Morning Meditation 3.31.15

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Morning Meditation 3.31.15

Micah 6:8
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.

Today I and many people remember & celebrate the lives of our transgender brothers and sisters. It is International Transgender Day of Visibility.

While discrimination affects the lgbtq community a great deal, those who are #transgender face more discrimination both inside and out.

As an ally, I have been blessed by my transgender brothers and sisters, and so I aim to stop and address transphobia as it occurs around me. I will carry out justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God and with the lgbtq community.

We still have a long way to go, but I believe we’re getting there 🙂

~ Nathanael~

Being mindful on Martin Luther King Jr day / We have so far to go

https://i0.wp.com/artzthings.com/e-pins/images/large/mlk-1.jpg
(my favorite quote by him)

I was reading and listening to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s I have a dream speech the other day, and this time around of listening to it this part jumped out at me; “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I listened to its entirety, being mindful of what he said, but I grew a bit sad because we’re still not there yet.

I don’t need to rehash events that took place in 2014, if you follow the news even casually you know what happened and perhaps even the where and possibly the why. But it goes beyond racial inequality, we still have human trafficking, people still die of water issues and starvation, LGBTQ rights are disregarded by states as well as countries. And while it might seem like too much sometimes, it doesn’t have to be, anyone can be a voice for themselves and sometimes they can be a voice for others as well.
On a personal level I realize that this life I live wasn’t meant to be turned inward, I wasn’t meant to take on life alone for my own gain or to tackle issues as they come up alone. I was made…I am designed for community, and part of that means thinking and acting and being more than “one person”.

***

A few months ago I went to a conference about what’s going on in Israel as well as Palestine. It was well attended, and in between the sessions we had breaks to get coffee and perhaps dwell on what we had just heard and learned. I asked those around me and those at the coffee station what they had thought so far. The most common answers I heard that day were:
“I can’t wait for God to do something about what’s going on in Palestine and Israel”
and
“I want to find out more about what’s going on in Palestine and Israel so that I can do something about it.”

Frankly, those are postures I have taken on in my life, thankfully I lean to the latter. One that expects God to take care of the problem and one that wants to play a role in working to change that problem. While I do think God could very well take care of such matters devoid of human interaction, I don’t think it was meant for us to do. We can play a role in finding a way to be engaged in a social justice manner. How does one get social justice minded? I honestly don’t know, I only have suggestions not solutions. Perhaps the questions of 1. What am I passionate about in life? 2. What fires me up? 3. What injustice in the world do I see that bothers me? 4. What can I do to bring about change, no matter how microcosm it may be? is a good place to begin.

In my own life, the issues of what happens to the LGBTQ Community on a local level are on my heart and on my mind. Being an ally has taken time, but I am thankful to God for leading me here and beyond. It’s why I participate in the I’m Sorry Campaign, it’s why I own up to my shortcomings and collective issues caused by Christians. There’s still so much that needs to be done, but it’s being done.

The sooner you start, the sooner it becomes a habit. The sooner it becomes a habit, the sooner you can impress these values on your community going outward. It also helps you find people who are likeminded and likehearted, people who resonate a deep “me too”. Your life is not your own, you were made for so much more!

“It’s always the right time to do the right thing” – Martin Luther King Jr.
~Nathanael~

…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, that 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~

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! 🙂 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~

Why I stopped being a Christian jerk

A couple of weeks ago one of my coworkers and I were talking and…religion (gasp!) became the topic for a while. She shared with me part of her story, where she came from and where she is now. I brought up how that when I aligned myself as an Evangelical it was very limiting, and at times I was downright legalistic on many a topic. She, at this point seeing how I work with my clients, grasped that I’ve changed and she brought up what caused me to start changing, to start loving more and legalizing less…and…well, here’s some of my story in that regard.

I stopped being a Christian jerk when…

I realized how much my faith is mine, but ultimately God through God’s grace and love, how much isn’t me. I have a work ethic that sometimes is off-putting and an amalgamation of cockiness and independence, the “trust me, I’ve got this” shtick is how I sometimes play (thankfully not all the time, I am very much a team player). Yet this is how I at times have conducted my faith, that “hey God, sit down, I’ve got this” and it…it ate me alive to be perfectly honest. I made it all about me, and in doing so I removed God from the equation and I sat down and called myself God. I didn’t do this verbally, but certainly my actions seemed as such, and with being a self-imposed God I made a list of do’s and don’ts of personal morality but I also tried to some extent to hold people to MY standards, and it bound me and blinded me, never once was I free.

But grace somehow made its way in. In my flaws and in my cracks, grace pierced my heart. Grace was followed by unconditional love, which was followed by acceptance and affirmation; that despite all the hell I caused others, despite all the hell I heaped on my head, God still loved me for me, not because…

I bring up the parable of The Prodigal Son frequently because I have been all 3 characters- the father, the older brother, and the younger brother at some time in my life. It was my self-imposed legalism that made me in my own way exclaim that “it’s not fair!” when people seem to get ahead despite me thinking they didn’t deserve it. It was the doing my own thing on my own terms and wanting to find my way back, if just to be back to occupy the lowest position. It was the seeing someone I love hurt and running to them and embracing them instead of letting them endure the long road back with a heavy burden of thoughts weighing them down.

Having been all 3, I want to say nowadays I aim to be like the father; to extend grace and unconditional love to others because this was extended to me, this is what set me free.

***

Because of grace and unconditional love I am at odds with the Christian community sometimes because of my outspokenness about the LGBTQ Community. For me it comes from a place of realizing what followers of Christ have said or done that have marginalized them, that have stripped them of their humanity and ultimately their Imago Dei-ness- that they are indeed made in the image of God. While the LGBTQ Community are not the only individuals who are being marginalized, it’s personal to me and something I am very vocal about, because I too had a hand in the marginalization by way of using the word “Gay” as an adjective for stupid and dumb.
It was while I was in college that a floor-mate of mine changed my thinking about so much about what I thought despite at that time my views were based on ‘well my father thinks/my mother thinks/my pastor thinks’, my floor-mate was what I needed in my life to jar me from my complacency and parroted views that were never mine to begin with, but I hid behind them nonetheless.

It was a 5-6 year journey of wrestling it all out. But I made it! 🙂

***

If you are a follower of Christ if the Holy Spirit moves you and beckons you to new places that are outside of your comfort zone (she’s prone to doing that in my life) I encourage you to go and be not only the hands and feet of Jesus, but to be the ears and eyes as well. It was unnerving the first time I went to the Pride Parade in Chicago to be a part of the I’m Sorry Campaign, but God was already there, God just happened to invite my friends and I to be a part of something bigger, something better. God is already *insert place here* and with the grace and unconditional love he lavishes on us constantly, shouldn’t we be willing to do the same?

~Nathanael~