The Spew Effect

Call it what you want: vomit, throw up, barf, getting sick, puke, heave, hurl… shall I go on? Probably not. (I don’t actually expect many people to read past here… but hang in there if you can).

We all have a gag reflex, and it’s a natural instinct that when someone throws up, we gag. Some are more susceptible to this than others, but we all have it. It’s like the worst empathetic reaction ever.

When it comes to actual vomiting I do not have a sensitive gag reflex, but when it comes to word vomit I do. Especially these days.

We’re not doing so well, are we? I mean we’re not in my little corner of the world. We’re pissy, we’re raw, we’re sensitive, we’re unable to contain our emotions at things that would normally roll off our back.

So we word vomit, we word vomit (if you’re like me) on someone we love because they’re safe. It could be a legit thing or not – chances are the thing that is causing you to vomit has very little to do with the person in front of you that you’re vomiting all over.

So… what happens now? The person gags. Maybe they gag and vomit on you, or maybe the sickness that has now transferred to them is lingering until the next moment and then BAM! They vomit all over someone else. Then they get the disease and spew to their people and they call a friend and spew to them and so on and so forth.

 

This cycle continues over and over and over again until it finally hits someone with a healthy immune system and is able to walk away unscathed.

I used to be that person, but not today. My vices are gone. I’m just off. And before you ask I’m doing all my self-care stuff but the world is a hard place, and we are all suffering. I am seeing my therapist, I am exercising (although I could ALWAYS do more) I am taking time away from social media but none of it is working. I still feel nauseous.

I usually chalk it up to an existential crisis, but the reality is, we’re all feeling this way. We are having a national existential crisis. We don’t know who we are anymore. We’re not confident in where we’re going or what the point of any of it is. We feel absolutely hopeless.

So we get mad at something, little things grate on our nerves and we blow up and spew all over the place and then they spew… and well, you get it. The leader of the free world is one big stomach flu infecting the world. It is makes us sick.

Friends, I don’t know what to tell you, but, we have to get better. We have to find a cure or an antidote. Even Star Wars Movies aren’t cutting it… and that’s saying something.

Usually I give the advice at this time to a person or a couple going through this, “be really good to yourselves” but I at least for me, it’s not working. I’m not doing such a good job right now caring for those I’m supposed to care for because I, the one who is supposed to be healthy, is spewing all over the place.

I don’t know what to tell us, except to acknowledge it, and possibly, embrace it… Let’s have moments where we “sound [our] barbaric yawp over the rooftops of the world” like Walt Whitman. We need more screaming matches and physical activity to get this pent up frustration out. Hell, maybe we all just need to be having more sex!

We cannot function on this high of stress level. At worst we’re killing ourselves, and at best we’re weakening our immune systems to a point where we will have no defense left, no person to make the cycle stop.

So, yawp it up friends, and let’s do our best to contain our spewing to the places it causes the least harm.

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Reconciling Jesus

Here’s how my sermon prep really goes. I read the text, I pick liturgy and hymns a few months in advance, then I don’t really look at it again until the week of. Then I read commentaries are the text works on me (yes, works on me) through the Holy Spirit all week. I look for stories and modern day examples to use, but don’t write a lot of words down, maybe an outline.

I knew this week would be hard because it’s the first time divorce has come up in the lectionary since I’ve been divorced. I looked at past sermons, wow… did I not have a clue how hurtful this text was.

So, here’s my sermon from today, the congregation loved it but so did I. I took a deep breath and disagreed with Jesus. Then, I decided to reconcile with him too. God is not black and white friends, and we can’t take scripture that way either.

Have a listen:

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For Bowling Green

I wrote this piece for a group I blog for “RevGalBlogPals”. Thought you all might enjoy.

Okay, I totally wasn’t going to write about this. Really, I mean besides being kind of funny on some memes – is it really worth talking about? I mean should I give my time to she who speaks lies? Unfortunately, yes, and in this instance she’s hit home for me. As this RevGal was born […]

via Pastoral is Political: Massacring the Good People of Bowling Green — RevGalBlogPals

A Luminous 2017


For the last few weeks I have prayed about a word for 2017. Today, sitting in worship it came to me. 

In a meditative service I adapted at about 11:45pm on New Year’s Eve I wrote meditation questions for the new year. One was “What name has God written in your heart for this year?”

And there is was “and she will be called Luminous.”

Yeah. I can’t make this stuff up. 


Luminous. I like it. 

Throughout the Christmas season we read John 1, we talk about the light (Jesus) that shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it. 

This word has been working on me for a few weeks now. I noticed it on Christmas Eve when something struck me in a new way. 

At the end of Silent Night I stand in front of the congregation with my lit candle and say this:

Even though the light in our hands may be extinguished the light of Christ born in our hearts this night goes with us into the world to bring good news for all to hear. 

In other words, we are now the bearer of Christ’s light in the world. 

For whatever 2017 brings, I pray I can be a beacon of light. I pray I am up for the challenge. 

I anticipate a year where standing up to tyrany and hate will be needed. I anticipate a year when darkness will cover the face of the deep. I anticipate a year where in the midst of watery chaos and formless void that God will say “Let there be light” and declare the light good. 

I pray for new mercies and joy each morning. 

I anticipate a year of holding a torch for justice and candles of rememberance. 

God has called me to be a luminous light. If it be blinding and harsher that one would like, then so be it. 

For darkness cannot be driven out by darkness, only light can do that. (Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)

May it be so for you and for me. Happy New Year Friends, may it be a Luminous Year!

Promise: Year End Review

2014 was “Bloom”, 2015 was “Shalom” and 2016 – “Promise”

The year of promise is over and as I reflect, I anticipated 2016 to be a year of “Promise as anticipated joy.” Well, not so much. However, all was not lost in the realm of promise, but, as it turns out, 2016 was a year of promise, as in, faithfulness in the midst of adversity. 2016 will also go down as the year of keeping the promise of who I am and faithfully living that out despite these obstacles.

But first, 2016, overall can suck it. It will go down as the year of celebrity deaths and the epic mistake that is the election of Donald Trump.

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But that will not have the last word, the year of Promise, has some great accomplishments, here are a few:

First, to my children. I promised my children a few years ago when their father and I divorced that I would keep the house. This has not been a difficult promise, more so than I realized when I made it. This is a promise I struggle to keep on a monthly basis when the mortgage payment is due. But it is not simply the one payment, there is also the expense of upkeep, you know, like a costly HVAC system I did not anticipate dishing out, or a new roof on part of the house.

The financial burden of this year has been enormous, I cannot lie about that. However, in the midst of this year and drain on my finances this house is very much a home and a blessing.

This is the home for 4 children and 2 adults. It holds family dinners, a family garden, a basement where we dance and watch tv. It’s where we gather with friends and neighbors for fire pit and grilling. It holds space for friends who need a retreat and a warm bed. It is our home, futures are discussed here, children are tucked in, and love is shared here. The promise I have kept about this home has brought much joy and love.

Second, to my partner. Derrick’s had a rough year, he’s lost his job and his confidence. This, after 2 of the worst years of his life. It’s not always easy loving someone who has chronic depression and live in competition of the voices of depression that live inside his head, but I could not be more proud to love him. There are many promises one makes when they decide to connect and partner with another, when they decide to share their lives so intimately.

This year I have kept my promises to love and support him. It has truly been my honor. I pray this will be the most stressful and difficult year together, I pray that we will leave this year in our dust. In the past I struggled to keep promises of forgiveness and releasing grudges, not just with him, but in general. I am proud of the way I have been able to do that in our relationship this year, loving him has kept a promise within myself – to love fearlessly.

Last, I have kept promises with myself. I have made decisions this year to be good to myself. This is not about perfection, but I have noticed this year that I like myself more and more. I have been able to see and made some clear decisions, draw some clear boundaries.

I have created boundaries and goals in my work which has lowered my anxiety and made me a better parent. I have been able to love myself better, despite some weight gain which at one time would have sent me into a deep depression. I have made some decisions about my future that could relieve some stress about my future.

2016 overall can suck it, but through the promises made and kept this year I am happier, more stable, and my life is full of love and joy.

Soon I will look to 2017 and announce a new word, but for the next few days, I will continue these promises and more.

Mary Did You Know? You’re Everything Wrong with American Christians

Okay, Mary’s not what’s wrong with American Christians, but “Mary Did You Know?” is. You know the song… That terrible, overplayed, evangelical Christmas song that is you have ever read Luke 1,  the Magnificat , you would know that clearly this woman who is chosen to carry the savior of the world in the most dramatic and possibly most ridiculous way of all time DID know, leaving the song as one long mansplaining episode by the writer Mark Lowry? Yeah… that one.

Listen, I know it’s got a pretty melody and Pentatonixs made a video of it in a cave and it made you cry, I get it. And I’m sorry, because the reality is, it’s the most ridiculous song I’ve every heard. AND EVEN MORE THAN THAT, it is everything that is wrong with American Christians.

FIRST- It’s Patriarchal- Mark Lowry is a white evangelical who is a graduate of Liberty University, one of the most conservative universities in the country. I mean, I guess he can’t help it, right? From day one he was taught that women in the bible are evil, maybe Mary was an exception to the evil, I mean she and her “purity” is what all woman should subscribe to.

We’ve missed the fact that the news that Mary gets through this angel is that her body is about to be violated, she will become pregnant without her consent. She is to carry the child and she is to name him Jesus. She has no choice over her body or even his name.

Not only that, but she will be culturally shunned and her engagement will most likely be called off. We forget that she must rely on Joseph’s mercy to forgive her (for something she didn’t do). We forget that she could have been stoned to death if he chose not to forgive her. But she is to be regarded and appreciated not for her amazing strength and will but for her purity.

Purity takes on many forms. The obvious one is virginity. Women should be sexless, except inside of the covenant of marriage and even then, for procreation. Mary is the perfect woman because she could have a child WITHOUT having to have sex with a man and therefore she is the perfect woman in purity, fulfilling her role as a woman without demolishing her virginity.

However, in the patriarchal church Mary couldn’t have possibly have known what was happening to her, that is until her husband accepted her pregnancy. Even though if you read the scriptures the angel Gabriel comes to Mary, tells her what is to happen. She then goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth and through their conversations Mary processes what is happening to her and does a battle cry of justice and mercy of God that shall reign through her child.

However, because no man has been involved in this story so far (angels aren’t “men”) so regardless of the scriptures, she could’t possibly understand. Women are simply not capable.

SECOND- It’s Proof Texting- According to sources (wikipedia) the song was written as a script for a Christmas play. These were questions Mark would like to ask Mary, the questions were asked between scenes of the play. It seems to me that would be the shortest Christmas play ever:

Mark: “Mary, did you know?”
Mary: “yes. yes I did.”

AND Scene.

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Here’s the thing. Mark knows his bible, pick me a line, any line from the song and it is based in scripture. To save time here’s a random sampling- Walk on water? Matthew 14, Sight to a Blind Man? John 9, Calm a storm? Mark 4, Walked Where Angels Trod? John 1, Rule the Nations, Matthew 28, and my favorite, This child that you deliver, will soon deliver you, John 19.

Why is it my favorite, BECAUSE SHE’S LITERALLY STANDING RIGHT THERE! John 19:26 “When Jesus saw his mother…” Seriously?!? Is she invisible? Yes, see point 1.

Proof texting is when one pulls a quote and uses it out of context to prove their point. When you proof text, you miss the arc of the story, you often miss the intention of the meaning of the quote. Here’s a quote for you:

“Feminism encourages women!”

I love it, it’s beautiful, it’s also true. It’s also Pat Robertson and here’s the whole quote, “Feminism encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.” But Pat Robertson endorsed feminism and said it encouraged women! See what proof texting does?

“God hates Fags”, it says it in the Bible. Well, okay, there are two mandates that Leviticus lays out (see what I did there 😉 and says men shall not lie with (have sex with) men. Leviticus also says that I can sell my daughter into slavery and I can’t eat pig or wear clothes of mixed fiber. Read more about all this here.

Mary Did You Know? massive flaw is that these scriptures are taken out of context. Read the Magnificat she knew, she was also there participating in Jesus’ ministry!

THIRD- It’s Emotionally Manipulative- Listen, I’ve been there. I’ve been the sweet young girl who soloed “Mary Did You Know?” in front of a congregation because they wanted to see innocents personified. The song appeals to the maternalization of Mary.

Find some young sweet, young fertile girl, to remind us just how innocent and unsuspecting she would have been. Put her in front of a congregation so we can swoon over days gone by. So we can be lulled into complacency that if I pray hard enough and do the “right things” there will be a brand new Lexus at my door come Christmas Morning.

We so easily make the story of Jesus conception and birth about starry nights and a beautiful quiet sleeping baby and a perfect family. We so easily forget the emphasis that Jesus had a human birth, which means, it was messy. Very, very messy.

Jesus was born of a woman, meaning there was a bodily fluid and blood. There was a placenta and sweat and maybe even a bowel movement. Birth at this time also didn’t take place in a nice sterile hospital either, and Mary didn’t get the advantage of being in the comfort of her home with her family midwife near. No, she’s miles away in a smelly barn with her deer in the headlights husband, who according to the scriptures has never even seen her vagina.

There was sweat, there was blood, there were tears and screams and cow dung. Silent Night my ass. But that doesn’t appeal to us this time of year. In order to truly appreciate the story she wouldn’t have broken a sweat, laid down, popped the perfectly clean baby out and immediately made tea for her guests. This is what brings us close to God, she pondered these things in her heart, and iced her whoha.

So let’s get it straight, American Christians. For the love of all that is Holy, literally. Can we stop pressuring each other into pretending that Mary wasn’t scared, can we stop pretending that she didn’t know for one second the risks her son would go through? She knew the world better than anyone, and despite all the bullshit she had been put through not only did she know, she said yes!

God love her.

The Magnificat is a war cry. Mary knows the history of the Israelites waiting for a messiah, she celebrates by singing, that singing is to drive us into action for Justice and prepare us to be true followers of Christ. We want silent night but Mary knows, better than we do, that the king that is coming, is going to turn out world upside down.

Not My Christianity

It was 2005 and I was at my first official church face to face interview. We were gathered around a future parishioner’s dining room table and they asked me the questions they had come up with. Among some of the standards, they asked me this:

What is the biggest theological issue facing the church today?

This was one I had been waiting for, it was the height of gay ordination issues, and I knew where I was and I was unapologetic about it. I also knew that this was *all* the church was talking about and they wanted to know if it’s *all* I was going to talk about.

I talked about Matthew 25- to clothe the naked, house the homeless, visit the sick and imprisoned. I saw their heads nod and their tension release, and so I added, “and we HAVE to find a way to reclaim Christianity from the radical right and not be afraid to evangelize progressive Christianity.”

Some strongly agreed, others thought the first part of my answer was “nice” enough to forgive what I just said.

I grew up with spurts of Catholicism and Methodism but my formative years were spent in the Southern Baptist church and I knew exactly how dangerous white evangelicals could be.

Over a dozen years have passed since I made that comment and last week, I knew we had failed, so far. Since becoming a Presbyterian in 1998, I’ve been working to spread the good news of progressive Christianity but it has not been enough.

 

For years Progressive Christians fought for gay rights, women’s ordination, women’s health and anti-racism. But as a whole we have not done enough. It is time for us to get out of our bubbles and stand up.

So fast forward to Sunday morning. I wasn’t preaching due to Stewardship Celebration Sunday, my role was to give the Call to Stewardship. I had mixed feelings about not preaching, but I now realize I wasn’t in a state to. I was pissed, I’m still pissed.

When I awoke this morning, I had nothing but sorry and anger, then the spirit moved and got to church and wrote this call:

He looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.” -Luke 21:1-4

If we take the story of the widow’s mite on face value we are supposed to empty our bank accounts into the church’s account. (I mean, if that’s what God is calling you to do, who am I to stop you!)

But our world does not work that way, and I’m not sure Jesus’ did either.

“All she had to live on” is a phrase that has haunted me since the beginning of my ministry. What does it mean and how does it work?

Stewardship is about more than money. We talk about time and talents, but we need a new kind of stewardship in our world today.

A kind of stewardship that actually follows the teachings of Christ and the will of God. Not the false gods of prosperity we have created, but the God of love and justice, mercy and compassion.

We are called to give this world, “all we have to live on” because Christ taught us that people are more important than property, the prophets called for justice comes rolling down like a stream and we have polluted that stream with false idols and prioritizing ourselves over others and creation.

Today, here, now, is a call to discipleship. Will we be willing to put “all we have to live on” into what we believe? We will be willing to reject false teaching? Will we begin to truly understand that Christ has no hands but ours?

Are we willing to devote our lives to God and reject sin? Are we willing to stand up and claim our Christianity in the marketplaces? Are we willing to stand up to others who claim the same God and say, “I am a Christian, and God is a God of love, not hate.”

Now is not the time for random acts of kindness, but a wearing of the banner for the world to see.

All I have to live on is this: I am a Christian who condemns violence, who condemns hatred, who believes in peaceable living for all, who sees that it is my responsibility to care for the widows, the orphans, and the refugee.

Even Christ made a mistake, seeing the Syrophoenician woman and her daughter and less human than he, with her different color skin and her weaker gender, they were compared to the likeness of dogs, by Christ. That’s how strong the influence of power can be, the world convincing us that I and mine are better than you.

Give it up, Christ says, give it all up, just as this woman did. Take her example and literally, publicly, put in your two sense and surrender the thing that makes you powerful in this world.

Will you? Can you? Devote your whole self to God and serve Christ and the world with all you have?

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I share this with you because progressive Christianity cannot be indifferent to our faith any longer. We are so afraid of offending others that we have forgotten who we are.

If you want to answer this call then here’s what needs to happen. You have to stand up to injustice wherever you see it. You have to get involved politically. You have to find ways to give your privilege and power away and make room for others, YES.

But wait, there’s more. 

You have to know and study your Bible. You can’t be afraid of words like “Jesus”, “sin” and “judgement”. You need to be able to speak passionately about God, Christ, and faith and how your faith aligns with your politics.

Jesus never shied away from politics. Evangelicals don’t see them as two different things and neither should you.

You need to quote scripture like the rest of them, and in context.  You need to know your opponent’s arguments and be able to come back with why Jesus would NEVER have responded that way, be specific with examples. Be smart.

And why do all this? Because this is NOT a Christian Nation, but Christian nationalist have taken it over, and it’s past time to take it back.

#notmychristian

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I dedicate this post to my grandfather, who stopped attending church in the 1960’s because it got too “political” during the Civil Right’s Movement. I have learned through my ministry that it is impossible to keep politics out of the pulpit, it is possible to not bully from the pulpit, but if I preach scripture, I preach politics. 

She’s Not Country

So there I am last night, watching Friday Night Lights (our current Netflix binge) and keeping track of the Cubs via social media. I started to see a couple articles about Beyoncé’s surprise appearance at the Country Music Awards. “Country fans” were upset she was there. But why? The answer is obvious and complicated.

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First, a little background. I grew up in a Nashville suburb. My father’s house was down the way from Twitty City (Conway Twitty‘s house and fun park) and on the weekends my father would take us out on the lake and we would pass by Johnny Cash‘s house.  Reba MacEntire lived on the same lake and I played with her son once while waiting for a table at a restaurant. I spent my summers at Opryland Amusement Park and my Christmas at the Opryland Hotel.

Just about everyone in Nashville is trying to make it in the music industry. They may be working as photographers or construction, but they are song writers and open mic night performers at heart. They write the songs that in their wildest dreams would make the whole world sing, if they could ever get anyone to hear them. There is just as much talent in one square mile in the city of Nashville as there is in London or New York. There’s a reason why non country musicians like Ben Folds live in Nashville.

There was a lot of talk in the 1980’s and 1990’s that country had lost it’s soul, that the days of Patsy Cline and Merle Haggard were gone. Or that Nashville had been stripped of it’s Music City title with everyone buying time shares in Branson, Missouri.

Now, I was never really a “country fan”except in the ways that most kids my age were when country started making “superstars” like Garth Brooks. There was a lot of upset in Nashville at the time. Country Western was re-branding into the pop sensation that is now known as “Country” and Nashville didn’t know what to do. Nashville had once been the epicenter of country music, but in the early to mid-80’s Madonna and Michael Jackson ruled the world and Nashville was slumming it.

SO… re-brand they did. The Grand Ole Opry got a face lift and Gaylord Entertainment took over that part of Nashville. The Ryman Auditorium also received a face lift, 2nd Ave became the Beale St. of Nashville and there were all kinds of music festivals everywhere. Country had moved to the arena and the theaters of old opened their doors to all types of music. Nashville became an epicenter for music as a teenager I benefited seeing artists like Widespread Panic and Bonnie Raitt at the same concert.

But not everyone is pleased about this. Why? For the same reason people are upset that Beyoncé sang at the Country Music Awards.

The first defense to why people where upset was to say, “She’s Not Country” which begs the question, What is Country these days?

When “country” music went to the arena it turned pop, everyone in Nashville thought so and said so, even if they liked it. “Crossover” became the buzz word of the 1990’s. But what is really behind the upset? Well, all things southern- Race (and gender), Money, and Politics

In a comment discussion on Facebook last night I was responding to a “She’s Not Country” argument by saying- no, Beyoncé isn’t “country” but neither was Justin Timberlake and he performed last year at the CMA’s and no one cared.

So we come to our first challenge- Race (and gender). Here’s a great article on the history of women in country music. Not only are there not that many women who sing, the view of women in the songs reaches as far as Daisy Duke shorts and Confederate flag bras. The reality is southern women as strong as brass. But like many things except homemaking, women haven’t always been welcome, and last night was a testament of feminism with their tribute to Dolly Parton.

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But the bigger issue here is Race, it is not to be denied. Here’s a long, but great article on the subject. It cannot be denied that the outrage last night was over a black woman being on stage. And anyone who denies that, is not really looking at the truth. “Country” equates itself with the confederate flag and in 2016 that stands for white supremacy. Name one “popular” black country musician besides Darius Rudker? Thought so… (popular is in quotes because I could write a whole other blog on Darius here…)

So I continue in my Facebook discussion and then it comes: “The Dixie Chicks shouldn’t have been there either.” And here we have it. What is country? It’s “good old southern values. God and Country.”

One of my favorite (albeit crude) comedians Bo Burnham points out that Springstein can sing about a Turnpike and it’s art, but country gets a bad wrap for singing about a dirt road (watch this, it’s funny).

Which brings us to #2 Money. 

The joke goes like this:
Q: What do you get when you play country music backwards?
A: You get back your wife, your dog and your truck.

Country lost it’s mojo the moment it got money. Country lost it’s soul for the almighty dollar. It was about hardship, oppression, it came out of the roots of Appalacia and the blues.  Two groups who were highly oppressed and sang because the sorrow had no where else to go. Country adapted into the poor white version of the African-American spiritual. When the Beatles came along country firmly planted itself as the poor white man’s music. Country was always about being down on your luck and appreciating the small things of life.

Like most of us in the civilized world money became the god and God and Jesus were just ways to sell tickets.

Politics– The comment about the Dixie Chicks has nothing to do with the music, it has everything to do with their politics. They do not fit the “southern values” mold. Because they speak out against War, against misogyny, against racism. Well then sorry country, if breaking the political mold of conservative republicanism is not country then neither can  Willie Nelson or Johnny Cash be yours either…

“Country” isn’t a type of music anymore. Listen to The Eagles or Crosby, Stills, and Nash, they sound a lot like country or today just turn on Mumford and Sons. Hell people, Elvis was country!

The “Country Music” you love today has come a long way from the country of old. Like everything else in this world it has adapted and changed with the times and Beyoncé’s presence on stage is nothing short of what’s next for Country Music.

Now, listen to this, it’s not “country” but it’s country.

Pulling the Trigger

I’m not the first to say it, this election has been triggering. For immigrants, for People of Color, for women, for men of conscience. For, well, almost everyone.

Today was the latest scandal about Trump’s “locker room talk” in 2005. I won’t even bother linking to an article about it. It’s not worth it, if you haven’t read about it then don’t bother, it comes down to this, rape culture is real.

Several weeks ago something happened in my life that made all the triggers go off. Just about all of them. I was telling my therapist that I was already on high alert because every time I turn on the news I get triggered by something.

I was raw and exposed, again…

Being “triggered” basically means you have an emotional reaction to something that is from your past. It’s like PTSD only hopefully on a less severe level. It could be anything. Smelling old spice aftershave that my grandfather used to wear. Spelling the cologne your rapist was wearing.

The thing about being triggered is even the most self-aware people can be triggered and not know it for minutes, hours, days. Over time I have developed internal “check-ins”. “What’s bothering me?” Oh… that explains it.

Think… anything that comes out of Trumps mouth for the people he is talking about.

Anyway, I was talking to my therapist, “I’m tired of being raw, I’m tired of being exposed, I’m tired of being triggered by everything every time I turn around!”

In other words, I needed to have a little more control.

He asked me a very therapist-y question. “Is there any time in the past where you have had this happen and how did you handle it?”

Okay, fair enough, well played therapist man.

I told him a story of when I was in seminary and I had several issues of “serendipity” or “coincidence” and I decided to make a spiritual discipline out of it. It had happened so many times in a row that I felt like I was out of control.

I felt that these were messages from God that I was not paying attention to. So I chose a number, the trinity would guide me (remember, I was in seminary). If someone came to my mind 3 times in a short period of time I would call them. If I came across a book, movie, someone mentioned “you should do something… go somewhere… think about” if it came up 3 times, I would no longer put it off.

This is a spiritual practice I still do today and has become highly effective.

“So”, my therapist said, “Let’s try it.”

For the last few weeks every time I’ve been triggered by something I used it as an opportunity to release it and extend forgiveness for the thing triggered.

When I was 19 I read the book “Mastery of Love” by Don Miguel Ruiz. He said something about forgiveness that I have never forgotten.

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“When you can touch a wound and it doesn’t hurt,
then you know you have truly forgiven.”

It was damning to me. In fact, it was one of those things where I said, “That’s impossible.”

Years later, I know it’s not. It can happen. But like a wound a doctor heals, it has to be checked, and sometimes hurts more to look under the bandage. Sometimes the wound reopens.

When we are triggered we reopen a wound that has yet to be healed. And they’re everywhere. Elsewhere in the book he speaks of having a skin condition covered in wounds that have become “normal” and people without the skin condition are considered the freaks.

If I use his analogy to contemporary issues I could say that the people without the skin conditions are “woke”.

So for the last few weeks I have been trying to see triggering as a spiritual practice. It is time to change the dressing on that wound. Changing the dressing is the healthy way of addressing the wound.

I realized I had a choice, I could ignore it (and the past tells me it will reopen the wound and the pattern will continue) or I could address it. By addressing it, I could use the opportunity to heal to extend forgiveness.

This is what I know. (and yes, I am closely reaching my self-help cliche mark for one post). Withholding forgiveness hurts me more than it hurts you. Throughout the weeks as my therapist and I have talked about how my spiritual practice is going, I have noticed it wasn’t just about needing to be in control of my emotions, it was also about living into who I am.

I am not a person who withholds forgiveness easily, especially people I love and have ongoing relationships with. Triggers are an opportunity to live more fully into my scarred, but healed self.

Funny how God works sometimes…