Welcome to my new blog, Brave New Love! If you are back again this week after reading my miracles post from last week, welcome back again and thank you for returning!
I’m very excited to start the Brave New Love platform and will be posting once a week with my first few posts focusing on the purpose of the blog overall.
Please read the post below and if you’re interested in being notified with each new post, subscribe to the mailing list and create a profile on BraveNewLove.com. You can share with folks you think would find this interesting, and stay tuned for more announcements in the coming weeks.
I sure do hope that this blog fills up your cup. It won’t always be comfortable but I hope that it messes up our minds and fills up our senses in the best of ways together. As Dolly would say “I hope it is a blessin’ to ya.”
The Brave New Love mission is to share stories and create space to live authentically through discussion of life, wellness, and faith.
Well that is all fine and good, but what the hell does that exactly mean? :)
In order to fully understand that mission, it’s probably helpful to define two pieces: living authentically and creating space.
This entire blog is going to be a love letter to living an authentic life meaning this will always be a work in progress. It will be a work in progress because the main author (meeee) is still working on living authentically each day, and I’m coming to believe that each person has to make many decisions on a daily basis and the outcomes either honor or go against our authentic selves. Basically, it is always a work in progress no matter who you are.
For now, just think of living authentically as living to honor your most true self. There are a number of factors that get in front of this for each of us, and we’ll be working to identify those factors throughout the blog. An easy example can be taken from my blog last week: living as a gay man in the closet, especially in our heteronormative world, is not living authentically.
We’ll be tackling the idea of creating space in today’s post. To me, creating space can be defined as the act of honoring someone’s basic needs. Those can be your own needs, or those of others. Basic needs could vary depending on the situation and the person, but I think it is pretty safe to say that basic needs could easily include things like respect, love, security, community etc.
The act of creating space can be literal: “Let’s set a place for them at the table.” It can also be mental: “We love you no matter your sexuality when you enter this space.” But it is almost always a physical action - meaning that the space has not been created before, and even if it has, it needs to be maintained.
This idea is built on the belief that our society does not always provide space for all individuals. There can be a lack of physical or emotional space, depending on the situation, but either way the status quo is no space. It is on us to create that space for others, and then recreate and maintain that space over time.
For example, being raised in a society that does not allow for and condemns homosexual behavior is a situation where I did not have the mental space to be who I needed to be. This was for a majority of my life. It would be a stretch to think that I could get a one time “Hey dude, things are cool now with being gay,” in a. Single conversation that would make up for those years of mental trauma.
As a result, it’s important for me to seek out folks that they support LGBT rights and issues on a regular basis in order to create that mental space to live authentically. It is so helpful to see positive examples of LGBT individuals, to hear when folks support LGBT rights, or just genuinely accept who I am. I’d be lying if I said that I don’t still tear up sometimes when people tell me that they are cool with me being gay.
There are examples of times when our society does not create space for individuals, and there are even greater stories of when folks take it in their hands to create space.
I’m going to talk through a terrible example of one way our society does not create space for individuals in this section, but I have decided to place a trigger warning. That’s right: a TRIGGER WARNING!@#!!@!!!
TRIGGER WARNING: If you are triggered - meaning you tend to lose your cool, flip tables, or otherwise freak out - when current event commentary that can be viewed as political comes up, you might want to skip down to the end of this section. I don’t think this is a political story, but it is a current event that could be viewed as political.
Alrighty if you’re still with me, bless you brave soldier. I recently learned about a death row inmate in Alabama that was just put to death. He wanted to have a person of faith oversee his execution, but he found a few weeks before the execution that the prison defined “person of faith” as the Christian clergy on staff.
The issue was that the inmate was Muslim. The prison said that they couldn’t let anyone other than their “person of faith” (read: our Christian clergy on staff) in for execution for security reasons.
Let’s just skip over the fact that this statement is pretty islamaphobic (maybe we’ll have time to tackle that in a future post!), and define this as society not creating space for this Muslim inmate to have his person of faith at his execution.
Right now, you might be saying “Hey Lance, why are we getting so bent out of shape over a Muslim inmate on death row?” My response would be something to the effect that religious affiliation and criminal record aren’t disqualifiers for creating space. In other words - I should create space for you whether you are a Christian or a Muslim, whether you have a spotless record, or put Billy the Kid to shame.
Understandably, the inmate appealed and basically asked to be able to have an Imam (like a Muslim preacher) be at his execution. Just a note here in this story - I will not be using the correct legal terminology here due to the very severe lack of a legal degree - if anyone has corrections on how I’m discussing this from a legal perspective, please holla at your girl!
Well long story short, there was somehow an emergency fast track to the Supreme Court - again, we aren’t getting any awards for legal reporting on this blog :) - and the Court upheld the ruling with a 5-4 split holding the decision that the inmate could not have his Imam at the execution.
Y’all - this was a tear my clothes moment for me when I heard this. For those who weren’t encouraged to learn about the Bible growing up, “tearing clothes” was something that was done when things weren’t going your way. I was angry, sad, and really frustrated.
I am an optimist. That’s something that will be discussed extensively in the blog, and a big driver for why the blog even exists. But I have to be honest that when I hear a story like this, it is hard to think anything will ever get better.
It sucks to live in a country that promotes the separation of church and state, but allows something like this to take place. I think of how it would feel for me to be in that same situation, and holy crap does it hurt. It also disgusts and frustrates me to know that this could easily be looked at as something that Christians would be excited about.
As a Christian, I’m not excited that someone was put to death. I’m not excited that they were not allowed the faith leader of their choice at their execution. I’m not excited that the only option for this guy was a Christian clergy member when he was a Muslim. I’m also not excited that this person committed these crimes to begin with (rape and murder).
I realize that this example is a tough pill to swallow due to the fact that he was a rapist and a murderer.
I just think 1) how would I feel in this person’s shoes and 2) what would my truest self (you might ask “what would Jesus”) do in this situation. I already covered how I would feel (terrible), so let’s talk about what my truest self would do. This is heavily informed by my life experience and my faith.
The easiest example for me in this situation would be in Luke 23: 38-43 when the criminal sentenced to death, hanging on the cross next to Jesus asked: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Then Jesus answered him, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
That’s basically all I need to feel strongly that this guy should have had the opportunity to have his chosen faith leader at his execution if we allow that for Christians. The fact that he is a criminal doesn’t change that - just like it didn’t change it for Jesus.
Unfortunately, this is an example of society not creating space for this man. It also creates a situation where our current country believes in Freedom of Religion to the level where an individual does not have to decorate a cake for a gay couple because of their religious beliefs, but that doesn’t apply to small things like ending your life…especially if you aren’t Christian. AKA - we’re forcing Christianity on folks in a free country. Not a good look, Jan.
You can read more about this story here
Welcome back if you skipped over that part above! It was basically an example of society not creating space for someone. That said, there are positive examples of individuals creating space for others to make up for the lack of space from society.
Personally, each and every positive and encouraging comment from folks after reading my blog last week is an example of positively creating space. Supportive comments like these help remind me that there is space for my authentic self both physically and mentally in this world.
My mom let me know that before she shares or reposts anything on social media, she googles the name of the source to see what their views on LGBTQ rights are. If they are against, she doesn’t post their work. Just another casual mic drop moment from my mom. This is a great way of creating space - THANKS MOM!
I also think it’s important to mention that not having space isn’t usually one specific person’s fault. It tends to be societal in nature. Just like there is not one specific person responsible for the Alabama prison example, space was still not created for that individual.
As a result, I don’t think there is a lot of value in pointing fingers, I think energy is best spent trying to actively create space for people vs focusing on why space is not there.
We Have a Choice
Like I said before, I believe that there are a multitude of decisions that we all must face every day and that our selections in those situations either honor or do not honor our authentic self. I also believe that we must actively make choices to create space for ourselves and others on a day to day basis.
It could be very easy to get overwhelmed with this concept, or think that it is not possible to make a change in the world around us. That's an understandable feeling. It is hard to create meaningful change, but just know that changes don't have to be big to be meaningful.
Simply taking a couple minutes to silently meditate or pray over yourself can be a great way of creating space for you. How am I feeling right now? What do I need?
Ways to create space for others can be harder to determine, but simply asking them how you can do that for them can be a great start.
With all that in mind, what do you think?
Can you identify an area where you need to create space for yourself in order to live authentically?
Is there anyone in your life that needs to have space created for them? If so, how could you go about helping do that?
Do you believe it is possible for us to live in a world where we create space for everyone?
Before you answer that last one, remember that I believe in miracles. :)