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Legs

Posted on June 16, 2014

This past Saturday, Dwayne, the kids and I took a bike ride around the Battlefields.

I wore shorts for the ride because it was hot and I thought perhaps soaking up a bit of sun might help conceal the writhing sea monster veins coursing up my thighs.

I was, of course, vaguely aware of my legs the entire time.  I don’t have a great relationship with them.  They are disappear thin.  And not the kind of sexy thin that models sport, but an oddly shaped thin.  Isosceles triangles, inverted. Big block knees and fault lines of varicose veins.

I like to think that I’ve evolved beyond the social constrictions of attractiveness, that I am liberated enough to wear shorts and bathing suits from time to time.  So I do.  But who am I kidding?  I’m always self-conscious.

Every turn, every pump of the pedals, I tried to beat away the body checking buzz at the back of my mind.  I pushed myself to focus instead on the gorgeous sun, the fields waving green arms, the delicious breeze.

Soon we found ourselves at Culp’s Hill, and I followed Dwayne as he turned left and peddled into a steady incline.  This was a new path we’d never biked before.  I don’t think he realized just how steep and long this particular hill would be.

I flipped the gears into my favorite numbers, and pushed my way into the ride.  When the hill bent up, I stood on my bike, focused my breath, and then pumped, pumped, pumped.

Surprisingly, I didn’t tire.  This thrilled me. I doubled down, bent my chin to my chest and worked.  One push. Two push, Three push.  I shoved the pedals down toward the pavement, then felt them lift my feet again.  I felt the muscles in my narrow calves contract, the pull of exertion above my knees.

Soon, I caught up to Dwayne.  He and Noelle had gotten off their bike and were pushing up the hill.  But still.  I wasn’t tired. My legs felt good.  My lungs clear.  So I kept going. Up, up, up, hauling 30 pounds of Nathan behind me around three or four bends.

Finally, I reached the top of the hill.  I sat back down and let my legs rest, sucked oxygen deep and coasted. Beside me a large SUV rolled by. I turned to see the husband and wife smiling and clapping.  They had trailed me the entire way and watched me work my way to the top.

I beamed, then sailed down the rest of the hill contemplating just how strong my legs were in that moment, just how well they served me. And yet, despite this fact, I still struggle to find them beautiful. Society will never call them pretty.

Carol Heldman says in her Tedtalk, The Sexy Lie, that boys are taught to view their bodies as tools to master their environment, while girls are taught to view their bodies as projects to be improved. In other words, women are not taught to value their bodies based on how healthy their bodies are, or how strong they are, or how well their limbs serve them.

I know I’m not the only one who has internalized this emphasis on appearance.  It’s a daily battle to switch the view finder on my body, to dismantle a value system that says my body is only as valuable as it is attractive.

As Nathan and I sped down the back of the hill, I scuttled the veiny images of my pale legs and chose to to speak a word of gratitude. “Thank you for a healthy body, strong legs.” I let the words carry behind me on the wind like party streamers.

 

picture credit: examiner.com
picture credit: examiner.com

3 Brilliant Parenting Tricks I learned from Other Moms

Posted on June 4, 2014

Women, you make my life better.

I was thinking this morning about all the amazing ways we help each other and improve each others’ lives and I wanted to share three particular brilliant parenting tips I’ve learned from other moms. Here they are:

1) “Do you two need help?” (from Abby)

This morning, the kids were hollering at each other.  Dwayne and I were trying to finish our breakfast, and I glanced over to see the kids tussling over a toy watch.

Without even thinking, I pulled out a trusty trick I learned from Noelle’s preschool teacher.  “Do you two need help?” I asked.  The kids immediately simmered down.  Noelle turned to me.  “I want to show him what the watch can do.”

Nathan piped up, hot under the collar. “I call Alicia! I Diego!”

We problem solved and Nathan asked his sister not to touch his watch. Noelle decided to leave her brother alone and go play with something else.

I remember the first time I saw Abby, the director of Noelle’s preschool in Bellingham, use this technique.  She was demonstrating to the parents at orientation how her teachers engage students who are having a disagreement.  Someone had asked about discipline measures and Abby had two-stepped her way through the routine.

I’m telling you, I watched the teachers pull out this question, “Do you two need help,” over and over again while we lived in Bellingham and every single time the agitation dissipated nearly immediately.  The kids felt heard.  They articulated their point of view, and the teacher and kids were always able to find a solution.

Seems too easy, right?  Well most genius things are deceptively simple.  The power of this question is that the adult gets down on level with the kids and that the children are given an opportunity to vent.

Give it a try and see how it works for you.

2) “Can I play with it when you’re done?” (from Elizabeth H.)

Yesterday, we had friends over for a play date.

Little Friend saw something my Nathan was playing with.  Little friend yanked the toy out of Nathan’s hands.  I stepped in.

“Whoa, whoa! Hold on a minute.  Let’s ask Nathan, ‘When you’re done with it, can I see it?’”  To his credit, Little Friend, complied easily and asked Nathan politely if he could see the toy when Nathan was done.  Nathan grinned,  said “Yes” played with the toy for about 20 seconds more and then handed it over.

Simple.  Crisis averted.  Thank you to my cousin Elizabeth for this brilliant parenting trick!

Early on in my parenting days, Elizabeth shared with me that the way she helped avert toy wars between her three kids was to teach them to ask, “Can I play with it when you’re done?” Then she taught the other child to answer, “yes.”

This little routine took the urgency out of the interaction between her kids and allowed them to rest and go play with something else until the coveted toy was available.

The key is that you have to monitor the exchange the first few times.  As the parent, we have to be there showing the kids how to do it and then make sure the toy gets handed over in a timely fashion.  But let’s be honest, attention spans are short, and like I experienced yesterday, 20 seconds was about all the time my preschooler needed with the toy.

Like the first tip, this one works pretty much every time I use it. It takes a little bit of training and fine tuning from time to time, but the kids do great with it.

3) Love and Logic

When we first moved to Bellingham, Noelle was turning 3.  She was a special kind of terror when she was three, kicking, screaming, biting, even drawing blood.  I think it was a combination of being three and moving from the bottom of the country to the top that threw Noelle off kilter.  Evenso, there were a few months there that I worried I was raising a monster.  I remember standing in church one day, tears streaming down my face because I was so desparate over Noelle’s behavior.

After a particularly nasty tantrum, my new friend at the time, Kellie, mother of three and Marriage and Family Theraptist, lent me her book, Love and Logic. To say that this book changed our parenting style is an understatement.  Love and Logic gave Dwayne and I a new framework, and a series of tools that transformed our interactions with Noelle.

To this day, I use Love and Logic with Nathan, and see it working on him too.  We’re going to stick with L&L until our kids leave the house.

***

I could give you so many other tricks I’ve picked up from other mom’s.  The truth is, the very fabric of my life has been altered in such beautiful ways by the women in my world.  Strange how society teaches us to compete with one another, and to view each other as a threat.  The truth is our families, our careers, our homes, and our faith comes together in each others’ hands.

 

 

photo credit: http://somertimepools.com/
photo credit: http://somertimepools.com/

How Noelle Almost Drowned

Posted on May 27, 2014

So Noelle nearly drowned on Saturday.  We were at a birthday party with a swimming pool.

No one had told us there would be a pool involved, so we hadn’t brought the kids’ bathing suits. In truth, I don’t think the parents of the birthday boy ever meant for the pool to become a part of the party, but one can not keep these things secret.  Especially, when it takes up half the yard and is full of crystal blue water that winks at you beneath the girth of sun.

Noelle begged and begged to get in, but since we didn’t have a suit for her, nor a change of clothes, her pleas went rejected.

Finally, about an hour into the afternoon, I decided to go home and get her bathing suit.  She came with me and on our way back, I heard her little voice chattering from the back of the van. “I can swim now.  I couldn’t swim last year when I was five, but my arms are longer and my legs are stronger, so I can swim now.”

I glanced at her in the rear view mirror, her little head tilted and gazing out the window.

“No, you can’t swim, Noelle,” I interrupted her stream of chatter. “You need to take swimming lessons first.”

No,” She turned toward me, her little mouth an ‘O’ of resistance. “I can swim.  I’m older now.”

“No, you can’t,” I said louder, firmer.

“But I CAN Mom!”

I can not tell you how many conversations roll out in this pattern between Noelle and me: her insisting that she can use the hot glue gun, or change the light bulb, or cook hot things on the stove, and me always countering with, “No, you can’t.  It’s not safe for you yet. You need to learn first. Wait, let me help you.”

As we pulled up to the house, I slid open the van door, helped her discreetly slip into her bathing suit, and then stepped aside for her to hop out.  She sped across the grass toward the party while I gathered up her towel and change of clothes.  I caught sight of her neon pink and green bathing suit rounding the corner of the back of the house as I locked the van.

Just 30 minutes earlier the party had been buzzing in the back yard. Now the yard was empty.  I assumed most people had moved over by the pool or into the house to eat.  The pool was on the far side of the house, blocked from my sight by a tall wooden fence.

I ducked into the basement to drop off my bags and thought about perhaps just continuing on into the house and up the stairs to the kitchen, then changed my mind and decided to make sure that Noelle was safe and sound at the pool where Dwayne had been waiting when I left.

I crossed the yard and pushed through the gate into the pool area. Two things became apparent immediately:

1) No one was by the pool, as I had thought.  Everyone had gone into the house.

2) Noelle was bobbing up and down in the pool splashing and gasping for air.

It’s hard to describe the simultaneous burst of adrenaline, panic, and sheer fury that swept over me in that moment.  In one sense, my feet felt fired to the cement, my muscles moved like oozing tar: tortuously slow.  In another sense, I was moving almost without thinking.  I bounded to the ladder, thrust my body out over the pool, grabbed my daughter, whose hand just barely reached mine, and yanked her to the edge of the pool.

“Noelle,” I seethed.  “You CAN NOT SWIM!!”

The truth is, though I was infuriated at her for being so obstinate and determined, I was more angry at myself for not talking to her more intentionally about proper pool behavior like needing to wait for an adult to get in; I was angry at myself for not putting floaties on her; angry at myself for almost walking through the house rather than walking back to check on her; angry for not keeping a closer eye on her.

We finished our evening at the party, but not until Dwayne and I had lectured her about how to play in the pool safely.  Noelle spent the rest of her time at the party contrite and cautious.

At bedtime that night, I lay beside her and asked our routine questions.

“What was your favorite part of the day?”

Without missing a beat, she spoke into the darkened room, “Well, I can tell you what wasn’t my favorite.” I could see the silhouette of her chin lifting up in conviction, her little finger wagging at the ceiling.

“What?”

“Going swimming. That was not a good idea.”

I laughed and laughed and laughed until tears filled my eyes.

This is the way it is with kids, isn’t it?  They terrify you one minute.  Make you so mad.  And then crack you up the next minute. They break your heart right in two with terror and laughter.

Picture credit: Breitbart.com
Picture credit: Breitbart.com

An Apology is Unneccessary, Mr. Fortgang

Posted on May 7, 2014

Reading Tal Fortgang’s article, “Why I’ll Never Apologize for My White Privilege”, was not unlike watching a woman in labor.  I was terrified of what I might see, but I couldn’t pull my eyes away.

The title is pretty self-explanatory — after attending Princeton and being introduced to the ugly reality of white privilege, Fortgang recoils into a state of denial.  He lists his ancestor’s extraordinary trek out of Poland under the terror of Nazi reign to the shores of New York, where his grandfather and father were able to build a thriving life for themselves.  Fortgang stands on the shoulders of their hard work and sacrifice as a freshman at Princeton. He refuses to admit that any part of their success was marked by the kinds of benefits light skin affords you in this country.

I wanted to bury the article.  I am devastated that Time would publish such a thing, not because it isn’t well written and an authentic picture of where Fortgang is in his intellectual and ethical development, but simply because his articulate, but misguided, words give permission to the students I teach each semester to walk away from a conversation that moves us all toward justice and advocacy.

I’m terrified of the damage Fortgang’s article is already doing for readers who may also feel guilty about their unearned privileges and therefore are jumping wholeheartedly into denial.  Oh, it just breaks my heart.

Every semester, I introduce my students to Peggy McIntosh’s seminal article, “The Invisible Knapsack” wherein she enumerates the day-to-day benefits she enjoys because of her light skin.  Things like being able to turn on the TV and see her race widely represented; being able to trust that the color of her skin is not working against any appearance of financial stability; or even something as mundane as being able to find a “flesh-colored” bandage that more or less matches the color of her — what else? — skin.

I watch as the light bulbs pop and shatter over my students’ heads when they read this article.  The point is not that white privilege gives anyone a free pass necessarily.  It just means that the color of my skin does not work against me in society in achieving my goals and dreams.  This is a luxury that my black and Latino friends can’t necessarily count on.

For example, my Puerto Rican friend deliberately withholds her very Latino sounding last name when looking for housing because she recognizes that landlords may assume that a Latino woman looking for a home here in Gettysburg is going to come with a litter of kids and no financial backing.  The truth is, she’s a highly educated administrator here on campus.

These are the sorts of stereotypes and assumptions I don’t have to worry about as a white person.

The point is, when my students first encounter McIntosh’s article and the truth of white privilege, you can almost visibly watch guilt rush in like a tidal wave.  “This is just making me feel bad,” said one of my good-looking, football players.  I could have kissed him for being so honest!

No one likes to see the myth of meritocracy crumble in their fingers!  And so often, my students gravitate toward one of two responses: guilt, or denial.  I would venture to say that Fortgang falls into the later response.

But this sort of bifurcated reaction is both arbitrary and damaging.  Arbitrary, because there are many more ways to respond to the ugliness of White Privilege.  Damaging because in the end, feeling guilty or living in denial only short circuits a conversation that calls us to be allies.

I hold the space for my students’ initial reactions, but I don’t let them stay there. Ultimately, I challenge them to think about how they can use their unearned privilege to help right the system.  They are the future bosses, lawyers, CEO’s, politicians.  They can do something about this!  They don’t have to live by a broken set of rules.

The truth is, no one really wants an apology from Fortgang.  Perhaps a few, but on a larger scale, on a societal scale, an apology is both unnecessary and impotent.  Fortgang has trapped himself in a losing response.  It serves no one, least of all him.

If I were his professor, I’d nudge him forward.  I’d like to say to him, “Yes, no one likes to think that the advantages they have are unearned, but the truth is, your particular privileges are like money in the bank.  Don’t feel guilty about how you got that money. And don’t pretend it’s not there.  Instead, go spend it!  Go pick a cause, any cause.  You are a white male here in the United States. You have so much leverage.  You go to Princeton, for heaven’s sake!  Stop focusing on yourself and go stand beside our brothers and sisters who are equally intelligent, equally hard-working, equally worthy of everything America has to offer, and help fix the systems that arbitrarily hold them back!”

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The Truth about Unconditional Love In Our Family

Posted on May 2, 2014

Sleep is staccato in our house.  Three out of five nights Dwayne and I sleep uninterrupted, but the other two nights, someone is up.  I hear the creak and thump-thump of feet and either Nathan (2) or Noelle (6) appears beside our bed, arms full of luvies.

If they don’t wake us up in the middle of the night, then they appear like a mirage in the early morning light, soft and sleepy and warm, ready to crawl into our bed.

The other morning, I tossed Nathan’s Mommy Fox and Baby Fox into the middle of the bed and pulled him under the covers, trying to salvage a few more minutes of sleep.  He tucked his head beneath my shoulder, right next to my heart.  I could smell his hair and scalp.  He smelt like hay: little boy sweat and the outdoors.  We dozed off and I woke again to him poking the mole on my neck.

“Whas dat?” he asked.

“It’s my mole,” I mumbled, tasting my morning breath.  I could feel the gloss of oil across my cheeks.

He looked up at me.  “Mommy, you pwetty.”

I could have died.  Right there in that moment.  Could have folded up and called it quits.  I didn’t need to live another day to experience love.

Having never grown up in a house of boys, or witnessed my mother raise a boy, I had no idea what kind of bond cements between a son and his mother.  But I have been discovering this relationship like a flowering tree in Spring, opening up with pink and fuchsia, white and cream.

Sometimes, I am overwhelmed by the love my children exude toward me.  That morning wasn’t the last time Nathan told me I was pretty.  He tells me everyday.  He tilts his head, says it matter-of-fact.  Sometimes, he pretends to give me make-overs wherein I come out looking like a street fight, but the entire time he’ll tuss my hair, or rub brown eyeshadow between my eye brows and say, “I make you a princess!”

My daughter cakes me with love in her own way.  She doesn’t speak it, but she draws it over and over and over again.  I have layers and layers of pictures from Noelle of just the two of us.  Me with my scribbled curls, her with her line glasses and the words, “I love mom” written to infinity.

The truth is, I was never one of those little girls who grew up dreaming about being a mom.  I didn’t cherish my dolls.  I dreamed of being a singer or an actress.  I filled legal pads with stories.  I opened myself up to getting pregnant the way you open a book and turn the pages, one right after the other because that’s what follows: courtship, engagement, marriage, parenthood.

Pregnancy and those early newborn days wrecked me.  I had no idea what was coming and when Noelle arrived, a little bundle of fusses and squirms and a pink mouth that ravaged my nipples, I fell into shock.  What on earth had I gotten into?  What Pandora’s box of physical brokenness and sleep deprivation had we unleashed? But eventually, I healed.  We learned and we grew into a family of three.

We turned the page for baby number two, not because either of us were jumping for joy over the thought of pregnancy and delivery and babies again, but because my table didn’t yet feel full.  I wasn’t satisfied with the idea of being a one child family.  I knew eventually we’d get past the newborn days with Nathan and then we’d be a tribe. The Taylor tribe.  I liked that idea.

I just needed to buckle down and get through the hard stuff.

But the truth was, we did everything better the second time around.  Hired a Douala.  Went on anti-depressants. Adjusted our expectations. And within two weeks of Nathan’s birthday, I found myself looking down at his little face and feeling a wash of love.  “I can’t believe how in love I am with him already,” I wrote on my FB wall.

“Love comes quicker the second time around,” my mentor, Mary wrote back.

And she was right. Not just because Nathan was an easier labor and delivery, or because I bounced back physically much quicker than I had with Noelle, but also because Dwayne and I were less anxious the second time around.  We had more grace for ourselves.  We embraced the process better.  Lived into the chaos better.

Nearly three years later, I am struck by the fact that while my love for my kids lines each day, it’s not my love that has transformed our home and lit our days.  No, it’s their love.  It’s my children’s love.

If ever there were a picture of unmitigated love, it is that of a child’s love for his or her parents.

This struck me when Noelle handed me another drawing of the two of us, holding hands beside a flower.

I have my bad days.  Days when I get so exasperated and so annoyed.  When I snap at them and growl at them, when I don’t listen to them or tune them out because I just can’t stand another second of “mommymommymommy.”

But always they bounce back.

Not thirty minutes later, they’ll be in my lap smiling up at me.  They forgive so easily.  Forget so quickly. They keep no record of wrongs.

Is this what Jesus meant when he said to enter the kingdom of God we must become like little children?  Perhaps it has less to do with innocence or authenticity or the grand wonder that children bring to the world, and more to do with the fact that children love wholeheartedly, without even trying.  It’s like absolutely is the only way they know how to love — without exception, without rule, without judgement, without question.

They give and give and give again.  A seemingly renewable source of light.

Eleanor and Park

The Way Attraction Works

Posted on April 28, 2014

Our thirteen year-old babysitter first told me about Eleanor and Park.  “It’s such a beautiful love story,” she crooned as I drove her home.

So I checked it out and started reading.

Set in high school in the mid 1980′s, Eleanor and Park, hums with the beat of 80′s music like Joy Division, The Misfits, and Sex Pistols. The story centers on the hateship, friendship, courtship, loveship of Park, a Korean kid, and Eleanor, a chubby red-head.

The author, Rainbow Rowell, says she’s asked two questions more than any other about Eleanor and Park.

The first being: why is Park Korean?  The second: is Eleanor really fat, or does she just think she’s fat?

Rowell has answered both of these questions beautifully over on her blog.  To the first question, she gives many reasons why Park is Korean.  Some have to do with her own past connections with Korea, but primarily, she says Park is Korean, simply because that is how she discovered him when she first started writing the novel.  She writes, “Park is Korean . . .Because that’s how I saw him the moment I saw him. And then I couldn’t imagine him any other way.”

The fact that a male romantic character is Asian-American, is cool on so many levels.  It’s ground-breaking in that Asian-American males are hardly ever portrayed as masculine and attractive in American film, TV, or literature.  An absence that I’ve heard my Asian-American colleagues, students, and friends bemoan for years.

In regards to Eleanor’s weight, Rowel asks in return, “Why does it matter?

Rowell writes, “Park thinks Eleanor is beautiful…He wants to kiss her. He wants to have sex with her. And it isn’t because he’s brave and deep — it’s because he’s attracted to her. This is how attraction works.”[emphasis mine]

After reading that last line, everything in me stood and cheered. Rowell’s book, her insight, her comment brings into shocking relief all the messages we believe about attractiveness in our Western culture.  We have been fed for years a particular body-type and style as the prototype of sexy.

The truth is, we’re not attracted to someone because advertisements and movies and TV shows tell us to be attracted to a certain type of person.  Sure, we may think someone is cute.  We may think they are “hot.”  But attraction runs on so many levels.

Which leads me to this question: how does attraction work?

Eleanor and Park are attracted to one another first of all because they both love music and comic books, and then because Park is kind to her, and then because she makes Park laugh.  Neither of them are ugly.  They just don’t fit the stereotype of an attractive person in popular culture these days.  The truth is, as they spend more time together, they see each other.

And of course, the more they see each other, the more they lose it for one another.

How many of us have found ourselves attracted to someone who didn’t fit the stereotypical image of “good looks”?  Maybe he was shorter than you, or she was bigger than you, or they had acne, or weren’t the same ethnicity as you.  Haven’t we all felt that magnetism toward someone, but didn’t allow ourselves to go there because they didn’t fit our preconceived notions of attractive?

The truth is, attraction runs along many tracks and our physical/sexual attraction can’t be separated out from the mental, emotional, and even spiritual attractions we feel toward people.  All these things draw us in and work together like the braided strands of a rope.  As one grows more intimately, the rest follow.

The challenge for us as a society is to recognize that everyone has different things that turn them on or draw them toward someone.  To push a cliche: we are as unique and varied as snowflakes, and thus, who we will be attracted to is equally individual.

How strange that we would hold up one type of woman or man as the ideal “sexiest” person?  That’s like telling everyone they should like punk rock, or folk, or country.  It’s just not the way we work as human beings.

We all have different tastes in everything from food to music. However, we rarely allow ourselves the same freedom to have different tastes in romantic partners. The sooner we realize the artificial boundaries we’ve put on ourselves, the better off romantic relationships will be.

So, who wants to see this book turned into a movie?  I do!!  Wouldn’t it be phenomenal to see these two love interests on the big screen: a Korean guy, and a chubby girl?  So non-mainstream.  So non-conformist.  So dreamy.

In the end it will make you think: who are you attracted to?

Picture Credit: Eric Roberson
Picture Credit: Eric Roberson

Heart Language

Posted on April 16, 2014

So last week, I had an article appear in the NY Times blog, Motherlode.  What an incredible opportunity and one that has taken me on quite a journey this past week.  First and foremost, I’ve received an outpouring of support, which has amazed me.  People telling me how much they appreciate the article, and how I have articulated their own experience of being young adults who love Jesus, love their faith but don’t necessarily agree with the stereotypes around their faith.

There was the e-mail from Grant, a hospital chaplain, who felt moved to write me and encourage me and who literally brought me to tears with his kind and generous words.  Largely, these types of comments and e-mails have been the rule.

However, a few stray arrows have found their way to my inbox.

Like this gem: “If you wouldn’t tell your non-Christian friends that Jesus came down from Heaven and died on the cross for their sins, are you sure you’re Christian at all?”

How does one answer a question like this?

What has fascinated me is the way in which my article has raised such ire in the Christian community.  I have touched a nerve; I have spoken to a fear.  I wonder exactly, what is that fear?

Why does taking my friends’ feelings and perspectives into consideration when I share my faith, mean that I’m not Christian?  Why does my unwillingness to proselytize my friends mean that I don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus?  Some people don’t want to be converted and I respect that.  In what way does my respect for a person’s unique spiritual journey compromise my own salvation?

In the end, I am who I am, and my faith is a part of my identity.  Anyone who wants to be my friend learns this about me.  I don’t hide my faith but neither do I have an agenda for my friends.  If they want to talk about faith, we’ll talk about it.  If they have questions, I answer them.

I believe that my life as a missionary kid has prepared me well for this conversation.  You see, growing up overseas has required me always to be aware of two cultures at once.  I always have one foot in each culture.  Missionary work is about building bridges, about empathy.

My husband’s family lived in Haiti for ten years and he remembers his father always telling him, “Dwayne, everywhere we go, we learn the heart language of the people.  Not the national language.”

You see, French, the national language of Haiti, was the language of the oppressors, of those who came and colonized. Haitians developed Creole as a way to speak to each other in the midst of their oppression.  Creole was their own.

Dave understood that in order to reach the people they were there to serve he couldn’t fly in from Canada and start speaking the language of those who had captured, abused, and oppressed the Haitians.  Yes, they would understand Dave on a literal level, but he would never truly reach them.  He had to get down on the ground level, learn the language of their hearts, and meet them on their terms.

In a similar way, I learned as a little white girl in an amalgam of cultures that I would not get very far if I always demanded that everyone learn to speak my language, learn to understand the world through my eyes.

I think Christians in America find themselves at a similar crossroads.  For so many decades, Christianity has been the majority voice in this country, the defining religious worldview.  It has shaped politics and social mores. Christianity has been the national language. But that is changing, shifting.  The majority is broadening, diversifying.

I think a new generation of Christians are taking the scene.  We understand that we can’t demand everyone speak our language, and meet us on our terms.

This new generation of Christians value relationships above proving ourselves right and we are dedicated to learning the heart language of our culture, not so that we can compromise and lose our roots, but so that we can better communicate the Truth.

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