A Gift Misused…

Everyone has a gift they’ve been given in life. The ability to sing, cook, make people feel better, patience, kindness, the ability to understand science and to innovate and further the human race.

Me? I’ve always felt that my gift was storytelling. The ability to pull someone in and give them a hard dose of truth wrapped in an enchanting, at least I hope so, tale full of adventure and intrigue. But I don’t think I’ve been using that gift to its fullest. Not just because I barely ever post anything for you, but because even in my writing when I manage to get through the depression and the anxiety to sit down and pound out a few words here and there I don’t really use my ability to its fullest. I don’t share it with people. 

The worst part? I teach first graders every Sunday. I have a mostly willing and, quite literally, captive audience once every week that I don’t use my gift on. I follow a curriculum, I try to entertain them, but I don’t tell them stories. I don’t really teach them. I’m honestly more of a Sunday School Supervisor than a Sunday School Teacher and that bothers me. It’s an itch I try to ignore and just do what I’m told by teaching what’s given to me on a preplanned sheet and program, but I feel like I’m doing a disservice to the audiences I have by not telling them stories, by not showing them what it is to be a living breathing human being made by God, by not using the gift that I believe God gave me.

This month, November, is a big month for me. It’s NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. and this year,  I started 4 days late, now I’m 4, almost 5, days ahead of the curve. I’ve been surrounding myself in story. I’ve been working really hard to write this story, to get it going and next year I plan on releasing it, starting in January as far as I know and I’ve been really excited about it, but this morning I’ve been focusing on my lesson for today and I had a talk with my Gramma and… I’m just so annoyed with myself right now.

Today’s story is in Luke about the friends whose faith was so great that they took a roof off of a house so they could lower their paralyzed friend down to see Jesus. But the lesson plan I was given? It doesn’t talk about faith, it talks about cooperation. Everything this month is about cooperation. Which – NOT a bad thing – is just so frustrating. As an English major I was trained to get at the heart of a story, to find the meat of it, the meaning behind it, and cooperation is not the heart of this story, it’s not the theme, it’s barely even a subplot. I’m starting to feel like these kids are being cheated of the real lesson. I feel like they’re being taught to just be little cogs in the machine we call a church.

We’re teaching good behavior principles, we’re teaching them how to do good works, but we aren’t teaching them faith. We aren’t teaching them why they do good works.

Faith without good works is like the body without a soul, but good works without faith are just as empty. You shouldn’t do things just because you’re taught that it’s what you do. You should do things because there is a driving force in your life telling you to do it, a motivating reason beyond it’s what you’re programed to do. We’re humans, not robots. If God wanted good little robots he never would have given us free will. He never would have let Adam and Eve eat the fruit and get kicked out of the garden. But we’re teaching these kids how to act, how to look like Christians on the outside without teaching them what they really need to know on the inside.

The outside can look as pretty and perfect as you please, but if the inside doesn’t match, if they don’t have the faith and understanding to think for themselves they’ll never really know why they’re doing it. Doing things without real faith is probably worse, at least in my opinion, than having faith but not doing anything with it. because when you do things that you’re “supposed to” you can end up tricking yourself into believing that you have faith, that you have salvation, when you don’t really believe it in your heart anymore than you believe it with your mind.

We’re working backwards. We’re trusting that good behavior will bring faith, not that faith will bring good behavior.

Every time I sit down to work on my novel this month, I’ve been doing it while fighting depression, anxiety, and self-doubt. But I sit down anyway I tell myself that I have to believe in this story. It helps I have a pretty awesome cheerleader in my NaNo region who’s been checking up on me every night to make sure I’ve been writing, and if I can’t really write he’s been letting me know that it’s okay, he thinks I can do it, and that I’ve been doing great so far. If anything I’ve sat down to write with at least the faith that he will be asking me later in the day if I’ve done anything and I don’t want to disappoint him.

Kind of like how I know, I have faith, that one day I’m going to meet God and He’s going to ask me if I used the gifts He gave me. He’s going to ask me if I told stories and I don’t want to disappoint Him anymore than I don’t want to disappoint my NaNo cheerleader. In fact I’d say the willingness to disappoint Him is less than the willingness to disappoint my NaNo cheerleader. Of the two, only one of them will know when I’m lying. (Not that I’d lie to my NaNo cheerleader…. I respect him too much.)

So… I guess what I’m trying to say here is…

I’m Sorry

I’ve misused my gift. I haven’t been teaching these kids to think for themselves, to have faith before works. No one should believe something just because they’re told to. They should believe it because they are so compelled by faith that they have no choice but to believe it and to act on it.  What’s worse is that I’ve become no better, just a cog in the machine doing what I’m told and not what I want to do, not what I’m compelled to do, what I need to do. (Can you tell it’s NaNo and I’ve been working towards word count goals instead of being short and to the point… or is this normally me?) I haven’t exercised my gift of free will any more than I’ve exercised my story telling gifts…

And for that I am sorry.

But, now that I know what I’m doing wrong. I have an opportunity to fix it. I have a chance to make things better, to change the world for the better and to teach these kids, at least for the short while I have them, that they can think for themselves, that God made them with free will and that faith doesn’t come from good works, good works come from faith.

I’d like to Request a Retraction and Apology

I would like to request a retraction and apology from every adult who ever disciplined me for backsass, name calling, hateful speech of any kind, and for using the word no when asked to do something that I didn’t want to do. I would also like to request consideration from every adult now, I am also an adult by the way, who acts like I can’t tell them no or speak my mind because I’m just an immature child.

Continue reading

Papa John and 9 Little Nazis – An Open Letter to the Ball State Board of Trustees from a Concerned Alumna

I have never been accused of beating around the bush or dodging hard subjects so I’ll make this brief:

Wenn ein Nazi am Tisch ist und neun andere Leute mit ihm reden, haben Sie einen Tisch mit zehn Nazis.

When I attended Ball State we were required to take a foreign language in order to earn our Bachelor of Arts degree. My language of choice – German.

I don’t know if I got the language part right, but the culture – I got that. For those that do not speak German the above phrase translates roughly as such: If there’s a Nazi at the table, and nine other people talking to him you have a table with ten nazis.

In regards to Papa John: looks like my Alma Mater has 9 racists sitting on the board and I’m disappointed.

I’ll be honest. I spent years denying my own racism, homophobia, Islamaphobia, and upholding of the patriarchy. I thought I was accepting of everyone and everything and as a woman there was no way I was anti-women. But I was all of those things and it showed in my actions and in my words.

It took the Ball State English Department and a whole lot of amazingly talented writers within to get me to pull my head out of my own ass and realize that by saying and doing nothing against injustice I was a part of the problem. That by not acknowledging people’s differences it was just as bad as if I hadn’t included them at all. And by not speaking when I heard something wrong I may as well have said it myself.

By continuing your relationship with Papa John you are collectively saying as a board that you accept his behavior. That you accept his racism. That you are okay with it. You as a board who represent Ball State and the interests of those affiliated with her are deciding as a whole to declare, quite loudly through your actions, that Ball State supports racism, that you support racism.

Well, we don’t and we aren’t going to be silent about it. Ball State taught me to listen, to speak. They taught me the value of words. I’ll be damned if I don’t use them.

I spy with my little eye: 9 Nazis sitting on the board.

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

I am 22 years old this year. I remember too many school shootings having happened. In wake of the most recent shooting in Florida, I don’t know how to respond anymore.

As a young conservative, I believe in our right to bear arms – for defense.

But, the ugly truth is, weapons weren’t all designed for defense, many were designed for offense. They were designed to kill.

At the moment, I’m all in favor of taking every weapon on the face of Earth, putting them on a rocket, and launching it into the sun along with all the blueprints, instructions, and any information on how to make these weapons. Outlaw, the creation of them and the idea of violence at all.

But that’s a dictatorship that I can’t begin to imagine beyond this. What’s more, it would be wrong to impose my will on anyone. But, the thing about not tolerating violent acts like this, is that at some point you have to impose your will on someone or something.

At some point, legislation has to be enacted.

At some point, we have to do something!

Death is never acceptable.

This morning I woke up with the poem “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” by Dylan Thomas running around in my head.

It’s a poem that I feel speaks to us all now as loudly as it did when it was published in 1951. “Wise men at their end know dark is right,” these words are what draw me to this poem. This is talking about wise men at the end of their lives. But, people who die prematurely, this line isn’t about them…

Thomas’ poem isn’t a call to old men, it’s a call to young men, and women, to fight against what’s happening to them. To fight against early death, against senseless death. It is a call to those who realize that they had so much potential, but didn’t go through with it and accomplish anything with their lives – to rage against the dying of the light, to not go gentle into death. To not just stand their as they are cut down and killed. It’s a call to fight, never to take anything lying down.

I see so many young people being bashed for “being liberal” and “too easily offended” – but what’s really happening, is young people fighting back in the only way they know how.

When I hear someone crying out about gun control laws, and our need to implement them, I don’t see a liberal young person fooled into thinking that guns are killing people instead of people killing people, I see a human being, afraid that they’re not going to survive because there have been 18 school shooting in 35 days.

I live in a very conservative household, and I myself am a conservative. When my grandparents – usually my grandfather – hear anything about gun control, there’s usually something to be said about it. Something about taking away the people’s rights and about how legislation is already in place against murder, and things like that. Anything that can possibly dispute the need for gun control, for better legeslation to keep things like this from happening again, and I can’t stand by it anymore. I can’t listen to that anymore without saying something.

We have to do something. While I’m not thrilled with the idea of taking away all firearms, I’m also not okay with anyone, anywhere, dying when they don’t have to. Dying when they shouldn’t.

I normally stay out of politics, but enough is enough. Something has to be done. I don’t know what, but we can’t continue like this. No one deserves to die before their time, before they have a chance to live and do what they need to do to make this world a better place.

I have people in my life that will tell me that we’re going into the end times, if we aren’t there already, that it’s going to get a lot worse, that we can’t fight it, but Jesus will come back and then everyhting will get better. Basically, what I’m hearing from these people is that we shouldn’t fight. While I believe that Jesus will come back and that this will get worse before it gets better, that doesn’t mean we can’t fight.

We have free will. God gave us that. It is our responsibility to stand up for what is right.

It is not right to go gentle into that good night.

It is not right to stand by and watch innoccent people die.

Jesus preached love. Total, unconditional, unrelenting, and sacrificing love. Is it any way to show love by watching people die just because you weren’t willing to give up your guns?

So, from one conservative to anyone who will listen: take the guns, put better healthcare in place for those that have mental illness. Quit holding onto weapons designed to kill, just because you think one day you might need to defend youself. There are other ways of defending yourself, non-lethal ways.

Do not go gentle into that good night! Rage, Rage, against the dying of the light!

Do not let anyone else die needlessly. Don’t tell me that God wants us to just stand by and let it happen when there is a possible way to stop it right in front of us. I don’t care if it hurts you or me, if you saved a life in doing it, that’s love. That is true, unconditional love, sacrificing something of your own in order to save someone else, even if it hurts you in some percieved or unpercieved way… that is love.

Do not go quiet into that good night.

Fight, fight to stop the fighting.

Sometimes, the only way to win is with a sacrifice of your own.

IMG_0818