The Christian Chicken and Civil Rights

The most recent post my wife wrote on TheLaneyStory.com…come check us out over there!!

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Linds here.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/shane-l-windmeyer/dan-cathy-chick-fil-a_b_2564379.html

I haven’t yet written a post like this because A) it’s a vulnerable thing to do B) it’s controversial and C) my personality doesn’t tend to gravitate towards the controversial. I was perusing Twitter on Wednesday and came across one of my old acquaintances. He posted this link about the Director of a college’s Campus Pride and gay activist befriending Dan Cathy, son of Chick-Fil-A’s founder, Truett Cathy, with the comment, “we need more of this.” During and after reading the article I found myself feeling strange. I don’t usually linger over feelings but this one demanded my attention and even woke me up at night. Let me explain.

The article highlights that this Campus Pride Director, though he once boycotted Chick-Fil-A, he is now fast friends with Dan Cathy and even attended the Chick-Fil-A bowl as his special guest. My first thoughts were, “I am so glad that civil conversations between these two men took place and are still taking place. I’m a huge fan of people humbly approaching conversations in an attempt to understand people and discuss salient issues.” Really, I do fully support civility, decency, openness, conversation, and expressions of love and acceptance. I do believe that lasting change can be positively impacted by these types of civil talks. I think that’s where it started to get a little messy for me. I know several Christians who posted this article with the thoughts, “we need more of this.” And, I half agree. I think I get hung up on the notion of “can’t we all just get along?” Or, “let’s just all be friends.” This might make me sound like a bad person and I’m ready to face that, swallow that pill, and live in that reality but I have to say, I don’t feel compelled to share personal friendships with those who would oppose my civil rights at every turn. I promise I’m not trying to be dramatic, it just doesn’t feel right to me. If someone wants to have civil conversation, great, I’m game. If someone wants to reach out in Christian love, I’m a fan of love. If someone wants to be nice and accepting of people different from them, great! Me too! I’m just not going to get cozy and be friends. I don’t consider people who think differently than me to be my enemies, but I do consider them to be roadblocks, roadblocks to civil rights, roadblocks to history moving forward, and roadblocks to me personally.

I get a little bit feisty when the issue of gay marriage comes up sometimes. I know it seems like a hot media topic these days, but it’s also deeply personal to me. My wife whom I am not legally married to is the most lovely, beautiful, and important person in my life. She is not a news story, a political issue, or a line on the voting ballot. She is my wife. We committed our lives to each other before God, my family, and our friends and hold that commitment, that vow to be sacred regardless of recognition by the state. And, we are simultaneously being denied civil rights, not to mention over 1,000 benefits afforded to heterosexual married couples. It is a reality we face that if anything were to happen to one of us, God forbid, the other would have no legal rights regarding the “spouse.” If something were to happen to Steph, if she were to suddenly pass, her family could come, take her away, take all of her things, and burry her in some shit-hole in Texas without giving me a second glance. I’ve seen it happen to too many gay couples to be unaware of the reality of the situation. If you thought this very notion spills tears over my eyes while I write it, you’d be correct. We currently have to save up a chunk of money so we can talk to a lawyer, get counsel, and write a will to protect against this very thing. If you think it is painful to check the “single” box on forms I fill out because there is no “illegally married” box to check, you would be right. If you wondered how it feels to be stared at and to have the validity of our union and our commitment, represented by our wedding rings, questioned, it feels downright shitty. And, every year, thousands upon thousands of Americans vote to keep it this way. As stated by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.”

“How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? …Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.”

“An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself. This is difference made legal. By the same token, a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow and that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal.”

I am unsure how to feel, think and act sometimes when difficult topics like this arise. I have a hard time with simple statements like, “we need more of this” as I’m not sure what “this” is. If it’s opening up conversations so that productive, civil communication can occur, I’m game. If it’s becoming ‘besties’ with someone road blocking my civil rights, I’m not inclined to acquiesce. We can get along as human beings, we can talk as adults, we can disagree civilly, and I will still remain profoundly affected by and in opposition of anyone who supports laws that degrade human personality. So, I’m sorry Dan, I won’t have my picture with you until we are celebrating my legal marriage and the granting of my civil rights.

 

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Wedding bliss

It’s just a little over a month now until our wedding. I can’t believe it’s almost here! We’ve spent so much time working on this special event together. I’m beginning to realize that our wedding isn’t just about one weekend and one special evening together with our friends and family; it’s about this whole process that we’ve been through since we got engaged last year.

It’s about the times that we’ve spent planning, dreaming, getting excited.

It’s about our teamwork and discovering what a great team we make in this process.

It’s about listening, listening to each other’s dreams for this wedding and bringing them both together to create something that feels beautifully like “us.”

It’s about God’s strength. A lot of this process has been really difficult for me since I’m a real family girl and none of my family will come to our wedding. This has been a huge hardship for me, but it’s also been an amazing place in which we’ve seen God’s strength rise up in us. (And many blessings have rained down on us as God has gifted us with some amazing people who are excited to celebrate with us!)

It’s about building quality moments that we can treasure forever. Just beginning with the engagement memories and continuing with the many moments we’ve spent dreaming, planning, talking together as we address save the dates and invitations or getting excited when one of our decorations comes in the mail…it’s just been and continues to be an incredible catalyst for learning, growing, loving, and joy in our lives.

I can’t even wait for the actual event! I’m determined to remember all the wonderful things that have led us to that point, and spend a little bit of time rejoicing over all of them on that day. :)

sick

I’ve been sick since Friday. It’s not fun at all. I still have a fever, sore throat, sinus issues, and low energy today. I’m pretty sure this bug needs to move on!

Thankfully I have most of the week off of work anyway! What a great time to rest. :)

I’ve been thinking about peace a lot these last few days, praying for peace, imagining a more peaceful me. Even the thought of peace makes me feel more peaceful. It’s easy to be a person who experiences only moments of peace every once in a while. After all, my world is a hectic, busy, complicated place (not all bad, mind you, but it does have its moments like any other). Peace seems like wishful thinking sometimes. But, I am praying for and focusing on surrendering my heart to peace, the peace that passes all understanding. Because I really truly want to be the most peace-filled person you’ve ever met.

Have you thought lately what having real peace and lots of it would like in your life?

Not the absence of difficulty or business or challenges, but the presence of peace in all of those things.

Lord, fill me to overflowing with peace!

dark day

You know what? Making sense of people’s actions and stupidity and mental processes is a waste of time. The more I think about stupid things that people I know have done or are doing, the more baffled and pissed off I become. Yet, it gets me nowhere.

The more that I think about stupid things that people I don’t know have done or are doing (like that idiotic insane person who did so much damage in Aurora last night), the more overwhelmed and afraid I feel. But, that also gets me nowhere (and, frankly, it threatens the idea that I will get anywhere).

It’s a good thing that figuring out why people hurt other people or make stupid decisions is not in my job description. In fact, God said:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3: 5,6).

Today is a major exercise in this concept for me. I want to think judgmental thoughts about people I know who are doing stupid things; I feel prone to fearing so many things, especially going to movie theaters; I feel tempted to feel annoyed with everything and everyone.

But when I read the verses above, I feel a little bit of the tension melt out of my chest. My desire to fall into unhelpful and even hurtful thoughts lessens. When I keep reading it over and over, I realize just how important it is to let go. I can’t figure the world out; I can’t figure people’s decisions out; I can’t lean on my own understanding. It gets me nowhere.

Trust is what I truly want. Surrender. Hope in His love. When I put my eyes on Him, my dark day gets a little brighter.

there and back…again

What a whirlwind weekend we had in Georgia this past weekend! We drove through the little town in Georgia where we met and used to live, hung out with my brother in the Georgia mountains, spent time with Lindsey’s Grandmama, and did a whole lot of wedding celebrating with Lindsey’s sister, Allison, and friends and family. It was crazy and busy and fun.

And, wow, what a difference a camera makes. :)

The boys are glad to have us back home, and, after a couple of busy months centered around traveling, it’s nice to relax into the fact that for the next 3 months until our wedding, we’re just going to be home, working on stuff, resting, soaking up our summer. We have some great things planned! Baseball games, white water rafting, picnics and fireworks and fun. AND…we’ve got a whole 2 weeks blocked off to become completely immersed in the Summer Olympics! :D Can’t wait!

Traveling this past weekend helped to put several things in perspective for me.

First: Seeing where we used to live reminded me of how far we’ve come, how faithful and wonderful God is, how amazing it is to be where we are in life now. Our short drive through the town brought closure to some things and an incredible sense of joy and thankfulness. That place used to play a huge part in my life (and most of it was not pleasant), but now it has been laid to rest in my past. I can take the good things from it (and, man, seeing our old house was so good! All the wonderful memories together!), but I can also know that I’m not living the hard, hurtful parts anymore; I’m not held captive by those things; I am free to live, free to love, free to move forward, free to believe in God for good things and great purposes for my life.

And it’s awesome!!

Second: Lindsey and I make a really great team. No, it’s not the first time I’ve noticed, but watching our teamwork in action this past weekend was great for both of us. We navigated fairly smoothly through the entire weekend (literally and figuratively), and we stayed connected and encouraged each other and enjoyed ourselves! Only Lindsey and I really know the amount of challenges we had to face in the midst of all of this, and I came out of the weekend feeling even stronger and more grateful for our relationship and the many things we are constantly working on and learning about life and each other and how to live well.

This was serious quality over quantity living, people! :D

Third: God is just amazing. I know that, all the time, but I love it when circumstances in life just showcase Him in all His grandeur in my life.

What a blessing. :)

I’ll post some pics of our weekend in my next post!

Understanding

I read a definition of the word “understanding” on Google today that said “perceive the significance of something.” In other words…become aware of the importance of a detail, a story, a feeling…

Understand.

Yesterday, through some hard work and tears on my part and my sweet fiance’s, I came to the realization that I’m not the most-skilled person when it comes to understanding. Perhaps this is because I’m a pretty caring-good-at-listening-and-helping kind of person (the kind of person who’s been told too many times that he or she should be a counselor…), but I’m also a pretty anxious-needs-to-constantly-have-a-handle-on-what’s-going-on kind of person. Somehow these two parts of my personality combine to make me a overly intuitive caretaker who tends to keep everything at a certain distance in order to maintain control.

Can you picture it yet? ;)

So not quality living, people.

But yesterday, God really opened the eyes of my heart to be able to see this issue for what it is in me: Fear, and its abundance in my life, has produced a lack of understanding in me. I mean, if you think about it, fear has a way of turning a helping hand into a controlling one; of turning the act of listening into an act that is only performed by the ear and the brain, not by the heart; of turning a sensitive, intuitive spirit into a hyper-vigilant, overwhelmed spirit.

True understanding cannot exist in those fearful places.

True understanding happens in the heart.

Fear shuts down the heart.

In Prov 2:2 it says “Make your ear attentive to wisdom, Incline your heart to understanding.” And, if fear shuts down the heart, then no wonder I have problems with true understanding! Where there is fear in me, there will be no true understanding. When I consistently embrace fear over true understanding, I am unable to truly see and know those around me, to truly love them the way the need to be loved, to truly trust those who are trustworthy and protect myself from those who are not.

Without true understanding, I am unable to live and love in the way that my heart truly desires, the I was truly made to live.

The one who gets wisdom loves life; the one who cherishes understanding will soon prosper. Prov 19:8.

Prosper sounds good.

Especially because fear just makes me feel more and more like a shriveled shell of a human being.

I want to prosper.

Wisdom is supreme. Get wisdom. Yes, though it costs all your possessions, get understanding. Prov. 4:7

Sounds like quality over quantity to me.

Lord, give me more understanding! I want it. I want it badly.