Hey! Were trying vlogging every day for Advent over on Facebook and Instagram (@graceinthedetails).
I want to tell you something about that kid who had to cut his dreads to wrestle.
The ref is the villain of this story. But the failure is not his. He has been honest about who he is.
The failure rests elsewhere.
Andrew Johnson is 16 years old. I know 16 year olds. They were my whole career. And I don’t need to know him personally to know things about him.
Like how he’s stuck in that difficult place between childhood and adulthood where it’s not always clear to him when he has the right to speak for himself.
That his default is still to defer to the adults in charge when he thinks he’s on shaky ground.
That he still believes people like teachers and coaches will defend him from those who would hurt him.
They are on the ones who failed him.
I watched the video of the trainer cutting his hair once. I yelled at her to stop, stop, stop. I waited for a coach to grab the scissors. I waited for someone’s mama, anyone’s mama to rush to the floor, wrap her arms around him and protect him.
We don’t know how Andrew feels about all this today, because he hasn’t spoken yet. But we saw how he felt about it after the match. And as I watched him cry, I knew one thing:
Not worth it, not worth it, not worth.
I wish to God that the story had been about the high school athletic trainer who was fired because she refused to cut a boy’s hair for a wrestling match. Or the coach who was arrested for unruly behavior towards a ref. Or at the very least, suspended from coaching for forfeiting the whole meet in protest of the ref’s decision.
I wish the video was of parents who came down from the stands and stood around the boy to protect him. Or all the coaches at the meet throwing the ref out of the gym.
Instead, there were adults who thought a forfeit was worse than cutting a child’s hair off his head.
Adults who thought their stony silence was enough.
Adults who should have known better.
Just a few years ago, I would have read this as a story about a nasty bigot. But since then, some of us have been forced to face truth about how far we have come with racial equality. Not as far as we thought. Only 13% of Division 1 college wrestlers are African-American, which means the sport is weak at recognizing and responding to racism in its ranks.
This was it. An abuse of power by a man who had previously demonstrated his bigotry and been allowed to return to interacting with young athletes. And the complete failure of the adults around Andrew Johnson to protect him from that abuse.
Bigots need permission. Everyone who stood and watched gave it to him.
Sisters, we got a puppy.
I KNOW. But here’s what happened. Two weeks ago I was driving the kids home from Sunday school and when I got to the intersection where the Humane society is located, I felt the command to turn.
“Where’re we going?” Gabe asked.
“Let’s go look at dogs.”
“Are we getting one????” Annie squealed from the back seat.
“Only if there are puppies” I said. In the almost two years since Sugar crossed the Rainbow Bridge there have never been puppies at the Humane society. Not. Even. Once. But that day, there were four. Litter mates, surrendered without parents so only God knows a single thing about their pedigree–probably closer to ketchup than whole wheat. Two of them were all black, one looked like a black and white Springer Spaniel and one was colored like a German Shepherd.
He was the most chill. I sent Shea this picture:
He texted “You had one job. Go to Sunday School. WHY ARE YOU AT THE HUMANE SOCIETY???.”
“God made me” I texted back. “I’ll explain when we get home.”
Other kids wait for their moms to say “Yes”. But my kids know when I text dad the picture, the deal is sealed. If it was up to me, we’d live on five acres and breed bassets. If it was up to Shea, we’d own a zoo.
Surely it is not news that our crazy sits on the front porch and hollers at the neighbors. What’s one more dog? Especially when he’s cute.
Dear Jen Hatmaker,
I just finished Of Mess and Moxie. Thanks for the laughs.
Like all good books, it taught me a lesson. I thought I should share it, because sharing is caring and all that jazz.
You wrote this in Chapter 21, How To (Part Four): How to do the laundry:
“8. Remember the darks! Yay, you! Despair at the light load in the dryer. This is like discovering the dishes in the dishwasher are clean. Throw load of lights on your bed to “fold in a few minutes” while you move the darks to the dryer. 9. Co-Sleep with the light load that night. Give them their own bed space, like a person.”
When I read this, even though I have Jesus in my heart, I judged you. I did. Who sleeps with laundry? I thought in my most OCD voice. Someone should tell Jen Hatmaker that laundry day is a process, not a string of one-off events where it’s ok to skip an event here or there. Wash. Dry. Fold. Place in various laundry baskets to be put away by minions when they get home from school. This is not rocket science, although it may have been informed by a scientific approach. For the love, indeed.
I read that chapter Thursday night.
On Friday, we picked up our new puppy. Saturday morning, I awoke at 6 am so that my son and I could drive 8 hours round trip to his play-off football game in cold and pouring rain. I left Shea home with the new puppy, the grumpy old basset hound, our two girls, a volleyball game and two soccer games. Divide and conquer.
My sweet husband thought he would knock out the laundry. He did four loads. He did them all the way to dry, good man. In the middle of that, I called in a panic because I had a flat tire on the 5 in the middle of nowhere Oregon. You may think my panic was about the tire, but it wasn’t. I needed my husband to find the nearest teammate traveling up the 5 and send them to get my football player.
(Full disclosure–there was a screw in my tire. I saw it two weeks ago. It was wedged in there good and I figured it would hold.)
The same time I arrived in pouring rain to watch a football game (new tire safely in place), he arrived in pouring rain to watch two pee-wee soccer games. We left the middle child at home with the puppy and she called no less than five times to give and get timely updates: “Dash pooped on the floor. I cleaned it. Is Gabe still winning?”
When we got home, my son jumped in the shower and my husband took him to a Halloween party. I sat down for a whole four seconds before the grumpy basset hound decided she’d had enough and started nipping at anyone who came near her. Took me a good twenty minutes to recalibrate her attitude, by which time the puppy had pooped on the floor, the five year old was screaming in a cold shower and I’d lost my drink. That is not a metaphor. I had a nice vodka tonic and I set it down and I can’t find it.
You see where this is going right? When I finally dragged myself to bed, there was all the laundry. My husband and I stood there looking at it in silence. Then he said “I’ll sleep on the couch with the puppy?”, I said “Yep”, shoved the clothes over to his side and climbed in to co-sleep with the laundry.
God is good, Jen Hatmaker. Grace is good. Humility too. Honesty. Sisterhood. And sometimes, co-sleeping with the laundry .
An hour ago, I was snuggled up on my couch in the soft glow of my Christmas tree, reveling in how ready I am for Christmas.
God has since flicked me in the forehead.
Then I was ashamed, and here I am.
I know about Aleppo. I know about the refugees. I donated money to Together Rising, which has since sent over $2 million to help Syrian refugees. But I didn’t want to really know. I didn’t want to see. I didn’t want suffering to invade my Christmas–which in part is the story of poor refugees looking for a place to give birth to the Savior of the World.
Then this question was whispered into my heart: If you could go back in time and help Mary and Joseph bring Jesus into the world in calm and safety, would you go?
In a hot freaking second.
On the night Jesus was born, the world didn’t know he was coming. But we do. And we know where to find him, right now.
You guys, Jesus is in Aleppo.
Maybe this is not the business of our government, and maybe that’s good. You could contact your representatives anyway, to let them know you are standing on the side of the persecuted and hope they are too.
But we are people of the one true God and we know this is FOR SURE the business of our churches, temples and mosques.
This link will take you to a list of agencies who are providing relief to refugees and some who are trying to get relief into Aleppo directly.
More than the tree, more than the nativity scene, more than the advent calendar and prayers–Aleppo is Christmas.