Confessions of an Unfinished…

Posted on: January 30th, 2013

I want to be good at whatever I’m doing.  A few months ago, I began climbing.  I cannot get enough of it.  I love the satisfaction of reaching the top of the wall. Over the break, I invited my mother to climb with me, in an effort to alleviate her anxiety.  I figured if she could experience it, she’d realize it wasn’t so dangerous.  Post-climb…

Mother: Why aren’t you climbing the harder routes?

Lauren: Well mom, I’m not that good.

Mother: Well, what is it going to take for you to be good?

This mirrored many conversations I had growing up, with others and inside my own head.  If I did something, I wanted to be good at it.  I didn’t understand it was possible to enjoy something even if you weren’t successful at it.  It’s challenging to shift out of this mindset because deep down, I like being “good” at things.

When I first heard about social justice, I didn’t know how I could be “good” at it, so I pushed it away.  I remember being in college hearing people talk about sweatshops, human dignity, war, cycles of poverty, and how we must fight for change.  I heard names like Gandhi, Romero, and Dorothy Day.  I felt paralyzed because these discussions created an image of what a socially just person looked and acted like.   I dismissed the possibility that I could fit this mold and there was no way I could be “good” at it.

Years later, friends and mentors challenged my perspective to help me see justice more broadly.  I started seeing how daily choices were opportunities to live my values. My values incorporate a desire to be a woman of integrity with a desire for social justice.  I really believe that God created us equally and uniquely with certain passions and desires that harnessed could bring justice into our world.  That each one of our outpourings of love plays a different role in the creation of a just society; a role that is essential to the full tapestry of social change.  This premise frees us to be authentically ourselves and to love in the ways we were created to love.  I know now that my call is to treat every individual I meet with dignity, to love more deeply, and to respond when I have an opportunity to do so.

I am on a long path that I hope I find the strength and courage to stay on.  I recognize that when others are walking beside me, tripping and dealing with inclement weather doesn’t seem so bad.  While at Loyola, I’ve seen staff, students, and faculty ahead of me serving as path markers and inspiring me to keep moving and struggling with hard topics.  They allow me to ask hard questions and give me reasons to maintain hope.  Contrary to that wall in the climbing gym, there is no end target I’m shooting for.  Instead, we are asked to get on the wall of social justice and climb, even if we aren’t “good” yet.  We find paths with no easy route and fall off often.  But we know each time we attempt the wall, the previous struggles and successes change our understanding and ability to climb higher.

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