Brooklyn Lindsey is talented woman- we all know this.. She has managed to combine an article about the geography of hate in the United States using Twitter and her own personal story of using the “R-word” together to make for an insightful post about growing as an individual. Read on!
Not so long ago I read a blog that shared the Geography of U.S. Hate Mapped by Using Twitter.
The image sort of ticked me off. Anyone looking at the map would curiously examine their own home state to find out who is guilty and not guilty. I looked at Florida (where I live), and Ohio (where I was mostly raised). Hate seems to get thicker as it heads East.
Unfortunately, Ohio is one of the states with the darkest bands of hate tweets on the doppler radar. I thought, “That’s not me! No way.” Someone’s making this stuff up right?
Tickets to CussTown (these are imaginary objects that I made up in adulthood to make myself feel better about learning how to cuss as a child)
Expressive Hand Gestures
Okay. Maybe there are a few things embedded in me that are difficult to shake. But I’m good. I’m nice. I am a youth worker. I don’t need to grow like the haters on the Twitter feed. I’m a pastor and don’t need to check my speech.
But maybe I do.
I was at a youth ministry conference recently where I was being interviewed live both online and in person in front of a few youth ministry friends. It was a fun time. Sometimes when I get excited, I say funny things. My brain is going faster than my mouth. The filter can weaken.
I was explaining how doing the same things over and over—without asking a lot of questions about their effectiveness is just re…..
I think I got the second syllable, “tar,” in there, too, before I corrected myself.
“Not what I meant to say.”
“That wasn’t the right word to use.”
“You know my heart.”
“What I meant to say is…”
That was me, digging myself out of a hole.
For years, I have wanted to amend my language by removing the R-word completely. Growing up, we would call something “retarded” when it didn’t make sense or someone failed at something. Having no idea that it might describe a disability or hurt someone who has a disability, we flung it around like sand on the playground. I later found out, while learning to play the violin, that a retard in a musical composition is to gracefully slow. Then, our twin niece and nephew were born with multiple disabilities. I realized how the word could be offensive and degrading to individuals who are also made in the beautiful image of God.
All that to say, I know better.
And it came out of my mouth like I was 13 years old again.
I was so mad at myself!
I told few people about it and just couldn’t get over it that day.
The realization: I still have a lot of growing to do.
I was reminded as I was watching the sunset that evening, that personal growth doesn’t happen overnight. It happens as our hearts change. It happens as we are transformed moment by moment. God’s work moving deeply in us, stirring us, scrubbing us to the core, giving us a certain sorrow when we know we’ve messed up, courage to admit that we need forgiveness, and resolve to make the necessary changes.
I want to grow. I want to teach my children to leave certain words out of their vocabulary. Not because it’s politically correct, but because it’s humanly correct. And God can help all of us.
Whatever it is, wherever you’re from, whatever habit you’re trying to break. We can start!
1. I accept that I need to grow.
2. I surrender my heart to the virtue of love.
3. I become active in changing my habits by praying, seeking, and becoming more aware.
4. I carefully educate others. I believe that teaching is really learning twice. (As youth workers we have a pretty sweet deal because we get to learn over and over and over again.)
My area of personal growth is a vocabulary amendment. I’d like to change the geographical map, one person (starting with me) at a time.
Where are you growing today? What steps can you take to start that process now?
*You can get Brooklyn’s perspective as well as other women in youth ministry every Thursday when you sign up for the SYM Today Newsletter!*