Syrian Refugees: I'm Sorry, We Have a "Not Right Now" Problem

 
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Refugees - I'm sorry.

I'm sitting here drinking my hot cup of tea, bundled up in a $40 sweater, typing on my more than $1K mac. I'm reading about your torture and I'm angry. But in the moment I'm comfortable.

While you suffer, I'm eating dinner. While you drown, I'm brushing my teeth. While you wander across land that's not yours, it's just a brand new day for me in the same old routine.

I like having this comfort too much. I like my life...

I'm sorry.

I'm angry that no one wants to take responsibility for your safety or basic human needs. But I've got to tell you that our response, or lack there of, is all because of this problem that we have - it's a not right now problem.

All of you other countries around the world - take these people in! But us, not right now. You guys please find God, He's the answer! But we can't show Him to you, not right now. You will get help in due time when it really matters! But not right now, because we're not even sure what "when it really matters" looks like.

I'm sorry.

I'm a Christian and I'm supposed to be carrying the torch on what freedom and fearlessness really looks like, but not right now. You see my Governor he says he's a Christian too, but he's too scared to let you in. He could be a huge contributor to forming some sort of strategy to bring refugees in and still protect our nation, even if it is a smaller select number, but not right now. He, we, could remember that Christ cares more about reaching out to the hurting more than he does being safe, but not right now. My governor may still be super busy worrying about our own morality right now, so no time to save people. Not right now.

Refugees - I'm sorry.

But it's time to be honest. Sorry isn't good enough. And our fake love isn't good enough. Distant "love" doesn't keep you fed or safe. Our "praying for you" promises might be little lies. It is - for lack of better words, and for the sake of being blunt - lazy, selfish, cowardly bull. It is thumb-twiddling, acting busy, seemingly apologetic, crap. I can see Jesus flipping another table right now.

We are the next pharisees. 

I'm so tired of Americans and Christians alike being a "not right now" people. What we're doing right now is hiding. Behind our screens, behind our style, behind our jobs, behind our lifestyle, behind our obligations and appointments. We placed this all on ourselves. You, refugees, have nothing to do with this fear, deep shame, and doubt that lives in us. We fan that flame daily and we think we love it.

Brothers and sisters, it's time to wake up and not fear death. Or even more shockingly, it's time to wake up and not fear much smaller things: sharing your home, sharing your money, sharing your food, sharing your clothes, sharing His word. Is the only thing you're actually doing right now is focusing on hoarding those small things you clearly cherish more than Jesus? For those who aren't Christian, do you cherish these frivolous things more than love and simple humanity? 

There is never an option for "not right now." There is no such thing. Time moves. God moves. People move. A people in need is moving toward you RIGHT NOW. They can't even plead their case with you because they don't have time to make their argument when they're drowning, starving, dying, weeping, suffering.

 

Americans, Christians - 

Don't read this and feel more shame or guilt - feel awakened and ready. Don't get suggestions on how to help and stay seated - rise up and choose to do one of them. Don't read this and push it off to "not right now" - share it and DO.

  1.  Click here to see practical ways to help.
  2.  Click here to have the opportunity to serve refugees and lose that fear, that insecurity and doubt.

I'm sorry, refugees, that it took us so long. But a few good people are ready right now. 

 

I hope you see this apology, refugees. I hope it spreads like wildfire.

- J

 

 

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Who Are You Trying to Fool?

 
 

It's funny how all of us, especially millennials, want to know and state exactly who we are. We want it established, we want it known, and we want it specific. We don't have time for grey areas when it comes to who we are. Am I right? 

"I AM an introvert. However I'm NOT an overly emotional person. I AM this, but I'm NOT that." 

As much as we want to establish who we are, consider this: yes, you are you, and you are unique. There are some things about you that won't change at the core. But, read this closely and ask yourself honestly, do you think in trying to be so black-and-white about yourself, that you're actually trying to convince yourself of false things? Are you trying to convince others that you're a certain way because you're really trying to convince yourself?

On the surface the answer to that last question is an obvious yes. Social media is a clear example of us carefully choosing what we want to portray because we want it to be so real: "Look, I'm so happy." "I'm at the beach, what a luxe life I live." "See this music I listen to? This is what I do, I'm such an emotional pioneer..."  (Don't worry, I post these things too)

But, I'll give you a more real and pertinent example. 

For the longest time I hated talking about deeper, emotional topics with people. I hated being a part of or even witnessing overly beautiful or sad moments.... unless I was completely alone. And when I witnessed those moments alone I would cry my eyes out. I just couldn't help it. But if I was around people, my face would get so flushed and my head would hurt from the pressure of forcing myself not to get sucked in to the moment. I would try to think and imagine any other place, object, or moment, not letting myself be present. And all the while, even in places like a church small group where people would spill their guts and cry, I would say "I'm just not a cryer." Sometimes it wasn't even out loud, but in my OWN HEAD. 

Who was I trying to fool?

Well, as you can imagine, because it took so much work to resist, it was a big fat lie. It was a big fat lie to myself more than anyone else. I'm a total cryer. On the scale of 1-10, one being sad ten being joyous, if I don't stay at a straight-up 5, it makes me want to cry. But why does that even matter? Because I was denying myself a piece of my true self. And in that, I was taking God's own beautiful creation and distorting it. I was trying to make that lie a piece of me, but that's not what He made. I am me and you are you for a reason. I learned during a huge period of growth that denying things about my true self only allowed me to keep bigger lies and bigger secrets (which only kept me further from God). When I started owning up to who I was actually made to be, not who I wanted people to see me as, I also started owning up to the secrets that were the most deep and destructive. It took me 27 years to admit I'm a cryer. Being real doesn't have to be immediate, but you need to work toward it. It's true, what they say. You're as sick as your secrets...

So how do you know you're trying to fool yourself? How can you be real with yourself? If you have a hard time with something, if you feel yourself resisting something, if you feel that pang of fear about something, recognize it. Acknowledge it. Explore what's behind that fear. The fear itself isn't the issue; fear is just the resulting emotion. I realized that behind my fear of crying in front of others, I was really resisting being vulnerable and open with people. Praise the Lord I've uncovered that, and here I am writing about it, in hope that we can all be a little more real. That's what we really want, right? For people to "just be real"? 

We are fearfully and wonderfully made. Let's stop fooling ourselves into becoming something NOT wonderfully, fearfully, and perfectly made! Who are you trying to fool?

- J

 

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My Oklahoma State Response to Westboro Baptist Church

 
 

On Oct 24 a terrible tragedy happened to my "extended" family at Oklahoma State University. Everyone knows the story by now. Many have mourned. Many are still mourning. My very own best friend escaped the crash by the grace of God and is still wrestling with emotions and thoughts she can't explain. Sometimes it's hard to keep the faith. Where was God in all this? What was His purpose? Or how do accidents and tragedies fit in His purpose? Some of those questions are hard to answer, because it's part of a bigger picture we can't comprehend. We don't have the knowledge or perspective in order to understand. In the meantime, that's what community is for: to support, to speak truth when nothing makes sense, to love. That's what Oklahoma State has done so far, among many others, including our in-state "rivalry" Oklahoma University. (Way to go guys!) We thank everyone for the prayers and support.

I don't have all the answers, but I'd like to continue the overwhelming support for my OSU family by completely slaying the misguided theology and tactics of Westboro Baptist Church. Their insensitive tweets on Saturday were enough to make me want to write this, but then I heard they were going to picket the victims. They have the freedom to do what they will, but I think today it's time for a bible lesson straight from an OSU alum. Ready to study-up, Westboro? Here are the verses you SHOULD be referencing... 

  1. Romans 12:15 "Rejoice with those who rejoice. Mourn with those who mourn." (The entirety of Romans 12 is applicable actually.)
  2. Ephesians 4:31 "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with malice."
  3. Ephesians 4:29 "Let no corrupt talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear."
  4. James 4:11-12 "Do not speak evil against one another....But who are you to judge your neighbor?"
  5. James 1:26 "If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person's religion is worthless."
  6. Colossians 3:8 "But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth."
  7. Luke 6:31 "Treat others the same way you want them to treat you."
  8. Luke 23:34 "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they do." 
    • *I forgive you, Westboro*

Not that we need any more evidence, but one of my favorite things about Jesus is He often got most passionate when confronting religious leaders about their hypocrisy. He wasn't passionately confronting men or women about their sexual orientation or experiences. He wasn't passionately confronting addicts or thieves. But He did passionately confront those who did not practice what they made a living of preaching. So because you consider yourself religious leaders, being a "church," you may also want to reference Matthew 23 *Jesus gets passionate about hypocrites*, and John 8 *Jesus shows religious leaders they should not condemn others, no matter their circumstances*. 

At all times we should strive to exhibit Faith Hope and Love, and "the greatest of these is love." That's what the Oklahoma State family does. That's what true Christian family does. (1 Cor. 13) 

Because your church is so keen on being "honest" I'm here to tell you, with love and truth, that you have a very warped view of Christianity.

You will never, ever, change someone's heart by telling them they are hated. You will never, ever, show them who the real Jesus is by calling them derogatory names. You will never, ever, be effective in your communication if you harass others, especially when they are in mourning.

 

There are so many more verses and so many good people that are the example of what you should be spending your time on instead of picketing or using social media to hate others. But I can promise you one thing, if you choose to picket any victims of the Oklahoma State incident including the students themselves, my families will be there. We will gladly show you what true love looks like. That's Oklahoma State. That's real Christianity.

 - J Fleming

Founder Three to Abandon, Christ lover, Christ Follower, Proud and Thankful Oklahoma State Alumna