…But overcome evil with good; my recap of Chicago Pride 2014/I’m Sorry Campaign 2014

Since 2010 I have volunteered with The Marin Foundation and friends in the I’m Sorry Campaign, and earlier this year I spearheaded the first ever I’m Sorry Campaign in Los Angeles, and last year I was a part of the I’m Sorry Campaign in Memphis. But this year was a first for me, as I went to the Chicago Pride Parade to be a part of the I’m Sorry Campaign in front of the protestors.

Reuben, and other guys with bullhorns, and galls with signs, took their anger and fury and crafted for themselves a god and spewed it on anyone and everyone. They had police protection and were guarded, and it was definitely a “great” display in demonstrating the effectiveness of USA’s Freedom Of Speech, but their speech…and conduct within their pin…Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy.


While it angered me and frustrated me, more than anything else I felt fear being in their presence. These “street preachers” seemed to pick apart everyone and anything that crossed their hairs. I was still fearful when I started dwelling and meditating on Romans 12:21 “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (bold and underlines are mine.)
It really cleared my fear up very quickly, it also helped me be present; to those in the parade, to those around us, to the other I’m Sorry Campaigners, to the protestors, but also unto God and what I was led to do by the Holy Spirit on the day as well as when I first went in 2010.

We received the usual stuff they hand/throw out at Pride Parades, but we also gave and received hugs and embraces from others, I held shaking, quivering, guys and gals who saw us after seeing the protestors and were incredibly moved by us being present in front of them proclaiming that God is love not hate, we allowed others to cry tears of happiness and relief that not all Christians come across as being unloving, we received we-forgive-you’s for our I’m-sorry’s, but ultimately I believe we embraced humanity but we also embraced divinity as well.

It was a blessing to be a part of the I’m Sorry Campaign for the second time this year. I am glad to play my part in restoration and reconciliation because while ultimately God, I believe with every cell of my body that we can help usher in perfect shalom. I never have the feeling that I am going to bring God to the Pride Parades I attend by way of the I’m Sorry Campaign, because God is already present and moving through those who gather. Being the hands and feet of Christ are important, but being his arms to hug, his shoulders to lean on, and his ears to hear the stories of others, thatย too is very important. I am proud to be a follower of Christ and I am thankful for the faithfulness of The Marin Foundation and friends who live intentional and incarnational lives, lives invested in the lives of others, lives invested to build bridges between the Christian Community and the LGBTQ Community. Not that they are islands unto themselves, but there needs to be more overlap and dialogue.

Happy Pride everyone, to God be the glory!

~Nathanael~

Advertisements

Christ the Immigrant

I recently got in a heated argument/discussion about the recent influx of young immigrants coming in from Central America and Mexico. The person I argued/discussed these issue out is someone I respect, and more to the point, love, but unfortunately I was headstrong and quick to point out the holes in her argument. I should have been the more mature one and just drop it, or at the very least not drag it out as long as I did on my end. All I could think was that even though there’s a large mass of individuals coming into the U.S. they’re human beings first, and to treat them poorly or with contempt is dehumanizing them. I also thought about Christ the immigrant.

Christ coming to Earth in human form, incarnate…Emmanuel God-with-us, but while he knew of the world he helped to create it was probably still pretty foreign in a lot of ways. An immigrant, himself connected to God but certainly connected to humanity around him. An observer of the roles people thought he came to fulfill, primarily being the one who drives the dominant conquering foreigners from Israel’s lands. God incarnate but an immigrant nonetheless.
As much as I personify Christ in the form of an immigrant, I choose to make it more personable because I, both on my father’s side and my mother’s side, am a descendant of immigrants. They came to the United States from Poland, Czechoslovakia, Lithuania, to start new lives on their own and their families, they came for employment and to do better. This is the United States’ legacy, not a melting pot, but a smelting pot of people from all walks of life trying to do better than they had before. This diversity is what makes the United States so great in my opinion, so when I hear about people deeming other people “illegal” it mars the image I know of America, it mars their image because it dehumanizes them.

Yes there needs to be reform and we as a nation need to sort things out and make it better, but these things take time, and as they come we need to treat them with dignity and respect and love. How can we call someone illegal if we love them and want the best for them? How can we who are not native to United States to begin with say there isn’t a place for those who are coming to make a better life for themselves?

~Nathanael~

Living wages; a bit of a rant

I am more than slightly fed up with the cut-throat rat race of pursuing jobs in my field. It seems at times that there’s adequate work, a lot of people vying for those positions, but when it comes down to what the demands of the job it certainly doesn’t reflect “competitive wages” but rather the same or slightly above the minimum wage.
I was thinking about this the other day, that a lot of companies seem hard-pressed in making a lot of money, but unfortunately the people who help companies get there financially hardly see a payout for what they’ve done. Living wages can benefit everyone in the company, not solely the top people in a business, and I got to thinking about the business model I would cultivate if I had my own business.

If I had my own business, I would provide everyone with living wages! Everyone benefits from it, but granted ego and pride make some people think they’re worth more.
Yet if this were the case I would give them room to demonstrate their worth, but on the condition that their pay would go up if they could deliver, if not they’d have to pay back the difference to whatever their wages was prior. I’m not a business man, I don’t know how to quantify someone’s worth but if it improved the business, and subsequently the business of that individual’s
coworkers…why not pay them more, why not pay them what they’re worth.

***

Yet I don’t see that happening, I see greed in the profit sector as well as the non-for-profit. It gets frustrating at times because I know that my education background, my experience, what I am capable of, my worth (money-wise) should be evidence to support why I should be paid at a higher level. Then there’s the factor of how someday I want to have a wife and kids; I want to provide for them and give them a bit more than a roof over their heads and food on the table. But I’m realizing how many companies aim to keep me semi-financially afloat as a single man, but at the same time don’t weigh in my I should be paid for what I am capable of, actual living wages.
Yes I might strike a chord of entitlement and arrogance, or that I might just be money hungry, but I assure it’s not like that at all. I just want to be paid what I am worth, is that too much ask?

So I guess I leave this up to you the reader; what are your thoughts about living wages? Are there any downsides I am not factoring in?

~Nathanael~

Getting naked with the neighbors

https://i1.wp.com/ak3.picdn.net/shutterstock/videos/973150/preview/stock-footage-deep-end-deep-end-of-the-pool-a-good-visual-metaphor-to-show-madness-for.jpg

Disclaimer; no actual removing-of-the-clothes nakedness took place. But rather, removing-of-social-norm-bullshit as to what to talk about and what not to talk about.ย  There was conversation, there was healing, there was life in community in many shapes and forms. To God be the glory!

***

Earlier this week my bro invited me to hang out with him to watch the first U.S. game of the World Cup. It was a great game! The first goal by the U.S. in less than 30 seconds from the start! We went back to his place and shortly thereafter “the neighbors” (as they are, but I am not putting out their names.) invited us over to hang out with them, so we did.

They introduced us to their kids, their friends and their kids, and we hung out with them…to 2am in the morning! But here’s the thing, we…”the neighbors”, my bro, and I…quickly transcended the social parameters of what to talk about in the early stages of friendships and relationships. I have described this before in my posts as “transparency begets transparency”, the notion that sometimes people in our lives open up if we make the first move. That we, so guarded in our thoughts and feelings with those around us, almost knee-jerkedly respond to how-are-you’s with “fine” and “good” answers, and yes sometime it is fine and good, but sometimes isn’t all the time.

I bring up “naked” because I like the imagery found in Genesis 2:25

“Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame”

Naked…no shame…While there is probably truth to them being naked in the no clothes sense, I also grasp that it also means being honest, being transparent, being visible warts and all and being comfortable enough to open up on that level. Sure, Adam and Eve probably didn’t have a lot of “dirt” on them as we do some…many years…later, but still, they were naked and felt no shame.

My bro and I hung out with “the neighbors” and this beautiful thing happened. They wanted to know of our lives, what we do, and it got personal and I admit I was skeptical/panicking/worried when it started going this way. I want this in my life, but I get scared about being not liked after I open up, I get hung up on my own issues and I keep people at a distance- especially people I barely know, but I gave in with hope and internal prayer, I jumped into the deep end of the pool. And you know what? I didn’t hit the bottom, I didn’t crack my head open, I survived and I found myself floating.
I also realize that my bro and “the neighbors” were floating too, that they experienced the deep end of conversation and it was alright to bare a lot and they felt no shame. It was true and authentic life in community, and maybe paired with the shared desire for connectedness that’s why we invested life with one another until the wee hours of the morning.

***

We left and I shared with my bro that I have not connected with my neighbors like that at ALL (and I’m approaching nearly a year of being in my apartment), and I had some reasons why, but I also know that I am a factor into that as well. I bring this back to me before I dispense the advice of living and being in community with those around you because I need to be the change I want to see, I need to foster the community I want and hope for the best. I occasionally ask people who have a good sense of living in community what they do, how they do it, et al. because I realize I have good ideas but I can always glean more from others (that’s what I love about learning). It is my plan to be more diligent in fostering community with those around me, both in my subdivision but also within my church. I know I can do it, and having the propensity to be a part is half the battle. My bro and “the neighbors” spoke to my mind as well as my soul, it was invigorating and I look forward to once again jumping into the deep end of the pool, to be naked and feel no shame, with my neighbors in community.

Onward and upward,
Nathanael

My recap of the Los Angeles Pride Parade/I’m Sorry Campaign LA

I was greatly encouraged that by word of mouth, a Facebook group page, 12 of us came together to be a part of the very first I’m Sorry Campaign in Los Angeles. While I am used to interacting with those around at Chicago Pride, our interactions with those with whom we offered I’m-Sorry’s were mostly with those directly in the parade. And yet it was received very well.

I can’t even begin to count the hugs, kisses, the weeping in my shoulder blade and thank-you’s and I-forgive-you’s I personally received. I saw some people within the parade who were moved and blew kisses, but thankfully a good deal of those I met and interacted with were on the street level. This is encouraging to me because it meant there was a connection made, a symbiotic relationship briefly established…this occurred after the majority of the people in the parade as well as those who came to watch passed up a group of protestors, a group of people waving their filthy flag under the guise of God, essentially a turn-or-burn message.

But still, my fellow I’m Sorry Campaigners received hugs and kisses, heard stories, engaged with those in the parade as well as those around them. Since I led this up and only met 1 individual for this event, I was slightly nervous as to how they’d engage with those in the parade and those around. They did a splendid job and I know that if they get together next year they will do fine on their own.

***

Usually one Kingdom of God moment sticks out to me after the fact of Pride parades, be it someone I interacted within the parade directly or someone in nearby proximity who saw what we were about. None specifically sticks out because there was an abundance of love and reconciliation and restoration! ๐Ÿ™‚ I enjoyed that people were receptive to our cards, read it, got it and looked back to smile/wave/blown kisses/mouthed thank-you’s. That’s how it sometimes plays out in the Kingdom Of God, it takes a bit of time to process what’s really going on and receive it completely and fully.
God delights in our “getting it” and even our extending it to others. Love, grace, mercy, peace, reconciliation and restoration point to what God is doing and even what God has invited us along to do and participate in. God’s presence is already there, but God invites us and coaxes us to be a part of Kingdom work.

Thanks be to God for inviting me to be a part of adventures like this one. I’m not running on a “spiritual high” right now but rather a relaxed state of being and dwelling and thinking over what God has done, a posture of thankfulness to do events like this one. I have seen the hands of God in all of this, and I am grateful to have played a part in it.

~Nathanael~

I’m out in Los Angeles for the week

Earlier this year I met one of my online friends offline and we shared life with one another and I brought up a dream I had where took the I’m Sorry Campaign to San Francisco Pride in the Castro District.

My friend doesn’t live in San Francisco but Los Angeles, and he brought up that the I’m Sorry Campaign would be a good thing at the West Hollywood/L.A. Pride Parade and I said I’d love to do help out with that. With a lot of direction and help from The Marin Foundation and Michael Kimpan, that idea and concept talked about earlier this year is quickly becoming a reality.

***

I say all this not to toot my own horn, or self-praise myself, but rather turn any resemblance of praise and thanks and offer it up to God. Even though it has been a harrowing experience, despite my anxiety and a few rough patches in getting this together and even rough patches in my own life…I am more at peace about this now than I ever have been because of several variables:

– Someone else believing in me – It has been been encouraging to be given the task to help lead this up. As much as I gravitate to leadership roles, lately I have been plagued with doubt and worry, anxiety and frustration, and when this happens to me in my life (which is an irregular event but still happens.) I don’t function well. at. all.
Yet Michael believes in me and what I am capable of doing. There’s something to the nature of imposing (in a good sense) belief and capability on others, because while it hasn’t sustained me or inflated my ego, it has restored me in some ways and brought about be believing in my capacities.

– I am not going into this alone – If I am honest with myself and you the reader, there is a sneaky sly deceptive voice that tries to get under my skin with a message of “you’re going into this alone” and then I temporarily freeze up and then I find myself dwelling on the last part of Romans 8:31 where it says “If God is for us, who can be against us” and personalize it, if God is for me, who can be against me? It brings me back to level ground, it brings me back to a place of recognizing that while this is new territory, the way has already been paved which is what leads me to my last point…

– God is here, I’m just invited to be a part of this adventure – God is present in L.A., God will be at LA Pride, God will be amongst those in the parade who read our signs and interact with those gathered to be a part of the I’m Sorry Campaign in LA. I realized the nature of God being present at Pride parades when I was on my way to the first I’m Sorry Campaign in Chicago; I was hesitant and even worried as to how the message of I’m Sorry would be received, but a gentle breeze of the Holy Spirit rolled over me, encouraging me that I was to be a part of something bigger and better than myself, something that God was already involved in…before it even happened! That set the tone of my heart, mind, and soul for that one and ever one since, and even the one that’s going to happen this Sunday.

***

I am truly blessed to be out here and to be a part of this, to God be the glory in all that we do! ๐Ÿ™‚

~Nathanael~