Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Category: hope (page 1 of 2)

Beyond a single story

Because I have no brothers, I have no means for comparison. Yet I was raised to believe that with enough hard work, passion and natural skill, there was little I could be turned away from in the world simply because I was born female. My parents never used any of these words; they raised me in a time and place where the common story was one where girls should and could have the same opportunity as the boys.

Even throughout my seminary years, studying in a predominantly white male world, I rarely came up against people who desired to put limitations on aspirations because of the way I was born. (Granted, I made it pretty easy by keeping aspirations low and quiet.) In fact, I came across two guys who legitimized and validated me beyond what was necessary, and I look back now with gratitude.  The primary voice in a place where I was in the minority was welcoming, validating my childhood story.

It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized the story my parents and my educators had told me about what I could and couldn’t do wasn’t the universal story. There was an incident where I was told, outright, my femaleness that took me out of the pool of opportunity. It was in a place that I wanted to help – I could help. I had the hard work, the passion and the gifts. But, apparently, my vagina was a tad intimidating.

The hurt I felt wasn’t only in the rejection. It was also the startling fact that my prior life story wasn’t the only option. Soon, thanks to the world wide web and gutsy bloggers, I found out that I wasn’t alone. There were parts of the world where the hurt I experienced was the norm. This was the life experience of many women. Their mamas and daddies told them different things about their future based on how they were born.

I was appalled.  My friend KLR and I literally said, “Wait. This is still a thing? An issue?”  I had been raised in a time and a place that said, “well, sure, it used to be this way. But we’re better than that now. We know better and we do better. You have nothing to worry about. Now go on and make yourself the best.” But as a country, as a society, I found out as an adult that we’re not better. For many people, it’s not “used to.” It’s “should.”

The people who had validated me all along were also appalled. They hurt for and with me. But I believe they were shaken to realize their efforts of making society better hadn’t reached their full potential.

There is no single story for any gender, race or orientation. Just because you have an uncle, best friend or college professor who shared his or her experience – and came out just fine – doesn’t mean that the rest of the world is giving the same opportunity. Just because you’ve lived a particular life doesn’t mean life happens the same way for people who share the box you check on registration forms. It is so very, very important to listen to people who are quietly and politely trying to explain that what we perceive as normal is not, indeed, standard protocol.

I’ve been silently watching the eruption of reactions to the recent brutalities against both black men and white cops. It’s all terrible. (Please, world, stop believing we need to choose sides.)

A have a variety of friends who are, or will be, raising black or brown babies. I hear the fear in their response to the obvious inequalities. They’re going to have a different conversation with their children than I will with my blond boys. I empathize and agree, it should not be this way. But another thing irks me: somehow these white women saying the same thing that black mamas have been crying for years suddenly validates this experience to the white world.

Why? Why can’t we believe the black mamas when they say, here’s what I’m teaching my kid about how to dress and respond to a traffic stop. Why is the horror and injustice much more palpable to white ears when said by someone who looks like them?

I feel like this is part of the problem. Somehow this illustrates exactly what those crying for racial equality are trying to say.

It shouldn’t take “one of our own” to convince us that the experience of race, gender and orientation may not be the only story. Perhaps it’s our hopeful optimism that keeps us from hearing that our progress hasn’t reached as far was we believe. We want to think that we’ve done better as a society in seeing the divine spark in all human beings. And when stories inform us that we’re a tad disillusioned, we don’t want to hear it. The gap between what we believe to be and what actually is can be hugely disappointing.

But we need to keep listening. We need to allow the differing experiences of others to be more than a possibility and instead admit we need to put our work boots back on.

Visit me elsewhere:

Hope from the Sidelines

Part of our reintegration process includes our family’s adaptation to the life of jr. high football. After spending many years away from coaching, JJ has been reunited with his first love, Todd, (who has been coaching here from the time before JJ began in 2003) and his favorite game. The daily practices and weekly games mean JJ puts in long days, which translates in my own experience of sole parenting for the bulk of the week. Needless to say, I’ve been watching for any signs of fatigue or frustration that I can capitalize on before he signs up for another year. Because I’m thoughtful and considerate and thinking of everyone’s best interests, of course.

So on Tuesday, following quite a debacle of a 7th grade jr. high game, we hosted the 3 coaches for pizza and films. I finally got an ear to their conversations. The outcome of the game was so frustrating it was nearly comical to the men in my kitchen. They watched the key points of the film and began talking strategy.

Unfortunately for the younger of the teams, they haven’t had a lot of wins this year. I heard the conversation begin to change focus on what would keep these boys continuing to come out for football in the future. The coaches verbalized a hope that the boys wouldn’t give up on the game, despite the losses.

At that point, I knew I was loosing a battle for the 3-5 p.m. time slot in August through October. I’m doomed to become a football widow forever and ever, amen.

None of the men in my living room eating pizza and laughing at big hits of the night could necessarily see it, but I did. I could sense the presence of hope living in these jocks.

I asked JJ later, just to confirm my theory, why they wanted kids to keep coming out for the team, even if perhaps the boys aren’t that good. Why even worry about those on the bench? Why the big push to keep a love of the game? (I may have been asking with a slight devil’s advocate prerogative.)

IMG_2427Of course, the coaches love the game of football. Of course, they have some allegiance to their alma mater. Of course they want to see a better program at the higher level. And of course they enjoy the kids and want them to have an experience that makes them better players and instills a passion for the game. Of course. By definition, that’s what coaches do.

If you dig around in the hearts of coaches – at least, the three in my living room – I believe there’s something bigger at play. (I believe there always is.) Something that keeps them on the field at all hours and in extreme temperatures. Something that makes it worth enduring parental phone calls and school politics. Something that keeps them from wives and children during prime hours of the day. And let me tell you from experience, it’s not the money.

I have a hunch that these men want to create a positive football experience for all these kids because deep down they know these kids aren’t done yet. The kids haven’t reached the fullest expression of their potential – both on and off the field.  The coaches know there’s more inside each kid. The eight games of 7th grade football cannot be the barometer of which these boys forecast their lives. 

And where does such hope come from? How do we reach the understanding that no one is finished at 13?  For at least one of the coaches, I believe it comes from understanding God is never done with us. It comes paired with an experience that God hasn’t given up despite some lackluster performances. And no matter the score, God wants us to continue showing up and getting better.

God’s not done with you, so please, please, young guy, don’t be done with you. Don’t measure your worth on this one experience. Give yourself the gift of another chance. And another. And another.

So we, in this house, will give you the gift of a guy who believes you’re worth it. He believes that every player has something to offer, not just on the field but to the world. And not just today but tomorrow as well. I guess, as a family, we’re just as invested in this thing called Hope.

Go Rams.

Visit me elsewhere:

Poison

Yes, dear children. That man was sick. That stinky pile over there, where the bugs swarm and the dogs sniff, remains evidence of his sickness.

No, young twenty-something. There’s no need to lie or cover up. He didn’t have the flu.

The simple truth is this: too much of anything in this world will poison you. 

Last night, for this man, it was drink. It probably happened to many people, with the holiday and all. But it’s easy to point out someone else’s poison and label it bad, wrong, evil. But abstaining from alcohol won’t help you if your poison tends to be carbs, shoes or a growing Swiss bank account. You can give yourself a little pat on the back for shying away from the brown bottle, but it won’t heal your soul of its own tendencies to self-medicate.

Honestly, our numbing agents are relatively powerless until they’re mixed in to our souls. In and of themselves, the contents of a bottle, a shopping bag or a wallet have a neutral effect. They simply are. Until your soul attaches meaning to them, gropes for them in the midst of heartache or jealousy or hatred. Then those potions become poisons.

First it affects your body. Your body is the first line of defense. It’s where we feel, where we experience, where we synthesize what is happening in the world. And when you let in too much of anything, your body is the first part of you to tell you it’s too much. Listen to your body.

The poison will also begin to effect your mind. Your thoughts go toward it in the light of day and in the deep of night. Beware, sweet child. When you find your mind saying, “if I could just have one more…” then you’re probably being poisoned by your own hand.

Sadly, it will settle in your soul. It doesn’t make you an evil person. Our society tends to believe that a poisoned soul is the result of poor decisions and a lack of fortitude. No self-control, self-sufficiency, self-respect. I have trouble believing the exaggerated versions of our own struggles can be so other.

Fear not, my children. For every poison there is a remedy. Our sicknesses of self can be healed. The most common antidote is freely available and widely popular: love. Love for self, love for others, love for God, love for the created order.

Many old farm houses came equipped with 2 water sources: a cistern and a well. I imagine we all have within our souls two deep reservoirs. One is more like a cistern, catching whatever comes in. When it goes sour, it takes some work to return it to health. We use this kind of water for flushing and rinsing, maybe watering the garden. Another place in your soul is rather like a deep well. The water there is pure, good for drinking. Incredibly, it can meet the thirsts of others. The key to a good well is to dig deep.

You can spend your days trying to fill the cistern. Or you can put your energy into digging the well deeper. With every loving action and every generous intention, we drill another meter closer to the source. God put a well of love in you, an unlimited supply from which you may draw forever. If you find it running dry, perhaps it’s because you’ve been going to the cistern instead of the well.

When you start seeing evidence of poison, it’s not because the well went bad.  You’re simply living off of what you put into the cistern. Get to the well, my children and keep digging until you drink clean water.

Visit me elsewhere:
Older posts

© 2017 Michele Minehart

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑