This has been the summer I fully embraced the community of my church family. The one where I attend services and the one that has connected me with some life-long friends and acquaintances. It has been a summer of gathering together socially and spiritually. Mostly, it has been the best time I have had in years and I am beyond grateful.
Please forgive me if my language is clumsy or inadequate. I am a work in progress and happily take your suggestions on how to improve.
I grew up in a military environment that was pretty well integrated. My best friends as a kid were African American and Jewish. I learned the best parts of their heritage and was shielded from the bias against them. As a teen, two of my best friends were of Asian descent. I never saw any hate directed toward them, or if there was any, they didn’t tell me. I dated people from many backgrounds and races, yet my parents made it clear that these were unacceptable long-term relationships. I was raised in the Roman Catholic faith and because my dad’s best friends were Jewish, we learned to respect their faith. In spite of all that, there were still derogatory terms used by adults around me: the N-word, the f-g word, the S-word (you get the gist) that was perfectly acceptable to them. There was an undertone that as alike as we were, we were still superior in some way because we were white and Catholic/Christian.
These are concepts that are hard for me to reconcile today. How could I grow up with such welcomed diversity and acceptance and yet still a sense that I was “better than” because of my skin color or faith? How could I have been so blind to the prejudice and hate my friends likely experienced on a regular basis? I have had to search my heart and soul to ask when I have, even in some small way, passed on that negative heritage to my daughter. How have I taken the subtle superiority of my parent’s generation and filtered relationships- personal and professional- through that negative lens?
As someone who believes we are ALL created in the image of God, we are all loved by him and we all have value and worth in his eyes; how do I reconcile those derogatory tapes in my past against the backdrop that my own family today includes Asians, African-Americans, LGBTQ+ people whom I dearly love? How do I do a better job of loving and caring for people who are not like me?
I start with asking forgiveness for my naivety and ignorance. I ask the Lord to break the chains to any past behaviors and thought patterns. I start the conversation with friends and family and seek to learn more about walking in their shoes. And I walk more closely with them.
I have to be responsible for taking off my blinders and my disbelief that prejudice and hate exist. I need be more deliberate in standing for my friends and family- asking them how best to do that. It isn’t about what I think they need and want- it is about asking them what I can do and standing with them. That’s how we break our own bias and preconceived notions. I will seek to be more informed and more engaged and more respectful of others.
Lord, forgive me when I have closed my eyes to the inequality toward your people. Forgive me for my own pride and superior attitude. Lord, open my eyes and ears and use me as an instrument of your change. Father, guide our nation to be welcoming and change our hearts to see each other as valuable, regardless of color, culture, religion, or life-style. Start with me father.
Photo: Getty images
My life today is nothing compared to what it was even five years ago, let alone 30 years ago when I began my Christian journey. God planted a seed of change; however, it took almost 20 years to stop living according to my rules and listen to his desires for me.
I am one of those people who isn’t afraid to ask the tough question. I love to get people thinking about opposing viewpoints or scenarios. When these are thoughtful civil discussions, we can begin to see that the alternative perspective has merit. We can begin to incorporate those perspectives into our own and realize a change in ourselves.
I’ve been reading a lot more during this time home alone. Mostly I have been reading about the way God can completely change who we are, if we are willing to open that door. I know he has changed my heart, my thinking, and my desires in many unexpected ways. I know God has forgiven me in ways people never have. I know I have found peace in that forgiveness and a greater willingness to offer that same mercy and grace to others. It all started with God moving in my life when I opened myself to his ways over my ways.
Do we dare to search?
Do we dare to seek?
Will we break the bond?
Will they understand?
Does it matter?
Shine the light.
Lead the way.
Follow the path.
Where the light shines.
Copyright Maggie Marcum
Dying drying trees
Brown and lifeless
Waiting for new life?
Branching off, crisscrossing,
Intersecting each other
Giving way to
Solid trees, grown upright,
Branches reaching upward
Unity in growth
Brown transformed to green
Growing, dying, rebirthing
All reaching up
All branching out
All rooted in hope
Watered in love
Growing through faith.
A dear friend keeps reminding me of that adage that says people will make time to do what they want to do and will spend money on what is most important to them. It has been eating at me for days because I thought that I was not in sync with what I believe I have been hearing from God.
I love to write. I love writing this blog.
I love encouraging people, espcially people in recovery or searching for healing.
I love my church and the women I have come to know in the wider Christian community.
I love ice hockey and I love writing for our hockey blog, Friends in Cold Places, and I love the Washington Capitals and the hockey community.
And I have struggled trying to balance it all in the course of a day or the week.
I am coming to realize that God opens doors that I don’t expect and I need to keep walking through them even if I don’t understand what is happening. God may send me in a different direction as I walk along the pathway of life
I have a wonderful opportunity to write and I need to find the right balance for my writing passions. God is introducing me to people and community opportunities I never imagined I would be a part of a year ago. God is helping me to find the sweet spot in my life in ways I never expected.
Sometimes we need to remember that God’s vision can be a whole lot bigger than we can imagine. As my life has become busy again, I cut out the one thing I should never have cut out of my schedule–my time with God. And once I realized that and became open to his will, I also found that extra hour because God has woke me up earlier than my alarm. Funny how once I found myself back in a routine of spending time with God everything fell into place.
I encourage you to seek out your passion(s) and to trust the Lord to lead you to open doors and the perfect way to use your time.
You will know that God’s power is very great for us who believe. Ephesians 1:19
I have been away for a while. My life journey has taken me to places I never planned to go and as I start the New Year, I wonder how many of you have found yourself where you never imagined. Maybe you didn’t accomplish everything you thought you would in 2015. Maybe your life circumstances changed and turned your world on its head. Or maybe things went in an unexpected positive direction and you are still amazed by the blessing in your life.
I’m a huge hockey fan. It is a love I share with my daughter and many of our friends. We have even been known to convert people to hockey by sharing our love of the game with them. Anyone who knows us, even briefly, knows we are Washington Capitals and LA Kings hockey fans. I have a wall in my home dedicated to hockey memorabilia. I have hockey stickers on my car. I proudly “rock the red” with shirts, scarves, and jackets. I am bold about my team and happy to tell you about our community and why we follow hockey.
Funny thing is, I’m not sure that everyone I meet knows right off the bat that I am a follower of Jesus Christ and a Christian. I don’t know if I am always willing to risk that recognition in public. I don’t know that I am as willing to talk about Jesus as I am to talk about hockey.
When it comes to hockey, I love the excitement. I love the speed of the game and the powerful hitting and fighting that takes place on the ice. I love that these men are willing to bang up their bodies and risk head injuries for my enjoyment. They do what they do at the risk of concussions and torn ligaments:
A concussion is a type of brain injury that is caused by a bump or blow not only to the head, but anywhere else that causes the head to jolt in a harsh manner. The main symptoms of a concussion include headaches, loss of memory, and general confusion. Some of the worst symptoms include seizures as well as constant dizziness. Unfortunately, the style of play in hockey means that concussions are pretty common.
Players get out there time and again and offer so much of themselves for the benefit of others. They don’t think twice about the sacrifice or the long-term effects of what they do, they just do it. And there have been repercussions. For example, Dennis Vaske was playing for The New York Islanders when his career was interrupted by a concussion. In a game against The Los Angeles Kings in 1995 Vaske was on the receiving end of a nasty hit that sent him face first into the boards. Three other players with the Flyers had their careers ended by concussions: Eric Lindros, Keith Primeau, and Chris Pronger. Eric Lindros career ended after a shoulder to head hit in the 2000 Stanley Cup Finals. Keith Primeau’s career ending concussion was caused by an elbow to the head in 2006. Finally, Chris Pronger was concussed in 2011 after taking a stick to the right eye.
And we cheer on the sidelines for these rough and tough players as they get up and do it all again. As I think about this great game and the risks players are willing to take to their health in the name of a sport, I’m left wondering what risk I am willing to take in the name of Jesus that might yield a lasting result. What am I willing to do to bring lasting joy and healing to someone else? What risk am I willing to take to show my love of Christ with the same passion I show for my love of hockey? Am I willing to take the hard hits and get back up to share another day?
Hockey can be a brutal game and so can sharing the Gospel. We may have to dodge a few pucks shot our way as we defend our faith. We may run the risk of being knocked down to boldly step forward into the other zone. Our heads will likely be spinning some days as we launch into new territory. We may even loose the life we planned as God opens new doors to us. We may suffer a few bumps along the way; however, the end result might just be winning the game, in his name.
Be bold. Step forward. Put on your protective gear and don’t worry about what might happen. Know that you are protected and that even when the fight seems impossible, there will always be another chance at the goal. And remember that the angels are cheering you on.
Written with contribution and photos by Brittney Marcum (@NewViewOfYouPhotography )