Every time I walk in to this significant place that stretches my imagination, there is an overwhelming sense of possibilities that can and will be entertained by me. I look ahead to the wall that contains the words that have been ingrained in my mind this past week. “Fuel Your Story,” it reads. “Fuel my story,” I tell myself each time I sit down at the table that sits in the far corner of the shop facing this inspirational, yet simple wall. The table that I pray no one is sitting at each time I walk in. The table I have spent hours dreaming, writing, reading, and researching at. The table that is angled so I can see people walking in as well as look out into the shop as people meet friends, colleagues, and family for coffee and baristas laughing with each other enjoying the work they are so incredibly good at. You can call me creepy, I’m okay with that. Black Rock Coffee Bar has become my home away from home the past 10 days. Yes, I have gotten laughs and seen eyes roll when I talk about my time at this coffee shop. Why is this place so significant to me? And why will 2018 consist of me spending so much more time in here? Well, it fuels my story.
“Our blood is exactly the same color, and our pain is the same pain.” – Moira, a Palestinian woman
It’s been 9 months since I ventured to the Middle East. Not a day goes by that I do not think about it and the people I encountered. I promised the Israelis and Palestinians I met that I would share what I saw, so I will continue to do that in every way possible. I am realizing more and more how much my Israel/Palestine trip prepared me for what has been happening in our country today. I have realized we need more Moiras and Ramis in the world.
When was the last time you were inconvenienced? Now, let me ask another question, when was the last time you CHOSE to be inconvenienced? I bet for most of us, these two answers look dramatically different. I chose to be inconvenienced when I went to Israel/Palestine this last November. I sat and listened to people of different faiths, color, and lifestyle and it forever changed my heart for the marginalized. The world we are living in is screaming for us to be inconvenienced and to just “sit” with those that are different than us. To not just notice the homeless teenager, to not just notice the Muslim woman, to not just notice the mentally disabled boy, to not just notice the gay neighbor living on your street, but to SEE them as Jesus sees them, human beings who are to be loved as Jesus loved and sat with the Samaritan woman. By sitting with people, I mean sitting with them longer than what makes you comfortable.
“The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)” John 4:9
I love the simplicity of this verse! Jesus constantly chose to be inconvenienced in order to get to know people that were different than him. One of my favorite stories is when Jesus went through Samaria instead of going around it like so many Jews did. He chose to go through Samaria, to be inconvenienced, in order to meet and sit with the marginalized, a woman, an adulterer, a Samaritan, but in Jesus’ eyes, a human being. The woman was in awe of the kindness and sincerity that this Jewish man showed her. And because of Jesus sitting with her and listening to her, she was forever changed.
Who are the people we marginalize every day? I have a mentally disabled brother, Tim. He is the most delightful human being I have ever met. And yes, I would consider him to be the marginalized. The mentally disabled community is a community that are one of the most loved by many, however, we fail to get to know these people because we don’t want to be inconvenienced by their disability. Ouch, Rachel. That’s harsh. Well, let me tell you what I mean.
My brother, Tim, has a number of different disabilities, cerebral palsy, autism, renpenning syndrome, he is a one in a million kind of guy! He is on a 3-year-old learning level, he can walk (with a limp), and the most unique thing about Tim is that he can’t talk, but oh is he loud! He claps, makes noises, slaps his leg when he’s excited, you get the idea. When people see Tim, they are not quite sure what to do, because you are immediately embraced with a hug, or if you’re lucky, a big, sloppy, wet kiss on the cheek (those are my personal favorite). You literally have to be inconvenienced to sit and learn about Tim, if you choose to not be inconvenienced, you will never SEE him for who he really is, and…you can’t give the marginalized a voice in this loud world. We are good at silencing voices that need to be heard.
What is fascinating about my dear brother is that he literally doesn’t have a voice and yet when you get to know him all you see is Jesus! He embodies what it means to be like Jesus. No matter the color of your skin, the belief you have, the lifestyle you live, Tim will SEE you and embrace you with love. He teaches me every day what it means to love and to forgive. He has endured the hardships of his disability by people who have wronged him, who have taken advantage of him not having a voice. Tim can’t call my mom or dad to tell them that his caregiver is trying to force food down his throat because he can’t tell them he doesn’t want to eat, he can’t call my mom or dad to tell them that his caregiver is mistreating him because he wanted to go to the bathroom but no one paid attention, my brother can’t tell us how much pain he is in with his scoliosis, and as I fight back the tears that always want to make an appearance when I talk about my brother, I ask you again, who are the people we marginalize every day that need to be heard? That we need to sit with? That we need to be inconvenienced by? Tim loves Jesus so much (if you ask him “Tim who loves you?” he points to the sky – oh be still me heart!) and I know that because of his walk – not by his talk (because he has none).
If you had no voice, would people know that you are a Jesus follower? Church, in a world that is screaming for us to listen and not speak, I urge you, no I beg you, to be inconvenienced by those that we choose to ignore because we are afraid. I promise that you will learn what it means to be like Jesus from those that we think are so far from Him.
As I write this, I have a song on repeat that is getting me through this blog, a song called Brother, by The Brilliance. I invite you to listen to this song that has moved me in more ways than one. Even as a blogger and one who loves to write, I find myself bone dry of words. Sometimes, words are just not enough and tears are the only thing filling my pages; tears that eventually flood and wet the bone dry words that eventually come to life. Tears are nothing to be ashamed of, they speak more than words sometimes, and tears for me are what happened after visiting the city of Hebron on my trip to Israel/Palestine.
When I look into the face of my enemy, I see my brothers.The Brilliance
Israel. Palestine. These two words hold such significance in my life now. Words that I used to hear on the news and had my own assumptions about, words that meant very little to me, words that confirmed my ignorance to what is really going on. Now when I see these two words my heart aches, my mind is overwhelmed, and my eyes have a hard time staying dry. My world has changed drastically due to the beauty I have seen in one of the most intense conflicts this world has ever seen.
Be still my heart. I am one day away from one of the most significant opportunities I will ever endure in my lifetime and I am very confident in that statement! I have been on a journey these past 6 weeks discovering and learning about one of the craziest, most difficult, and humbling conflicts I have ever experienced, The Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I have discovered how naive I have been in response to this conflict. I knew there were issues, but I had no idea what that really entailed. I knew people took sides, but I wasn’t sure why. I knew people were being displaced, but I didn’t know what for. I knew I didn’t know what was going on, but I was too wrapped up in my own little world to care about knowing more.
Almost 6 years ago I was introduced to the class of 2016 on the Mesa campus. I now sit here on my stool, at my high standing, nicely welded desk that my husband made for me, staring at a blank page of paper unable to comprehend the words I want to share with you. And now my eyes begin to well up because I know what I want to write will not be easy, but it is necessary due to the incredible human beings I want you to know about.
It has been 1 year, 8 months, and 7 days since I last wrote a blog. That was hard to swallow. I love to write. So why has it been almost 2 years since anything has surfaced on this page? I have written blogs for Central Christian Church, my work, but have refused to let anything loose on here. I am still trying to figure out the excuses I have made up to this point. Today I have decided to make the commitment of writing a blog once a week, I need you all to hold me accountable to that. So…what has God been teaching me these past few months? I got to go on a retreat for work a few weeks ago and lead a devotional regarding this question with some incredible people in high leadership and I chose to be vulnerable with them so I am going to be vulnerable with you.
To the heartbreaker, the athletic one, and the loser; to the indecisive, the lovebirds, and the band geek; to the ones who are suicidal, with divorced parents, and the daddyless; to the frightened, the rule breakers, and the punk rockers; to the ones who are sick, the overachievers, and the kind girl next door; to the ones with a perfect family, the foster kid, and the rich one; to the drug addict, alcohol abuser, and the sex addict; to the generation that I absolutely adore and love to the very core of my being, I write to you.
This movie was brilliant in more ways than one. For those who know me, you know I love movies. I love everything about them, the passion, the adventure, the characters, it’s a powerful thing for me to experience. I feel the same about books, but that’s a blog for another time. The Fault in Our Stars has adventure, love, and a beautiful lesson of what it means to be a victim. This movie (and novel, but I am going to refer to the movie) is a love story, but not a normal one. When cancer plays a part in a love story it is everything but normal. Cancer itself doesn’t surprise us these days anymore. It’s a common illness that destroys lives. I have had one too many friends and family members who have struggled with cancer. Some that are struggling, some that have struggled and won, and some that have lost the fight. However, losing the fight to cancer does not mean it has won.
It’s a metaphor, see: You put the killing thing right between your teeth, but you don’t give it the power to do its killing.The Fault in Our Stars