We Are One

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:26-28)

 

There’s a lot going on in the world right now. Presidential elections, threats of war, blatant and pervasive misogyny, racism, and xenophobia. At the heart of it is all is the fundamental misunderstanding that we are all different breeds when we all share the same bloodline.

A month ago I returned to the states from a two week trip to Kenya. My heart has been heavy with grief in the time since my return. I am mourning the loss of humanity that plagues our country.

When people are run down on the street for opposing points of view or shot because of the color of their skin, there is a disease that infiltrates the minds of the “greatest nation.” We believe that we are irreconcilably different, that there is no salve to the pain that we feel. No solution to the fear. It is fear that drives us to kill our brothers and fear that divides families.

We fear the conservatives and we fear liberals alike. We argue over semantics and fight over legal trapezes, while African American teenagers are shot in broad daylight because they looked “suspicious” for their skin color or bomb threats sweep through our campuses as students try to make their voices heard. The loudest sound is violence.

It is normal to see a murder when scrolling your newsfeed, common place to see black bodies slain on the television, even more common to make terse jokes about racism and hide behind a veil of ignorance that says if it’s a joke it doesn’t matter. But it does matter. Because segregation is segregation no matter how you slice it.

I will never understand the plight of African Americans on a personal level, and I will never be ignorant to believe that I could share in the pain of isolation — centuries of fighting simply to be recognized as human, targeted because more pigment somehow equates to a more violent person in the minds of the xenophobic – but I cannot stand by while our brothers and sisters are slain in the street because of misunderstandings of God’s design for humanity.

God designed us to be one.

Not one up, not one better, not one less – but one.

How good and pleasant is it when God’s people live together in unity! (Psalm 133:1)

For the past year my heart has mourned in tenfold what I have felt my whole life.

I cannot understand how we could ever justify a system that places any percentage of God’s creation above the next when each of us is fully known and created by a God who created culture. I have been stunned by our lack of response to the violence in our world within the church. We cannot continue to fear what we do not understand.

I wish I had some sort of extensive thesis, or extremely persuasive argument to make you believe it, but the truth is, no one will ever believe in equality until there is a radical transformation of the heart.

This has become increasingly clear to me as I have been processing my time in East Africa. The world is a small place. We say that a lot, but we often don’t understand what it means. But, like I wrote last week, we are all connected, we are all one – and therefore, it doesn’t matter if there is 12,000 miles or 12 miles between us, we need to be fighting for the humanity that we have forgotten. We need to be fighting to understand, to learn, to know the plight of our brothers and sisters from every background.20414154_10213976682917662_5065182618558825172_o

On the night we said goodbye to our new friends in Kenya I wept the entire time. Fat, warm tears that coated my cheeks until they were sticky with red dirt. I hugged all of the babies at the orphanage close, kissed all their heads, told them I loved them and wept because I had to leave them.

I made my way over to my friend who worked at the orphanage, and looked him in the eyes.

“Why are you crying, sister?” He asked.

“Because I am sad to leave,” I said.

He smiled at me and I cried harder.

“Get strong sister,” he said, “get strong so you can come back.” He traced a line down his forearm, along the vein, “this blood is the same as yours. We are one. Go back to America and tell them we are one. Get strong sister.”

And of course, I cried harder.

Throughout my time in Kenya the Spirit had been pressing one thing on my heart: the unity of God’s creation. No matter if we are across the world or in the house next door, we are one. We were all designed to be one. We were all designed to love one another as a unit.

So in response, I would like to offer the cry of my heart these past weeks (and months, and years):

To everyone who feels overlooked and forgotten: I see you. To those of you who feel like your voice isn’t being heard: I hear you. To those of you who feel small and insignificant: you are known, and you are deeply loved. We have the same blood, no matter the color of your skin, no matter where you come from – you are so loved. I am sorry for the ways that you have been hurt and I am sorry for how complacent we have all become. I know that I cannot understand what you have been through, the obstacles that you have had to face for reasons that are inhumane at best, but I want to listen. I want to fight for you and I am fighting for you.

It can be hard to see the light in the midst of darkness, but I have faith that there is something bigger than the turmoil of our world and the corruption of our society, because no matter how many corrupt politicians or evil leaders come into power none of them can be credited with the creation of the world.

So let’s love one another, and let’s serve one another well. That’s what we were created to do. Before the color of our skin, our gender, our abilities, our socioeconomic status we are a family. So let’s fight for each other as the brothers and sisters that we are.

“Be completely humble and gentle, be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:2-3)

Until next time, wonder on.

 

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Always Joyful

I do this thing when I’m panicked where I let out bursts of breathy exclamations of horror. A guttural sort of grunt that somehow embodies the whole of my angst. Sometimes I open the front door of my house, proceed to the kitchen, greet my roommate and then we scream together — because we’re arts majors and theres a lot to be angsty about in the world. Other times I just repeat the phrase “I’m panicking” over and over at increasing volume. Recently I’ve been expressing both of these tendencies at a more frequent rate. *Feel free to interject said coping mechanisms wherever fitting whilst reading the following*

Today is Wednesday. It is the second week of my last semester at WSU. Three years has flown by. I know that everyone says that — “watch out, you’ll be surprised how fast it goes” and then you respond with a snarky comment about how you wish it was quicker and you roll your eyes because they don’t know what they’re talking about.  Continue reading “Always Joyful”

AJ Bares All

If I was going to most accurately name this post I would probably call it: WTF Just Happened: The Blog Post I’ve Avoided for a Year. But I thought that might be a little offensive, so we’ll just include the title here.

At the beginning of my junior year of college I hated men, feared the world, and felt more alone than I have in my entire life. Continue reading “AJ Bares All”

Spring Break in Tijuana: Three Lessons I Learned

Two weeks ago I was in Tijuana serving alongside nineteen other twenty-something-year-olds. And to be honest, it wrecked me.

Back in the Fall I was asked by my church to accompany our Spring Break missions team to Tijuana as the videographer. I’m lucky to have a few friends on staff who know my heart for Latin America and were pushing for me to go on this trip specifically, but because I was going to do a “job” (or at least in my head that’s what I thought), I didn’t think much about it until we arrived.

We stayed in Mexico for five days (a nice balance since it was a total of five days driving across the country there and back) to serve the team at Centro Shalom. I knew no one on my team — with the exception of acquaintances I had formed through mutual friends — and to be honest, my heart was postured pretty poorly going in. I believed that my week would be spent in the background glorifying a mission without playing a real role in the work itself. I was wrong.

Here are things that I am reflecting on after spending a week on mission in Tijuana. Continue reading “Spring Break in Tijuana: Three Lessons I Learned”

Why I’m Wearing a Dress Every Day of December

If you’re living in the Palouse you may have seen me strutting around in a black dress these past six days. The same one. It’s a black sweater dress with nothing really significant about it, except the thick fabric I picked to brave endless cycles in the washing machine and the cold weather of December in the east of Washington state.

It’s been cold here, today the sky spit bits of snow that stuck for barely a moment before fading into the damp grass again, but we’re lucky to have maintained warm enough temperatures that the white dandruff doesn’t have the stamina to stick around. Something I’ve been particularly grateful for considering that my litany of allergies includes an intolerance to the cold that turns me into one massive walking welt-factory in freezing temperatures. A hindrance that is not particularly welcome during a season in which I have pledged to wear a dress throughout the entirety of December. So why subject myself to such torturous behavior?

The simple answer is that wearing a dress in the dead of winter raises eyebrows, and those raised eyebrows lead to conversations, and conversations breed opportunities to talk about advocacy, and advocacy is the avenue by which we must be approaching the victims of the systemically thriving business of slavery in the modern world. Continue reading “Why I’m Wearing a Dress Every Day of December”

A Letter to my Dad on the 13th Anniversary of His Death

Dear Dad,

Every year I wait for the sting to be a little less potent, but despite the well-wishes of others, it never gets easier. Every year that passes without you I lose more of you.

I forgot a long time ago what your voice sounds like, it wasn’t until last year when I found home movies that I heard you again, and I cried for hours because Eli sounds just like you. If I’m honest, sometimes when I see Eli I panic, because something in my heart still thinks that you’re going to walk through my front door someday and prove this is some sort  of elongated nightmare.

I think that I am more angry than anything else. I often look at the hand I’ve been dealt with so much disdain that it cripples me. I wonder why in twenty years I’ve lived more life than some fifty year olds, and more often than not this leads me to bitterness instead of empathy.

Continue reading “A Letter to my Dad on the 13th Anniversary of His Death”

Europe, It’s Been a Month.

I am currently positioned in the middle seat of a full airplane on its way to Washington, trying desperately not to jam an elbow into the ribs of my seat-mates as I transcribe this… so here’s to three hour flights (aka unadulterated writing time), too small public transport seats, and bladders the size of peanuts (see my future memoir for the time that I flashed an unsuspecting business man trying to muscle my way to the back of the plane – on a Washington-Arizona flight nonetheless; also that pun was somewhat intended…)

It has been just over a month since I came back from England and my heart hasn’t stopped aching since. There is something inside me that can’t let it go, even as I write this my computer window gives way to a sunset picture of King’s College on my desktop. Studying at the University of Cambridge was a literal dream come true, and besides the fact that it makes me feel like a badass because I can say that I studied at one of the WORLD’S premiere universities and survived, it was so much more than the academics that have left my heart yearning for the unimposing university. *insert wink emoji*

I was wholly unprepared for what I would experience during my time in Europe, and I am completely and utterly beyond grateful that I made the decision to be there. I cannot imagine a better, more life-giving and life-changing way to have spent the summer, my time at Cambridge was the hardest and greatest months of my life. I think that’s why I am still staring at pictures of formal dinners and thinking about rainy summer days on the daily.

And now that its been a few weeks, I think I’m ready to try to articulate the ways that living in England this summer has changed my life and the things that I have learned.  Continue reading “Europe, It’s Been a Month.”

Nuremberg, Germany

The Freibott family roots drink from the same river the city of Nuremberg was borne of.

A city whose history stretches back through centuries, founded around the 1040 building of the castle of the duke of Bavaria, King Henry III. The settlement became a Bavarian city and saw the flourishing of arts, a thriving educational status, a blooming industrial commerce, and the rise and fall of the Nazi Party. During World War II the city saw Nazi rallies and trials, the bombing of the city, and the Allied trials of the Nazis. Since the war-torn state of the 1930s the city has rebuilt itself and its reputation and is now a beautiful Bavarian city in the southern part of Germany, allowing its history to direct its empathy and its contemporary status as the second largest Bavarian city.  Continue reading “Nuremberg, Germany”

Isle of Wight, U.K.

A few weeks ago I had a magical weekend, and I’ve finally got a spare second to reflect.

After a full week of classes in Cambridge, my friends and I took off for the Isle of Wight, an Island “forgotten by time,” as they say. A place of retreat into natural beauty and the sights and sounds of what I have always imagined to be the quintessential English town, all by the sea.

I was first made aware of the Isle of Wight by one of my professors from my home university who grew up on the island. She mentioned that I had to make a trip down while I was in England and after a little research and some help we figured out how to make the trek. I gathered a few friends from my program here and we were off. We left from London in the morning to arrive in the historic town of Portsmouth for a Ferry to Ryde.

From the moment that you arrive, it is a picturesque affair.
Continue reading “Isle of Wight, U.K.”

London, England

Remember a few months ago when I visited New York and basically thought it was the greatest place on the entire planet?

New York was a special place for me because it was messy and full to the brim of people. I love the idea of a city bustling with thousands of faces – of stories – from every corner of the world; and that’s exactly what London is: a city with millions of people everywhere.

One night, I stood at the corner of what had to have been an eight-way intersection and laughed like a madman because I was in extrovert’s paradise. Continue reading “London, England”