Thoughts from Quarantine

Well, it’s been a rather strange time for everyone recently.

I’m certainly not loving this – it’s rather challenging to focus on anything in this state of chaos. It feels strange to log onto an online class when the world around me is in so much distress. How do we pretend like we aren’t forcing normalcy? I certainly don’t know.

It’s hard being away from everyone I love. I’m so incredibly thankful for my housemates who keep my home in chapel hill full of energy and smiles. I’m thankful for the video calls with my a cappella group and my film friends. I’m thankful for the guitar in the corner of my room. I’m thankful for the books on my shelf that I finally have time to read. I’m thankful that I’m healthy – that this pandemic will likely have a rather small impact on my life, but I can’t help feeling helpless.

I am far too much of an extrovert to be cooped up. I thrive on community – stories from the strangers who sit next to me – smiles from friends-of-friends – the arts community as a whole. I thrive when I’m sitting in a coffee shop, perfectly alone with a world buzzing around me.

It’s been sad – visiting Open Eye, one of my favorite local coffee shops, and seeing the always-packed space completely empty, all the chairs stacked on tables, the couches roped off. It’s hard. It’s really really really hard and I don’t think we should pretend like it isn’t.

I think it’s okay to be struggling right now, in fact, I’d be concerned if people weren’t. We weren’t meant to live in squares with minimal trips outside. Hell, I’ve always seen my house as a place to sleep and occasionally eat a bowl of oatmeal! Now I wake up at noon, eat oatmeal, and go back to sleep. The world feels dull without my friends around me.

A video call will suffice for now, but I’ve never realized how much I value physical touch. Hugs, fist bumps, jokingly nudging my friends during rehearsal. I really miss hugs. How strange is that? I am not a touchy person, I’m not! Physical touch always ranks last out of my love languages, and I never thought that ‘words of affirmation’ wouldn’t be enough for me.

I miss coffee dates and real human eye contact: seeing someone’s world, sensing someone’s tangibility and fragileness. My eyes hurt from staring at screens (even though I am enjoying rewatching Sherlock for the fifth time).

I miss all the humans in my life, miss them so so so dearly. I miss the boy with glasses who always held the door for me as I walked to my playwriting class every Tuesday and Thursday – I served him at Carolina Coffee Shop once. I don’t know his name; I know nothing about him other than the fact that he always has one headphone in with his music faintly audible.

I’m mad at myself for all the times I complained about being too busy…because man oh man was I busy this semester. Filming and rehearsing and performing and hardly ever having time to do my work or get a proper night’s sleep. And now here I am – nothing to do but work and sleep. So mad at myself for all I’ve taken for granted.

I’m hoping and praying so hard that everything will go back to normal soon, that I’ll be in a house with Tar Heel Voices giving the biggest hugs of a lifetime and reveling in the echoes of real human voices.

Collegiate A Cappella, and why I love it.

After a fun five month break from sharing deep emotional thoughts with the world via a website, I’m back and ready to ramble!

In high school I was a BIG time choir kid. I mean, I was Choir Council president for two years, c’mon. Big deal over here. I thought a cappella was laughable at best. Like I truly did not take it seriously at all.

So, it’s kind of crazy that last night I stood on a stage in tears yelling TAR HEEL over and over and over again after my best friends and I advanced to the next round of the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella.

Now this may all sound very silly to you. I mean extremely silly. Because it’s collegiate a cappella, my gosh Lizzy please don’t take yourself so seriously. But I’m actually kind of tired of hearing that narrative. We love college sports, I mean we eat them up. Tar Heel pride is fairly rooted in the Carolina Basketball fan base. But ironically UNC A Cappella did better last night than our Basketball team has done all season…but that’s a different story that I truly don’t care enough about to address.

Tar Heel Voices is a group of 17 crazy college kids with a variety of majors and interests who come together for the main purpose of making beautiful art – and we do it for an absurd amount of time every week. And the love we have for each other is unreal. We have a big ole’ group chat that we text in far too much at all hours of the day. I don’t think I’ve gone a day since joining the group that I don’t see at least one of those losers. And there are times where we fight and argue and cry and disagree, but I don’t think we’ve ever doubted each other – questioned each other? Sure. But doubted? Hardly.

Last night we decided our word to focus on would be trustBut it wasn’t just the word for the night, it’s become a culture for us. This group wouldn’t be what it is without the incredible bonds we’ve built that allow us to trust each other with our whole hearts. This group wouldn’t be what it is without the incredible vulnerability we show and the love we share. That is the kind of community that the arts build. Talk to any high school theatre kid, ask any child who has ever grown up in band or choir or art classes. There is a raw beauty found in the arts, and it never leaves you.

I could go on and on and on about this dang group. I could tell you that UNC felt lonely and cold without them. I could tell you that I wouldn’t be half the person I am today without them. I could tell you that my life would be rocky and unfulfilling without their talent, and passion, and empathy. I could say a lot of things, but all those feelings are better kept in this sweet little pearl we’ve created – pushing ourselves past the point of exhaustion, to rebuild ourselves into something greater than before.

I’m incredibly thankful that I went to a high school that took the arts so seriously, but there are a lot of schools with underfunded arts programs. If I’d never joined choir in fifth grade I wouldn’t have fallen in love with singing and music, but more importantly I would never have met my best friends in college. And I think we should all start taking college a cappella a little more seriously ((but not too seriously because, as my good friend Faith Jones always reminds me, the stakes are so low)).

17/1

 

 

When My Time Comes

When My Time Comes by Dawes is the kind of song that hits you in the gut, awakens all those emotions that previously sat on the back of your tongue. It’s the kind of song that will have you ugly crying on your small twin sized bed inside an empty cabin where the eclectic belongings of thirteen year old girls are sprawled across the ever dusty floor.

I keep telling myself that the brightness of the future outshines broken fragments of the present – that the way my heart aches over nostalgia will somehow stop once I reach that next place. I think that’s a fairly naive belief. I’m a big day dreamer; I can paint the past in the most vivid of colors; my memory is sharper than my wits; my past will always be imprinted somewhere in this busy mind of mine.

Eleven years seems like a really long time, over half my life in fact (some bad math would estimate about 58% of it). I grew up going to this wonderful summer camp that sat at the top of a mountain in Roaring Gap, North Carolina. It’s tucked somewhere between Elkin and Sparta, but feels like a completely different world of its own. At some point, I found myself as a last-year-camper, a fifteen year old girl who was naive as all get out, but somehow thought she was so mature. She was an anxious extrovert who played original songs on the floor of her cabin hoping the other girls wouldn’t think she was a show-off or just plain annoying. And boy oh boy did she cry on her last night – it was her first goodbye there.

Then one day that girl woke up as a sixteen year-old rushing around a dining hall picking up various bowls of leftover food and pitchers filled with the absolute worst of concoctions. The words “I’m here to get a job, not to make friends” were very much a cover up to hide the fact that she felt pretty lonely in this new environment, but would do absolutely anything for the bright eyes that looked at her like she was the world. This girl who had absolutely nothing in her life figured out couldn’t understand why anyone would look up to her.

But then she was seventeen, somehow more naive than before. Falling in love while her hands dunked into a second sink scrubbing at bowls and utensils, listening to a funky soundtrack provided by the first guy friends she’d ever had. She finally felt a part of something, really truly a part of something, for the first time in her life. She felt wanted, valued, and loved. The transition to being a counselor for real this time felt natural; even as a camper she’d acted like a counselor, it felt right. And she’d sit and play more of her heart songs, but this time they’d all sing along. Every week she cried when she had to say goodbye to the girls she’d given her heart too, all the while worrying about them when they got home. But she was a part of something, she was loved, nothing could go wrong. The end of the summer brought her second round of goodbyes.

And eighteen shouldn’t have felt any different, at least that’s what she desperately wanted to believe. But college was around the corner, and she knew everything would change, so naturally she clung – and clung – and clung – until her grip was tighter than the coil in her chest and everything she held onto started to slip. It was a whole new set of goodbyes, and it ripped her to shreds. The switch from a twin to a twin XL bed was one of the hardest things she’d ever had to do. The extra few inches felt lonely, her little corner of a dorm room suddenly empty with the lack of photos.

Nineteen was the hardest. What an awkward age, too old to really be a teenager, but too young to really be an adult. And wow did it hurt, walking on gravel that stung when it crunched, laying on concrete holding back every scream and thought, blocking off every single emotion that would make her seem weak. She tried so hard to be strong, keep the guard up, don’t let anyone see that you’re hurting. But the girls loved her, and loved her, and loved her until she remembered her purpose. She remembered the privilege of loving and being loved. She fell in love in a different way, as fourteen year olds left their mark of glitter and beaded bracelets permanently on her heart (but mostly the floor).

And here I am, sitting, knowing that this is the final goodbye. Quite possibly the hardest one yet, but I think we all know when it’s time to leave. There are times where life has given you all it can from a place, every lesson it could bring has been brought. It’s just the stump of the giving tree now, where a glorious tree once sat. I always thought that everyone misunderstood that story; how could it be healthy for someone to give everything they’ve got until nothing was left? Pretty ironic for me to say that, I have a horrible habit of giving my all until I’m drained. I think that’s how I’m feeling right now. Eleven years of my everything has amounted to this final goodbye. Yesterday, I felt as if it had all been for nothing. After all, who would remember me? Who would see all the love I poured into this place?

But how could it possibly be for nothing?

There are thirteen guitars, eight ukuleles, and a whole lot of lost picks that have my fingerprints on them forever. Thirteen guitars that I restrung by hand for two summers. A thousand some lanyards that I started so others could create something beautiful. My name will stay on that first layer of wood, even if others decide that painting over it is a beneficial use of their time. I remember all 168 girls who have sat on the floors of my cabins. The 168 girls who watched me grow up just as I watched them. And every single smile along the way will still bring me joy.

Goodbyes are hard, but I know my mark is here, hidden on hiking trails, painted on walls, signed on the back of ukuleles. When My Time Comes, remember me.

Cheerio camp 🙂

First Year In Review

It is so crazy to me that I have reached the end of my first year in college! It has been a crazy wild year. Here’s a short look into what I’ve done:

  • Joined a sorority
  • Made a sitcom with my best friends
  • Joined an a cappella group
  • Worked on 6 short films
  • Published a book of poems
  • Wrote 2 plays ! Wow
  • Released my third EP
  • Ran a half marathon
  • Was a lyricist for a movie-musical project attempting to win an Oscar
  • Was nominated for best supporting actress for Carolina Film Association (lol)

I’m sure there are so many other things I’ve missed. But it has been a busy year (as you can tell). I have grown an incredible amount and feel the need to share a little bit of it to give some closure on this first part of my Carolina journey.

I remember my first semester feeling so lonely – a commonality amongst first years. It was tough; it felt like every conversation I had was just a bouncing back and forth of little facts about one another. I would talk about myself, they would talk about themselves, but oh it’s my turn again. I didn’t feel like I was learning anything of importance about people – I didn’t feel like any of my friendships/relationships had any depth. I joined a sorority, which was my lifeline first semester, but still felt like an outsider in the Carolina community. I tried so hard to get my name out there, to feel important, to feel known and wanted and loved.

Second semester I thought I’d finally figured it all out – I joined an a cappella group (Tar Heel Voices is honestly the best thing that has happened to me), I started doing things that were directly related to my major, had really found my group of friends, became known in the arts community, and had a somewhat hopeful love life. BUT I STILL FELT SO EMPTY AND CONFUSED. What the heck Lizzy! I remember yelling at myself, you have everything right now, you’re doing so much! Why are you not happy? Why do you always have to ruin things for yourself? Why can you not forgive yourself for past mistakes and be proud of what you’re accomplishing now?!?

Around Spring Break I felt really down, like scarily so. I truly did not feel like I was in my body or even really experiencing life around me. I cried so much and wanted to just sleep all day. I had no motivation to participate in any of the cool projects I was working on. I started skipping classes, not doing my work, and feeling fairly worthless. (You can see evidence of this in my past posts). I thought, hey maybe the anxiety medication I’ve been on has just worn out, maybe I’m just really anxious and wearing myself out! Right? It has to be an easy fix.

But then spring break was over, and suddenly I was awake again. I would stand on my balcony at 2 a.m listening to the birds chirping and crying because I was so happy! It was amazing to feel like myself again. That had to be good right? How could happiness be unhealthy?

That’s when we discovered I had a bit of a mood issue. My extreme highs and lows were really dangerous and super harmful in my overall ability to function. So, I was put on a mood stabilizer and thrown back into the wild. I always feel more comfortable with diagnoses, so I was thankful to finally understand why some months I was over-the-moon happy and why other times I felt too depressed to even function. It’s nice to know I’m not just all over the place, but I have an actual diagnosable issue that can be managed.

It’s still hard, I feel like I’m battling my mind a lot. But no worries, I’m a good fighter. I am incredibly proud of all I have accomplished this year and cannot wait to kick butt in the following three years!

Next stop – CAMP!

What A Privilege It Is To Love

So I did the thing I’d been wanting to do for awhile! I got a tattoo! Wow how crazy. I would say sorry mom and dad, but they were very very supportive, so all I have to say is thank you 🙂

Love is this crazy rollercoaster – I talk about that magical feeling a whole lot on this here blog. It’s my all time favorite feeling. When I was in high school I remember giving a chapel talk all about the power of love and how incredible of a feeling it is. I never regret loving others – I mean how could you regret sharing your heart with someone else?

My heart is a little too big for my own good way too much of the time, but I don’t think that’s such a bad thing. I am ridiculously empathetic; I feel everything ((pretty much all the time)). I cry at those beer commercials where there’s some sort of magical bond between a muscular man and yellow lab. I mean, come on, how could you not cry at those things? I cry at almost every movie I watch – like multiple times per movie. I cry a heck-of-a-lot; it’s pretty therapeutic, I recommend a good cry every once in awhile.

This semester, I’ve tried really hard to love as hard as I can. (If that makes sense). I’m just throwing love at people, like hey take some of this! The beautiful quote inked on my arm is from a song called Two by the incredible Sleeping At Last. It’s a song specifically written for my enneagram number, two if you couldn’t guess. I’m a little obsessed with enneagram numbers, please take the quiz you will learn so so so much about yourself. But the song is all about loving others and attempting to fix the brokenness in those around us with the power of our hearts. The artist describes my type as having a superpower to love. I love that description (teehee).

When people leave my life for reasons I don’t understand my heart aches. When friends decide I’m too much it makes me rethink who I am. Do I pay my friends too much attention? Do I hold them to higher standards because I know the good they are capable of? I know I’ve said this before, but at what point is my love too much? I’m not a clingy person, but when I’m close with people I care for them the way most people care for their family – those people become my everything and I would fight anyone that tried to hurt them. That’s just who I am. I’m a Hufflepuff, we’re pretty freaking loyal.

I would love someone until it killed me. It’s a privilege to share this life with others; it is a blessing to love and to be loved. When my head starts becoming messy and my heart hurts a little too much, I now have a written reminder of what is important to pull me out of that darkness.

I always wear my heart on my sleeve, but now everyone else can see it too.

STAYIN’ BUSY

“Hey Lizzy, can you hang out tonight?”

“Nothing’s on my calendar!”

“Okay, so that means you have at least four meetings all scheduled at the same time.”

My friend Steven CAME AFTER me yesterday!!! I hate it because he’s right. I am an over-committer through and through. In highschool I said yes to everything because I really liked being involved. Plus once I was home I had my down time! College is a whole-nother story ((I feel like I’m always saying that in posts))

I genuinely do love being involved; I think it’s a total party being able to be involved in so many different facets of school. I’m in an acapella group, I’m in a sorority, I’m starring-in/filming/directing a TV show that I wrote, I’m training for a half-marathon, and attempting to stay on top of school work and still fitting in free time to hang out with my friends.

That was exhausting for my to type, so it must be exhausting to live, right? Two nights ago, I did laundry at one in the morning, because I didn’t have any other time (where washers were open) to do it! ((thank goodness my friends came to keep me company)).

I got really good at time management in high school, so I think I’m a healthy busy bee. But being busy does mean I don’t have a whole lot of room for error. If something goes wrong in my (very tightly packed) schedule. Then something has to go – and I hate cancelling. I am very much a “yes” girl. I say yes to pretty much everything and anything; in high school my therapist made me say no to three things a week just to practice doing it. I definitely know my limits now and what I want to be committing myself to, but it’s college! There’s so much I want to do! And I just want to do it all now! Right???

Sometimes I look at my schedule and wonder how I do it. Like honestly, how am I a functioning human being with all this stuff? Even though I’m doing really well with it all rn, I know that I need to be careful. This could be a slippery slope.

I’m really tired! Like actually completely worn out. I wish I could do it all, but I know that sometimes I just need to sit by myself in an empty fourth-floor lounge and watch Netflix. ((i.e what I’ve been doing the past hour)) This is the first time all week I’ve had genuine down time – and I know I could go out with my sorority sisters and have a fun night out, or go to my acapella group’s girl’s night in, but I honestly just want a nice calm Friday night where I can go to bed at a reasonable hour and prep for the overbooking I have coming up tomorrow.

Guess who’s happy? Surprise, it’s me!

Wow hello wow! Boy oh boy am I tired! Is this what my brother feels like all the time (minus all the math #cantrelate)?

Every day I wake up and usually dread some part of my day, but then I come home filled with this wonderful blissful contentment that I can’t quite explain. It’s like that feeling of running hot water over freezing fingers or when vibrato echoes in a space.

For the first time in a little while I can confidently say I am happy. Like actually happy. Not just a fake smile in some photo posed at parties I’d rather not be attending. Not just iced coffee dates where I lie and say I’m probably just tired. Not just blog posts where I really try to convince myself that I’m okay.

I am actually happy. Very very very happy. It’s such a fantastic relief to know that I could walk through a dark and not so fun forest where I tripped far too often and somehow still get out with only a couple (a lot) of bruises. To know that all those forests have sunshine somewhere along the journey is something amazing. To know that my heart can withstand a whole lot is very reassuring.

And so what if my room is a mess or if I can’t remember things unless I write them down or if I can only make time for people if it’s on my google calendar? I am happy. That’s the good ole end goal for most, isn’t it? To be happy, to love, to be loved. I’ve got all three right now. Do I still seek self-validation in others? Sure! But I no longer place my self-worth and value in the love I receive from those who aren’t worth it.

Trust me when I say that I have become a whole lot more comfortable with the idea that I could be someone’s least favorite person. That thought used to keep me up at night and really h*cking stress me out. But that fear of needing to be liked and appreciated only turned me into this people-pleasing monster who was not as selfless as she may have appeared.

But here I am, today, in a very comfortable dorm bed that feels oh so much like home, surrounded by the most wonderful of friends; I am where I was meant to be and God knew it all along.

So, hi! Let me reintroduce myself; my name is Lizzy ((very much with a y)) and I am so happy to announce that I am truly happy. My love is a force to be reckoned with and I’d love to prove that to you some time 😉

PEACE OUT MY HAPPY HOMIES!

Bagel Bagel Bagel

Boy do I love bagels! There has never been a time where someone has suggested eating bagels where I’ve gasped at the audacity of their question. I seriously am always dtgabfa (down to get a bagel from Alpine) ((Alpine is the bagel place at my college sorry this isn’t the most #relatable acronym)). Bagels come in so many shapes and sizes and flavors some of em are super spicy – others are real ~salty~. Sometimes bagels are disgusting and like you gotta tell your friends to avoid them, but sometimes they’re really sweet and you wish you could have that bagel for the rest of your life.

Unfortunately, bagels don’t always know what they want. Which is a real pain as a customer. Us customers are constantly confused by bagels and their intentions! When am I gonna find a nice cooked piece of dough that is both honest with itself and with me!

I’m kind of tired of bagels, if I’m being totally honest. I spend so much time obsessing over how bagels think of me and how other people view my relationship with bagels. I kinda just wanna go gluten free for good, ya know? Whenever I have a bagel I always feel kinda weird after. Like I overthink all the consequences – the calories, my gluten intake for the day, the eventual run I will have to go on, the way it sits on my stomach the rest of the day – I’m not sure if it’s worth it anymore.

I used to have a consistent bagel (which was dope); I think I want a consistent bagel again. I’m really tired of taste testing all these different kinds – some have really awful bitter after tastes. I went on a bit of a bagel break earlier this school year; it was somewhat successful ? But I’m thinking I need to go on another one, especially since I’m training for a half-marathon right now. I don’t need any glutinous distractions. The right bagel will find me! I can hope?

((Oh, I see what she did there. She isn’t actually talking about bagels. It’s a clever metaphor for her love life, wow she’s so weirdly creative.))

I will say though, I miss Alpine a lot; I miss all my fellow customers. I miss late night bagel-talks and burnt coffee. I miss electric pianos and microwave s’mores. I miss that one suite that’s adopted me as their little sister. And I sure as heck miss those two girls; one hated me the first time she met me; one met me minutes before I could be found sobbing on a purple mattress.

College is so weird guys, like really weird. But I’m very ready to be back. I think I’ll go gluten-free for New Years.

Happy 2019!

 

 

Potentially Cold, Definitely Blessed

Hi Hello Dear Loved Ones and Strangers!

Welcome to my Blog; can I get you anything? Hot chocolate, a big ole hug, a nice hand hold? Please make yourself at home!

I’m sitting outside of my dorm (up against the brick wall completely burrito-ed in a blanket). I don’t think I’m crazy here, but I really enjoy being cold.

This is gonna be a religious blog post, and despite whatever you may believe, I’d invite you to read! Who knows, maybe you’ll learn some cool things about yourself (or this great big world we get to occupy for a little bit).

I grew up very religious ((shoutout to my Episcopalian middle/high school)). I was raised Methodist by some really cool peeps (my raised-catholic momma (who hates being called mama, sorry) and my preacher-kid daddio (who has never been called that before, but hey I’m trying new things). My grandma is this rocking awesome Methodist Preacher who marches for equality and loves herself a good glass of wine! But the dopest (a really great adjective, right?) thing about how I was raised was the way my family let us kiddos choose what we believed. I know a lot of people who were forced to believe this-or-that and therefore resented it. People don’t really like being told what to believe, ya know?

I don’t have that ~cool~ testimony where God like pancake-flipped my life in this miraculous way, but I’d argue that my journey won’t be over until I take my last breath. No one’s testimony is ever complete until they are!

I grew up with a really strong faith; I had my doubts as most questioning kids do, but I never really experienced a total blackout of my faith. When I was a freshman in high school, I struggled with a lot of mental health issues ((if you’ve read my blog before you might know a lil about that)) like big time anxiety issues. I started to fall into that spiral where I was mad at God.

“Hey God, if you’re so freaking great and loving and all that, then why did my camp counselor kill herself? Why did one of my best friends cut his wrists in the bathroom? Why do I want to not live anymore? If you’re really up there then get me out of this. Don’t let me wake up tomorrow. I don’t want anymore of this bs.”

((my fingers are getting very chilly at this point, so I apologize for these frozen-not-so-poetic words))

I was frustrated and mad and felt as if everything I’d been taught was some watered down truth meant to put a band-aid on all the hurt around me. It felt like religion was an excuse to ignore the real world, to ignore the real issues, to ignore the pain. I was done with the hypocrisy of those around me; I was done with the idea of suffering; I was done with feeling like my anxiety could suddenly go away if I were just more faithful in my God.

I didn’t stop believing in God, but I stopped loving him; I stopped having faith in his goodness. I was convinced that christianity was a whole load of crap, and that everyone around me was just being naive in their blind faith.

Then I went to my favorite place in the world, no not Disney World (even though that is up there). I went to Camp Cheerio, which is definitely the best summer camp in the whole world! It was my last year as a camper and I was not at all ready for those amazing memories to end. It was our camp-out night, a fine Wednesday night, and we laid out under the stars. My counselor gave some devotion that has long since left my mind, but I remember laying there under those beautiful stars and for the first time in almost a year, I prayed. I was sort of at a loss for words, but God has this miraculous way of speaking for me when I don’t know what to say. So there I was, staring at a sky full of hope and wonder counting shooting stars and praying; it was the calmest I had felt in such a long time. I felt the Holy Spirit work in me that night.

Later in the session, I sat in the woods by myself (a fun thing called Solo Night), on top of a fallen tree, with a bible open in my lap. I’d always loved the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, so I figured I should start there. I read this story that I’d heard so many times before, but for the first time I felt like I understood Joseph – a man who had everything taken from him, a man who was utterly alone in the universe – I saw how God delivered him through all the bs of life. But the most amazing thing to me was how Joseph was so strong in his faith through it all. That couldn’t be naive blind faith, that was something else. That was an amazing belief in something bigger than himself.

I am so far from perfect and I deal with strife over guilt every day, but I remember that someone loved me enough to die for me. Which in theory sounds like something we would do for any of our loved ones, but he didn’t just die for one of us – he died for each and every one of us. The liars, the cheaters, the murderers, the crooked politicians, the sex offenders, the rapists, the worst of the worst, and the best of the best. How absolutely wild is that? It will never make sense to me. Ever. 

There is nothing in this post that I can say to capture the absolute peace I feel in my God. There is no way to capture his grace. But when I think of the love God has for me and every one of the 7 billion people on this earth, I am overcome with emotion.

I can sit here and type forever, but nothing is going to measure up. Nothing is gonna feel like enough. I encourage you to look at the little things in your life that have gone so inexplicably right, those things that seem like daily miracles, the way your little sister smiles, the way the sky is painted every morning and every night, think of it all. There is something bigger than us out there in that wonderful sky. When I hear the way human voices come together to create the most beautiful and intricate of harmonies, I cannot help but think of the wonderful things God has put in my life.

There is something so much bigger than us; there is something so much lovelier than us. I’m not tryna make any of you religious or anything, but it’s a pretty cool experience and I highly recommend it.

Hosea 6:3
“Let us acknowledge the Lord;
    let us press on to acknowledge him.
As surely as the sun rises,
    he will appear;
he will come to us like the winter rains,
    like the spring rains that water the earth.”

That’s pure poetry y’all.

I’ll do the research, so you don’t have to!

You’re welcome. 

Maybe at the family dinner table this thanksgiving break Uncle Something-or-Other started talking about that dang caravan and those darn immigrants, and maybe you sat there completely clueless. I’m guessing you don’t really know too much about what this caravan thing is? Or why everyone is up in arms about it? Heck, maybe you yourself feel a lil uncomfy with it all, but you’re not entirely sure what’s going on. I was in a similar position when I first heard of the ‘migrant caravan’, so I did what I do best – I listened to podcast after podcast, read various articles, watched videos; I did the research, so you don’t have to.

Let’s start with the what-the-heck :

On October 13th of this year, a group of mostly Hondurans began to flee from the “crime-ridden city” and head to America. They formed what is now known as the ‘migrant caravan’ and were soon joined by others from Guatemala and El Salvador.

What exactly is a caravan? Is it a super fun vehicle decked out for a family-road-trip of fun ! Woo-Hoo? No, definitely not. A caravan is a group of migrants traveling together for the sake of security. So, it’s basically a big-ole group of people sticking together and relying on one another, because at this point they’re all they have.

Let’s get to the why-the-heck?

This is the question I find the most important. Get out those toddler goggles and get ready to ask why a whole heck-of-a-lot.

Why do these people need to leave their homes? Why are they coming to the States? Why should we allow them in our country? Why should I care?

What could possibly be so bad in Central America that thousands of people feel the need to escape?

Central America was plagued with civil wars in the 1980s, mostly in El Salvador and Guatemala. It is clear the the countries never fully recovered from these wars. NPR Reporter Robert Siegle on the podcast “All Things Considered”, asked director of the Washington Office on Latin America, Joy Olsen, her thoughts on events in Central America. When asked about the police presence she responded: “They all technically have police forces but the police forces don’t function very well. Corruption is a huge problem. And the justice systems don’t function very well either. So prosecution rates are incredibly low.”.

Central America is a fairly dangerous place at the moment. There is a large gap between the very rich and the very poor with hardly any middle ground. This means that the very rich live comfortable safe lives away from the violence because they can afford to be protected. Unfortunately, yes, you did read that correctly. Olsen states that “security’s been privatized to a great extent”. The police forces are extremely corrupt and only protect those that can pay their way to safety.

A lot of children are being raised in what is known as a red zone ((“a community controlled by gangs”)). These gang members set up road checks throughout cities and force citizens to pay an extortion racket. (I had no idea what that meant when I first read this NPR article, so naturally I looked it up. It appears to be a sort of fee that citizens have to pay after being threatened by violence, so that’s disgustingly disturbing.) And those gangs are trying to recruit the male children to join the gang and recruit young girls to be sex slaves. One mother said her daughter was 11 years old when the gang requested she join.

Just pause for a second and take that in. Your eleven year old daughter – she’s finishing up fifth grade, she’s stressed about where she’s gonna go to middle school. Will her and her friends stick together? Does that cute kid next to her think she’s cute too? She should be worried about the math multiplications quiz she has on Friday, or what she should make her parents for Christmas, She should be worrying if her best friend is mad at her or what she should wear to family dinner. She should not be worrying if her father will be murdered or if her body will be sold away for sex. Your eleven year old daughter! Your twelve year old son becoming one of the criminals who kills and rapes. Who in their right mind would want that future for their child? What would you do? Would you do everything in your power to get them out of that environment? Would you travel thousands of miles to keep them safe? I don’t know what you would do! But I would do that for my thirteen year old campers, and they aren’t even my sweat and blood in human form. I would do that for my twelve year old neighbors that I haven’t spoken to in three years.

These people are not criminals! If you love a good podcast then I’d recommend “From Mexico, the Reality of the Migrant Caravan” produced by The New Yorker and published on November 1st of this year. It follows Jonathan Blitzer as he answers questions about the week he spent with the caravan. One of his main points is that these people are not violent! He says there have been no crimes committed with the group, no violence, no hatred. The worst rumor that spread was about someone “stealing babies” and then it turned out to be false. He talks about how loving and peaceful the people are; he shares how grateful they are to be leaving such a violent place and to try to provide a better future for their children. He says that most of them have hardly thought about what being in America will actually be like, or even if they will be able to get in. Their goal is not to infiltrate the states, it’s to escape the hell-hole they came from!

Now, I know that we can’t simply let all these people into our country just because they have a tragic backstory. Trust me, I am well aware of how optimistically naive that belief would be. But I do think there is something we, as a country, could do. What that is, I’m not entirely sure, but I don’t think the answer lies in hatred. I hardly think the answer ever lies within hatred. These people need help, and we are so fortunate that we have the opportunity to provide that. So, let’s help them. Let’s figure out something we can do. If the consensus is to not let them into our country as easily, then let’s come up with an alternative plan. We are too privileged to do nothing; we have the ability to help the world, so why the frick-frack are we not at least trying? If America is as great as we claim it to be, let’s prove to other countries that we are compassionate individuals who are not just money/power/fame hungry.

I recognize that this is a tricky situation; I recognize that I do not have all the answers, as I’m sure you don’t either. But I think we can agree that this is a situation we should treat with both our minds and our hearts.

America, the great melting pot, would not exist had our ancestors not decided to take a chance and leave a place they were not welcome. Always remember where we come from, remember our history, never forget.

Sources:

“A Look At The Violence Driving Central American Families To Seek Asylum In The U.S.”
     NPR, NPR, 25 June 2018, http://www.npr.org/2018/06/25/623318845/a-look-at-the-violence-
driving-central-american-families-to-seek-asylum-in-the-u.

“Migrant Caravan: What Is It and Why Does It Matter?” BBC News, BBC, 26 Nov. 2018,
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-45951782.

“The Corrupt Structures Driving The Exodus Out Of Central America.” NPR, NPR, 17 July
2014, http://www.npr.org/2014/07/17/332351627/the-corrupt-structures-driving-the-exodus-
out-of-central-america.

Wickenden, Dorothy. “From Mexico, the Reality of the Migrant Caravan.” The New Yorker,
The New Yorker, 5 Nov. 2018, http://www.newyorker.com/podcast/political-scene/from-
mexico-the-reality-of-the-migrant-caravan.

as always, if any of my information is wrong, please let me know and I will update it!