Who Am I?

What neat little “box” do I fit in? This question has followed me here from Montana. Am I a city girl? I was born in Chicago, after all. But I lived in Montana longer; am I from a rural community? Is there really such a thing as the best of both worlds? I feel like I’m not the only one who struggles with this. Every day, teenagers and adults alike struggle with our identity.

Who am I? It’s the resounding question hanging over our heads, telling us: “No, you can’t wear that, that’s not you.” It’s the voice of your best friend saying, “Hannah’s… Hannah,” when someone asks them to describe you. And it’s not always about appearance, although that’s oftentimes the case: race, gender, sexuality, personality, so-called “attractiveness”… All around, people are trying to put other people into “boxes”. “Everyone fits in somewhere,” they say. But they’re wrong. No one perfectly fits into a category; you can’t just assign people labels. The truth is, everyone so desperately wants to fit people into “boxes” that when someone who doesn’t fit in, people don’t know what to do. Come into school with purple hair? “Thats….. Interesting?” Show up to work with a new tattoo? “Umm..” And so on. People are so bent upon silently putting you on a labeled shelf that they are uncomfortable even discussing people who are different. How many teachers in a public school system do you think would be comfortable discussing not just racial slurs, but why they’re degrading, with students?

Most of them wouldn’t. That’s just it. Society has made it a taboo to talk about race or sexuality. It’s inappropriate to ask someone what gender they identify with, because you might offend them. But why? We have been taught to put things together since kindergarten: the red blocks go in the red pile, the blue in the blue pile, and so on. We were taught the history of the european world, but I can’t remember one single time when the history of, say, Africa, was brought up, except to remind us that they were shipped off to become slaves. We silently bias, and if anyone complains? “It’s not part of the curriculum.”

I guess my point is that I’m sick of all the perfect boxes; the government categories. I’m sick of adults being “cautious”, trying not to offend someone. I mean, I appreciate the gesture, but I asked a question to get an answer, and I don’t appreciate my education being snubbed because “That could be a dangerous topic”. I don’t have time to come see you after class, and I think the whole class would benefit from whatever it was I asked. I’m sick of people being told “Be yourself!” Because what if you don’t know who you are? What if you’re afraid of being judged? What if you don’t fit in a “box”? What are people going to do with you? We try to sort people; male or female, black, white, asian, or mixed race, straight, homosexual, transgender, the list goes on and on.

Why do I care so much about this? you may ask. And my answer is this: as Christians, we are called to “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”(John 13:35) And I’ll admit, I have done my share of not-loving. God says to love one another. That’s it. No “Love everyone, except people who fit into categories x, y, or z.” Just love. Is it very loving of us to try and put people into categories, so we can “see them in a better light”? Yeah, people say things like “Well you know, you have to know that that person is *insert category here* to understand them better” Yeah right! Knowing someone has done this or said this shouldnt change your perspective of who they are as a person.  We need to stop putting people in “boxes”

That’s a lot of opinion coming from a 14 year old, so if you made it this far, I congratulate you. To answer my question at the beginning, well, I just don’t know. I don’t know who I am, or who I’m going to be. I don’t know what boxes I fit in. And I don’t care, either. People can put me in boxes- go ahead. But ask yourselves this: Does it really matter in the long run? Will your peception of me really change all that much because you’ve labeled me as a nerd and not a high end dressy fancy socialite? I hope your answers to those are no, but if they aren’t- maybe you need to rethink your priorities.

~Hannah J.

Repurposed Frame

Family

Our RV came with this picture frame. Instead of using it for loved ones in our immediate family, we’re going to use it for people that God sends our way in Seattle. We’re repurposing it to remind us why we’re here: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Mark 12:31

Hannah asked, “What happens when we run out of spaces in the frame?” Get a bigger frame? Tape pictures right to the wall?

Jesus made a radical statement about family. When he was preaching to a massive crowd, his mother and brothers showed up to see him. No VIP passes, they couldn’t get through. No one gave way, not even for Mary.

When word got to Jesus that his mother was waiting, he turned the concept of family upside down. He said, “’Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?’ And pointing to his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.’”

Was Jesus snubbing his mother? No. Was he rejecting his half-brothers? No. Was he teaching that family takes a backseat to ministry? No. Was he just trying to recruit followers with the promise of a rich co-inheritance in the Kingdom of Heaven? No. Then what?

Pointing to his disciples, Jesus invites us to be God’s love to others. Jesus invites us to be agents of his hope: “A church that is a mother and shepherdess… who washes, cleans, and raises up his neighbor. This is pure Gospel.”- Pope Francis

Please pray that we run out of wall space.

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NRSV Scripture References

“While he was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers were standing outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, ‘Look, your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.’ But to the one who had told him this, Jesus replied, ‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?’ And pointing to his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.’” Matthew 12:46-50

Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second is this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’ Mark 12.30-44

Pope Francis quote found here: http://www.americamagazine.org/pope-interview

Barn Dance Blues

Quiet Barn

September came and went without our annual barn dance and potluck. This year, no Christmas lights twinkled in the hayloft. No fiddle music filled the rafters. No couples held hands in the moonlight. No kids chased each other over fences. Only barn cats, darting through shadow, disturbed straw and dust on the dance floor. Ivan and I mourned what would have been our 9th annual barn dance. People matter; we have but one life to cherish friends and neighbors.

Then this incredible thing happened. Chuck, from a few trailers down, invited us to his annual Salmon BBQ and potluck. We gladly joined the rest of the park at his RV, eating good food, laughing, and watching our kids chase each other around on bikes. With tears in his eyes, Chuck thanked everyone for coming to his 9th annual Salmon BBQ. I was stunned.

The turned table was not lost on me. Community lost, community gained, God has amazing ways to ease our grieving.

Scum of the Earth

Scum of The Earth“To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it;  when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment.” I Corinthians 4:11-13

We look forward to worshiping with Scum, Seattle. Here’s a link to Scum of the Earth, Denver. Cool stuff about Scum from its website:

WHY SCUM?

It doesn’t sound like a church name … on purpose. We really want to connect with people who have no interest in “church” by society’s definition. There are plenty of churches for “normal people” and we think we have a unique calling to reach out to our otherwise unreached friends. Our name is integral to that process. Whether outcast by society (e.g., punks, skaters, ravers, homeless people…) or by the church itself, many who come can identify with the name “Scum of the Earth” since they have been previously treated as such.

More important to us, however, the name implies that being people of faith does not mean we are better than anyone else. We know many non-Christians who think Christians are out to cast judgment on them. Our name makes it clear that we aren’t about that. We are just aware of our need for God, as Scum of the Earth. Fortunately, God never sees us like that! But the name is humble and we like that.