Kenneth Bae of Not Forgotten on Canadian Pastor Hyeon So Toronto Star http://ow.ly/raQv30075gu
This guest blog post is from my wonderful older sister, Ashley Lassiter Googe, written on her first Mother’s Day.
I had this thought: being a mother is both wonderful and heart wrenching. You are tethered to another person. And someday that person will leave. And it will be both wonderful and heart wrenching. Like there are times I look at Oliver and think he is so beautiful and marvelous that it makes my heart hurt. And I know that will only happen more and more. And the thing with a child is from the moment they are conceived they are moving towards independence, away from you, to exit your body, to walk, to think, to go. It makes me think of the quote that children are born through you, not to you.
And it’s such a different love than marriage. The assumption in marriage is you are on equal footing, and the other person is capable of caring for himself. Yes there are times when you carry the other, and you are always tied to that person. But as a parent your every breath revolves around your child. It is your job to keep them alive. To nurture them. To bring them into all they are to be. Or maybe this is just how mothers feel. I cannot speak for fathers.
As the sibling of a sister who suffers from the worst form of epilepsy, I have to extend a huge thank you to NBC’s Parenthood for addressing one of our society’s unspoken issues in this week’s episode; the challenges that come with having a special needs sibling. As depicted in the clip,
What this clip touches on is true, even if you’ve done your best to navigate the unique challenges that come with having a sibling whom is subjected to extended or life-long suffering, it still can be really hard, overwhelming even, and you simply have days where you breakdown. My hope is that this clip will be a small catalyst towards the community at large acknowledging the challenges faced, primarily by the one suffering from a mental or physical challenge, and those faced by those whom are striving to love and care for them.
Crisis strikes. We clamor and fight to react in such a way to show our support and solidarity, to help, to do something. Our intentions are good but sometimes we do things that are reactive but not an active part of the solution.
I’ve noticed this tendency in myself and others as we’ve grappled with how to respond to the BP oil spill crisis. The destruction in the Gulf is gut-wrenching. The images of the piles of dead, oil-saturated wildlife have invoked tears. I’ve had many impassioned conversations with friends regarding what could be done to show our outrage and decided to boycott BP to demonstrate said outrage. That’d show them! I felt better about my protest for about a day until perspective came by way of a conversation, a tweet and the recollection of a few basic economic principles. What would happen exactly if other purchasers of BP decided to react in protest as I had? Well, BP would likely approach bankruptcy very quickly meaning the responsibility for the cleanup would fall squarely on the shoulders of the government and communities of the Gulf, hundreds of thousands of former BP employees would be without jobs, franchises would have to close their doors, and the efforts of myself and hundreds of others would have been made in vain.
I realized that crisis had caused me to react instead of act. In my anger I’d failed to pause and determine whether my response would actually help and not hinder. All of this makes me wonder, what would happen if I chose instead to respond in such a way that heeds a larger perspective instead of my emotions? What if the better response is sometimes one that seems to contradict our pervading emotions? I’m not an economist by any stretch, but I have to wonder what would happen if we all decided to purchase our gasoline from BP instead of another provider for the next several months? Would it ensure that their company is healthy and in a position to better focus on cleanup efforts and restoration? I don’t know. But I do know that the next time I’m faced with crisis or disaster I hope I’ll stop and think before (re)acting.
The first few days of this Lenten season have been eye opening, frustrating and telling. Some of the things I’ve observed and wrestled with have surprised me and I think this will continue to be the case over the course of the next several weeks.
Turns out, it’s quite difficult to ‘not’ read when it’s a skill that is inherent to your very being. In some of the moments I’ve caught myself reading things like a street sign or a billboard, I’ve had to stop and be thankful for the fact that reading truly is second nature and be mindful that this is not the case for many in this country and around the world.
On a more personal level I’ve realized just how independent I am and how difficult it is for me to be reliant upon others as a result. I had a hard time thid past week asking friends to help me read things such as menus and subtitles; I didn’t want to inconvenience them nor did I want to come across as needy (never mind that a lot of these friends were already well aware of the journey I’ve decided to embark upon for these next several weeks). Because of this pride I’ve yet to ask a stranger to help me read. In fact, as I’d think about various places I needed to go or things I needed to do this week I would decide to put those activities off until Sunday when I could read again. On a small level this is what it’s like to navigate the world as an adult learner; there are things you must put off until you have someone to help you. I know this because the students I tutor will bring bills, instruction manuals, homework and the like to our sessions that they’ve been stockpiling for some time. That being said, there are many adult learners that are too ashamed of their struggle to ask another for help. And, many that are willing to make the admission simply don’t have access to tutoring programs such as the one I’m involved in.
My experience at church this past Ash Wednesday was an interesting one. I hadn’t really intended to embark on this journey until after the service but my church had run out of bulletins so I had to engage in the time of worship without words on a page to guide me. The church tradition I’m a part of is a liturgical one so words abound in our services. The good new is that several parts of the liturgy are rote so if you are an adult learner you could memorize some of the portions of the service and engage verbally. The bad news is that if you are an adult learner and new to the liturgical tradition, attempts to read and engage with the liturgy would be completely overwhelming. My guess is that the liturgy used by my church and many others would be at about an 9th grade reading level, which is well beyond the reading level many posess. Given that many other denominations are centered around the written form of songs and readings, the challenges would be similar in their services. I’m not here to admonish churches for being so reader focused but my experience has brought to mind the following questions:
- How could churches accommodate adult learners so that they too could engage with the service and Scripture?
- Does the church (and do I) think that God can move and speak in the life of someone that can’t read? What does this look like? And, do I sometimes miss the move of God because I’m too busy dissecting the words of Scripture?
- I wonder if the reason that Jesus’ words tended towards parables instead of grandiose theological platitudes was so that the marginalized (those who can’t read, prisoners, those with disabilities, children etc.) could engage with him along with the academics and theologians? That is, it’s far easier to recount a story than it is to remember the 3 key bullet points from a sermon or the 5 points of Calvinism.
I’ll stop now as I think this is my lengthiest post to date! Part of that is probably stems from being wordless for several days but also from the fact that its been a long week(end) and I tend to ramble when I’m tired. Thank you all for giving voice to this issue and for wrestling with these questions along with me. It means so much to me and the people I’ve grown to care about.
While I have a host of tangible goals for the year ahead, I’ve decided to set a few slightly more intangible ones as well. You know, the kinds of goals that weave an over-arching intentionality into the seemingly mundane activities and happenings of life. And, breed depth of relationship, greatness of character and courage to conquer the difficult.
On my list of tangibles are things like traveling more, attending the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, visiting my dear friends Marion and Renata whom I haven’t seen in over a year, helping my little sister train for and complete the Country Music Kids’ Marathon in Nashville in April, running the half marathon the following day with my running partners in crime, hosting more dinner parties, completing a triathlon, eating more fruits and veggies, racing the Muddy Buddy, getting to know the families at my church, hiking and reading more, etc.
My intangibles are to ask more questions, to start viewing money as a statement of belief as opposed to a transfer of value, to love regardless of outcome, to increase my involvement in and awareness of the adult literacy movement in my city, to fight to harbor joy and not bitterness and to live more simply. While I may not be able to celebrate the achievement of such goals with a camera, medal or victory dance (and let’s be honest, you don’t want me to dance no matter what the occasion…) I get the feeling that the incorporation of these things will greatly enrich all of the more capturable moments of the year ahead.
2010, a toast to you and all that you hold! Cheers.
My little sister Lindsey has had Lennox-Gastaut syndrome since she was four. Her story is many things but it’s consistently been one of laughter unexpectedly weaving its way into circumstances, providing the most unlikely but necessary relief and perspective.
About my sophpomore year of high school, Lindsey became increasingly aware of how very different she was from those around her. Her friends could go to slumber parties on the weekend, she still had to sleep with a baby monitor in her room so my parents could hear if she had a seizure. My sister Ashley and I could drive, she would have to go six months without a seizure before this could even be in the realm of possibility. These things among many others began to weigh heavily on her, leading to a long night of sobbing, wanting to know why God would allow her to have seizures and thus prevent her from being like the other kids.
My parents have always tried to treat Lindsey just like every other child, never extending or expecting special treatment unless absolutely necessary. This particular time wasn’t any different. I distinctly remember them comforting and hugging her, saying they were sorry she was so sad but that everyone in this world has something that they’d like to fix or change about themselves. This answer surprised her. She asked my mom, dad, sister and I what problems we had. We went around the room saying the various things we wished were different about ourselves, that we were thinner, free from various physical ailments, had more friends, etc. The lesson seemed to resonate with her but you never know with Lindsey what will ‘stick’ and what won’t.
A few weeks later we attended my dad’s company Christmas party. Somewhat uncharacteristically, Lindsey was going from person to person around the room introducing herself, making some wisecracks (if there’s one thing we Lassiter women are it’s sarcastic) and having a grand old time. One particular moment Lindsey went up to a perfect stranger, looked him straight in the eye, extended her hand and said, “Hi, I’m Lindsey. I have seizures. What’s your problem?” Somewhat taken aback, the man politely shook her hand, struggling for a response. Finally, a large grin came over his face and he said, “Nice to meet you, Lindsey. I’m so and so and I eat too much.” They both laughed and then proceeded to have the kind of conversation you’d expect between lifelong friends. Lindsey’s bluntness and honesty had removed the need for pretenses.
When I was feeling particularly down about my insecurities and hang-ups the other day this memory came back to me and I couldn’t help but laugh, and laugh, and laugh. I needed to be reminded that ‘we all have something,’ that I have my problems and you have yours and sometimes the best thing is to just acknowledge it and laugh.