Black Lives Matter.

 

17 You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted;

    you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,

18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed,

    so that mere earthly mortals

    will never again strike terror.

〜Psalm 10:17-18

The reason I am posting this is because I woke up convicted. Well, really, I had been feeling convicted for awhile. I want to share in this post how I let that conviction change me and my heart, how I was given the words to express my feelings and understand them, and what I have come to understand and now live out as a result. When the Black Lives Matter movement started around 2013 I was relatively young (15) and I didn’t really understand at the time. Over the course of the next few years, as I got a little older and understood a little more, I was kind of bothered. I thought, all lives matter, not just black lives. Why are there signs saying this? But I never said or did anything. Now, with everything that is currently happening my conviction seemed to not only change, but grow stronger. I felt a heavy heart with all the hate and anger festering in America and other parts of the world, and now it was signs that said All Lives Matter that made me angry inside. Why did I feel anger in the first place? Why was my heart so troubled and my soul so uneasy? I knew I needed to give it to God. I also knew that I didn’t want to deny this conviction anymore, and that I wanted to educate myself so that I could release this burden and truly begin to change. So I started with a prayer, and then turned to the greatest source of wisdom I know: scripture. 

June 6, 2020

Dear God, 

      Okay God. I feel your conviction. I am beginning to know Your voice and feel your presence in my life and You have made me feel this conviction in my heart about all the injustices happening right now. About all the people being killed, about all the hate and feuding brought up by race. I want to be educated, Lord. I want to know what to do and say and what my part to play is Lord. But I want Your wisdom, and I want to learn from Your word, and I want to act through Your Spirit and I want it all to be fueled by the Love of Jesus. Lord Help Me. You are sufficient!

〜Amen

So I began the search to see what scripture says about racial reconciliation. Ephesians 2:11-22 is a powerful summation of the massive reconciliation that was made possible and done by Jesus Christ sacrifice for all our sins. It tells of how the Jews and the Gentiles were reconciled through Christ. You have to understand, to be a Jew during this time meant you had access to God’s presence and if you were a Gentile (anyone not Jewish) that wasn’t really a possibility. Sure you could stand way outside the temple gates, or maybe in the courtyards at the very back but to be fully in God’s presence, to be that close, was for the Jews. Naturally, there was opposition and segregation, sadly, in regards to God’s presence. What a devastating injustice to deny people God. Paul writes how the Gentiles were, “foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12). After thousands of years of war, oppression, racism, hatred, judgement, and bias we are left asking how can they ever be reconciled. The answer: Jesus. 

13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

~Ephesians 2:13-22

 

This is amazing. Christ died so that the walls of hostility could come down. So that the people in the back who felt discriminated, cheated, and unloved could be welcomed to the front. So that the ones who felt left out and wronged had a place at the table and were in. So that we could all be one. So that we could all be family. Aside from Christ already paying the price, Ephesians 2:11-22 isn’t a reality yet, it’s the goal. We haven’t reached that point. Even to this present day in America. We aren’t there yet. Why do we feel the need as people in the front, people in God’s presence, to hoard it for ourselves? With God, there is plenty of space and love to go around. Why are some of us so hesitant to let others come forward? Worse yet, when we should be helping them, we are killing them and rebuilding barriers. The injustice today in America is not denying people God like in this scripture, but denying others are made in the image of God, and therefore we don’t treat them how they deserve to be treated, with equality. Scripture tells us we are all one family, reconciled and restored by Christ. Why can’t we see that today? As Christians, we should be more willing to shine the love on those who feel unloved. When I see a cop, that’s my family. When I see a black man, that’s my family. When I see rich, poor, broken, successful; that’s my family. I love my family. I know everyone doesn’t see the world this way, and I know for certain that we don’t all treat each other this way. What I do know is that if any part of my family is being oppressed, killed, discriminated, or hated that I will stand with them and support them. 

Black Lives Matter. When I say this people think that means I hate law enforcement, or I think that only black lives matter. Not true. Do I want change? Absolutely. Do I want peace? Absolutely. Do I appreciate the police that protect us? Absolutely. I don’t want people to think that this post is attacking police officers. Here’s the deal: All cops aren’t bad because some mess up, just like all protestors aren’t violate rioters. What that cop did to George Floyd wasn’t evil because he was in uniform, it was evil because he abused his power to kill another human being. That’s wrong. Floyd has been made a martyr and even been called a saint by some. I don’t agree with that because he is another human like you and me as well. But we can all agree that what happened to him was wrong and shouldn’t happen to people period. But it happens to black people a lot, and I don’t think there is anything wrong with using this massive injustice caught on camera to open people’s eyes to the faults in some of our systems in this country. So, when people say what about all these other people who have died recently, or why is no one talking about this or that it’s not that people don’t care about these things. It’s that people are focused on fixing and addressing a huge lack of justice for a group of people right now. Don’t get me wrong. Please mourn, post about people you care about on social media passing away or other problems in the world that you want to shine a spotlight on. Every lost life is tragic, regardless of how it happened. Every world problem is devastating. But in response to the Black Live Matters it is confrontational and undermining to the movement. I regard comments like these in the same light as all lives matter comments. I think that this point is important enough to provide two examples, one normal, and one biblical. 

America is a dinner table. After white people have excused almost all Native Americans from the table they sit down at the dinner table ready to eat. The meal is made by black people who aren’t allowed at the table and are only given a few scraps of food. This goes on for a long time. Finally some people realize that this is wrong, and say, “black people should be able to sit at the table with us.” After fights and arguing black people end up getting a spot at the table. However, they still have no food but are happy to just be at the table at first. White people continue to eat their meals and over time, black people start to say, “We deserve food too.” White people ignore them. Every night they say, “We deserve food too.” Still, white people ignore them. Finally they say, “Black people deserve food too.” White people respond, “We all deserve food.” Black people raise their voices, “Black people deserve food too!” White people, “We all deserve food!” 

Why are we so surprised then when black people start pounding their utensils, breaking dishes, and flipping the table? How many times, and for how long must they ask politely before we give them some food? 

I have mixed feelings about the violence and the riots. I feel like I am not really for that, and the first thing I’ll add is that there are a lot of third parties that come in and take advantage of the movement to work their own agendas. That just needs to be understood. Not all vandalism, aggression, and rioting is by activists for the Black Lives Matter movement. However, there are a lot of supporters who are for it and even still there are some who are against it, but understand it. That’s where I am. I will never fully be able to understand where they are coming from but I can to some degree. A lot of it hinges on and is explained by the Martin Luther King Jr’s quote, “And I contend that the cry of ‘black power’ is, at bottom, a reaction to the reluctance of white power to make the kind of changes necessary to make justice a reality for the Negro. I think that we’ve got to see that a riot is the language of the unheard.” Replace “black power” with “Black Lives Matter” and here we are. MLKJ was never an advocate for violence, but he understood why some would riot. Emmanual Acho also discusses this in Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man Ep. 1 (linked below) and brings up the point of this being one of the stages of grieving. He talked about how his mother, when she lost someone, was throwing herself against the wall in her pain and mourning. It was hurtful to herself but she just didn’t know how to respond, how to express the emotions she was feeling. We have a nation processing the recent and tragic deaths of people, as well as the feelings and responses to injustices they’ve suppressed. I think that we are in a time of very high emotions, and it is very easy for these emotions to be untethered to reason and become destructive rather than constructive. I am not trying to justify looting, rioting and vandalism. I do hope however you can at least understand where they may be coming from.  

The other example is in scripture. It is Matthew 18: 10-14 and is called the parable of the wandering sheep. 

10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. 11 “For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.”

12 “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.

〜Matthew 18:10-14

There is plenty of scripture that shows the kind of character Jesus had, and ultimately, as Christians, we should model our lives off of Jesus’. I try to think about how Jesus would respond during this time. What would his actions be? Jesus went out of his way for the marginalized, spent his time loving people who didn’t feel loved and made it clear he accepted those who didn’t feel accepted. I love the parable of the lost sheep in Matthew 18. I just want a society that matches these values that Jesus lived for. The Black Lives Matter movement is like the lost sheep looking for justice, and righteousness. Jesus going to help the one sheep doesn’t mean he loves the 99 sheep any less, or that they don’t matter. He just wants everyone to know they’re loved, and right now we can stand with Jesus in seeking justice for the one sheep. Even when you say in all sincerity, all lives matter, which I and everyone agrees with, it seems like you’re opposing black lives matter. When we say black lives matter we are saying we see you, lost and unheard sheep, and we want justice and righteousness for you, like we have.  

With all that said, it’s clear there is a lot of disagreement with others and a lot of times right now that seems to be expressed through social media. I don’t have any problem with people doing that. But what irritates me is that people so easily forget that the comment they’re leaving is addressed to another human being. It’s easy to feel confident and assertive in your retorts and rejects to others behind a keyboard and screen, but we need to keep in mind that commenting on everyone’s post that you disagree with, and doing it in a very close minded and rude way, is only adding fuel to the fire and does nothing to work towards a solution. We let our frustration from disagreement take over, but “human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires” (James 1:20). It’s important to express your opinion, but in healthy and productive ways and not in ways that exhaust you and/or the situation. Proverbs 15:1 says it well, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a hard word stirs up anger”. Don’t use your words to stir up anger, don’t go picking fights, but respond and state humbly your opinion. Let’s use our voice on social media to be a place of education, open mindedness, and ideally, positive discussion so that we can focus on change and growth as individuals and as a community. 

I started this quest seeking truth and wisdom, and relief for my aching heart. I turned first to God, and His word. I let Him set the foundation for my understanding and stance on all of this. However, I also looked into so many other sources. I tried my best to educate myself as much as possible. I found material that claims white privilege is a myth, or that there’s no such thing as systemic racism. I have read plenty of material that says the opposite. I have talked to family friends who have a member serving in law enforcement, I have talked to friends that are people of color, black, Christian and non-Christian. I have talked to my Uncle who is a Christian working in law enforcement. Some people say they have experienced racism, others say they haven’t. Some say they can’t get behind Black Lives Matter because they are procop. Some people say they can’t support law enforcement because they are standing for Black Lives Matter. What they all said though was, they were all fine with change, and wanted peace. 

I could sit here and spew out all the facts I have found to support either side, or I could type up an exhaustive list of every single testimony and look at which side of the line they fall on, but at the end of the day I think all of us, including myself, just want people to love one another. We want to be respected, loved, and accepted and I truly believe that it is going to take radical love by all of us to make that happen. We can educate ourselves all day, consume all the social media out there, and keep ourselves up to date on the latest news but it will require living out a transformational love like Jesus to truly make an impact. As Bob Goff says in his devotional Live in Grace, Walk in Love, “The people with the greatest love, not the most information, will influence us to change” (LIG WIL, 194). It is not enough to recognize the marginalized and the lines of division separating groups of people. We need to move into the margin, erase the separation through active acceptance, acknowledging where we are as individuals, and start seeing each other the way God intended, as family.

Scripture tells us in James 1:27, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” We too easily become polluted by the world through selfish agendas, lies on social media, political pursuits, etc. so much so that we get caught up in being right, and forget to look after the orphans and widows. Or our vision gets so distorted by the world’s pollution that we can’t see sin rooting itself in us. “Orphans” and “Widows” are people who need a family and are hurting. Right now, black people need us to stand by their side. Even if we say, there’s no facts, or at least not enough to show that there is systemic racism, or white privilege it doesn’t negate or change the very real cries of help coming from black people in our country. Who are we as Christians, and fellow Americans to say that it’s not real for them? Wouldn’t we be foolish not to look into the matter and help? We cannot deny the very real emotions connected to experiences. However, I do believe that there is evidence, and there are flaws in our system. We live in a broken world and that’s a truth we need to understand. But that’s no excuse not to help those in need and pursue change.  

I want to end on what this whole endeavor has taught me, how it has left me changed, and what happens next. Like I said, I came into this uneducated, and with a deeply troubled heart.  I was so scared of being called a racist, I chose to hide in ignorance for so long. In 1 Peter 4:1-2 it says, “Whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.” I realized that my internal struggle and suffering was a spiritual battle between my sin nature and the Spirit God’s given me. I really had to dig deep and ask why is all this clamping so hard on my heart. It became so clear through God’s grace that it was my white privilege pushing back. It was the enemy and sin nature that had rooted itself, disguising itself as normalcy, in my heart. I was uprooting this thing that for so long I thought was a part of me and what I was feeling was the cry of all that being brought to the light. But when I finally let go of my biases, let go of pride, and let in humility and God’s love it was like a breath of fresh air brought by the Holy Spirit. My heart was liberated. 

If you know me, then you know I’m not very political, or one to usually state my political views on the internet. But this is beyond politics. This is a heart posture problem. This is a human problem. I would be lying if I said now I have all the answers and my work is done. The truth is this internal revelation was really just the beginning. I also don’t claim to know all the stats and facts out there, but I hope that this helps convince people there is a problem, and that sometimes all you need as confirmation of that is the twinge in your heart, and the tug on your soul. Lean into that. Please do not sweep your conviction under the rug. Dig into and ask yourself why you might be feeling that way. I don’t have all the answers, and I’m not asking you to have them either. A big step to finding a solution is doing the inner work in yourself first. I took the time to self reflect, process and mull over the emotions I was feeling, and really examined my heart and myself. That’s what I’m asking you to do. I’m striving to be someone who listens to that still voice in my heart, listens to the Holy Spirit and engages it, lets it teach me, and God willing, change me. We cannot be content to ignore the problem, or retreat back into our bubble due to fear of change and exposure. As Christians, we work in the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:11-21) and I believe that means in these times that we stand by the people who need to be reconciled. That means that we do what we can to fix the systems, but also address the spiritual evils involved in those systems and in our own hearts. I know my writing a blog isn’t going to solve the problem, but I hope maybe my words can help people understand, or put into words the struggle they feel in their own heart. All of this has given me the confidence to stand with people and overcome a war in my heart, despite the conflict that it may cause between family and friends, a say with confidence and pride, BLACK LIVES MATTER. 

 


Please, if you disagree or have any questions or concerns bring them to me. I’m learning and seeking the truth and trying to find ways to help and get involved. If you have information that you want me to read, I’d be more than happy. If you want to share opportunities or different viewpoints, I’m all ears. Let’s talk, because that is part of how we are going to find reconciliation. Then let’s take positive and constructive action! As always, much love. 

I have listed below a bunch of sources I used in composing this. Not all are listed, only the main ones. They aren’t really in any particular order, and they vary from a few minutes to over an hour, from biblical teachings to movies to articles. I will say the first three I found to be relatively short (all around ten or so minutes) and very impactful. 

Sources:

BibleProject: Justice

Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man Ep. 1

Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man Ep. 2

Voddie Baucham Teaching on Racial Reconciliation: Main Point

Voddie Baucham Teaching on Racial Reconciliation: Full

Police. Protestors. People: Jocko Willink

The Symbols of Systemic Racism: Ted Talk by Paul Rucker

Systemic Racism Explained

Hope

The Cure for Racism Podcast

Evidence of Systemic Racism in our Justice System

Bridgetown Church Teaching

Churchome Teaching

Transformation Church: Racial Reconciliation by Michael Todd

Live in Grace, Walk in Love by Bob Goff

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

13th (Film on Netflix)

When They See Us (Film on Netflix)

Ways to Support:

Equal Justice Initiative

Innocence Project

Thoughts on the Heart 3

My heart is a gift to God.

With Corona Virus running rampant throughout the world, people are scared. Covid 19 is devastating families and placing fear in people’s hearts, and a lot of us are asking what we can do. 

Man, everyday God is doing things in my heart. It is amazing following him. Every day he breaks my heart for others which leads to humility and makes me more humble. BUT HE DOESN’T LEAVE ME THERE. He fills it back up with passion and compassion which inspires me to help and care for others, and to savor every moment I have here on earth and the people I get to share those moments with. He fills my heart so full with identity in Him that I can’t help but overflow with joy and peace and be reminded of how blessed I am.

With everything going on, I pray that we can give our hearts to our creator because I promise you He will treat it for what it is, a gift. I pray that if you don’t believe in God that you give him a chance now. God is so present in the midst of suffering and chaos. His arms are open for you, always. I pray that we take our hurting hearts during this time and give them to God. I pray that we take our full hearts and use them to help our families, communities, and the world during this time. Don’t let your hearts be filled with fear but with peace that God’s got us and is using what the enemy intended for evil to bring people into His love, which is bigger than any fear or obstacle we will ever face, Covid 19 included. 

Gosh man, my heart. It aches for those hurting, yet is full from God’s gracious love. I am open to God using me to help however He wants during this time. Maybe He will use these words to bring peace into some people’s hearts. I am praying for you all. I pray that you don’t think your role is unimportant in stopping Covid 19. Distancing yourself may seem like a small act, but it’s a huge act of love to your neighbors right now. 

Events like this sometimes help us to see the important things in life; family, love, identity. God can be all those things and more for you if you let Him. Spend this time with family, helping how you can, and consider gifting your heart to God. You don’t need to wrap it and place a bow on it or wait for it to be in better shape or until it’s in worse shape, hand it over to Him now and see what He does with it. 

I give my heart as a gift to God and He returns it to me more full than when I sent it.

God is a gift to my heart. 

The Unbound Journal 1: Those Around You

I have explained in previous posts the importance of reflecting and how journaling has impacted my life in so many incredible ways. So, before we get started, I would recommend checking those out and to just start writing because it can be extremely beneficial. You don’t need a journal, just something to write with and something to write on. I would highly suggest physically writing out things, and not typing them on your phone or on a computer because there is something different about writing without technology. To me it feels more personal and relaxing. I have been recording things for a while now and there are some really fun things that I have done that make my journal very special to me. This series is for those of you who have a journal, or those of you who are looking to get one, and how to make the most of it. First off, journaling is whatever you want it to be. The advice I give is just interesting ways I have found to spice things up and add new and creative ways to express yourself through writing. They are not standards or demands, merely suggestions for making the most of your journal. Through this series, my goal is to help you create a journal that truly captures your personality and feelings; something that when you look back upon will bring you right back to important memories in your life. With that said, let’s get started!

The first piece of advice I would give to bring your journal to the next level is share it with others, don’t just let it be your own words. Let those in your life speak through your journal. This is something I have done for all my journals and it is probably the best thing you can add. It is so memorable and touching to look back at later. The way I did this the first time was by having my friends and family give me one piece of advice. The things they said were astonishing and are words that I now hold dear. I did this same thing with everyone in my community for my most recent journal, and it is unbelievable the things that people have to say. People are so full of wisdom and it is a shame that we don’t take more time to listen to what they have to say. The different perspectives of everyone really opened my eyes to new ways of looking at the world, those around me, and myself. It is so powerful, and I truly cherish the words from the ones I love and hope to preserve them. If you can, get them to write it in the journal themselves so that you can capture their actual handwriting. This makes it even more special. Now when I write in my journal, I find uplifting words from friends, family, and community and I am reminded of them and my spirits are lifted. This has led to me feeling encouraged, loved, and confident and I can look at them at any time I need a pick-me-up. Don’t be afraid to get creative with what you ask others. Some things I haven’t asked yet, but that I think would be really interesting to have in my journal are; their favorite bible verse, a memory between us, their favorite word, a joke, etc. This is essentially what you might have someone do in a yearbook, but I promise you that you will be thankful for it in the future. Open your journal up to the voices around you and let your journal become something bigger than yourself, something much more meaningful.

 

What I Want To Be When I Grow Up

 

This is an essay I wrote this year that really gets to the core of what I want to do with my life. In simple terms, I want to be a storyteller. There are so many avenues that can be followed when pursuing storytelling, and I don’t necessarily mind how I end up working as a one. What I really care about is what makes a storyteller. The motives of great storytellers and the characteristics and values they have are amazing, genuine and rooted in what I believe to be some of the most important things in life. Being a storyteller means so much more than people know, and in this essay, I want to explain to you what it means to me.

~

Hi, my name is Chad Campbell-Gonzalez and I would like to share with you how I figured out I want to be a storyteller. Growing up, I loved writing. In elementary school when I was asked what I want to do I said become a writer. There was something about writing that drew me in. I think at the time it was the limitless expression that writing offered. Blank pages were like blank stories, empty worlds, and untraversed universes, waiting to be explored by my imagination and my pen. Each word I wrote added to this thing I was creating that came from inside me. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was falling in love with creativity.

Creativity is a critical aspect of storytelling, and it is so fascinating and unique. Getting to express myself through words and imagery is powerful. It’s personal. Creativity is like the key to a door that opens up a world of adventures in self-exploration and understanding. Through it, we try and better grasp who we think we are and, in the process, gain a greater appreciation for those around us. That’s why, although unique and definitely a self-journey, creativity is also a voyage of all people and an adventure that leads to building community.

As I grew older, middle school and high school weren’t environments where creative writing was prioritized. It was still there but you really had to search to find it. All that given, I drifted away from writing and pursued what I thought would make my family and those around me proud. I wanted to be someone important and powerful. I wanted a job that was hard to achieve and when I accomplished it, people would be impressed. I wanted to be everything except what my heart wanted me to be. And so I pursued those things. All through high school and through the beginning part of my college career I had myself convinced that was what I wanted. Over that span a few things happened that, at the time I didn’t know, but were slowly turning me back towards my passion for storytelling.

I found Jesus on May 30, 2015, my sophomore year of high school. My experience with Him has shown me how important people are, and most importantly how important love is. Love is one of the most powerful things on the planet, and it wasn’t until I started following Jesus that I really took a look at my heart and the love that was in my life. I was going through some family issues, as we all are, but I starting to really think about what it means to love and how to do it and I was able to start working through some of those things. Then my journey with understanding love grew even more in my senior year of high school when I read the book “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love” by Raymond Carver. I could see him exploring ideas on love and trying to understand what it meant to him and I thought to myself, I want to do that! Carver helped me see how writing helps a writer work through and wrestle with confusing things in their life, and lets others see what they take away from it.

So, with these things in mind and my passion for writing starting to spark back up I decided to take a writing class at the University of Washington. It was amazing. Writing again I could feel the creative cogs in my head creak back into life. I felt like a kid again. I felt like me. I was able to start unpacking and working on things in my life that hurt me, confused me and I was able to express and share all the things that healed me and uplifted me. It was like all of these huge realizations flooded me and I was able to hear my heart again. I came to realize that being a storyteller means wanting to understand and love yourself, and more importantly, sharing what you discover with others so that they can learn, grow and be reminded that they aren’t alone in their struggles. I began to really appreciate the personal therapy session I received every time I put the ink on the page or my fingers on the keys. Being a storyteller means creating and it means listening. It involves getting out in your communities and sharing experiences. It means helping each other see their best self and get the most out of life. Being a storyteller means loving people, and that’s what I want to do with my life.

The Other Side of Silence

grayscale photo of tree and grass field

I wrote this essay this last year in college. It is my first attempt at a collage essay. For those of you who may not know, a collage essay is formed by bits and pieces of information in a poetic form that answer tough, deep questions. This prompt asked the question who I am and why I write. It is a daunting task trying to put into words who you are. I feel you can never really fully explain who you are. What makes you, you, is always changing and evolving. All the memories and experiences that shape you aren’t always the big events in your live. Sometimes, it is the small ones that impact us the most. In this essay I try to touch on the big things, and the little things.

 

The Other Side of Silence

 

Silence.

I’m afraid of letting people down.

I’m afraid being alone. That’s what I tell myself but I’m actually afraid of losing people.

The emptiness left in people by tragedy.

The depression hidden behind smiles.

The world became hollow and eerie.

The shell of a perfect world formed through youthful and innocent eyes started to crack and reveal all the evil and loss that were scratching at the surface. I found out that everybody, even the people I suspected the least, had horrible things happen to them or had done horrible things themselves.

Growing up.

“He wanted to see his son, but it scared him to think that Charlie would no longer be a boy but had become a man without a father in his life.” ̴ B. Harrison

I want to tell stories about that moment when you realize your parents are just people. They make mistakes too.

I want to tell stories about what it means to be a man.

I remember drinking beer, tattoos, facial hair, fighting, and sex.

What are we not talking about?

Heritage.

I am a white male. I have privileges that I don’t deserve and power I can’t control. I don’t know the extent of my power. I didn’t ask for this. I try to exercise caution with my responsibility.

My relationship to power tastes like cake, like free sweets.

Brothers. Three boys in one room. Depression and anxiety and sexual ambition are out of control. I am the oldest. I must lead and guide. Perfection is my aim; Academically, physically, and more discreetly, emotionally.

I remember sex made you cool.

Family reunions in San Antonio. The sun made my shoulders brown and the humidity made my dad and step mom upset. As kids, my brothers, cousins and I would all play games, swim, talk to distant relatives we didn’t remember, and eat. There was always so much food, and the food was huge. Everything was bigger in Texas. Spanish words mixed with guitar strums, laughter, checker pieces clicking on wood, and forks scraping plates. Everyone was always hungry for more, they just didn’t know what.

Tall fir trees enclosed my grandparents’ house in Littlerock, Washington. Inside their house dusty knick-knacks and family pictures were everywhere. I loved the old smell and how everything was worn-in. I loved the fireplace, the warmth. All along the driveway, the bushes had conquered junk cars my grandpa had scrapped for parts, and the shrubs had taken over the old trails that used to wind through the trunks of trees. A small creek trickled off to the side. I could always faintly hear birds chirping some where high up in the branches and I loved the sweet melody the wind played through the dancing trees. It was a quiet hum that let me know I was home.

Love.

My father wasn’t there but I still learned to love.

I’m afraid of becoming my father.

“A Father to the Fatherless” ̴ Psalm 68:5

My grandma showed me how around campfires in the middle of nowhere, and through jokes at all the wrong times.

My grandpa taught me how to love through greasy fingers working in his shop and playing catch until the mosquitoes became unbearable.

My cousins taught me down by the river in Texas. They showed me how to love through smiles with our toes in the water when the sun sank low and made the whole world orange.

My first girlfriend taught me how to love. She showed me a world I didn’t know existed outside of movies and novels. She also showed me how imperfect and messy it all is.

And when things fell apart with her my friends showed me how to love by getting me out of bed and taking me on adventures.

But my mom, she taught me the most. She showed me how to love simply by being there when no one else was. By caring and loving me when it seemed like no one else did.

It is a strong word if you choose to let it be. Hate is just another four-letter word like love. They only have value when we give them value, and I can’t help myself.

I fell into some bad habits and the wrong crowd for a part of my life. I developed my own silence. But I was rescued by Jesus.

This is me.

The Other Side.

There is value in listening. Whether you’re listening to a family member for the hundredth time, or a stranger for the first, the fact that you are listening and engaged with another person is important. It’s important for learning and growing.

I want to tell stories that change people’s perspective and way of thinking. I want them to know they aren’t alone in their struggles.

Above all else I want to tell stories that get people to find their voice and break their silence.

I remember how it used to be, and I envision how it could be.

My aesthetic is messy and complicated.

My aesthetic is voice.

The path is through listening and revealing our own unique and ugly stories.

The tragedies and loses bloom inside those that keep them in and slowly squeeze out their life and restrict their voice. So, the silence grows. I believe that things could be different.