Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Look Out For The Anakin/Darth Vader In Your Life

Star Wars turned 35 this past weekend.

Until three weeks ago, I did not care at all. Like many American kids born in the late 60s/early 70s, I saw the original Star Wars trilogy and enjoyed it back then. No interest at all. Ever again. Until my sweet Evan asked me to watch the movies one weekend.

Because I like Samuel L. Jackson, I thought - let's start with the more recent trilogy and watch them in order over two weekends and that plan culminated with this past holiday weekend coinciding with the anniversary.

I had no idea the impact this story would have on me.

I am a huge student of understanding and perspective. My perspective on the story of Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader reminds me of the daily struggle we all face and the power loving others has on redemption.

When I saw the movies in the 70s, I was child and like many, we just took it for face value that Darth Vader was evil. Yeah, he came around and saved his son in the end but seeing the first 3 movies really gave us the depth of his true character. It also is a cautionary tale for living today. We cannot make too many assumptions.

My view is that Anakin was flawed brilliance discouraged from being who he was and that led to who he became. His overwhelming quick study of the force made Obi-Wan Kenobi suspicious of him rather than encouraging of him, even as a boy. When he wanted to bring himself fully, questions/flaws and all to the discipline of the Jedi - he was shutdown and forced to conform to the Jedi way as Jedi masters had known it for centuries. There is even a scene where he questions if the Jedi were actually doing what they'd set out to do or had they become part of the problem.All these things casts doubts among the people he trusted most, his Jedi master and his true love, Padme.

Make no mistake, he made the choice to join the evil side. Even though he did it ultimately to save his love, he did it just the same. He also suffered the consequences of that choice until the end of his life when he was able to redeem that choice in one move to save his son, Luke from the Emperor.

I love his story and he is now one of my favorite characters in movies all time.

I love his fall and rise at the end but I do think it was preventable. There are Anakins all around us everyday.

So, what are we doing to prevent Darth Vaders from rising up in our lives?

Do we accept people as they are or do we attempt to force them to blend?

Do we see questioning authority as a negative or do we encourage it?

Do we encourage people in their talents and help them grow them more or do we ask them to water them down to fit our own needs?

Do we give up on people when we see them go awry or do we hang in there, gather reinforcements and help pull them through?

These are all questions we face in all aspects of our daily lives when we interact with others. Are we building folks up or subtlety letting folks down around us?

I will be on the look out for ways to encourage the Anakins of the world. Will you join me?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Never Give Up

I saw this image over the weekend and it struck me. In the course of life, there are two kinds of people.

Those who toil hard for what they want but never seem to get it. And there are those who also toil hard for what they want and they stick it out for how ever long they have to to get it.

Those who give up.

Those who persevere.

This illustration is great on so many levels. In life you never know how close you are to what you want. You only see what's right in front of you. You only know the effort you've put in so far. You can be isolated in your effort to your goal and not know that there are others around you, who are also toiling for the same thing.  You can get discouraged at anytime and give up.

I am glad I saw this today.

I needed this to keep me on task. I have many things in flux at the moment and find it harder and harder to stay focused, to stay on task. This gentle, yet powerful reminder is kicking me back into gear.

I know I am closer to my goal than I was last week but I don't know how close I am.

I need remember that the picture is larger than what I see at the moment.

I know the effort I've put in and open myself to opportunities to collaborate with others on a similar path.

I will not be discourage at this time.

I will not give up.

What about you?

Which person in the illustration above will you be this day?

Monday, May 14, 2012

3 Reasons Gay Marriage Does Not Bother This Jesus Freak

Last week, I was traveling when the AP alert interrupted my day announcing that President Obama had come out in support of gay marriage. I have to admit that I was shocked at all the media coverage that followed on the topic. It was literally the top news story for three straight days.

After the shock wore off and I'd had a chance to really think about it - my reaction is this post - simple and pointed; 3 Reasons Gay Marriage Does Not Bother This Jesus Freak

1. I Say No to Discrimination of Any Kind

As a black, Jesus loving person - I cannot support discrimination of any kind.  I am not really sure how to elaborate on this one. It is cut and dry with me. Discrimination of any kind is wrong. When you read about the rights and protections that gays are trying to achieve through legalizing their unions, what is the reason not to grant it and move on? A culture that allows discrimination against any group operating within it means that at any time that discrimination could be thrust upon any other group. We must come to a place in our culture where we no longer tolerate any discrimination at all. Period.

2. Gay Marriage Has No Bearing On My Marriage

Whenever I hear the argument that gay marriage somehow "diminishes" or otherwise negatively affects heterosexual marriage, I get livid. What in the world kind of logic would make one come to that conclusion? Marriage is a very intimate yet public contract between me, my husband and God. As I look around me at many heterosexual marriages in distress or breaking up, it grieves me and impacts how I work to protect mine but does not really have anything to do with my marriage. Why should gays being married be any different? We are secure in our marriage and it really doesn't matter who else is married or not married- it has no bearing on my marriage.

3. Compassion Trumps Everything

This one is really a representation of my faith in action. When in doubt, I go with compassion toward others. Compassion toward their stance, their position versus fighting philosophical battles. We must stop living a zero sum game on these social issues, where someone has to lose and someone has to win. In the case of gay marriage - what do I lose if gays are granted the right to be united with their partners and have it recognized by our government? My faith does not change. My marriage does not change. I've heard church leaders say that they "love the sinner but hate the sin." That statement is not bad in and of itself - but my question is this - is not all sin equal? Are some sins more egregious than others? Are you this upset about premarital sex? What about coveting? From the reactions of the last week, it's pretty clear that in the eyes of man - not all sin is equal. Regardless, I choose compassion toward the people behind this uproar. The people who, like me, have chosen to love and honor one person for their lifetime. People who desire to make a commitment and have it recognized by society in the same way that my marriage is recognized. I believe I will be on the right side of history on this topic with this point alone.

Ultimately, this, like many other social issues, comes down to relationships and the concept of free will. I am convinced that people who are secure in their choices don't worry about the choices of others. I am radically in love with Jesus and his teachings but I would not dare impose them on others. Expose them? Absolutely but impose them, never. My relationship with myself is solid and healthy and allows me to see clearly the boundaries of my rights versus the rights of others. Finally, free will is the rule of the day. God allowed me the "free will" to follow or not follow him. Of course he could have commanded me to be a believer but alas he did not. He gave me a choice. I, like him, like to extend the choice of free will on others.

Because of this, gay marriage does not bother this Jesus Freak.

Monday, May 7, 2012

My Shoutout To The "Moms" Of My Life

Mom. Momma. Mommy.

Which ever you use, they all mean the same... they are attached to a woman in your life that means a lot to you, to whom you give a certain reverence. Not all moms are biological. In fact, many are not.

Being a motherless daughter since I was 4 years old, I have many "moms" who have blessed my life and filled the void left by my mom's passing. Each have contributed to making me the mom I am today to Emma and Evan. And while I can never actually call someone else "mom, " I want to take a moment to thank all the women who have been moms to me throughout my life.


These are women from all walks of life, from all eras of my life - some related, most not. Each contributing in a positive way to my development and well being. I have always had a complicated relationship with the idea of mom having lost mine so young. However, I am so grateful to have had so many women step up and lend a hand.

This time of year is quite difficult for some people,  especially those without mothers or who have little to no relationship with their mothers. Even harder for those who would love to be mothers and haven't yet been able to achieve it. I encourage you to use this Mother's Day to look for the "moms" in your life if you are without one physically or emotionally. Or step up and be a "mother" to someone who needs one. Pain is inevitable especially as it relates to this topic. However, suffering because of it is optional.

Before becoming a mom, as a single woman I used to celebrate Mother's Day by buying myself a piece of jewelry in honor of my future motherhood. I also volunteered in a PADS shelters helping homeless moms and brought them basic necessities at this time of year.

Mother's Day is what you make it. Make this one a great one.