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The Dress That Twirls: Redefining Peter Pan Syndrome

“I want the dress that twirls,” Mary Beth protested to her mother. We were headed out to enjoy an Easter Sunday stroll around town when she suddenly requested this outfit change. I immediately thought, “What is the dress that twirls, and why does this three year old believe this dress is best for our outing?” Mary Beth is an extremely smart and thoughtful toddler; therefore, I knew there was more to her request than just a dress change – and I was right.

As we walked around Georgetown, we saw a small park beautifully decorated with cherry blossoms. Mary Beth got out of her stroller and begin dancing in the park and playing with the cherry blossoms. Her mother Elise turned to me and said, “That is why she wanted to wear that dress because she likes how it twirls when she dances.” Mary Beth knew, from prior experiences, that the stroll around town meant for plenty of whimsical opportunities to dance and play, and she wanted to wear the dress best suited for the occasion.

As I watched and participated in this ethereal performance, I found myself wanting to live in her world. As I jumped up and down throwing cherry blossoms in the air and running in the church yard adorned with daises, I escaped the abundant, and sometimes grappling, anxieties of my life, and I went to a different place.

It is a world where the carefree happiness of childhood perpetually exists and the stresses of adult life are never permitted. I wanted to stay in Mary Beth’s world as long as I could because I knew somewhere between when I got in my car to head back home and going to work the next morning, I would mentally go back to the “real world.”

What is the balance between the Apostle Paul’s comments that our actions must show the transition from childhood to adulthood, and Jesus’s comments that unless we become like little children, we will not enter the kingdom of heaven?

Despite the fact that I have been taking care of myself since I was eighteen years old, I’ve been told that I have peter pan syndrome to a certain degree. This description wasn’t bestowed upon me because I fit the classic definition of those who suffer from this syndrome. It was given to me because, in spite of many hardships that should have noticeably scarred my heart, I have maintained this youthful soul. 

Recently, I begin losing my peter pan syndrome. The negative experiences and disappointments of living in New York started to steal my youthful exuberance. I thought maybe I do need to grow up and these problems are necessary for change, but the affect on my attitude wasn’t positive so something was amiss with my conclusion.

My struggle demanded a change in my approach to relationships so there was a “growing up” element involved, but even greater than that, I realized that for the first time I am in a place where I can’t even remotely solve my problems, and I have to trust God with childlike faith more than ever if I want to come out of this with my soul unscathed. It is a divine spin on my peter pan syndrome.

As a daily reminder of that happy place where I can exist as long as I have my childlike trust in God, I keep a picture in front of me from that magical Easter Sunday where I twirled with my tinkerbell, Mary Beth.

Blog

From Black to Human

Two Words That Changed My View About Race

I live for (and die with) the comment section. The general public’s insight and humor on a story, a social media post, or a YouTube video is just as informative as the piece itself. Comment sections – the new chat rooms – have drawn me in to the point where I almost don’t engage any content that doesn’t allow comments.

But what comes along with the comedic relief and different perspectives that I find delightful are comments from ill-informed, uneducated, and just simply mean-spirited people who like the attention they get from negative comments. The positive always outweighs the negative, but the negative, for some reason, can speak so loudly to us rational humans to where it makes the positive non-existent.

One night I was looking at videos about the Civil Rights Movement on YouTube and reading the comment section. Between the video content and the negative comments, I found myself overwhelmed with anger. The content itself can easily enrage someone because it speaks to the horrors of American institutionalized racism that lasted so long into the country’s existence, but the negative comments take the recent past into the present and reveal the number of people, because of their own racism, who either continue to justify that behavior or minimize it to varying degrees.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (New International Version, Eph. 6.12)

My mentor gave me this guiding principal about the difference between positive holy anger and negative human anger. When your anger is directed at a person, it is a guarantee that God didn’t incite that type of anger within you, but when it is directed at the forces of darkness and their destructive works, your Heavenly Father is calling you to take action.

As I read the comments on the YouTube videos that night, my anger was directed at people. I caught myself because I knew in that moment whatever message was finding a place within me wasn’t from God so I prayed. These two words were impressed upon my heart as I spoke to God – Human Race.

I have known for quite sometime that the concept of different races of human beings is a social construct and not a biological or biblical reality. God created different tribes and tongues (or as we say today – nationalities), but He didn’t create different races of people. The purpose that our modern-day racial classification system came into existence was to promote division and supremacy. At its very root, the belief system that there are different races of people is antagonistic towards the unity God intended to exist among humanity.

I’ve heard plenty of times that there is nothing wrong with racial pride or racial identity regardless of the origin of our modern-day racial classifications. My response to that is would you be comfortable with someone of another race expressing their racial pride to you? Without fail, people honestly aren’t comfortable in that scenario. The reason for that is race is inherently divisive because it was created to be divisive and there isn’t any way it can be recast to remove the spirit of division that is connected to it.

Today, with God’s perspective about the human race, I am no longer comfortable with racial classifications. When I hear people talk about their race and affiliate themselves with a race to distinguish themselves from other people, I clearly see how that undermines unity and promotes division and strife. I strongly believe that race is one of the most powerful tools diabolically used to prevent people from living the life God intended for them.

I purchsed a t-shirt that sums up my stance on race. It has differenct races listed on it with boxes next to each them, but the only listing with the box checked is next to the word human. People have and continue to fight against racism in our world, but if we want to end racism, we have to abolish the belief system at the root of racism – race.

Blog

Tears, Blood, and Sorrow

How The Columbus Day Controversy Re-Kindled God’s Heart Within Me For The Native Americans

I wasn’t a fan of Columbus Day well before the anti-sentiments became a cultural norm. I never understood for years why Columbus Day is a federal holiday. It is absurd and a flat out insult to say someone discovered something when there were people already here. It’s as if those people didn’t exist. If we are honest with ourselves, the people indigenous to the lands called the Americas have been treated for centuries as if they were anything other than people that deserved the Golden Rule treatment Jesus commanded.

Someone said something on twitter in the midst of the Columbus Day debate that just grabbed my heart. This person wrote that they believe Native Americans would like for people to remember their existence more than just one controversial day during the entire year. I am one of those people that Columbus Day stirs up sorrow in my heart for America’s indigenous people, but after that day, I just go on with my life. I know that there is more I can do for the indigenous people who are still alive – I’ve always known – but I have never acted on that awareness. This tweet exposed my inaction, but it also made me feel like a hypocrite.

“Why aren’t they smiling in any of these pictures?” “Would you be smiling if you were subjected to what happened to them?” Years ago, this exchange happened between myself and a co-worker as we looked at pictures of Native Americans. The piercing sorrow in their faces in every single one of those pictures broke my heart to the point where, as a form of escapism, I wanted to recreate American history to where the U.S. government didn’t have any blame for their plight.

I am not the only American who, at some point in our lives, wanted to run from our country’s evil beginnings and think we’ve always been this special place on earth where everyone has always had access to live the great American Dream. There is a significant portion of U.S. citizens who have created an American history that would be defined in literature as historical fiction, and they defend their version with this mantra, “If you don’t like our country get out.”

The recreation happens because it is extremely difficult to face the depth of brutality this country legally subjected people to for centuries. So instead of saying, “These evil things did happen. The United States of America has a very dark past that includes tremendous human rights violations that lasted for centuries, but we are in a better place today,” there are millions of Americans who would whether just lie to themselves than face the truth, and they even get mad at other people for speaking the truth.

I recently established within myself that we are currently living within a narrative where people are trying to recover from centuries of legalized white supremacy, segregation, bondage, and oppression. It is one thing to read about societies rebounding from destruction in history books, but it is requires an authentic mental adjustment to realize you are living within one of those societies. I believe this proper mental framework helped me to correctly respond to that tweet instead of pretending like I didn’t see it because it rebuked me.

I was running from God’s calling on my life to be of service to the Native American community because I couldn’t face the devastation and destruction brought upon them by the sheer existence of this country and its governments – federal, state, and local. More than any other people group existing in this world right now, none has suffered loss as the indigenous people of the Americas. The few that have survived the destruction are in a fight to overcome the horrors of the past while the world around them is a constant reminder. It is an intensely hard and painful fight that, if not won, leads to a dark existence medicated by various forms of escapism.

Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”And He said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground. (Gen. 4:8-12 NKJV)

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.                       (2 Cor. 5:10 NKJV)

People may choose to forgot what happened to the Native Americans, down play it, justify it, or just turn them into caricatures for their Halloween costumes and mascots, but God hasn’t forgot. God sees the blood of innocent Native American men, women, and children that is entrenched within American soil, and one day, every single person who brought destruction upon these people will answer for their crimes. Like Christopher Columbus, they may be celebrated heroes on the Earth for their evil deeds, but Divine justice will prevail in the end.