Sunday, July 5, 2015

To Facebook or Not To Facebook

*I am currently on a break from Facebook.  I am re-activating for a brief period to explain my absence after several inquiries. I also want to make sure anyone who wishes to knows how to contact me.  I am not sure if I will keep my Facebook account, but I am still somewhat active on Twitter (@dhbizzell) and on Instagram (@mamabizzell).  

Several weeks ago,  I deactivated my Facebook account temporarily.  I appreciate those of you who have missed me and sought me out by email, through Keith, and by text or phone call.  Yes, I am ok.  And you all are much more complimentary than I deserve.  I know there are a couple of you who are walking similar journeys, and I am sorry that I have been disconnected from you for a time.  

God has called me, equipped me, and placed me in some really unique positions through heartaches, challenges, education, experience, blessings and victories to use my voice to speak up for others facing similar roads.  For many, there is no one really listening, the fear and stigma keeps them quiet, and the lack of empathy and support increases the loneliness, doubt, and the dark pit they find themselves in.  In my life, this means I speak to and about issues of mental health, race, adoption, chronic illness, care-taking, grief, atheism, guns, flags and learning to thrive in the midst of it all. I also address how churches can help and how I see churches hurt those who need them the most. Sometimes I don't speak at all, I just walk beside those who need me. And they seek me out.  I also volunteer in these areas as I am able to. 

There are people, many people, who do not want to hear what I have to say, as well as those who don't think anyone should hear what I have to say. I'm going to continue to address current events as a Jesus-believing white woman, mother to a black teenager, living in a predominantly black city and neighborhood, while dealing with mental illnesses in our family, married to a de-converted Christian--AKA as an atheist these days, while battling a chronic life-altering illness and having been kicked to the curb by a church body and some close "friends." 

 I upset the status quo.  
I rock their comfortable boats.
I don't see this as a bad thing...

I made the decision to take a break from Facebook after a conversation I joined in a thread in which the hate, vitriol, and group-think was some of the worst I've come across. Ever. And I regularly participate in conversations in which there is disagreement and lively debate. Confrontation and disagreement do not scare me or deter me normally.  People, I live in the tension of differing beliefs--in a big way, in a 21 year marriage to my best friend who is now an atheist.  Guess what?  He is still my best friend and the love of my life.  If we truly care about people, we work through the differences and the growing pains. We do not accomplish this with name-calling, defensiveness, or accusations...and then refusing to listen in return. I will take a confrontation head-on if the heart, mind, character, integrity or body of my child or family is being wounded, or even threatened.  And I will tell you like I see it. I do not have the time or energy to beat around the bush, nor do I see the point in doing so.  I am also aware that confrontation intimidates some people, and that those people can really lash out when passive-aggressive tendencies are also at play. (I find that to be much more harmful than having a confrontation, dealing with it and moving forward.)

Ignorance, head in the sand approaches, closed ears, minds and hearts--those things affect me most, disappoint me and usually remind me how much my voice and perspective is needed.  In this thread, which was the final straw for me, I presented an alternative perspective to some recent race-related situations and shared how hard the beliefs, and disbelief, of some have been on my family--a family with places in both sides of the race-related debates. Vulnerability, folks.  For the most part, I am willing to be vulnerable to benefit someone else--to serve them, guide them, to save them unnecessary grief. 

Back to the thread I am referring to, I heard some of the most hateful things ever said to me on the issue of race relations.  I am not going to debate that issue here right now.  I will say that the varied opinions and perspectives do not surprise me at all.  What has surprised me is the unwillingness of people to even begin to consider anything from a side with which they do not agree or a perspective they have never personally experienced.  I've never seen more people afraid, defensive, unwilling to have healthy dialogue, and SURE they know exactly what happened in racial situations in recent months in our country and exactly who is to blame.  I've also never been called so many names or heard such hateful things directed at myself and my family--for being bold enough to share our story and our vulnerabilities.  And, friends, from the good "Christian" people it was the very worst--that is probably the most disappointing aspect of all I've experienced in recent months.  The assumptions at play and directed attacks were phenomenal, and I don't mean that in a positive way.

We have learned the hard way in these types of situations, from words, phrases and beliefs who we can trust our children's hearts with, as well as our own.  The decision for us is not about having differing beliefs, but rather how one lives out those beliefs when confronted by other, opposing positions.  We don't apologize for doing the best we can by our children.  We hope everyone is doing best by their children and their needs.  I happen to have children who have different needs than the vast majority.  It is what it is, and we are equipped to parent them and are continually working at that. And they are amazing and remarkable.  They are compassionate, considerate, and are becoming loving, resilient people. 

But after this particular thread, I was done. And shocked. And disgusted.  People like this wear me out. And for all of my loud voice, active hands, and time and energy spent advocating for the marginalized in our society, I am still an introvert. Sometimes I need quiet and space.  I deactivated Facebook, because in my life in that moment, it became an overwhelming negative, a drain, and just another source of stress. And although advocacy is an important calling to me, uses my passion, education, research, volunteer work, experiences and expertise--it is something I needed to step away from.  For a time.  I choose to take myself out of the mix as opposed to just blocking people.

I am also someone who struggles with a recently diagnosed autoimmune disease. And stress is a major factor in my daily symptoms. Only a very few people know how sick I've been for months.  I am seeing some improvement physically with treatments, but continue to undergo tests, doctor's appointments and treatment plans--hoping for more improvement. In this break from the Book of Face, I've rested mind, body and spirit, as much as one can rest those while parenting 2 teenagers in this current culture. 

And it was the right move.  But now another move is right.  John Pavlovitz has called me back into action,  into a fight that is just and right. This blogger I do not personally know, but regularly follow, wrote the post linked below a short time into my break.  Just like it was to me personally.  Take some time and read this.  Join us in the fight.
Several of you, my friends and readers, have also called me back to the fight.  

My children and their friends, our friends, neighbors and family are 
And I have a voice. 
And these people that I stand up with and for--
they can't turn off their skin color,  
or their bad experiences, 
or hate, stigma, ignorance 
that faces them day in and day out.  
And they keep going.  
I must go with them. 

Maybe I'll need to change how I do this, pace myself better, moderate and turn off certain people or threads, keep certain criteria for joining or commenting.  That is still working itself out. Prayers appreciated in this area.  And follow me here on this blog and receive any posts by email.  Follow me on Twitter and Instagram, as well, and stay in touch--even if I do not remain on Facebook!

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