It’s been too long since I’ve shared one of my quotes from my inspirational quote book! This one is from Ezekiel:
It will not be as it was: The lowly will be exalted and the exalted shall be brought low. Ezekiel 21:26
Sometimes I feel really lowly, like I should be ashamed of myself, even when I have done nothing wrong. In fact, after my meltdown last week I struggled with some feelings of shame for several days. Some fundamentalist, conservative religious people would say that that is a logical, natural feeling for human beings to have because of original sin. We should all feel ashamed, because we, as humans, inherited a depraved nature when Adam and Eve first sinned. These people would say that women especially are depraved, since it was Eve who first sinned.
I believe we feel ashamed when we are afraid to own our own goodness. As Marianne Williamson says, “It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.” It’s easy to say that we don’t matter, are inadequate, and are unimportant-to say that we are fabulous, wonderful, or fascinating just as we are goes against what society teaches us, especially if we are disabled, poor, fat, queer, of color, elderly, or trans just to name a few labels. That is why scriptures like this are so important: they remind me that the qualities that society values are not ultimately important. I am disabled. I am fat. I am queer. These are not inherently bad qualities, but our society deems that they are. It is all too easy for me to feel sorry for myself and to think that my life will never improve. The first thing I need to remind myself when I start to feel that way is that my life really is not that bad; in fact, it’s really pretty good. Even though I did have a meltdown last Friday, as my therapist reminded me today, I actually handled it really well. I decided to cancel most of my plans for the weekend, so that I could give my body the rest that it obviously needed. If I had not given myself that rest, then I might have resorted to acting out in some way, so even though I may feel “lowly,” my actions after my meltdown proved that I am still doing well. My therapist also noticed that I was coming from a place of judgment and shame and encouraged me to give myself more praise. Besides my continued emotional and mental growth, I also have a roof over my head, loving parents, friends and pets, food, books to read, a job, etc. Just because society may think that there is something amiss in my life does not mean that it is actually so. But even if there was, the hope that this scripture gives to me is that it says that the lowly will not be lowly forever-one day “the lowly will be exalted and the exalted shall be brought low.” Now some people think this means this transformation will take place in heaven or on earth after some Armageddon and that we should just wait until the day when it happens. But I am a person of action and do not like such a passive theology! I believe that all of us believers, that is, those of us who believe in our own inherent goodness and who trust that Godde is always on our side, must continually work in a partnership with The Holy One to bring about this radical change. This scripture reminds me that one day those of us who are marginalized-the disabled, poor, fat, queer, of color, elderly, trans, and more-will be lifted up to a position of honor and those who are honored now-the young, straight, cis-gendered, white people-will be lowered. We will know when this has happened when our society values the histories and stories of today’s marginalized people. When making places accessible to those with disabilities is not seen as an inconvenience, but as a necessary way to acknowledge that people with disabilities are whole people too. It is not that I wish that the honored people of today become the marginalized or oppressed people of tomorrow, but rather that they agree to step aside and share their privilege with others. I dream of a day when the people of power are willing to give up their power and stop thinking of others in a conquering or possessive mindset. This alternative vision of society will not happen overnight, but we can start working on it at any time. We begin building this new enterprise whenever those in power examine and acknowledge their own privilege and work to give it away. We also begin building it whenever any of us, both those in power, but especially those who are not, recognize our own goodness and choose to act on that acknowledgement, instead of on our own fear. “It will not be as it was,” says Godde. This can be hard to believe, but if I am to believe in something I would rather believe that I am a product of Love and that together Love and I can change the world for the better than the self-deprecating, abusive theology that is often showcased in the media and in Church. Hope is real, because “it will not be as it was: the lowly will be exalted and the exalted shall be brought low.”