#MeToo

The past few days I’ve been watching the #MeToo hashtag and subsequent discussion unfold on social media, but I’ve been hesitant to join in, mainly because my experiences dramatically pale in comparison to what so many women have faced. However, I have several thoughts on this topic that keep cycling around in my brain, and I’d like to share them, so here we go.

Me too.

My story isn’t one of assault, or even especially severe harassment, but one of microaggressions and limitations being put on where I can go and what I can do. My worst experience was being followed most of the way home while walking with a teammate after dark in Nepal. But I’ve had many other less dramatic instances of feeling unsettled, uneasy, unsafe. Whether those feelings were warranted or not, they spring from a constant what-if in my mind, a what-if that causes me to park close to the building when I work a closing shift at the grocery store, not run alone unless I’m in a familiar place with plenty of people around, and dutifully carry my pepper spray, just in case.

In college I strongly disliked night classes, in part because I’m a morning girl through and through, but in equal measure because a ten minute walk home becomes an eternity when you’re a female walking alone after dark. My college campus was relatively safe, but the horrors of what could possibly happen to me were always terrifying enough to make me jumpy.

One time, a female professor of mine used walking home in the dark after class as an example in a conversation with a male colleague to help him understand what women face on a regular basis. She told him to watch how his female students behaved at the end of a night class. When he did, he observed that the men packed up and left, just like they would for any other class. The women, however, took extra care in packing up, making sure they’d be prepared to run or even fight if the need arose. They then left the classroom in clusters, having carefully mapped out who was going where so they wouldn’t have to walk to parking lots and dorm rooms by themselves. As a female, scenarios like this are such a common experience that I occasionally forget that this shouldn’t have to be normal.

But then I think of all the girls in other countries who don’t even go to school for fear of sexual harassment or assault. The truly disheartening reality is that sometimes the long-term risk of them not receiving an education is even greater than the short-term risk of harassment or assault as they walk to school. And when I think of scenarios like this I snap out of my, “this is just how it is” mindset, and burn with anger for my sisters who face extreme oppression simply for being a girl.

This isn’t about guilting or shaming – not all men are monsters by any means, and calling them such diminishes their humanity – but it is about changing the narrative women have to tell. #MeToo is highlighting the real and broken world that exists here and now, in hopes that we can somehow reach for the kinder, richer, freer world that could be.

One more thing – to all the men who are showing up to this conversation, thank you. I know, both from my conversations with you and from my experiences as a member of the majority group in this nation’s conversation on race, that it can be very confusing to find where you, as a member of the power-holding group, fit in this conversation, Most of the time your role will be to show up and listen. However, there will be situations where your unique voice has power, not the corrupting, greedy kind of power, but the type of power that is a force to be reckoned with where goodness and change are concerned.

Despite all the flaws in the #MeToo conversation, I am very encouraged by the discussion that has been opened by this hashtag. I know that we cannot completely solve the problem of women being oppressed, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take important steps towards encouraging their holistic well-being. So, I move forward in hope that this little blip on the radar of our advancement towards the flourishing of all human beings can be taken as a victory.

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Why I Pray

When I pray for you it’s like breathing –
equal parts commonplace and extraordinary in its rhythm and repetitive motion.

Each morning I climb the stairs,
check the first of many trash cans,
and begin to pray as I move counterclockwise around the perimeter of the library.

Some days I am eager to pray,
overflowing with hope in the promises of God,
but most days I feel frustrated and weary of
praying and praying and praying
without seeing growth or change.

And yet,
a little voice inside says,
“Kelly, God hears you,”
and so, I pray.

While walking the length of the library I look out on the quiet quad,
taking in the steadfast clock tower,
the blooming hanging baskets,
and the construction projects strewn across campus in various stages of completion.

I pray for your work,
your family,
your mind,
and most of all, our friendship.

Rounding the southwest corner of the building, I often begin to sing,
sometimes as a force of habit,
and sometimes because I feel as though my own words are failing me
leaving me no option but to lean on those that others have penned.

When I head to the other side of the library
my prayers often deepen in intensity
as I pray away the demons that threaten to devour
all who choose to walk in their identity as children of God.

I finish my circuit
and sometimes I feel relief that this particular morning ritual is finished,
but more often I feel a sense of longing for even just one more minute
in the presence of a God who already knows,
but still listens
who doesn’t need me,
but still chooses to use me in continuing the work of His Kingdom
as I pray for you.

So friend,
I want you to know that while my words may be raw,
and my feelings fickle
I am praying for you
because I trust that the growth that happens beneath the dirt
is every bit as important as the blossoming of the flower.

Purpose

Pebble Steps

This weekend I experienced a taste of what living out my purpose feels like. I had a moment, standing in the middle of the woods with a group of people who understand a commonly misunderstood part of me, when I thought, “This is it. This is what life is about.” Everything, and I mean everything, felt so right. I was standing in a thin space where heaven touched earth.

Let me back up and give you some context. This summer I will be traveling to Romania and Moldova with a team from my university, and this past weekend my teammates and I, along with the team traveling to Argentina, went on a retreat. It was glorious! Twenty-four hours of unpacking baggage and deconstructing preconceived notions while building trust and making memories. I came away from the weekend glowing!

The amazing thing is that while this weekend focused on my upcoming adventure, I came away from it feeling like I learned so much about life. I have learned many valuable lessons in college, but the lessons I learned this weekend trump them all in terms of propelling me into my future.

That’s the thing – this experience is about so much more than just this trip. This opportunity I’ve been given is about learning how to better live out, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

I’ll leave you with the lyrics to a melody we sang this weekend.

The Kingdom of God is justice and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Come, Lord, and open in us the gates of your kingdom.

He’s opening the gates, and I couldn’t be more excited!

For Those Who Seek

The place where you are at right now is part of God’s will for your life. Your passion, skills, and creativity are absolutely from him. He won’t make you completely give up those things he’s placed within you, but this journey with him will require sacrifice. You are in a good place, but do you want more? More adventure, more Kingdom come, more Jesus? Examine where you are, and where you want to go. The near future is full of important decisions. Listen to God.

Not My Life, But His

You truly live when you’re living in God’s will instead of trying to do it your own way. You can have more radical life by him, for him, in him, and through him. The choice is yours…