I’m a mess of emotions, and I would imagine you are, too

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

I have so many feelings these days.

Between the noise of the election (very real here in Michigan), another winter season of COVID19 setting in (again, very real here in Michigan), the unrelenting violence of racism in the US, and a recent unexpected break-up, I have been riding the most intense waves of emotion that feel so unbearable at times I find myself looking forward to just being asleep so I can be in a neutral state for some hours (Do you feel this way, too? It’s called depression. Please seek some help).

It reminds me of how I felt last spring. In late March — the beginning of our isolated pandemic lives — I wrote an article titled “Acknowledging and Surviving the Trauma of COVID19 Together,” in which I challenged readers to mindfully and intentionally take care of themselves and others in the midst of what we were experiencing: collective trauma. …

In this moment in history, the white church has a decision to make: whether or not we will choose to walk in the truth. We are rightfully — and belatedly — at a fork in the road, and we must decide whether we will deny ourselves to follow Christ or deny our Christ to follow our distorted view of ourselves.

Allow me to tell you a story to demonstrate both the confession and decision that must be made.

I laid flat on my back on the carpeted classroom floor between two of my graduate school classmates. Lined side-by-side across the length of the room, our professor invited us to close our eyes, feel our breath in our bodies, and notice where our flesh made contact with the ground beneath us. …

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Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

As I listened to Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s speech on the House floor about personal privilege and gender-based aggression, I thought of my own stories and experiences, as I’m sure most women did.

These stories are countless, and they range from overt aggression to covert niceties.

I could tell you the stories of overt sexism… the story about standing on the metro platform when living in DC, yards away from a woman who was being sexually harassed by a stranger, me locking eyes with her and motioning for her to come stand by me, and riding the metro together to keep each other safe the rest of the way… that’s not the story I want to tell. …

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As has been the pattern since his campaign trail, President Trump has behaved towards the immigrant community as a narcissistic perpetrator of abuse, utilizing harmful and predictable tactics to maintain power and control.

This cycle of abuse has become all the more obvious in the Coronavirus crisis. In one moment, immigrants are asked to come be our doctors and are deemed “essential workers” by the federal government (the honeymoon phase of the abuse cycle). The next moment, they are denied the provision of stimulus checks and told in a tweet that the entire system for processing their ability to be here — the U.S. …

I don’t know about you all, but I’ve been finding it hard to concentrate. I’ve been finding it hard to sleep well. I’ve been finding it hard to get motivated and stay motivated. I’ve been finding it hard to pry myself away from my phone. I’ve been finding it hard to be patient and gracious — with others and myself.

I feel all out of sorts and I want to wake up from this nightmare and go back to my life as normal.

This, my friends, is trauma. What our state, our country, and our world is experiencing right now with the rapid spread of a deadly pandemic is trauma, and it would benefit us greatly to acknowledge it, name it, and care for it. …

I’ve written a lot of things that I haven’t done anything with.

They sit in a folder on my desktop collecting metaphorical dust, waiting to either be discarded as just my stream-of-consciousness ramblings from years ago or to be brushed off, polished up, and shared with my little world.

Today I came across something I wrote about a year and a half ago, after roughly ten months of unemployment and yet another rejection from a position I was more than qualified for. …

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When I first met Cuban asylum-seekers Carlos, Josefina, and their son Gerson* in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, they were quiet, reserved, and teetering between hope and despair. I had traveled to El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez with a delegation from the World Communion of Reformed Churches to observe conditions for asylum-seekers, and took an extra day to meet with Rev. Samuel Lopez.

As Pastor of Frontera de Gracia (Border of Grace) Church in Ciudad Juarez, Samuel had begun a ministry out of his church to serve asylum-seekers arriving daily to his city. Even though they have few resources, Frontera de Gracia has opened its doors to hundreds of Cuban and Central American asylum-seekers over the past year. …

We have all read the news stories about people in “migrant caravans” walking hundreds of miles from the Northern Triangle of Central America to the U.S. southern border. Who are the people in these “caravans,” and why are they coming to the U.S.?

Like refugees before them, these men, women, and children are fleeing unspeakable violence and persecution that their own countries have struggled to control. They arrive at our border and ask for protection (“asylum”), which they have a legal right to do, and our country has an international obligation to recognize this right.

Instead, the Trump administration has taken to fear-mongering, restricting asylum, and finding other ways to shut migrants out, whether by building physical walls or a virtual “wall” of more border agents, fewer pathways to legal immigration, more deportations, and more prisons to detain migrants. …

This piece was originally written for Mission Reconcile’s “Dear Church” blog in July, 2018. Mission Reconcile is a faith-based racial reconciliation nonprofit organization created to connect predominantly one-race churches to talk about race, racism, and to create organic relationships.

Dear Church,

I write to you to admit that I am a recovering racist, working to overcome the lies ingrained in me by white supremacy and a racialized society. …

I’d like to take a moment to tell you about the good going on in Washington, DC.

Yes, you heard me right.

I’ve been living in our nation’s capital for the last two years working for Congress, but for several reasons, it’s time for me to move back to my native-state of Michigan. I hosted a “see you later” party this past weekend out of my Capitol Hill home. Almost all of my amazing friends were able to make it, filling our main floor with an incredible showcase of the most fierce and faithful women I have ever had the privilege of knowing. Who these women are and what they do are the good that is coming out of Washington these days. …


Melissa Stek

If I don’t write I can’t call myself a writer. I care about racial and gender justice, mental health, and faith. Stick around for what I have to say about it.

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