123 reasons why Trump's words matter (and so do ours)

 Photo credit: Gage Skidmore

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore

  1. These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. (Matthew 15:18)

  2. The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. (Proverbs 18:21)

  3. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs. (Ephesians 4:29)

  4. The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. (Proverbs 12:18)

  5. Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned. (Matthew 12:33-37)

  6. Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. (Proverbs 16:24)

  7. A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1)

  8. Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin. (Proverbs 13:3)

  9. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. (Colossians 3:8)

  10. Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity. (Proverbs 21:23)

  11. May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)

  12. My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. (James 1:19)

  13. Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. (James 1:26)

  14. When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue is also a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one's life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. (James 3:3-12)

  15. A soothing tongue is a tree of light, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit. (Proverbs 15:4)

  16. Do you see someone who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for them. (Proverbs 29:20)

  17. Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues. (Proverbs 17:28)

  18. No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. (Luke 6:43-45)

  19. Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a ruling rightly given. (Proverbs 25:11)

  20. Let your conversations be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (Colossians 4:6)

  21. The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered. (Proverbs 17:27)

  22. The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly. (Proverbs 15:2)

  23. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. (Romans 12:14)

  24. The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent, and their lips promote instruction. (Proverbs 16:23)

  25. Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips. (Psalm 141:3)

  26. Through the blessing of the upright a city is exalted, but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroyed. (Proverbs 11:11)

  27. Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips. (Proverbs 27:2)

  28. Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues. (Proverbs 10:19)

  29. You have been trapped by what you said, ensnared by the words of your mouth. (Proverbs 6:2)

  30. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. (Ephesians 5:3-4)

  31. Whoever derides their neighbor has no sense, but the one who has understanding holds their tongue. (Proverbs 11:12)

  32. To answer before listening - that is folly and shame. (Proverbs 18:13) 

  33. Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment. (Proverbs 12:19)

  34. He loved to pronounce a curse - may it come back on him. He found no pleasure in blessing - may it be far from him. (Psalm 109:17)

  35. A person finds joy in giving an apt reply - and how good is a timely word! (Proverbs 15:23)

  36. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. (Exodus 20:16)

  37. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:8-10)

  38. Or if anyone thoughtlessly takes an oath to do anything, whether good or evil (in any matter one might carelessly swear about) even though they are unaware that they are guilty in any of these matters, they must confess in what way they have sinned. (Leviticus 5:4-5)

  39. Do not go about spreading slander among your people. Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor's life. I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:16)

  40. Evildoers are trapped by their sinful talk, and so the innocent escape trouble. (Proverbs 12:13)

  41. From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things, and the work of their hands brings them reward. (Proverbs 12:14)

  42. An honest witness tells the truth, but a false witness tells lies. (Proverbs 12:17)

  43. The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in people who are trustworthy. (Proverbs 12:22)

  44. The prudent keep their knowledge to themselves, but a fool's heart blurts out folly. (Proverbs 12:23)

  45. The wise store up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool invites ruin. (Proverbs 10:14)

  46. Blessings crown the head of the righteous, but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked. (Proverbs 10:6)

  47. The wise in heart accept commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin. (Proverbs 10:8)

  48. Whoever winks maliciously causes grief, and a chattering fool comes to ruin. (Proverbs 10:10)

  49. The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. (Proverbs 10:11)

  50. Wisdom is found on the lips of the discerning, but a rod is for the back of one who has no sense. (Proverbs 10:13)

  51. Whoever conceals hatred with lying lips and spreads slander is a fool. (Proverbs 10:18)

  52. The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, but the heart of the wicked is of little value. (Proverbs 10:20)

  53. The lips of the righteous nourish many, but fools die for lack of sense. (Proverbs 10:21)

  54. From the mouth of the righteous comes the fruit of wisdom, but a perverse tongue will be silenced. (Proverbs 10:31)

  55. The lips of the righteous know what finds favor, but the mouth of the wicked only what is perverse. (Proverbs 10:32)

  56. A fool's mouth lashes out with pride, but the lips of the wise protect them. (Proverbs 14:3)

  57. A honest witness does not deceive, but a false witness pours out lies. (Proverbs 14:5)

  58. Stay away from a fool, for you will not find knowledge on their lips. (Proverbs 14:7)

  59. Fools mock at making amends for sin, but goodwill is found among the upright. (Proverbs 14:9)

  60. Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions. (Proverbs 18:2)

  61. The words of the mouth are deep waters, but the fountain of wisdom is a rushing stream. (Proverbs 18:4)

  62. The lips of fools bring them strife, and their mouths invite a beating. (Proverbs 18:6)

  63. The mouths of fools are their undoing, and their lips are a snare to their very lives. (Proverbs 18:7)

  64. In a lawsuit the first to speak seems right, until someone comes forward and cross-examines. (Proverbs 18:17)

  65. From the fruit of their mouth a persons stomach is filled; with the harvest of their lips they are satisfied. (Proverbs 18:20)

  66. The proud and arrogant person - "Mocker" is his name - behaves with insolent fury. (Proverbs 21:24)

  67. With their mouths the godless destroy their neighbors, but through knowledge the righteous escape. (Proverbs 11:9)

  68. My companion attacks his friends; he violates his covenant. His talk is smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart; his words are more soothing than oil, yet they are drawn swords. (Psalm 55:20-21)

  69. I am in the midst of lions; I am forced to dwell among ravenous beasts - men whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords. (Psalm 57:4)

  70. They sharpen their tongues like swords and aim cruel words like deadly arrows. They shoot from ambush at the innocent; they shoot suddently, without fear. (Psalm 64:3-4)

  71. Rescue me, LORD, for evildoers; protect me from the violent, who devise evil plans in their hearts and stir up war every day. They make their tongues as sharp as a serpent's; the poison of vipers is on their lips. (Psalm 140:1-3)

  72. The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood, but the speech of the upright rescues them. (Proverbs 12:6)

  73. Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value the one who speaks what is right. (Proverbs 16:13)

  74. The wise in heart are called discerning, and gracious words promote instruction. (Proverbs 16:21)

  75. A scoundrel plots evil, and on their lips it is like a scorching fire. (Proverbs 16:27)

  76. Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold is the rebuke of a wise judge to a listening ear. (Proverbs 25:12)

  77. Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone. (Proverbs 25:15)

  78. Like a north wind that brings unexpected rain is a sly tongue - which provokes a horrified look. (Proverbs 25:23)

  79. A wicked person listens to deceitful lips; a liar pays attention to a destructive tongue. (Proverbs 17:4)

  80. Eloquent lips are unsuited to a godless fool - how much worse lying lips to a ruler! (Proverbs 17:7)

  81. One whose heart is corrupt does not prosper; one whose tongue is perverse falls into trouble. (Proverbs 17:20)

  82. Lead me, LORD, in your righteousness because of my enemies - make your ways straight before me. Not a word from their mouth can be trusted; their heart is filled with malice. Their throat is an open grave; with their tongues they tell lies. (Psalm 5:8-9)

  83. LORD, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain? The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from their heart; whose tongue utters no slander, who does no wrong to a neighbor, and casts no slur on others; who despises a vile person but honors those who fear the LORD; who keeps an oath even when it hurts, and does not change their mind; who lends money to the poor without interest; who does not accept a bribe against the innocent. (Psalm 15:1-5)

  84. Jesus called the crowd to him and said, "Listen and understand. What goes into someone's mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them... Don't you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of a person's mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts - murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them." (Matthew 15:10-11, 17-20)

  85. Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, "Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them." After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. "Are you so dull?" he asked. "Don't you see that nothing that enters a person from the outside can defile them? For it doesn't go into their heart but into their stomach, and then out of the body." (In saying this, Jesus declared all food clean.) He went on: "What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person's heart, that evil thoughs come - sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person." (Mark 7:14-23)

  86. No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless. (Revelation 14:5)

  87. For "whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech." (1 Peter 3:10)

  88. Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. (Psalm 34:12-14)

  89. The Sovereign LORD has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed. (Isaiah 50:4)

  90. The lips of the wise spread knowledge, but the hearts of fools are not upright. (Proverbs 15:7)

  91. A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel. (Proverbs 15:18)

  92. The LORD detests the thoughts of the wicked, but gracious words are pure in his sight. (Proverbs 15:26)

  93. The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil. (Proverbs 15:28)

  94. Better the poor whose walk is blameless than a fool whose lips are perverse. (Proverbs 19:1)

  95. A false witness will not go unpunished, and whoever pours out lies will not go free. (Proverbs 19:5)

  96. A false witness will not go unpunished, and whoever pours out lies will perish. (Proverbs 19:9)

  97. A corrupt witness mocks at justice, and the mouth of the wicked gulps down evil. (Proverbs 19:28)

  98. A fortune made by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a deadly snare. (Proverbs 21:6)

  99. Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. (2 Timothy 2:16)

  100. All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty. (Proverbs 14:23)

  101. Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of the destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and the needy. (Proverbs 31:8)

  102. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. (Proverbs 31:26)

  103. Words from the mouth of the wise are gracious, but fools are consumed by their own lips. At the beginning their words are folly; at the end they are wicked madness - and fools multiply words. No one knows what is coming - who can tell someone else what will happen after them? (Ecclesiastes 10:12-14)

  104. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs. (Luke 12:3)

  105. An unfriendly person pursues selfish ends and against all sound judgment starts quarrels. (Proverbs 18:1)

  106. Save me, LORD, from lying lips and from deceitful tongues. (Psalm 120:2)

  107. If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. (1 Corinthians 13:1)

  108. Keep your mouth free of perversity; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. (Proverbs 4:24)

  109. A troublemaker and a villain, who goes about with a corrupt mouth, who winks maliciously with his eye, signals with his feet and motions with his fingers, who plots evil with deceit in his heart - he always stirs up conflict. Therefore disaster will overtake him in an instant; he will suddenly be destroyed - without remedy. (Proverbs 6:12-15)

  110. [Wisdom speaking:] Listen, for I have trustworthy things to say; I open my lips to speak what is right. My mouth speaks what is true, for my lips detest wickedness. All the words of my mouth are just; none of them is crooked or perverse. (Proverbs 8:6-8)

  111. To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech. (Proverbs 8:13)

  112. It is one's honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel. (Proverbs 20:3)

  113. Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife; quarrels and insults are ended. (Proverbs 22:10)

  114. Pay attention and turn your ear to the saying of the wise; apply your heart to what I teach, for it is pleasing when you keep them in your heart and have all of them ready on your lips. (Proverbs 22:17-18)

  115. Do not envy the wicked, do not desire their company; for their hearts plot violence, and their lips talk about making trouble. (Proverbs 24:1-2)

  116. An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips. (Proverbs 24:26)

  117. Do not testify against your neighbor without cause - would you use your lips to mislead? (Proverbs 24:28)

  118. Like a maniac shooting flaming arrows of death is one who deceives their neighbor and says, "I was only joking!" (Proverbs 26:18-19)

  119. A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin. (Proverbs 26:28)

  120. Whoever rebukes a person will in the end gain favor rather than one who has a flattering tongue. (Proverns 28:23)

  121. Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end. (Proverbs 29:11)

  122. If you play the fool and exalt yourself, or if you plan evil, clap your hand over your mouth! (Proverbs 30:32)

  123. There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community. (Proverbs 6:16-19)

White friends, I need you to let me know you're safe.

“I’m writing a new blog series about HIV now that we’re home,” I told her, barely balancing the phone between my chin and shoulder as I carried the basket of dirty clothes to the laundry room. Laundry still overwhelms me now, of course. It was even harder then as I was newly adjusting to our life as a family of eight. Going from three to six kids - all aged 6 and younger then - in one adoption is no joke.

“I’ve heard whispers that some people at church were worried about having their child in class with mine, but no one has said anything directly to us. So, have you heard anything?”

The silence was so loud on the other end that I thought we had gotten disconnected. I said her name and “hello?” 

She said, “I’m here,” as I moved laundry from the washer to the dryer.

I thought, perhaps, I needed to rephrase the question. I wanted to be clear that I wasn’t fishing for her to tell on anyone or name names or anything like that. This time, I asked, “Are there any specific concerns people have that I could address on the blog to clear things up?”

“Well,” she started and then paused. “Well, no. I haven’t heard anything from anyone else, but… well, I’ve been meaning to talk to you about this.”

“Huh?” I dropped a couple items. I couldn’t bring myself to pick them up. Something about her tone made me freeze. I waited on her words.

“Well, we’ve decided we aren’t comfortable with playdates anymore. We love your kids. We do. But with HIV, we just don’t know. [Husband] isn’t okay with that. I didn’t know how to tell you.”


I’m honestly not sure how I ended the phone call. I know I finished swapping the laundry. I remember emailing her with fact sheets and links, in hopes that this was a simple lack of education. My husband and hers sat down to talk it out. We tried to assure them that our child with HIV posed no risk to theirs.

(After all, HIV – other than mother-to-child transmission – is spread through blood transfusions, organ transplants, and sexual intercourse. I think we can all agree that those activities should be off the table for playdates, right? So, no problem.)

They were resolute, though: they could tolerate our child with theirs in Sunday school, but we didn’t want to risk any more contact than that. We could still be friends, they offered. (That didn’t really work, as you might imagine.)

I felt numb for weeks. I stopped inviting people over, not knowing who else might reject us. I felt more unloved and betrayed than I had since my childhood. No one seemed safe if this best friend wasn’t, I figured.

That was almost three years ago. Yet I’ve been thinking about that experience a lot this week. As I continue to lament what this past election showed me about our country, I'm lamenting anew at the denial of justice for Walter Scott and his family in Charleston. His name became a hashtag in April 2015 because Officer Slager shot him eight times in the back while he was 17 feet away. We watched the video. It also showed Slager depositing his taser next to Scott’s lifeless body, planting evidence to match the lies he planned to tell, saying Scott had his taser when he never did. (Not while he was alive, anyway.)

If we hadn’t seen the video, I think of how the narrative might have been different. If we hadn’t seen the video, I think of how many of my friends would have believed Slager’s lies. If we hadn’t seen the video, I think white America would have ignored another black man’s blood.

But even with the video, the trial ended in a mistrial, a miscarriage of justice, as the jury was able to render a verdict but proved unwilling to do their job.

I feel numb again, like I did after Tamir and Trayvon and Sandra and Keith and Philando and Alton and Eric and Levar and John and Tyre and Laquan and Ezell and Akai and Aiyana and Dontre and Jonathan and Samuel and Freddie and Rekia and others. (The list is too long, my friends. Too long. Lord, have mercy.) I grew up the daughter of a law enforcement officer, taught to respect the badge. Now I watch story after story play out of those wearing badges who neither respect their own code or the humanity of those with skin like three of our children. I feel so numb. No one feels safe when officers aren’t.

And if those officers are just a few bad apples, then why the lack of accountability? Why aren’t their colleagues the first in line to say that this sort of behavior doesn’t represent their work? Why isn’t the justice system willing to be just when the offender looks more like my father than my son?

Just like in those dreary months following my former friend’s declaration, I’m not sure who I can trust now. I’ve heard white friends defend the hatefulness of Trump’s campaign and followers, as if their words didn’t sting. I’ve seen posts and comments about how black people just need to not run and then they won’t die. I’ve been told, “your kids will be fine because you’re raising them right,” with no realization of the racist implication held in those words, the suggestion that black mothers and fathers aren’t good parents like we are.

Somedays it’s easier to just avoid you, white friends, unless you’ve explicitly told me or shown me you are safe. I know silence doesn’t equal racism. I’m not saying it does. I'm not saying that being quiet and white equates to being racist. But I am saying that silence from white people right now equates to uncertainty for me. It means you’re a wild card. It means you might be safe for us but I can’t know that for sure. It means that if I’ve never seen you show solidarity with those who have experienced racism, then I can’t know where you stand when we do.

And when I’m feeling particularly raw, I won’t turn to you if I don’t know you’re trustworthy. I can’t. I’ve been hurt too often for that. While for many white friends, the Slager mistrial feels like just another news story, it feels personal to people of color (and those of us raising black children). As I see white friends shocked by the mistrial, most of my friends of color aren’t surprised; they’re weary from carrying pain we’ve refused to even acknowledge. How can we heed the words of Galatians 6:2 to fulfill the law of Christ by bearing one another’s burdens if we try to pretend they don’t exist?

Please, friends, try to understand. Listen. Ask. Engage. Enter the hard conversations so that we can all grow. (As an example, you’ll find an amazingly helpful conversation under my friend Laura’s comment on my post here. That might be a good starting place.)

And once you can empathize, even just a little, then do something. I’m not asking you to speak out in all the ways I do. What a boring world it would be if we all used our voices in the same way! If posting on social media isn’t your thing, I get that. I really do. (Some days, it maybe shouldn’t be my thing either.)

Maybe doing something means having a conversation with a neighbor. Maybe it means texting a black friend to say, “I know the past month has been full of heavy race-related news… how are you feeling?” Maybe it means clicking “like” on something to let a friend know they aren’t alone. Maybe it means something more, something bigger, something bolder. Or maybe it means something simple, something in your school, something in your church, something in your home.

I tried to patch things up with my old friend, but our relationship basically ended with that phone call. She wasn’t willing to treat our child like anything but a threat. I learned then, though it broke my heart, that sometimes you have to walk away from friendships. I still love her. I still miss her. It's been almost three years, and I still can’t type these words without tears. My heart is still broken over this loss, to be honest. I’m still grieving.

But a friend isn’t a friend if she can’t see my children as fully human and worthy of love and belonging. A friend isn’t a friend if he chooses the fear of my children over the truth about them, whether the topic be HIV or race or immigration or disability or gender. A friend isn’t a friend if I share sorrow and the knee jerk reaction is defensiveness instead of care again and again. (Once or twice gets a pass, though I’ll call out that behavior for what it is. But we all have bad days. I don’t think it helps any of us to drop friends lightly.)

What I’m trying to say is that it’s hard to know which friends are true friends right now. It’s hard to know if all our friends are safe. It’s hard to know who would stand with us if it had been my son murdered with evidence planted next to him instead of Judy Scott’s son.

In other words, white friends, I need you to let me know you’re safe. I don’t know how to guess at that anymore. Too many people who have shown us love in every other way have surprised us with indifference or hurtful responses about racism.

And – while I know HIV status and race aren’t the same – I can’t bear to have one more conversation with someone who I think is safe who instead replies, “Actually, I’m the one who doesn’t want my kids playing with yours.” 

40 assorted thoughts about the Gilmore Girls revival

You know those super long and controversial posts I’ve written about politics lately? Well, here’s another. Except instead of politics, Gilmore Girls. Because they’re approximately the same level of importance, right?


1. We all endured poolhouse Rory, but no one loved her. And for the revival? We mostly got poolhouse Rory. Give me young bookish Rory or Yale Daily News editor Rory or independent ring-rejecting college grad Rory. But poolhouse Rory? For the love. No.


2. Welp, it seems that the show discovered black people exist other than Michel. Isn’t that quaint? Maybe by the next revival, some of them will get speaking lines and more screentime than the black back-up dancer in the musical that would not end.

3. And about the musical, I think I almost died during it. And if I had, it would have been sweet mercy. Good gracious, it was awful. And it. would. NOT. end. I mean, I get that they wanted the final song moment, but seriously? Couldn’t we have gotten there some other way? Any other way?

4. I do think the musical was supposed to be a bit of mirth in a plot-heavy revival. But, no. It was just bad. And I think that’s the overarching theme here: we all followed the plot of Gilmore Girls, but we loved it for the mirth not the plot. The most plot-heavy parts of the original were the stretches we all hated, like when the elder Gilmores were separated and when Lorelai and Rory were estranged. The best episodes were the ones that were all light and whimsy and such… and the revival just didn’t deliver that.


5. But it did give us Mr. Kim for a moment, and that gave me life.


6. But it only gave me Sookie for a few minutes, and that was just enough to make me mourn her absence through the whole rest of it. Because Sookie and Jackson? They gave so much light and whimsy, and without them, it wasn’t the same.


7. Taylor gave whimsy too in the originals, and he just seemed sad in the revival. And while I get that the joke about his sexuality at the town meeting was supposed to be funny... really? Gay jokes are pretty tasteless.


8. As are body shaming jokes, like the pool speedo bit.


9. As is adultery. C’mon. Rory as the hidden away mistress? I mean, I’m glad she didn’t go for that full-on, because that’s not her, but Logan is better than that too. And Rory’s low point as the homewrecker for Dean and Lindsay? We really didn’t need to revisit that.


10. But Dean, sweet Dean. I loved his appearance and where his story went. He, minus the infidelity bit, is the one who I always loved but? I think he’s too good for Rory.


11. And Jess? I’ve never been the biggest fan of that greaseball because I aspired for so much more for Rory, but I have to admit that she is her truest best self with him. Except I think present-day Jess is too good for present-day Rory, which is an ironic turn of events.


12. I know that Logan is Rory’s Christopher and Jess is Rory’s Luke. And maybe Dean is Rory's Max. I still don’t like it.


13. Overall, though, Rory is 32. I’m 34. I don’t expect everyone to have an established marriage and six kids by 31 like I did, but I had hoped Rory would be more found and less lost by now.


14. And the final four words? Amy S-P was all about them from early on in the show. She had them planned way in advance. But then she left the show before the end, and the words remained unspoken... until now. And I really think they would have worked as a full-circle sort of magic if they had come at the end of the final season with Rory newly out of college. That would have given us some parallelism with 16 year old mom Lorelai and early 20s mom Rory. But acting like Lorelai having a baby as a teenager and making a wonderful life for herself after that is the same as Rory becoming a single mom at 32? No. Puh-lease. Amy should have given up those four words as no longer working well for this iteration. (Also, is it just me or does Lorelai look a bit like Abby Bartlett from The West Wing with her hair and makeup in the scene pictured below?)


15. The Life and Death Brigade is weird. There, I said it.


16. And Rory’s goodbye to those boys was a lot like Dorothy saying goodbye to her comrades, except that Dorothy wasn’t as much of a lost girl as Rory still is.


17. Yes, I’m a little bitter at how lost Rory is. Unapologetically. Just like I couldn’t stand the 30-something gang (though the bit with their parents was cute). I’m not down with delayed adolescence. Grow up, already.


18. Speaking of growing up, though. Emily Gilmore became my everything. I love her so. (Who else do I love? Her maid - played by the same person who plays Gypsy - and her entire Latin family living with Emily.) And her final DAR meeting? Oh my goodness, words do not suffice.


19. I think forgettable Paul was supposed to be funny. I just felt bad for him, though, and I was so proud of him for finally ending it. I don’t think we were supposed to be rooting for him to extricate himself from Rory, but I totally was. (That said, Lorelai certainly set an example of selfishness for her - and poor treatment of nice guys - at many times throughout the originals. So maybe this was more realistic than my hopes for Rory? But still. This is not the Rory I love. And this Rory is actually worse than poolhouse Rory because she’s not a kid anymore but everyone is treating her like she is. Sigh.)


20. Speaking of sigh, the whole surrogacy thing and comment about not wanting to get a baby from another country? Ugh. Made me want to vomit. So unnecessary, at least that comment. And surrogacy is so rife with ethical problems… it just set the stage for me, in the very first installment, to have major gut feelings that were less than charitable about the show. (And, of course, his remark was about getting a non-white baby, to revisit the diversity piece.)


21. I hated the not so subtle digs about therapy and such. Mental health issues have enough stigma. I don’t need Gilmore Girls to add to that. Between that and the adoption stuff and the racial diversity fails, all they needed was a joke about HIV or refugees to make a bingo of all my pet peeves.


22. Yep, I’m all sorts of petty in these observations. I don’t even care. But I did love the ooober bit.


23. Paris. We’ll always have Paris. I love her.


24. Paris and Doyle have to reconcile. They must. It’ll happen.


25. Fall was definitely my favorite. And not just because their fall didn’t include our presidential election, but that helped. Our fall would have been better without it too.


26. Poor Lane. They ruined her honeymoon and now her hairstyle.* Mom hair doesn’t have to be like that. (*Shout out to my girl Esty who said that sentence first and from whom I shamelessly stole it.)


27. Michel. How I love thee, Lorelai's angry friend!


28. And the secret bar. I loved that.


29. But April? She never brings anything good to Stars Hollow. Be gone, girl. (Yep, I'm not even including a picture of her below because NOPE.)


30. Oh my goodness, what if the baby is from the one night stand with the Wookie instead of from Logan? Honestly, I just realized this possibility now. My brain just exploded.


31. But I swooned a little when Rory went to Richard’s desk to write.


32. I should probably say something about the Parenthood cameos. Okay, here goes: Meh. (That’s how I felt about Parenthood too. Hate all you want. See again, an unrelated picture because that's how much I care.)


33. So, how long did it take you to go, “oh, THAT is why she went to see Christopher!” after the final four lines? Confession: It took me longer than it should have.


34. Luke’s fall speech to Lorelai. Lor’s call to her mom from the weird Wild trip. Emily’s rant at the DAR. Those were the plot-rich moments we all love from GG. The rest of the plottiness? Eh.


35. The cheese sign from Richard. My. Heart.


36. Can we talk about how I want an intervention for Rory about alcohol? Child. Stop. (Except you’re not a child, even though everyone treats you that way.)


37. Hep Alien lives. I love that. (But, you know, not enough for its own picture.)


38. Everything Kirk was totally on point.


39. Amy S-P said she never watched Season 7. Which (a) is petty as all get out and (b) is lazy for someone writing a revival following it and (c) explains a lot of the terrible in this one. Seriously, Ames… you clearly had a stellar season 7 planned. And ten years ago, it would have been awesome. Except now? Nope.


40. A lot of people say the final four words mean that there’s more episodes to come. And Netflix’s labeling of this as season one makes me think that might be true, even though those four words were always meant to be an ending instead of a to be continued… but? I’ll take the heat for this, but I have to say it: No more. Please, for the love that all is good, no more. This wasn’t great. No by a long shot. Let's not do it again.


So, what are your thoughts? (You know, other than that I have clearly spent far too much mental energy on this show.)

reclaiming Christmas

Today, I am reclaiming Christmas.

I've always wrestled with the holiday, for reasons I don't ever plan to share publicly, but I've celebrated because I'm supposed to. I protested in my own little ways, though. I'd switch to CDs when the radio cut over to Christmas tunes. I'd make plans for December devotions as a family but not actually do them. I've drug my feet each year about putting decorations up (pretending I was opposed to it pre-Thanksgiving but I was really just trying to avoid it altogether) and then struggled with taking them down because it pained me, reminding me of a near-Christmas event in my past that I didn't want to admit was part of my story.

 a little Shannon, from the days before Christmas felt like pain for me

a little Shannon, from the days before Christmas felt like pain for me

This year isn't going to be easy, but I've worked hard to reintegrate all the pieces of my story - the brutal and the beautiful and the brutiful - into my life. Those dark moments don't define me, but they are part of what makes me who I am. And? For the first time I can remember, I want to celebrate Christmas this year... not because everyone else says I should but because I genuinely desire it.

I know it's going to be hard at times. This is one of those both/and sorts of realities... I'll be both reclaiming Christmas and grieving the full truth I'm finally letting myself feel about why it needs to be reclaimed in the first place. I'll be both celebrating the Christ child and mourning all the brokenness that made his ultimate sacrifice necessary. I'll be both letting in the joy and holding space for the sorrow.


And right now? My loved ones are on their way to pick up three artificial trees from Target (yay sales! yay slim trees since our house is jam packed as it is! yay ordering online! yay having a good excuse to go fake since the real trees aggravate some of our dear ones' asthma!). I've only ever had one tree before this year, even then begrudgingly. But we have mini trees from last year for each of the kids' rooms, and now one big tree each for my office, our family room, and the sitting area in our dining room. I got an obnoxious light projector thing for the house, and I'm going to be on the lookout for the most annoyingly ridiculous inflatable yard decor, because we're a lot of things in the Dingle household but classy isn't one of them.

And for the first year ever, I have a Christmas playlist on my phone, and I'm listening to these songs by choice, even before Thanksgiving.

I'm not sure what your both/and is this year. I'm not sure the stories you hold, the brutal and beautiful and brutiful ones. But I know none of us are alone, and I know the first Christmas found a messy, unsanitized birth in a dirty stable surrounded by animals and manure. So I know Christmas doesn't have to be all about the trimmings and tidy bows and sparkling lights... it's gonna be a merry, messy Christmas, y'all.

And I think that seems pretty perfectly imperfect to me.

I want to help you understand my lament.

I'm hurting, friend. I'm hurting deeply. And I'm being told to suck it up and put away my pain and move on. Rather than call those responses insensitive, I want to help you understand my lament, if I can. 

My heart is so tender, and I'm praying with each word that they will be received in the manner in which I intend. I know a lot of voices are shouting right now. I hope to be a voice that pulls up a chair to chat over coffee and share my heart. 

I occupy a unique space. Here is our family from a couple Easters ago.

I'm white, but four of my children aren't. I was born here into a family that dates back to the pilgrim days, but four of my children are immigrants from Asia and Africa. I have ancestors who fought under the Confederate flag, but I've been targeted online as a "race traitor" for adopting outside of our ethnicity. I easily pass as having no disabilities (though I live with chronic conditions that are invisible yet can be disabling plus I have minor physical disabilities from childhood abuse), but I'm raising children who live with autism and cerebral palsy and HIV and visual impairments, including one who uses a wheelchair. My husband and I are straight and fit into accepted gender norms, but we have dear friends and neighbors who aren't or don't. I'm a Christian, but last year a Muslim friend of mine and her son waited at the preschool until we arrived to walk in with me and Zoe because she was afraid to walk in by herself after the Paris terrorism attacks.

And I occupy one common space: I am a woman who, like 1 in 6, has been raped. I am a woman who was sexually harassed in my workspace and whispered about when I filed a grievance against the man in power who objectified me. I am a woman raised by a father who doesn't "read books by women because they aren't any good." (And I'm a writer, so the hurt is doubled there.)

I am grieving. Many are reading this as being a sore loser. But that's not how I'm feeling. I have voted in five presidential elections, and my candidate only won one of them. It's not new for me to watch election results and see that it didn't go the way I voted.

But I've never felt this way before. And I want you to understand my lament. I want to try to help you grasp the depth of and heart behind this pain.

Before that, let me be clear about what I'm not saying. I'm not saying that I feel this way because the candidate I voted for wasn't elected; that's not the basis of my feelings. I'm not saying that I don't trust God; I do. I'm not saying that I reject anyone who disagrees; I find beauty in our diversity of all forms. 

What I am saying is please don't dismiss my pain or put a timeline on anyone's grief. Hold space. In the words of James 1, please be slow to speak and quick to listen and slow to become angry. 

(And if you're wondering, I've confessed to God and others when I've fallen short there too. I'm not pointing to a speck in your eye while I have a log in my own. I promise. And I wrote these words today instead of yesterday because I couldn't ask others to repent yet then without words dripping with my own sinful arrogance.)

I'm not going to list every way Trump acted or spoke in hurtful ways about groups to which my family belongs. This post isn't about him. He is our next president. I am praying for him. I'm even rooting for him. I genuinely hope none of the grave concerns I have about his leadership, character, and policies will be accurate. I would love nothing more than to be proven wrong.

But I believe Maya Angelou is right when she said, "when people show you who they are, believe them." This post isn't about who Trump is. We've known that for a while. This post is what the votes of white evangelicals have shown me about who they are. 

I don't believe most people who voted for him did so because of his expressions and actions of racism or ableism or xenophobia or misogyny or sexual assault or religious discrimination. I'm not saying that's who you are if you filled the bubble by his name. I want to think the best of my neighbors, so I'm telling myself you were driven by other reasons. 

But? Whatever your reasons, a vote for Trump required a rationalization. 

What he said about "the blacks" is terrible, but...

What he said on mic about sexually assaulting women is awful, but...

How he mocked several people with disabilities isn't okay, but...

His statement that immigrants are rapists and criminals was out of line, but...

I could keep going. I think you get the idea, though. In order to vote for Trump, something mattered more to you than his mistreatment or discrimination of certain groups. Whatever followed the "but..." is why you voted for him. Maybe it had to do with the economy or the Supreme Court or his anti-establishment vibe or [fill in the blank]. I trust that you had your reasons. Some policy aspect of his was compelling (or of hers was so awful to you that you felt like you had to vote for the person with the best chance of stopping Hillary).

But here's the deal: Your policy stance followed the "but..." Our personhood preceded it.

So to me, here is what I hear:

What he said about Patience, Philip, and Patricia is terrible, but...

What he said on mic about sexually assaulting someone just like you were assaulted is awful, but...

How he mocked Zoe and Robbie and you isn't okay, but...

His statement that Patience, Philip, Patricia, and Zoe are rapists and criminals was out of line, but...

Can you pause for a moment and empathize with how that feels?

You can say I'm being too sensitive. You can tell me I'm taking it too personally. You can try to dismiss my feelings. (You wouldn't be the first.)

I'm writing this because I want to help you understand my lament, though. I do. But it is sensitive and personal and rooted in some valid feelings. So trying to help you understand means I have to be vulnerable and open myself up to criticisms from the cheap seats. 

My heart was broken when I realized Trump had won. I didn't have much time to work through my feelings, though, because I'm a mom. Our kids had been being told by classmates that they would be sent back to Uganda if Trump was elected. I had been responding with truth and compassion, but I also didn't think he'd win. When he did, I had to struggle with how to find the words to help her feel secure and prepare her for how to respond when those kids said anything that day after, emboldened by a Trump win. (This is the same child who had a classmate yell, "go back to Africa!" at her last year after Trump's campaign had taken off with racist undertones.) I coached her white sister through how to respond and how to have her sister's back. I walked them in to the elementary school, and I spoke with my kids' teachers to make sure they were aware of these concerns. 

And then I walked back to my van and wept. 

And then I went on social media and was told that my grief came from being a sore loser, that I was being divisive by sharing my hurt, and that I was more concerned with the gospel of Shannon than the gospel of Christ.

And I wept some more. 

I don't think most of my white Christian brothers and sisters intended their votes as racist or ableist or misogynistic or anti-immigrant acts. But? Overwhelmingly, white evangelicals voted for Trump, deciding that their "but..." reasons trumped discrimination against our family. This isn't an isolated event, though; our previous church supported the adoption of black children but then members became critical of me and my faith when I began speaking out about racial injustice, and every week I hear from families who are asked to leave their church because their children's disabilities are too much to accommodate. That makes me feel like the church - at least the white church - isn't for my family, if their political priorities are more important than our personal pain. 

I knew how to handle it when my daughter didn't feel safe at school. But the church - especially the white evangelical church - does not seem safe to me right now for my family. I'm not sure how to handle that. I am listening to try to learn and love better, but what I'm hearing is often hurting me more deeply. I want to understand you, but I'm being wounded in the process. I really don't know what to do with this.

Right now, I'm feeling like the man left beaten and bloody by the side of the road, while my religious neighbors pass on the other side. A sizeable chunk of my white Christian brothers and sisters - maybe you among them - voted for a man who unapologetically disrespected so many groups to which our family belongs: immigrants, women, people of color, those with disabilities, and sexual assault survivors. It's good that my faith in God is firm, because right now my faith in his church is shaky.

I'm still for the church. I'm just not sure the church - at least the segment that looks like me - is still for me. 

And that's why I am lamenting.