Family. Food. Foot…in my mouth

This is what I’ve always said about thanksgiving, my favorite holiday of the year. It’s about my favorite things: family, food, and football. What’s not to love?

Last night I was a guest host on Pub Theology and we were talking about the awkward and divisive holiday meals where politics is on everyone’s no, no list.

But no matter what, we always have family, food, and football. “How’s the family? You wouldn’t believe what the baby did!” or “Is that sage stuffing I smell? Remember when grandad was so afraid of salmonella he used cook the turkey for 8 hours?” And when all else fails, “what’s the score?”

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Family First. Families have always been complicated. All families are, no matter how well you all get along or how toxic you are for each other. Thanksgiving being centered around family is… complicated.

If you spend Thanksgiving single or with your nuclear family, like I do, then it somehow feels like something is missing. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great too, but there’s something amazing in the gathering of multiple generations. Don’t be afraid to mourn about the holiday if that’s what you need to do, but don’t lose sight of what you do have.

Do something nice for yourself. If you cook, cook it all. Buy the flowers that you would have bought if company was coming. Go out to dinner, even if there’s only one or two of you. Or, treat the day off as a free day. Order sushi and binge watch a good show, have a junk food day, the sky’s the limit! This is an opportunity, what do you need most?

The midsize gathering is probably the hardest. This is a few generations gathered, say 10-20 people (some of those children). This is where awkwardly all the adult can sit around one table and soapboxes get stepped upon. Politics and religion, God and country, all the hot button issues are land mines. This is also the perfect sized group for passive-aggressive behavior and multiple generations of family dynamics get played out.

No thank you. But if this is what you’ve got then dive in! What other topics is your ranting Uncle Joe into? Do 10 minutes of research on his second favorite person (besides Trump, Patton?) and talk about that. If he tries to bring it back to politics or you get cornered, say “I’d really rather not discuss this” and change the subject. You are an adult, you have rights!

If you’re hosting send out an email (or however you communicate) the day before and state the obvious. “Tomorrow is a day to give thanks and focus on each other as friends and family. In a politically charged world, which we all care about deeply, I’m/We’re asking everyone tomorrow to avoid hot button topics and rest from the 24 hour news cycle so we can live into the gratitude of each other.” This will probably not work, but it’s worth a try.

Last is the large family gathering. Multiple tables, multiple rooms. Find your tribe, stick with them. There’s safety in numbers. If the conversation gets uncomfortable, leave it. This is not you being avoidant, this is self care.

Take your cousin’s baby for a few minutes and give them a rest. Go watch an episode of Parks and Rec in your aunt’s bedroom. It’s 20 minutes, they won’t call the police. Force your grandfather to talk to you about his first job, or bring adult coloring for everyone, others will thank you. Assign yourself a task, put yourself in charge of the kids, or the dishes, or setting the table.

Then when the dinner is done, or the weekend, go home, open a nice bottle of wine and call a friend and debrief the day. Also, if you’re the one that loves to discuss hot button issues, remember this is not the place, keep yourself in check and do the work, this is not the time to pick your crazy cousin’s brain about gun control.

Food is Good. Thanksgiving meals are often traditional. If you love to cook but aren’t hosting, then decide that you will show up a little late. Cook your own Thanksgiving meal with all your favorites on another day so you can have leftovers too.

If you have dietary restrictions bring a dish. This not only relieves the host of “one more thing” but you know you can eat and not offend your host but also be a little satisfied with your meal. Restrictions suck, but it’s your day too.

Make all the pies. Seriously, Thanksgiving is about having all the pies, this is not a day to worry about waistline. Eat the pumpkin and the sweet potato, they’re vegetables after all! Pecan? Pass it. Apple? ah…please! Minced Meat? Okay, everyone had their limits.

Also, when the host offers leftovers, take them or if you’re hosting and you don’t want to give them away, don’t. You did the work after all!

Football: Is Nothing Sacred?

We used to at least have football. We could gather around the tv and coordinate dinner schedules to halftime and then TiVo came along and we didn’t even have to do that. A group gathered in the kitchen around the food preparation and others gathered on the tv with the occasional scream.

A lot of Thanksgivings arguments have been avoided because of football.

But not anymore. Some will blame Colin Kaepernick for his kneeling, others Trump for his involvement… AND there we are.

Open mouth. Insert foot.

If you’re boycotting the NFL, like we are, this is going to be one tough holiday. I don’t know a way around a “Trump vs. #noKaepnoNFL” debate. Which leads to a conversation on white supremacy and #blacklivesmatter.

Just accept that you’re screwed.

If you decide to suspend the boycott for one day to survive your family, no one will blame you, survival of the fittest, but tell your family you don’t want to talk about it. Simply DO NOT ENGAGE.

If it’s too complicated and you don’t see a way around it simply say, “I know you don’t understand but please, it’s important to me.” If football was the only thing that bonded two people together, as it is for many families. Accept your life is built on a lie and hide beer in your car. Also, create a fictional work emergency that makes you have to walk away from people for 45 minutes out of every hour.

These are not good solutions, but you’ve accepted you’re screwed so how can it hurt?

Seriously, good luck, and I promise you’ll make it. Remember, you are enough, you are loved, you are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Oh, and just to get the party started Happy Holidays 😉

I Tell the Truth

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For years I struggled between truth and lie. I lived in a real life “two truths and a lie” game about how I was feeling, about who my family was, about who I was and what I thought. My thoughts and feelings were not my own, they were translations of what I thought people wanted them to be.

At school I pretended to be a good student and have friends. At home I pretended to not have too many needs and avoided eye contact (which lead to engagement). I played alone a lot, I sought refuge with neighbors who took me in to help them with their toddlers. As a teenager I went to friend’s houses and spent as little time at home as possible.

When I finally awoke to the idea that I had independent thoughts, ideas and feelings (besides what others around me had) I didn’t know how to handle myself.  Couple the emotional intelligence of a six year old with a personality that always did speak before she thought and there were many years of disaster, or word vomit as I like to call it.

For about 5 years I had no idea how to keep these newfound thoughts and opinions to myself, they would simply spew out of my mouth. Many times they were “funny, cause it’s true” but a lot of the times they were just hurtful. I didn’t mean to be hurtful but I felt entitled to my opinions and felt it was my right to share them.

I was wrong. And I am reminded of this dark period of my life, this thoughtless disregard for others, the word vomit period every time Donald Trump opens his mouth.

“I tell the truth.” he says.

I said the same thing. Only I would say, “I’m sorry you don’t like what I just said but it’s true.”

Just because it’s what I think doesn’t make it true, it makes it my opinion.

Truth is in accordance with fact or reality. Not “your reality” (like reality tv…) but actual reality, actual circumstances. Opinion is a view or judgement we make, not necessarily based in fact or reality. See the difference?

 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. –Ephesians 4:11-16

When Richard Nixon declared “I am not a crook”, it was his opinion, definitely not based in reality. It was, in fact, illegal. Bill Clinton rewrote personal history when he stood up and declared that he “never had sex with that woman” or at least convinced himself of that enough to sound convincing. Friends, when we allow lies to get so twisted in our heads they become truth we are lost, we need help.

We are all allowed opinions and in all honesty, truth is even a relative thing. If there are two people in a situation, there will not be two sides, there will be three. Person A’s experience, Person B’s experience and what really happened.

Speaking the truth in love doesn’t mean people won’t get hurt, but it means combining reality and fact with the emotional intelligence that you are dealing with someone with feelings and that has a different reality than you. Whatever you have to say is valid, and it may hurt, but the way you deliver it doesn’t have to be “for their own good” like an abusive father.

I hurt a lot of people, I said a lot of mean things, and the biggest pain for me in all of this, was that the reality was I was the one crying out in pain. My voice had been masked so much that words would just spew out without ever considering the consequences. 

I don’t want to get into a political debate, but I am terrified, terrified that a man like “The Donald” who spews vomit into the world and calls it truth has gotten this far in our electorate. Donald, it is not truth when it’s what you think, it’s opinion.

Speak the truth in love. And please, keep your “truth” opinions off the world stage.

 

Today I Broke the Law

Okay, I really didn’t mean to! But while driving the kids to daycare, my 5 year old was talking nonstop.  As always.  I was paying attention to what she was saying as closely as I could having just gotten out of bed and no caffeine in my system.  We were trying to turn left and I had pulled out into the intersection while the light was green, but listening to lil pie I got distracted looked up and the light was red.  It had been red for a few seconds, and I had a split second, I had to turn, but the parallel traffic already had green arrows and I quickly turned right in front of a police car…

I waved and said sorry as obviously as I could, but as I drove on I looked in the rear view mirror to see if he was coming after me to give me a ticket.  After a few seconds he wasn’t coming, but I didn’t feel relief.  I almost wanted him to come back and give me a ticket.  Lil pie had, of course, noticed that I ran a red light and was asking 101 questions on why and how and why and how…

I deserved a ticket.  I was distracted I broke the law, it happens all the time.  Now I admit, if there are cameras that catch me I will be upset because I can rationalize it away, I was blocking traffic, what choice did I have? But I like rules and laws, I don’t always agree with them, but I usually follow them. And when they are broken I like to see justice done, even if it means a ticket for myself.

Justice is not only important to me when it comes to the laws of this country and state, but justice is a vital part of my beliefs.  This week, during the election I participated in what I considered an act of justice.  I voted, here in the state of Maryland to legalize “same sex marriage”.  This is not something I usually talk publicly about as a minister, but I do feel that it is important to do so.  For me “social issues” of a political nature revolve around justice for me.  Jesus was very clear, in my opinion, that the golden rule “Do unto others and you would have them do unto you” and “Love God with all that you are and your neighbor as yourself” is more important than whether or not we touch the skin of a dead pig or plant 2 different crops side by side, or get tattoos.

Yes, there are parts of scripture I lift up more than others, everyone does, but I believe in the movement of the Holy Spirit, I believe that every piece of scripture should be read with the golden thread of loving God and neighbor as oneself.  So there are texts where I disagree, but who said we were supposed to follow everything exactly how it is written in the Bible? Aren’t there some lessons we need to hear about so we can learn what NOT to do?

So if we love God and neighbor as ourselves, then I believe my faith brings me to a place that says “yes” to same sex marriage.  It is a matter of justice and love of my neighbor. Just as pay equality and affordable healthcare, and yes, even a woman’s right to choose. This is not to say I agree with every choice every person makes in their life. But I do not believe that loving someone of the same sex is a sin, 1 John says that all love is from God, and those who abide in love, abide in God.

You may disagree, and many of my parishioners and colleagues do disagree with me, and they have the right to speak that in their own way and vote how they choose.  After all, there is freedom of religion and freedom of choice in our country and free will in my faith.

But as much as my state and part of my country has affirmed my beliefs in my social values, I have to say my denomination has not.  Same sex marriage is legal in the state of Maryland, but my hands are tied and it remains “illegal” in my church.  This saddens me.  My church has made me an agent of the state (or vice versa) when it linked my ordination vows to the county clerks office and I can sign marriage licenses.  However, I abide by the laws and rules, and I have not yet performed a marriage that bond two people in love that were of the same sex…yet.

But the saddest part for me, as an GLBTQ advocate is that I have not been asked, I’m not talking about from friends, but no one is calling the church asking us to marry them.  No one is beating down our door (to be fair this is probably not the case for More Light Churches), because the church has abandoned this community by continuing to see them as “other”.  By creating a lower class out of them and refusing to live into the belief that all love comes from God. This is not justice, and this is not loving God and neighbor.  I was privileged to have the right to marry my husband in a church with an ordained minister, why should my neighbor not have that same privilege?

So today I broke the law by running a red light, and there was a pang in my stomach, wanting, pleading for justice from a simple act.  But it really just reminded me that there is a larger justice in the world to fight for, and I might even be called some day soon to break the law. Not the laws of my state, but the laws of my church, and then too, if the call comes, I will face justice.