As my husband and I fumble through this life caring for our family of 7, we have undoubtedly pushed through some difficult financial spells. Although we are in the best place we've ever been, we have hit a rough spot due to some fairly large unforseen's, and some other big expenses. The children can never tell the difference, because what's normative for them, remains. Justin and I, however, go a little hungry. This feels so pretentious even mentioning, because we don't understand true lack. We never go a full day without eating, it's more like cutting back just enough to make the groceries stretch longer, conserving for our children. It's not a gnawing pain, but an ever-present hunger. Even in our "need," our closets are bulging, our corners crammed and compact with yesterday's wants, and the underneath of beds spill with non-essentials.
I only mention these personal details because this is exactly what's compelled me to see how much of an advantage hungering has given me. As the weeks drag on and our finances balance out once again, I realize that to have a stomach that perpetually petitions for food, serves as a gentle reminder of how grateful I should feel for what I DO have, especially when all we usually have to do it pick up some of those (mostly) available hours of labor to compensate for a tough time.
When my stomach churns for sustenance, it pushes me to think of all of those around the globe that have no hope or expectation for nourishment. It gives space to think about how we spend our money and what value of food we're serving our bodies. It also creates a deep place of empathy for those who experience a violent desperation for their basic needs. I've been able to meditate on the truth that when we are a little hungry, it leaves room to seek out things that will nourish us in more lasting ways. Because denying yourself leaves space to look to something greater than ourselves for answers and for provision.
It's counter-cultural to deny ourselves in any way, isn't it?! We have come to believe that the American Dream is more of a position to attain, than an equal opportunity for all. We are a country who has the most, and yet remains the most unfulfilled. Our eagerness to consume, has led us to have the largest trade deficit AND national debt ($40,000 per second) in the world. That's 196 independent countries, and we have the largest amount of "stuff" that we still owe for. Does all of this overconsumption leave us happier? Well, we also have the highest rates of depression, and the most people reliant on pharmaceuticals in the world. I'd say not. We are the most starved, over-fed nation. We dump loads of money on our happiness, when it is simply not something up for purchase. We spent 248 million dollars on Starbucks in 2016 alone, while there are countries begging for aide for their people who are dying of ACTUAL starvation, lack of health services, and poor sanitation. At 248 million dollars a year, I’d say the American Dream is about drowning in our own pursuit of happiness. We are surely acquainted with suffering, but it's not from the deep recesses of hunger and need, but rather, being bloated on the American Dream.
I'm not claiming to be enlightened from an occasional growling stomach, but it sure has urged me to discipline my body with humility and self-denial, so that I don't become another statistic of the over-fed. I'm understanding that my comfort really has nothing to do with what actually matters and fulfills, and that the reality is, physical food only leaves me hungry for more.
I want to be counter-cultural in my efforts to be satisfied. I don't want a bigger appetite for my own desires, but one that enables me to give more deeply, to feed more selflessly, and to be more naturally inclined to deny myself for the sake of others. This is true fulfillment - to give my food to those who are hungrier than I, and feel well-fed because of it.
For my black brothers and sisters: I’m so sorry that with every unjustified bullet, your trust weakens, your heritage bears deeper insult, and your fears heighten. I lay aside my privilege, but it’s still there. I’m sorry for that. I’m sorry that you fear when I don’t. I’m sorry that you are viewed as dangerous when you’re not. My deepest apologies for the degradation of your life, and insinuations that I will never personally have to bear, at least not in regard to the color of my skin. Please forgive. Please keep going. Please keep hoping.
For my white brothers and sisters: There seems to be an overwhelming consensus that we are offended with the slogan of the Black Lives Matter Movement. Upon my first hearing this phrase, I pondered “Doesn’t this just keep the rift/separation between people groups going?!” My conclusion came after much meditating and thought on the matter. For one, our people have never been unilaterally held against our will, bought or sold, or had our rights considered under property laws. PROPERTY laws. So we can never know how that feels. Logically perhaps, but never emotively.
Of course these crazy laws were abolished, but the same mindsets still exist in the undercurrents of society. There are statistically higher incarcerations, false identifications, police brutality and overuse of force within the African-American community. We need to acknowledge the judiciary and social disparities that truly exist, and to be able to demand justice. I believe a huge step in that direction, is to acknowledge the injustice.
It might seem silly, or like we’re playing semantics for us white folks, but for the black community, it is healing to lift up our collective voices and say “Yes, black lives DO matter!” They want acknowledgement of wrongdoing, like anyone would in the same situation. So I don’t see the terminology as divisive AT ALL. I see it as an extension of our hands to their losses and grief, and also the offering of our own brotherhood. All lives DO matter, the problem is, the black community doesn’t feel it. So please be sensitive. Please don't make this about you. Please just listen.
For all of us, AS brothers and sisters: Let's be delicate with one another's struggles.
Let us challenge ourselves to look within for stereotypes and lies that we may believe. Let's begin stirring a dialogue over these heavy and difficult issues. Let's pour our misunderstandings at each others feet so that we can embrace understanding, change and empathy. Let's work hard at being sensitive with our words, and when our naivety and ignorance DO slip through, let's have grace. We can do this. We CAN do this. I will be the first to commit. Are you with me?
For our shortcomings and weakness.
For perverted thinking and mental regress.
Blaming miniskirts and cleavage,
Her innuendo for my carnage.
Sure I bit the apple, but didn't' Eve bite it first?
She made me.
Ripe bosom spilling from ironed denim.
My mind in tantra, her form feminine.
My fingers, her curves.
She flirted, denied me...the nerve.
To take back a subtle promise,
Made not with rouge lips,
but the promiscuity in her hips.
Her error, not mine.
She bit, I was blind.
Incapable of controlling impulse
So she should pay the recourse.
Cover up, don't look to sexy.
Wear less makeup, don't be bitchy.
I brag about my muscle,
But how strong are you really if you take without asking?
Because you couldn't help it?
It was right because you felt it?
Being strong's not making fists and having scars.
It's showing tenderness.
Looking onward with compassion,
Covering others and owning your actions.
Heeding the "no's" and fashioning safety.
Admitting you bit the apple from your own hunger,
and the allure of it looking tasty.