09 February 2011

It gets better, but not if you're straight

Before anyone gets upset, I am NOT downplaying the work at The Trevor Project which has a MASSIVE anti-suicide campaign aimed at gay youth. I believe with all my heart that each human life is priceless to God, regardless of sexual orientation. So now that that's said...

My 12-year-old son is getting bullied a lot. His guidance counselor has put an end to the physical bullying, such as pushing, stealing, etc. But the name-calling continues. Every afternoon after school, I pick up a kid who's faking a smile until he walks out the door, when he dissolves into tears. Every afternoon after school, I deal with an emotional meltdown. I try not to baby or tell him what to do. I try to just listen, and I encourage him to work it out. I tell him it will get better.

Thing is, it hasn't improved yet. It's getting worse. My son, in an effort to look "cool." dyed part of his hair blue-green last night. This is not prohibited by the school's dress code. It reads, " The
following conduct is illustrative of disruptive behavior and is prohibited:...  appearance or clothing which (1) is disruptive, or (2) is provocative, offensive or obscene;  (3) endangers the health or safety of the student or others, or (4) violates the dress code adopted and publicized by the schools...

So he went to school. I stopped in to talk to his guidance counselor about the bullying situation. When I stepped back into the hall, there he was, walking down the hall with the principal, crying. He'd been in school 1/2 hour. He says his homeroom teacher looked straight at him and told him his hair looked terrible. Kids started calling him "queer" and "fag" and asked if he did his hair because he likes boys. This is a typical insult for them, that he's gay.

The principal said that we live in a conservative county and my son should have known better than to color his hair because it makes people pick on him. First off, this isn't true. The high schoolers have piercings and dyed hair galore. A girl in the middle school band has pink hair. The art teacher's hair is artistically colorful. Secondly, people pick on my son regardless of his hair. The homeroom teacher happened to notice it because he noticed the HAIR. But of course, it's my son's fault he gets picked on. It's his hair that was disruptive in class, not the kids who have been calling him gay since the first day of school. So he got sent home and told to fix it so he would fit in better.

We're home now and my son is asking me the questions I so wish I had answers for. What happens tomorrow when people still pick on him? When is it going to stop? Why is it his fault, and why can't he fit in?

And I have a few questions of my own. Where are the anti-bullying campaigns for straight kids? Why is it OK for my son to get called "fag" and "queer" when school systems wouldn't tolerate that happening to a gay kid, thanks to the media attention? (and I'm not saying they SHOULD tolerate it!) Why is my son told that it's HIS fault people pick on him? This is the same kid who was held in the office during recess in 4th grade to "protect" him from the bullies who were allowed to have fun and fresh air on the playground. Why is my son being punished while the offenders get to do & say whatever they want?

I'm juggling all of this. I understand the principal's viewpoint. I understand that sometimes you have to try to meet people in the middle, find common ground. But if you've tried that, how long do you keep at it? How long until he stops being sick to his stomach every morning and in tears every afternoon? How long until it gets better?

04 February 2011

A cup of coffee is good for the soul

If you've ever gone through a fellowship drought, then you know how you get so thirsty for community that eventually it becomes an undefined emotional ache that just nibbles at your subconscious every now and again. Or maybe that's just me.


I have gone years without true, voluntary, no-pressure fellowship. Sure, I've attended choir practices and church suppers (where I usually ended up sitting by myself), women's events and Bible studies. I tried helping in kitchens and with events, only to be shut out by others who knew each other better and didn't have a want or need to know me. I slowly became so tired of trying that I went to complacent and possibly even to averse and unpleasant in nature.

So I guess I was kinda surprised when a friend from community group asked me to go to coffee the other day. Our planned 30 minutes turned into 2 hours and I remembered just how AWESOME fellowship is. I left with a sense of purpose, and I think she did too. It's funny how just one cup of coffee can do that, eh?

03 February 2011

Let Heaven and Nature Sing, Especially Nature.

I went through a pagan phase as a mid-teen, in those pre-Twilight, post-Anne Rice vampire days, except I wasn't a Goth like the other people I knew who were pagan.

I didn't do it for the spells or The Craft or to make people like me. I did it because of the woods and the music.

When I think "pagan," my mind conjures (ha!) up images of dancing outside to Celtic music, and giving people names that are either hippie-ish to the max or with a mix of vowels and consonants unfamiliar to most American tongues. I think of intellectualism and sisterhood and beauty and oneness. Of course, I know these are not ALL of paganism's traits, but this is what I think of on this dreary winter day.

So I got to thinking...

Why have we as Christians distanced ourselves from that? Obviously we should distance ourselves from worshiping anything other than members of the Trinity, but why have we so easily given up the other aspects?

Why don't we, who believe that man was given stewardship of the earth, spend more TIME in that environment? Why can't we worship our Lord, the Creator, in the midst of His creation?

And dang it, why have we settled for peppy, mainstream, pop music as our worship music? Where are the fiddles and pipes and other good instruments?

Why is Christian sisterhood so different? Why can't we spend time together as females just cooking and laughing and sharing WITHOUT big hair and dinner-with-a-guest-speaker?

If we believe God made us, all of us, why are we so afraid to discuss the deep issues? YES, there are times where we ultimately have to rely on faith, but why are we afraid to use the minds our Lord gave us?

Why can't we enjoy the beauty around us, the moments we're given -- to be fully in the moment and loving Jesus at the same time?

These are the things I'm wondering about on this dreary winter day.

01 February 2011

Why is death so difficult?

I know the title of the post probably prompts a few people to scoff, "DUH! Because death sucks!" in slightly better terms. I guess I should preface that I know death sucks, but I am one of those rare, weird people that wants to work for Hospice and deal with death regularly. I think that in itself is a calling and does not make me better or worse than you, just called to a specific area you are not.

That said, I've cried a lot over the past weekend because people in my church - people I don't even know other than faces - lost their 16 year old son this weekend. I've cried because that is what we do as humans and as Christians -- we grieve with those who grieve, and we try to bear one another's burdens. I cry because the pain of death is so great that it MUST be shared even if the mourners themselves are unaware of its spreading.

So WHY does death suck? If we are simply an evolutionary product, why wouldn't our coping mechanisms for a natural occurrence evolve so we wouldn't get sucked into a black hole when we lose someone? And coming at that from a non-evolutionary, spiritual perspective, why do we grieve so terribly when we have the hope that God is in control?

The answer, to me, is that death was never part of the original plan. Way back in Genesis, God created this beautiful garden and it had two trees in the middle, one of which was the Tree of Life and the other the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. God told Adam & Eve that they were free to eat of any tree except that second one. He mentioned ONLY that second one by name and told them to eat of the rest. Which means, of course, that they could eat freely from the Tree of Life.

I often wonder what that fruit was like. Was it sweet? Did it make you tingle when you tasted it? Did you get a burst of energy from it? Or did it taste sorta vitaminy, in a good way, like organic stuff from the natural foods store? Was it soft or crunchy? Did it have a rind like an orange or a peel like a pear?

Anyway, mankind screwed up and disobeyed and then an animal died so they could be covered with fur. The first non-plant-cycle death happened as a result of that sin, and we've been dealing with death ever since. And I think there's a trace of us that longs for our original, sinless, non-dying state. There's a part of us that knows we weren't supposed to lose one another or to be lost ourselves and that part is desperately longing for things to be righted. That part of us - the little tiny iota of us that retains our original being - knows the incredible wrongness of death to our very nature.

Those are just very random thoughts jumbled up. I know there's a lot more to the issue, but I think that's the heart of it.