Sunday, July 2, 2017

Home

Just over 3 months ago, I moved into my first apartment in Toronto with my friend Elizabeth Carlson.

And a few days ago, one of my favorite friends Courtney Molyneaux came for a visit and took some photos of us at home.











Tuesday, May 2, 2017

I long to be

I am writing a few days before I turn a year older, in my new apartment, while it is cold and rainy outside. It is May.

I've been meaning to put into words the past few months of my life, but when you find yourself in a cloud and you yourself can't even comprehend where you are, words are scattered and few.

I believe growth is essential. I believe change is what allows for growth, and so, is essential, too.
But I fear change. I fear what is not familiar, what is not comfortable; I fear the taking-away.

A month ago, I moved out to settle into my first apartment. I'm now away from the suburbs: a place that had become a strange familiarity and a quirky source of inspiration. This is a new layer to the woman I am becoming, a new lesson into the human I am growing to be. Inevitable.
Although, I thought that by now, I'd maybe be given the human handbook or know the rules to being an adult. But somehow, I feel I am still improvising. And probably always will be. And I've made the shocking adult realization that most of us are and always will be, too.

I am not only learning to be independent in my own home, but I am also about to learn to be independent in a country. In a week's time, my parents and my brother are moving out, too, and starting a new chapter of their own in the sunny state of California. I suppose the best way to learn how to fly is to jump into the void.

I fear change, I fear what is not familiar and not comfortable; I fear the taking-away.
But when I look fear in the eyes, it becomes no more.
So, I will look you in the eyes, fear. I will feel you fully, and I will let you go. As you don't belong to me.
I am then left with an odd feeling of excitement and hope for growth, and for what is to become. I'm excited for my parents and for my brother. I'm excited for my time here, however long that may be. To grow and build and overcome.

Because I've come to understand that you have to let winter come and be for spring to fully be, too. The old needs to die in order for the new to grow.
What is familiar needs to be shaken and sometimes taken away for life to truly take shape.

And I long so deeply to know what it is to be alive, in the midst of the uncomfortable, in the midst of what I do not know, in the midst of fear.


Sunday, January 29, 2017

American Dream



My heart is heavy.

My heart is heavy and embarrassed and so sorry.

As the people who have grown up with me know, I am a Christian - formally defined as someone who follows Christ, or Jesus. I am also White. And in the last few years, I have come to realize what this represents (at many times ashamedly) and have opened my eyes to the reality of what this associates me to historically and politically: a mindset of superiority. And privilege. So much privilege.
I'm sorry it took me so long to see it.

I was born in Switzerland, a very small country in Europe. It is a country of many wonders and beauty, but also of great division, especially between the Swiss-born and immigrants.
I was young and I didn't fully understand. I believed what I'd hear and only saw what I was told to see.
I was surrounded by a repeating song.
Someone doesn't belong, and it isn't me,
it would sing.

When I was 4, my family took us to the United States for the first time.
I was still young and I still didn't fully understand.
But there was a sense of hope, of longing for better. And a lot of pride. Even as an outsider.
The American Dream.

When I was 7, we officially immigrated to America.

Someone doesn't belong, and it isn't me,
I'd still hear.

It took my sister and I about a year to learn English.
On the first day of school, I didn't know what the national anthem was or the pledge of allegiance. I don't know what the teacher said to me, but I remember she was upset because I wasn't standing.
We switched schools after that.

It didn't take long for me to see how important America was to a lot of Americans.
It was a bold lifestyle. And loud. And addictive.
This is where I experienced church. I went to church every Sunday.
It was part of our American Dream. We were surrounded by more Christians than we were in Switzerland, and this made us feel like we belonged.

We were surrounded by people who looked like us, who were bold and loud about it. And it was comfortable. We were immigrants, but we were White Christian immigrants.

We had found comfort in beliefs that suited our lifestyle,
we had given God a face and named him "White".

I began to talk to God alone.
I began to ask him more and more questions.
And the repeating song in my head telling me I wasn't the outcast started to change.
"What makes you better? What makes you more important? Your heart is just as messy."
I began to hear.
I became close to the God I asked questions to alone. And became conflicted with the God I'd hear about at church. Because, sometimes, it wouldn't match.

In 2006, we moved to Canada.
And I became more involved with church.
I was given handbooks and teachings that made Christianity appear very black and white.
I still had many questions, but I had new rules and guidelines this time. This was supposed to make being human easier. Or so it seemed.
I also became friends with people of different faiths and beliefs and orientations. I became friends with Muslims and atheists and gays.
And my mind was fighting the need to be right with "What makes you better?"
I had more and more challenging (but important) conversations with friends I didn't agree with. Sometimes they inspired me to change my mind. Other times they simply opened my eyes.

And it started to sink in: I wasn't better and I wasn't more right.
The Love I grew to know was unconditional, and it meant just that.
Grace could never be defined by the human mind.
Handbooks didn't make being human easier.
Countries don't determine whether you belong somewhere or not. And the color of your skin doesn't determine your value.
Jesus was a brown man, a refugee, and hated by politicians. (I had always seen Jesus portrayed in plays or films by a White man.)
And he preferred the company of outcasts.

I woke up from a dream not long ago where I had written the line "I follow God, not Christians" in my journal. Like a reminder of what should always be.

And so, I am a Christian, a follower of Jesus. And I am with the outcasts. I stand for the silenced, the hurting, and the weary. As Jesus did. I will fail often, and I will be wrong at times, too. But I will chase after truth, asking as many questions as I can. I will not be silent. I don't want to mask my fears with pride and a false sense of superiority. Instead, I want to take comfort in a Love I cannot fully understand that I don't deserve, but who wants me anyway. And speak with it. Act in it. Breathe and reflect it.
And if you are a Christian, too, I ask you to challenge your thoughts. To renew [give fresh life to; replace] your mind. Ask as many questions as you can. And chase truth. Don't settle with the easy and the comfortable. Spend time with those different than you. If your thoughts are different than mine and you wish to share them with me, I ask that you don't hide behind a comment. But instead, I invite you to have tea with me. Physically. Or over Skype. And we can dialogue.

In this time of heaviness, confusion, and pain, I send you light, hope, and love.