Wednesday, February 08, 2017

"Nevertheless She Persisted"

Our national government is a mess.
A disaster. One fiasco after the other.
Alternative facts. Just making stuff up as they go along.
Executive orders. Executive disorder. Horrific.
And no one can convince me otherwise.
Some said, "Wait and see. Don't judge him before he gets to the White House.
Give him a chance. Your fear means you have attributed too much power to one man."
Now we have waited and seen. And what we see is ridiculous.
Outrageous. Deeply disturbing.
On every level.

Yesterday, a senator was silenced in the chamber.
Silenced by a rule that says one senator cannot criticize or insult or badmouth another.
A woman silenced by a man. For speaking against a man who has shown himself to be untrustworthy around issues of race and equality and justice.
He can say whatever he wants to say, but she cannot.
He can make life difficult for black voters in the south,
but she cannot speak about what has been said about him.

But in his silencing of Elizabeth Warren, Mitch McConnell gave a whole lot of women a new mantra.
A rallying cry. A goal that we are now gonna work towards.
If my sources are correct, this is what he said:

"She was warned.
She was given an explanation.
Nevertheless she persisted."

I have read that some women are now feeling motivated by his words to live in such a way that those words are on their tombstones. Some have said that we should have tee shirts made that say: "Nevertheless she persisted." (Apparently that is already happening!)

After being cut off by Mitch, Elizabeth Warren stepped out of the Senate chamber and read the Coretta Scott King letter she was prevented from reading. That video has gone viral and has launched a wave of reactions that Mitch would never have had to deal with if he had just let her read the letter in the chamber. I sure hope he regrets that decision now.

How many times in your life have you been warned, been given an explanation?
How many times have warnings and explanations stopped you from pursuing what you wanted, dreamed, and hoped for?
How many times have the warnings and explanations prompted you to persist?

When I was a kid, growing up with three older brothers, I was told that there were sports things I shouldn't do and couldn't do. Play two hand touch football. Play basketball. Play catch. Play hide and seek. Hang out with boys. I ended up being invited to join the high school track team when I was in seventh grade and kept on running through most of my college career.

She persisted.

When I was in junior high and high school, I heard that most college students gave up their faith practices in college. Who has time for church and faith and prayer when there are track practices to attend and exams to take and papers to be written? I attended the Williamstown Baptist Church all four years of college, attended and served as a leader of the college Intervarsity Christian Fellowship group, and regularly attended campus prayer meetings at 7 am. I confess that I often showed up at church after only a few hours of sleep following late night parties on Saturday nights. I didn't always wake up in my own dorm room on Sunday mornings. But I still went to church - not out of a sense of obligation, but because I loved being there. I loved the people. I loved the sense of community. And I loved the old hymns of the church. So off I went.

She persisted.

A classmate of mine from college made the decision to take Sundays off from studying. She and her then boyfriend, now husband, felt convicted about keeping a sabbath day, taking an entire day off every week. I told her it wouldn't work. I was the one who gave her a warning and an explanation. She proved me wrong. They both proved me wrong. They were outstanding students - even though they didn't do school work on Sunday. They are both college professors now.

She persisted.

People who claimed to know us and love us told me and Steve that our marriage, our interracial marriage wouldn't last. Our children would suffer because of our selfish decision to cross race lines and be joined as husband and wife. At least one of those people chose not to attend our wedding. But here we are, thirty years after our first date, more than twenty five years after our wedding - still together. The same cannot be said about several of our loudest critics way back then.

She persisted.

Even before our children arrived on the scene, we made the decision that I would be a full-time, stay at home mom. When our daughter was three, we made the decision that I would homeschool her. I was told that it wasn't a good idea to homeschool because I couldn't protect them from all the harm and danger and bullies in the world. I was told that they would be introverts and social misfits. I was told that they wouldn't know how to deal with people outside our home. One is a college graduate. The other is in college. One spent sixth grade at a local Christian school, but then decided to come back home and graduate from high school here under our roof. It wasn't easy. There were many, many days when I wished I could put them onto a school bus and watch them head off to be taught by someone else. I wanted to be alone in my house. I wanted to know what it was like to have a martini at lunch time.

She persisted.

Not long after beginning seminary last year, I was informed by someone who was offended by something I said in a class that my opinion was not welcome in the seminary classroom. That for the next four and half years, I needed to keep my personal feelings and convictions to myself. Essentially I needed to just talk about God and the Bible and other non-offensive subjects. I responded that if I was wrong, if I was misinformed, then seminary was the place for my wrongheaded ideas to be corrected. If I was indeed racist and anti-authority, what better place for me to be set straight than in conversation with other seminarians and our professors?

She persisted.

I have a dear friend hard at work trying to bridge the enormous divide between the church where she pastors and a dangerous apartment complex across the street from her church. Gun shots. Drug deals. Frightful residents. Gang members. Much prayer. Much persistence. Much hope.

She persists.

I have a dear friend and family member who is preaching and teaching and writing and raising two children and learning new ways to love and support her husband in spite of all kinds of health challenges and work demands. She is one of the strongest, most determined, hard working, God-loving people I have ever known.

She persists.

Two nieces of mine, beautiful and inspiring sisters, have worked their way through college with their mom's help, support, and love. They are musical. Artistic. Multi-lingual. Smart. Articulate. Did I mention that they are gorgeous too? Even between bouts of anger and sorrow, job searches and apartment searches, they seek reasons to remain hopeful. Another niece was recently married in Virgina. Another has a one-year-old daughter that she and her husband absolutely adore. Two nieces by marriage have gorgeous babies of their own. Such powerful women. Such commitment to mothering and working, writing and running businesses of their own. They inspire me more than they know.

They persist.

We have all been warned.
You can't do this. You shouldn't do this.
No one does this.
There is no way to do this thing that you want to do.

We have all been given explanations.
Because it's too hard.
Because other people won't like it.
Because it's dangerous.
Because women don't do things like this.
Just because...

Nevertheless we persist.
We must persist.
Because if we don't persist, the terrorists win.
If we stop speaking up,
if we stop acting up,
if we stop living the lives we have been called and created to live,
if we allow fear-mongering to silence and sideline us,
if we give in and give up and give over to despair and defeat,
then the terrorists who are taking over our government,
the haters, the thieves, the liars, the silencers,
the racists, the xenophobes, the gangsters in government,
they win.
We cannot let them win.

I refuse to be defeated. I refuse to be silenced.
I refuse to be subject to mansplaining without telling the truth as I know it.

So warn me if you want to.
Give me an explanation if you must.
But know this - nevertheless, I will persist.
Nevertheless, we will persist.


1 comment:

Tricia said...

Before I read your title, my eye caught the #shepersisted at the bottom of your essay.
I read it as 'shepherd assisted' which I instantly loved and am adopting for my own
as we are all truly 'sheper - sisted', right?! Love your blog.

Tricia in Ohio