“Anyone who is not against you is for you.” -Jesus Christ
When I was first making my Facebook Live videos, particularly those talking about God’s Kingdom and Christ’s redemption, I was filled with worry about how others would perceive me. More so than the worry of being perceived as crazy, foolish, gullible or zealous, over the years I had collected many friends with varying faith backgrounds and didn’t want anyone to feel excluded or offended. I carried on, because I felt very convicted that what I spoke was Truth. I wasn’t going to let my fear get in the way of sharing what could change or save someone else’s life. But that little nagging worry stuck with me.
There was a woman in particular who I really looked up to for her courage and fun personality, who is well recognized within the horticultural industry. She generously offered to ship me some WWII-era clothes (true vintage!) in my postpartum size (do you know how tiny those women were back then?!) and totally saved the day for a costumed hanger dance I had been invited to.
I had always wanted a better relationship with her but in my intimidation I watched from afar (see: lurked creepily on all her posts). For some reason I took her as some volatile leftist wingnut that would tear me a new one if I opposed her views.
One day, however, she posted a few memes about what being Quaker was like. Quaker?! Like Christian fundamentalist Quaker?!
So I finally conquered my fear and wrote her a message. I was shocked to learn that she wasn’t anything like the caricature I had of her in my head. She was charitable, open-minded and still just as cool as a cucumber. She explained that she was raised atheist and sought Him out thinking “what do I have to lose?” She also wanted to raise her family differently. She wanted to offer her daughter something that would “feed her soul”.
“I remember when people used to enjoy learning about other religions… doesn’t happen much anymore,” she said to me. “It’s hard for people to be vulnerable in finding what they need from God. Some of it may be laziness, but if their past experiences weren’t soul feeding, why hunger for more?”
And then — gulp, are you ready? — she said she liked my Facebook Live videos.
“Your videos are great! I’ve enjoyed watching you get WOKE!”
Y’all. This is was like the Beyoncé of my industry. I was honored, excited and felt so validated. Her opinion mattered a lot to me. She told me this right when I needed to hear it, because I was in the middle of a discernment hiatus from the vlogging.
This gentle push, these words of encouragement, really affected my life. She probably still doesn’t realize to what extent, but I think about them often. In the face of fear, do you. Follow Truth. Claim and proclaim it. And she described exactly what was happening to me with such brevity and clarity: I was getting woke.
Somehow this settled that aching worry in me about offending someone, maybe because I was quite afraid of offending her in particular. And she helped me overcome that by acknowledging our similarities. We didn’t need to discuss our differences. But mainly, she got it. Message received. I had finally awakened, I could finally see, and I just wanted the same for everyone around me. Clarity, freedom, peace… an illuminating light in the darkness most of us had settled for. I was getting woke! (Funny side note: while experimenting with potentially launching a YouTube channel, my cheesy intro was “Hi, welcome to Getting Woke with Mama B”. It’s still not off the table.)
Saint Elisabeth Leseur had a beautiful relationship with people whose views varied from her own. She was steadfast in her faith amongst intellectuals, artists and vehement atheists — including her husband — who often tried to persuade her from her religiosity. In her love and devotion to each one of them, however, she was able to direct Jews and nuns, children and adults, believers and non-believers. Ultimately, after she had passed, her atheist husband realized her deep love in hindsight and became a priest. It’s quite the retrospective love story.
All this to say we are on the same team. Team humanity. Okay, most of us are on the same team, for if there are people of good will that inherently means the opposite also exists; there are people of bad will, who do want to watch the world burn. I can hardly fathom it, to be honest, but naïveté doesn’t serve our purpose well. I’m still going to be optimistic and say that the majority of us are genuinely “activists for good”, as my friend put it. We are in the same camp, fighting the same battles. I can think of few things that feel better in spiritual warfare than camaraderie. Sometimes this can be hard to see in a culture that focuses on a divisive us-vs-them mentality. You must be intentional about seeking it out and providing it for others.
Lastly, you aren’t doing anyone any favors if you’re hiding in the barracks. If you believe, proclaim the Good News so that all those who don’t believe have a shot at hope, true peace… salvation. What could be more important? Painstakingly preserving your pristine reputation is not more fulfilling than kindling Truth and fire in the hearts of others. Not looking stupid is also not more important. You don’t have to be able to perfectly defend your views like a Doctor of the Church. Your intuition and faith is enough. Don’t let the pretense of not being an articulate theologian pressure you into silence.
Plus, you never know who is out there secretly agreeing with you, or what doors you may open for someone who’s on the fence. Your courage gives courage. It creates breathing room; a space to be vulnerable and the ability to ask for true needs. You’re spreading hope.
So a special thanks to my friend who let me know I wasn’t alone and that I needed to march on. Without her encouragement my self-doubt might have swallowed me whole. God provides. When you are your weakest, about to give up, He will be there if you call for Him and He will sustain you to carry out what you are called to do. It’s these little interactions where God rests. He lives in people of goodwill; it’s our job to carry His peace to others who need it.