibility.

“standing down is not an option”

I haven’t written for a long time. Truth be told, I just didn’t have it in me. Post-election was, has been, rough. The spew of hatred and bigotry that has come to light in this election made it clear, that it wasn’t going to be a good four years moving forward. Some people could bounce back and fight, but that’s not me. The election hit my gut and heart hard because I truly believed that if Hillary Clinton could have won, our country could move forward in many streams of social justice (perhaps pulling my lagging church with the culture). In the time of advent, of waiting, of hoping, I stayed in the darkness not wanting to come out. I needed to rest, listen, reflect, and strengthen my foundation for justice because it’s going to be a long four years.

I’m not alone. Many of my friends are overwhelmed at what is yet to come, the unknowing more fearful than if we actually had a grasp on what our President-elect is thinking. I had to sit a bit; licking my wounds because without healing I would burn out.

But I knew I couldn’t remain sitting, 2017 meant it was time to get up and fight. I have been daunted with the fact that I am a cis-gendered white straight woman because I want to be the best ally, co-conspirator I can be. Where do I turn my attention? How can I show love and compassion, yet challenge those privileged as I? Yet, to even ponder is privilege and that is no excuse to do nothing.

Last night, for New Year’s Eve, instead of going out, drinking bubbly, and dancing; I went to Repairers of the Breach’s Watch Night Service. I heard person after person share their story on why we need a moral revival in this country, that justice was needed, that it was Biblically based, and that we needed to wake up as a nation. I needed this. Hope was restored and it refueled my soul.

At the end, the Rev. Dr. William Barber preached and at the end he said, “Standing down is not an option.” It isn’t. We all stood and yelled it back because sitting is no longer an option. It is morally imperative that we stand for justice, that we stand for the oppressed.

So I began 2017 standing and will continue the fight for justice for all people because that is what humanity is called to do. “Standing down is not an option” in this new year.