It was early 2011, and I’d accidentally become a consultant. I’d just come through security at the Milwaukee airport, and I was attempting to shove my computer back in my bag while simultaneously juggling sundry pieces of attire (shoes, belt, jacket). Cursing under my breath, I dumped everything onto a metal bench so I could get myself back together. As I laced up my shoes, I looked up to see which hallway would take me to my gate, and my eyes rested on a sign that read, gloriously, Recombobulation Area. I barked out a flustered, exhausted laugh, snapped a quick (and therefore blurry) photo, and went on my way.

I’m thinking about driving up to Milwaukee to sit under that sign for a couple of days.

You see, every once in awhile, I feel a Big Sad sneaking up behind me. I try to trick it into leaving; I dazzle it with my everything’s-okay smile, I laugh in its face, I burrow under three or four blankets on the couch, hoping it’ll think I’ve left the room. But eventually, it catches up with me. And then it says mean things:

  • You’re too old to do what you want.
  • You’re incredibly annoying and no one really likes you.
  • You’ll never find your people.
  • You’ve been eating cookies again, haven’t you? It shows.
  • Your kids are successful in spite of you, not because of you.
  • Your husband is secretly disappointed in you and bitter about your inability to pick a career and, you know, do that career for more than three or four years at a time.
  • Your friends are all together today–without you.
  • You say you’re an advocate for marginalized populations, but when was the last time you actually did something?
  • You have nothing useful, insightful, or important to say.
  • You’re a fake.

These mean things, which on a good day I recognize as lies (or at least exaggerations), do a great job of completely discombobulating me. I drop all the balls I’ve been trying to juggle, and, instead of spending time in fruitful activities like exercising or writing or cleaning the house, I get caught up in largely pointless activities–like reading through page after page of Facebook posts that only serve to discombobulate me further. Which is why, on Tuesday night, I decided to break up with Facebook for “a while.”

Do you have any idea how difficult it is to do that? 

In the last 36 hours, I’ve snuck back on Facebook a couple of a handful of several times (I’m such a disappointment)—but only to make sure no one’s posted something on my wall that requires an immediate response. Which hasn’t actually been helpful, because some people have posted things, and I can’t respond because I was dumb enough to put up a gone-fishing type update, so I can’t be caught online, so I’m feeling doubly bad because now I know people posted things and I’m ignoring them. (Wouldn’t you like to live in my head for a little while?)

ANYWAY. Here’s what I’ve learned in my brief time of (mostly) not being on Facebook: Much like the old saying, “Wherever you go, there you are” (attributed to either Confucius or Buckaroo Bonzai) I will not get recombobulated by putting my fingers in my ears, closing my eyes, and singing, “La la la la laaaa la. I can’t hear you.” The world is what it is, and people are who we are. All I can do is keep my head above water, put a muzzle and a leash on the Big Sad, and try to love people well enough that the world begins to change.

And instead of driving to Milwaukee, I think I’ll designate a small space right in my home office as my very own Recombobulation Area. It’ll be sort of like a time-out corner.

My family’s going to love it.

Red Starbucks Cup

So, there’s this guy named Joshua Feuerstein. He’s a former pastor and current social media evangelist, and, if his website is to be believed, he’s done some commendable things. However, on Thursday he published this video that currently has 11 million views; 147,000 likes; and 431,000 shares. Given the content of the video, those numbers are disheartening, and since I’m a Christ-follower, it’s important to me that you know this:

Joshua Feuerstein doesn’t speak for me. 

There are more things I’d like to say about Mr. Feuerstein, but few of them are kind, and I don’t think Jesus would dig that. So, rather than take an arrogant, childish posture toward him—which is exactly what I’d be criticizing him for (along with those who’ve added their Hell ya! to his rant)—I’m going to (try to) leave him completely out of this and just talk a bit about Starbucks and Jesus.

Starbucks’ Mission and Values

Starbucks’ mission is incredibly compelling: To inspire and nurture the human spirit—one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time. The company’s values are no less inspiring: Creating a culture of warmth and belonging, where everyone is welcome. Acting with courage, challenging the status quo and finding new ways to grow our company and each other. Being present, connecting with transparency, dignity and respect. Delivering our very best in all we do, holding ourselves accountable for the results.

This does not seem to be a company at odds with Christianity. But it wouldn’t matter if it were; they’re a coffee house, not a church. And if we’re being completely honest with ourselves, you and I patronize a whole slew of companies that look nothing like Jesus: clothing manufacturers that exploit vulnerable populations; restaurants that serve gargantuan portions, much of which lands in a dumpster; development companies, and the banks supporting them, that are engaged in shameful, justice-averse gentrification; movie theaters that show films exactly the opposite of “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable” (Philippians 4:8).

But we’re going to get all “Starbucks hates Jesus” because their holiday cup artwork doesn’t include Merry Christmas? C’mon.

Just the Facts

Confession: I just typed a rebuttal to each and every bit of Mr. Feuerstein’s video, and it was all sort of snarky (especially about his use of “litrally”), and then I remembered I was trying to do the “say something nice or say nothing” thing, so I deleted all of it, which is a shame because it was hilarious. But it was mean. And that’s never funny, no matter what Amy Schumer says.

ANYWAY… I just need to address some fabrications before I move on:

1.Mr. Feuerstein claims Starbucks isn’t allowed to say “Merry Christmas” to customers. I checked with two Starbucks managers tonight, and that is 100% false. And even if it were true, that is not “religious persecution.”

2. Starbucks isn’t offended by Jesus tshirts. Starbucks gives exactly zero damns about your attire.

3. In the description of his video, Mr. Feuerstein writes, “Starbucks REMOVED CHRISTMAS from their cups because they hate Jesus…” Nope. No, they don’t. They also don’t hate Buddha or Mohammed or John Smith or any other religious leader. Or anyone at all, for that matter. And neither does Jesus. 

Political Correctness

Starbucks is being criticized for catering to the secular culture’s desire for “political correctness.” Let’s assume, for just one moment, that Starbucks actually did decide that including snowmen snowpeople (see what I did there?) and reindeer on their holiday cups could be offensive to some people-groups. Wouldn’t that include Christians? I mean, doesn’t it make more sense to be less offended now that secular symbols have been removed from the cups? But instead, we’re supposed to join Mr. Feuerstein’s “movement” to bring them back? I’m so confused.

Jeffrey Fields, Starbucks’ VP of Design and Content, had this to say:

“In the past, we have told stories with our holiday cups designs. This year we wanted to usher in the holidays with a purity of design that welcomes all of our stories.”

So that’s it? The “welcomes all of our stories” bit? That’s what’s so politically correct our brains are “litrally falling out of our head”? (Okay, that was a dig. I tried not to. It slipped out.)

Why is Starbucks’ thoughtfulness toward people labeled as political correctness, which has somehow become an insult, instead of compassionate concern for human beings, which is what it actually is? 

Here’s a for-instance: Misogynistic jokes infuriate me, most women, and lots of men I know. If you decide to stop telling such jokes because you realize they’re disrespectful, that’s not political correctness. At the very least it’s courtesy, and at its best it’s love. 

And if you think political correctness is stupid because you think people are too easily offended, you should probably be extra aware of what offends you. 

Come to Me, All Who are Weary and Burdened

You know, I just can’t see Jesus marching into a Starbucks with a gun tucked under His tunic, a smirk on His face, and an agenda to trick an unsuspecting (and potentially very confused) barista into writing “Merry Christmas”on His cup. I think He might give His real name and ask hers. He’d invite her to sit with Him on her break, and He’d ask her to share her story. They’d laugh together or cry together. Maybe both. He’d offer her encouragement and remind her of the whole purpose of Christmas—that He’s with us now. That He’s for us.

If we’re to be Jesus in the world, then we, too, should be people to whom those who are weary and burdened can come for rest (Matthew 11:28). We should be safe. If we’re not careful—if we continue to produce and share videos like Mr. Feuerstein’s—we’ll no longer have even the opportunity to welcome and care for people. They’ll have given up on us.

And rightly so.

Lawd Jesus

My version of fight or flight looks like have-an-extreme-and/or-inappropriate-emotional-reaction or curl-up-in-the-fetal-position-in-the-corner-and-cry-until-someone-delivers-a-pint-of-Baskin-Robbins-Peanut-Butter-‘n-Chocolate. Today, I’ve been sort of oscillating between the two extremes, which basically means I was still in my pajamas at noon, I ate my weight in Halloween candy before 10 am, and I used most of a box of tissues from 9 to 10:30 am watching six too many “most emotional moments on the X-factor” YouTube videos.

(I’m a riot to live with. Truly.)

What has you all fight-or-flightish, Kelley? You’re so sweet to ask. Several things, really, but it’ll be super sad to write about a couple of them, and I’m tired of crying. Instead, I’m going to write about something else in an effort to distract myself. (Otherwise known as denial.)

So let’s talk about leggings.

Several people and a couple of “news” outlets have been sharing a video of a woman offering some style advice. Here’s the gist of it:

Some of you people like to use leggins as britches. As pants pants. That ain’t how they’re supposed to be wore. … Lawd Jesus. White leggins. Thems a big ol’ no-no.

She’s very concerned about people showing their rears, and I’m sort of confused because the leggings I know about are basically yoga pants, and people show their rears in those all the time. (Oh crap. Am I supposed to cover my rear in yoga pants?)

Why are we so offended by someone else’s choice of clothing, anyway? And why do we think we have the right to shame people for not complying with our opinion? Does “say something nice or say nothing” no longer apply? I mean, are we actually being harmed by someone else’s attire? It’s not like second-hand leggings is a thing.

Also, please never use “thems” as a substitute for “those are.” Because if you do, I can’t be friends with you anymore.

I just violated my own “nice or nothing” rule, didn’t I? Lawd Jesus.

A Student at a Desk

You’ve seen the video, I’m sure. The one showing a school resource officer dumping a young woman backward out of her desk and then tossing her across the room?

I’ve watched it dozens of times, each time shifting my focus to the different players—the officer, the girl, the other students, the teacher. I’ve watched an interview with the young man who shot the video. I’ve tried, more than once, to give the officer the benefit of the doubt. Surely there’s a backstory here. Surely she made some sort of threatening gesture we can’t see. Surely something terrible happened moments before the recording began that required or justified the officer’s actions.

I just can’t make sense of it.

Other people seem to understand it: This is what happens when you don’t respect authority, they say. She should’ve done what she was told, they say. She forced him to act this way, they say.

I don’t buy it, and I worry about what the other students learned yesterday:

  • If a conflict can’t be resolved through conversation, the next step is physical aggression.
  • The consequence for questioning out-of-control authority is arrest.
  • It’s appropriate for men to toss women around if they’re noncompliant.

Yes, of course I think students ought to respect one another, teachers, and administrators; I recognize there are students who are mouthy and obstinate; and I understand (to the extent I’m able) the multiple roles our educators take on: teacher, counselor, mentor, provider.

Yes, of course I think law enforcement should be trusted and respected (under most circumstances in which I would encounter them); I recognize there are people who believe otherwise (for all sorts of reasons, some justifiable and some perhaps not); and I understand (to the extent I’m able) how incredibly difficult, dangerous, and demanding law enforcement can be.

Yes, of course I know we don’t know why or how the situation escalated to the point it did; I recognize the media seems to have an anti-police bias; I understand this is surely a more complex situation than it appears.

And still, no, I do not believe this young woman “deserved what she got,” and I can’t imagine the outrage and fear such a response must stir up among the young women and men in that classroom and community.

What the hell is happening?

And what are we going to do about it?


Yesterday, I was sitting on my office floor reading Furiously Happy (which you should absolutely read, unless you’re repulsed by the f-bomb and really random stories about everything from surprise funerals to taxidermied racoons) and blow-drying my hair when I caught my reflection in my little round mirror.

Except it didn’t look like my reflection at all; it looked like one of those old lady dolls people used to make out of pantyhose. Please tell me you know what I’m talking about. (I googled “pantyhose dolls” to be sure they’re actually a thing, and they are. Or were, anyway. Oh, and if you choose to google “pantyhose dolls” be prepared to erase your browsing history, because, well, ew. You’ll see what I mean if you google it. But don’t.) (Side note: Pantyhose is right up there with moist in terms of worst words ever.)

ANYWAY. Up until about three years ago, people were all, “No way! You can’t have high-school-age kids!” And I was all, “Yes way! And thank you!” and that is no longer happening because my face is like a relief map of the Grand Canyon. No, I am not exaggerating. My reflection was startling. I mean, I knew I was more lined-up than several of my high school classmates (who apparently don’t age at all and I’m looking at you Lori), but until that moment—with all that natural light coming in through my 10 giant office windows—I didn’t realize that I have more wrinkles than my 69-year-old mother.

I knew you wouldn’t believe me, so here’s a photo.


Go ahead: Click on it to enlarge it, and start counting. I told you! 

I sat there and stared at that mirror for several, long moments. I let my face muscles totally relax. I recounted countless sunburns and sleepless nights. I got pissed off because I know life-long smokers with better skin than I have. I thought about all the gazillion-dollar “solutions” on the market—creams and serums and potions designed to take years off my face.

And then I said, out loud, “Oh, who the hell cares?” and went back to reading my book and drying my hair.

I’ve earned my wrinkles. They have stories. (Well, except for the one under my nose. I have no idea what causes a wrinkle to appear there, and if it’s some strange facial expression I make, I’d rather not know.) My forehead lines, for example, started forming 125 years ago in middle school, which is when I discovered that raising my eyebrows made my eyes look bigger (and, according to Teen magazine, better), so I walked around looking perpetually surprised. For all I know, I’m still doing it.

That “Oh, who the hell cares?” moment was so freeing that I’m looking for other things to which I can apply it. My gray hair. The extra 10 pounds I’m carrying around. The fact that the stones in my engagement and wedding rings aren’t real diamonds. (Intentionally. I can’t be trusted with nice things.) The lack of seasonal soaps in my bathrooms. The windowsills I haven’t cleaned in a decade. (Go ahead and say, “Gross!” but here’s the thing: I never look at them. No one ever looks at them. When we’re ready to sell this house and move into our tiny home, I’ll clean them as a courtesy to the next owners, but for now? Who the hell cares?)

This is freeing, you guys. It’s like I’m flipping the bird at Cosmo, HGTV, The Shane Company, and Bath and Body Works AT THE SAME TIME.

All that crap consumes so much time, energy, and resources. If I say, “Who the hell cares?” to the right things, I’ll have more to offer the actual right things—which, by the way, aren’t things at all. They’re people.

So there you have it: The wrinkles are staying. They remind me of who I should be.

It Could Happen, You Know

Brené Brown says vulnerability is a good thing, so let’s talk about my mental health.

I have an anxiety disorder. My imagination gets me in trouble; it’s vivid and unrelenting and, occasionally, quite grim. I’m truly gifted at the game of What If.

My anxiety has gotten markedly worse since my mom fell backward down a flight of stairs and broke her neck last October. She’s fine now, other than sporting a wicked scar and losing some range of motion. But I’m still a bit fixated on her fall, because it’s a variation of one of my recurring What Ifs—and it actually happened: 

“What if, while home alone, one of our girls slips down the stairs and breaks her neck or cracks open her head? And what if she left her cell phone upstairs, so she has no way to call for help?”

That might sound like a run-of-the-mill worry, but my brain is enough of a jerk to come up with a slow-motion play-by-play of what could happen and, even worse, what the result would look like. It’s horrifying, and if I don’t quickly find something to divert my attention, those images will just keep looping. Most of the time, singing the SpongeBob Squarepants theme song to myself does the trick. I know that’s a ridiculous coping mechanism, but it works (usually) and it’s a whole lot healthier than consuming an entire package of Oreos.

My most recent What Ifs include, but are not limited to, the following topics: my dad’s cancer; finances; car accidents; the unlikely event of a water landing; bridges; thunderstorms above the treeline; bungee jumpers; murderers; mystery smells; undercooked meat; cliffs; my terrible memory; being electrocuted; driving (that’s a brand new, particularly irritating one); power tools; retirement; parenting; spousing; moving heavy furniture; and the interaction between 15-year-old boys and alligators and/or lions (that’s not as random as it sounds, but it’s a long story).

Some of my imagined scenarios are sort of reasonable, but a whole, whole lot of them are laughably implausible. Such as:

“What if I just ran over a small child?”

For real. If I’m driving through a neighborhood and I run over something—like the curb—I have to look back to make sure I didn’t hit a human being. Even though I know it was the just the curb. Because what if there was a pigtailed four-year-old sitting at that curb playing jacks or drawing flowers on the sidewalk? And what if I just ran over her?

I use up a lot of energy worrying about such things.

Here’s another one:


My Driveway, a Sinkhole-in-Waiting

The photo doesn’t do it justice, but I’m convinced there’s a sinkhole under our driveway. Jack says it’s not a sinkhole; it’s ants. Now, think about that for a minute. If we have enough ants that their little underground highways are causing our driveway to fall apart, we are in serious trouble, and Jack’s attempt to relieve my anxiety didn’t help at all, because now I’m picturing a sinkhole filled with ants.

I’m only sort of kidding. It could happen, you know.

All right. That’s PLENTY of vulnerability for one day. But please read these next two paragraphs carefully.

My anxiety is not (usually) debilitating, I don’t suffer panic attacks, and today I can laugh at my brain. But I can’t do that every day. Please know I’m not making light of anyone else’s struggle. There are some forms of anxiety that are just never funny, and if you’re close to someone who has anxiety, it’s not at all helpful to laugh—unless he or she is laughing, too. People with anxiety aren’t just “worrywarts.” Anxiety is real and it’s difficult and it’s illogically logical, and we’re not doing it on purpose to irritate you. Also, telling us to “just stop worrying about it” won’t do any good. Please be patient with us. Let us talk about our concerns for the umpteenth time. Getting that crap out of our heads can be incredibly therapeutic, and sometimes it takes more than one round of spewing. (Confession: Even though I have anxiety, I don’t always deal with other people’s anxiety all that well. So this is a good reminder for me, too.)

Now, if it’s YOU who’s dealing with the anxiety, you aren’t alone. And anxiety and depression are closely linked, so if you’re feeling overwhelmed and hopeless talk to someone. If you’re afraid to reach out to someone you know, call 800-273-8255 or use Lifeline’s chat. The world needs you, so don’t give up.

Stupid Dog

I feel guilty about something most of the time: Spending money on technology. Watching documentaries instead of cleaning my house. Having raw cookie dough, Fritos, and chocolate milk for lunch. (That one’s pure fiction, and you’ll never be able to prove otherwise.) Buying packaged salad and pre-cut watermelon. Napping. Leaving the dishes piled up for three days, hoping someone else will take care of them.

At this particular moment, I’m feeling guilty because on Monday, I’ll be spending $2800 on my dog. Today, I spent $400. Last night, I spent $300. Last week, I spent $130.

This all started the last week of September when I discovered Skittle was peeing blood, and it’ll end on Monday morning, when she has her left kidney removed. By the time this is over, I’ll have spent nearly $4000. On a dog.

Do you have any idea what else I could do with $4000? Through HomeFirst STL, I could house someone transitioning out of homelessness for a year. I could stock the pantry at The Bridge. I could help a single parent buy a car. I could give it to a program serving veterans or help an under-resourced college student with expenses. I could donate it to flood victims in SC or help finish an orphanage in Haiti. I could give it to any number of families I know who are trying to adopt children.

But, nope. I’m going to spend it on my dog, because if I don’t, she’ll die a slow and horrible death. If you’re judging me because that matters more to me today than the reality of human beings freezing and/or starving to death, I get it. I’m guilty as charged.

Stupid dog.

She's ashamed of her diaper and refuses to look at the camera.

She’s ashamed of her diaper and refuses to look at the camera.


I’m a Thinker Outlouder. It’s a dangerous title, because if I forget to write/say, “I’m just thinking out loud here,” people assume what I’m writing/saying is my actual opinion. (Which, I’ll admit is a fair conclusion to draw.) With me, though, it’s likely that I’m processing aloud what my potential opinion could possibly be. I can’t remember from whom I learned this idea, but it’s so spot-on with how my brain works: Let me hear what I say so I know what I mean.

So with that disclaimer—which, I’ll confess, may be just a way for me to avoid responsibility for what I’m writing—I’m going to talk about guns.

I don’t like them. I don’t like knowing people are carrying them around where I can’t see them, and I don’t think I’d feel much better if they were visible. I equate guns neither with sport nor self-defense; to me, they symbolize violence. I know lots of good people who have and use guns. I like those people. I don’t like their guns. I’m the mom who, when my girls were invited to friends’ homes, would call to ask their parents two questions: “Will you be home to supervise?” and “Do you keep weapons in your house?” (And later, “Do you provide or permit teenagers to drink alcohol?”) I didn’t allow water guns or Nerf guns in our house. Jack is bummed—to this day—that I asked him to get rid of his Super Soakers when we got married.

And yet, despite my far Left leanings, I don’t think we should take away everyone’s guns. Rather, we ought to be more mindful of the type of weapons available, we ought to make them more difficult to obtain, we ought to require training and licensing, and we ought to impose renewal periods–just like with driver licenses. I don’t think a mental health history should automatically disqualify someone from owning a firearm, but it doesn’t seem completely unreasonable to require some type of physician’s release in certain cases, although I’m concerned about adding additional stigma to an already unfairly stigmatized group of people—a group that includes me. I also wonder if it could be helpful to impose stiff penalties on people whose weapons are used in a crime; if the possibility of their three-year-old shooting himself through the eye isn’t enough incentive to keep their guns locked up, maybe the threat of a $25,000 fine and five-year jail sentence would be. (Maybe these sorts of laws already exist?)

But I don’t think we can stop there. While those measures would likely decrease the number of gun-related tragedies, they aren’t going to completely eliminate gun-related crime. I can’t help but wonder why people are picking up weapons and using them to intimidate, wound, and kill other human beings. There must be preventive measures we can take other than ones related to the guns themselves. Education. Economic opportunity. Accessible mental health services. Before- and after-school activities. Mentoring programs. Affordable housing. All of it and more.

Hmmm… I had an “I wonder” just now: It’s been suggested that if guns had been legal on Umpqua Community College’s (UCC) campus, the loss of life would’ve been minimized—because someone would’ve taken that guy out. But if someone else had drawn a weapon, how would the police have known which one was the actual threat? And, not to complicate the issue (except let’s do), what if, in that situation, the real perpetrator is white and the hero is a Person of Color? Would certain assumptions be made? (Just in case you thought it, that’s not “pulling the race card.” It’s a legitimate concern.)

On Thursday, within half an hour of seeing the reports of the shooting at UCC, I was horrified to read the “Told ya so” and “Oh shit, here come the Liberals to take away my gun” status updates. In response, I wrote that tragedy should not be a notch in the belt of our political agendas, and I stand by that statement today. However, I did not at all mean to suggest that we don’t have some policies (or lack thereof) to address. We absolutely need to be having these conversations, but we need to be having them not as people who are smug about being proven “right,” but as fellow human beings who are not okay with people losing their lives. We may even need to have them as people who are more concerned with the well-being of other people than we are about our own personal rights. And we may need to decide that we’re not going to let money make policy decisions. And Christ-followers—we better be asking ourselves what Jesus would have to say about all of this.

No matter what, we have work to do. Now. Before it’s too late.

For those families in Oregon, it already is.

About and To

The complicated thing about sharing political, ideological, and/or theological opinions on social media is this: as we’re writing about people, we’re also writing to people.

When we like a nasty post about welfare, it could end up on the newsfeed of a parent who has tried anything and everything to get her head above water after her car accident, and she was on her way to meet with a caseworker. To see if she might quality for food stamps. She was already feeling defeated and ashamed before she saw our post, and now she knows for sure she can never be honest about her struggles because it’ll mar our opinion of her.

Oh, I know: That’s not the “welfare mom” we were talking about. But that’s the one we were talking to.

When we share a self-righteous post about abortion, accompanied by a sentiment like, “You can’t possibly be a Christian and be pro-choice,” it may confirm a young woman’s fear that the abortion she had three years ago completely disqualifies her from being part of a church community.

Oh, I know: We’re talking about the people who “use abortion as birth control.” But that’s not the woman we’re talking to.

When we write an arrogant post about people who don’t “belong” in the United States, people who should just “go back home,” people who have no business taking our jobs and clogging up our schools and taking advantage of our healthcare system, we’ve just taught our kids an important lesson about the variable worth of human beings.

Oh, I know: We were talking about the “illegals who refuse to learn to speak English.” But that’s not the kids we’re talking to. 

When we put up a hateful comment about same-sex marriage, we solidify in that young man’s mind that he is an abomination, that he is worthless, that he will forever be rejected. And so he pushes up his sleeves, which reveal dozens of scars on his forearms, and he begins to plan his suicide.

Oh, I know: We’re talking about the other kind of homosexuals and their allies—the ones who are “persecuting Christians.” But that’s not the boy we were just talking to. 

When we respond to videos of police brutality with, “How ’bout you just do what you’re told?” we’re assuming someone’s guilt, we’re declaring some people unworthy of fair treatment and respect, and we’re giving our Facebook friends permission to devalue and dehumanize people who appear to be different from themselves.

Oh, I know: We’re talking about the “thugs.” But that’s not the people we’re talking to. 

When we respond to reports of police shootings with a knee-jerk comment about race and class and unnecessary force (but we actually have no idea what really happened because we weren’t actually there), a police officer’s spouse—who was on Facebook just looking for a quick dinner recipe—sees that post and runs to the bathroom to retch because her husband’s partner was shot to death last week when he responded to a domestic violence call.

Oh, I know: We’re talking about the police who are “racist.” But that’s not the woman we’re talking to. 

I’m not saying we can’t hold the opinions and perspectives we do. I’m not even saying we can’t talk about those opinions and perspectives. But for the love of Pete…can we please stop to consider how our posts might affect the people who see them? Let’s read what we’ve just written—and read it out loud—before we hit “Post.” Now let’s read it from the perspective of someone to whom it might apply. Flinch? Delete it.

Can we exercise some empathy?

Can we maybe just hush for a little while? At least until we can get our mouths under control?

Can we decide to truly value all people? (If you’re a Christ-follower and you said, “No,” I’d like to have coffee with you.) (Actually, that’s not true, because you’ll probably make me cry. I’d like you to have coffee with Jesus instead.)

Okay, I’m going to take my own advice and hush for a little while. Have a good Monday, y’all.


I’m sitting in a lime green beach chair on Art Hill in Forest Park, munching on some baby carrots. I’ve kicked off my shoes, and my legs are stretched in front of me, cushioned by my favorite blanket—one I’ve had for 27 years. On my left, Jack’s sitting in a similar chair, eating the club sandwich I packed for him. On my right is my favorite friend and her youngest daughter, who, at the moment, are passing back and forth a bag of chocolate, mini-donuts. Around us sit thousands of people with impressive picnic dinners and goblets of wine spread in front of them. It’s an incredible evening; the sky is impeccably blue, and it’s just cool enough to require a hoodie. Maybe 400 yards away, at the foot of the hill and just in front of the Grand Basin, sits the Grammy-award-winning St. Louis Symphony Orchestra (SLSO).

At some point toward the end of the third number, Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March from a Midsummer Night’s Dream,” I’m overwhelmed by a feeling I can only describe as I Can’t Believe This Is My Life.

Some people might describe the whole experience as a “blessing.” I’m not inclined to use that word, because I think true blessings ultimately come from God, and I have a tough time believing God dispenses them discriminatorily. The world seems to do exactly that, though—dispense blessings discriminatorily—and I suppose that’s why the word privilege comes to mind instead.

Please don’t roll your eyes at me. I know privilege is a hot-button word right now, and I think that’s because it’s misunderstood. Some people seem to equate being described as privileged with being accused of racism, sexism, xenophobia, or homophobia. Others become defensive because their lifestyle and possessions have nothing to do with cultural or systemic advantages, they say; rather, they’ve sought out opportunities and worked their tails off. Please know I’m not accusing anyone of anything, and I’m certainly not suggesting people are handed their stuff on silver platters. (Usually.) In fact, the list I’m about to present is about me, and no one else. And if it makes you feel better, you can call this a list of things for which I’m grateful. As for me, I’m calling it:

Privileges Related to a Night with the SLSO

  1. I had the financial resources necessary to go on an epic family road-trip three summers ago—one that included a brief stay at the ocean. Which is where I purchased those beach chairs. And no one followed me around while I was shopping for them.
  2. I live in a city that values cultural activities and tries to make them financially accessible to everyone through free concerts; free art, history, and science museums; and free musical theater.
  3. I can afford fresh produce and healthy bread.
  4. I have multiple grocery stores within two miles of my home, two of which are within easy walking distance.
  5. I have laundry machines in my house. Which means I can wash my socks anytime I’d like. Which means I can remove my shoes at a concert without offending the people around me.
  6. I have reliable transportation.
  7. I have a support network of friends who have resources—like zoo parking passes so I didn’t have to spend $15 to attend a free SLSO performance. And donuts. They have that resource, too.
  8. My husband and I have flexible employers, so we can leave work a bit early without it affecting our paychecks and without fear of being fired.
  9. I live in a country where it’s safe to be outside.
  10. I have multiple options of clothing/blankets to keep me warm if needed.
  11. It’s easy for me, physically, to get around.

As I look over this list, most of them relate to economic privilege, but I know I enjoy many others as a middle-class, white, cisgender, highly educated, able-bodied, mentally and emotionally healthy, Christian heterosexual. (I saw you raise your eyebrows at the mentally/emotionally healthy claim. I’m medicated. Soooooo…that counts.)

I’m not beating myself up over any of this, by the way; I’m just learning that it’s good to recognize how my experience of the world may differ from yours. And since I have these privileges, I ought to find ways to use them for good.

Someone else’s good, that is—not my own.