This post is part of a newly-developed category called “Passion Posts.” In this section, I will write short posts about topics that I feel passionate about. These topical essays are meant to invoke change and highlight biblical principles for different circumstances. These posts are also meant to start constructive conversations about real-life experiences.
Passion Post #1: Say No to Invalidation
Invalidation is a tool of the enemy that causes further division. We shouldn’t discredit someone’s life experiences just because we may disagree with that person. When others speak out about something that’s hurting them, we, as Christians, are supposed to bear one another’s burdens rather than dismiss them (Galatians 6:2). I am discouraged by those who silence others because their biased viewpoints were challenged.
If someone tells you about his struggle with sexuality, you shouldn’t demonize that person for it. Instead, lift that person up in prayer and let him know that you are interceding for him. If a woman shares her struggle with abortion or a past sexual assault, you shouldn’t judge her or label her as a “sinner.” Instead, sit with her, hold her, and show her that she is loved unconditionally by her Heavenly Father. If someone opens up to you about racial injustice, instead of devaluing her or asking her to give more evidence to substantiate her claims, walk alongside that person, and try to understand her agony. No matter how “politically correct” you want to be, you must realize that pain is universal.
Invalidating someone’s grief creates discouragement. Discouragement leads to isolation, and isolation leads to impending sorrow. We need to let others know that we are fighting with them and for them. We need to lift each other up, not tear each other down. We don’t need more division in the name of political correctness. We need unity in the name of Christ. If Jesus isn’t the center, then life has lost all meaning.
“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'”
Passion Post#2: Let Someone Else Pour
I was browsing through Netflix and I came across this show called Sweet Magnolias. I was hesitant to start watching the show because it seemed too corny for my liking (I prefer psycho-thrillers and superhero films). While there are some cheesy moments, I appreciate the valuable life lessons that each episode imparts to viewers. One lesson was the importance of vulnerability and finding comfort by reaching out to others. This lesson came in the third episode entitled, “Give Drink to the Thirsty.” At the episode’s midpoint, Helen, a dynamic lawyer, turns to a priest for help once she faces challenges in opening her new business. After Helen expresses her frustrations, the priest gives her some advice about asking others for help.
The priest made Helen realize that “the person standing behind the lemonade stand often forgets that she gets thirsty too.” She continues, “You forget how to let someone else pour for you.” This message opened my eyes to a certain pattern in my own life. I, too, allow myself to get caught up in “running the lemonade stand.” I always try to be in control of my life or help others with their problems. I sometimes forget to reach out to my family and friends for help with my own issues.
Vulnerability is never easy, but it allows us to have a strong emotional connection with others. I’m learning every day that I need to start asking people for help. Although I’m currently in a difficult season, I must seek support from friends and family. Isolation and self-sufficiency prevent unity and authenticity. God doesn’t want us to live in loneliness (Genesis 2:18). He created us for community and fellowship with one another, even during the tough times. We need to realize that it’s okay to reach out to others when we are in need. God calls us to “confess [our] sins to one another and pray for one another, that [we] may be healed” (James 5:16).
If you ever find yourself tirelessly operating your lemonade stand, always remember that it’s okay to stop and ask someone to pour you a drink.
“As iron sharpens iron,
so one person sharpens another.”
– Proverbs 27:17
Passion Post #3: Rise Up or Fall Down
I recently viewed Lin-Manuel Miranda’s melodic masterpiece, Hamilton, and I must say that I was blown away. I remember when this musical first came out in 2016. I kept hearing my peers recite their favorite lyrics, gush over all the hip hop references, and search the Internet for discounts on ticket prices (I also tried to enter the ticket lotteries and still came up short). I must admit that I was a late arrival on the Hamilton bandwagon. I didn’t appreciate Miranda’s genius production until my sophomore year of college.
I recall the moment when I heard the full soundtrack for the first time. I was writing a final paper for my American Political Thought and Practice class. I thought that the Hamilton soundtrack provided the perfect background music for the occasion. It definitely made the paper writing process more enjoyable.
I remember my excitement (and attempt to rap along) when I heard “My Shot.” I remember the tears that formed in my eyes when I heard “Burn,” “It’s Quiet Uptown,” and “Blow Us All Away.” I will never forget how hard I laughed when I heard the Cabinet rap battles and “Washington On Your Side.”
After watching the live recording on Disney+ this past weekend, all of those feelings resurfaced. Seeing the actors and dancers display such palpable emotion in their performances really brought the story to life in a new way. Although everyone in the cast did a stellar job, there was one character that compelled me from beginning to end.
This character’s story arc caused me to re-evaluate certain aspects of my own internal battle with doubt and fear. I never thought I could relate to the “damn fool that shot [Hamilton].” This man is none other than, Aaron Burr.
Now, I know that he was considered a scoundrel and there are plenty of controversies attached to his name. Miranda’s portrayal of this founding father made me empathize with his struggle in standing up for his beliefs. Leslie Odom Jr. did a fantastic job of conveying Burr’s internal complexities.
In “Wait For It,” (one of my favorite songs in the play), Burr contemplates his motivations and wonders why Hamilton achieves so much in such a short period of time. He states,
Hamilton faces an endless uphill climb
He has something to prove
He has nothing to lose
Hamilton’s pace is relentless
He wastes no time
What is it like in his shoes?
Here, Burr longs to have the same drive that Hamilton does but he’d rather wait around for the right opportunity. At the beginning of the play, Burr offers Hamilton some advice. He tells Hamilton to “talk less, smile more, and don’t let them know what you’re against or what you’re for” (“Aaron Burr, Sir”).
Instead of speaking his mind or picking a fight in every situation, Burr takes a more calculated approach and avoids conflict at all costs. Burr desires to control his life and wants to proceed with caution. He says it himself:
I am the one thing in life I can control
I am inimitable
I am an original
I’m not falling behind or running late
I’m not standing still
I am lying in wait
Hamilton constantly challenges Burr to step out of his comfort zone and take a stand for his beliefs. He asks “if you stand for nothing Burr, what do you fall for?” (“Aaron Burr, Sir”). Burr’s character arc challenges me to stand against doubt and fear.
There are times in my life where I’d rather wait for the perfect opportunity instead of seizing the moment. I learned that it’s wise to think before you speak but you shouldn’t let fear keep you silent. Since Burr failed to stand for something, he had a hard fall.
Aaron Burr’s story taught me that I shouldn’t silence my voice out of fear of confrontation. Even if people disagree with my views, that doesn’t make my message less valuable. God didn’t give me a spirit of fear. He gave me a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). He also equipped me with the Holy Spirit to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).
Instead of lying in wait, I need to stand up for the truth no matter what. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton reminds us that if we fail to stand up for truth, we will fall for deception and destruction.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”