Note #56: Returning forward
Personal writing, equal rights and hot water
The rains have returned and the summer is being less hot as it starts to wind down, but I’m not mad at it—at its worst the heat was bad enough it was like being back in Lagos. But it’s been a good week otherwise—and I came to work to a new mug sitting on my desk in celebration of my exam success!
The funny thing, like I said last week, was I didn’t feel like it was that big a deal—it’s only one of 3 exams, after all! But that gave me even more appreciation for the mug, because it’s a reminder that how I feel isn’t always true. And I’m grateful for people who help me remember that, and remind me to pause and celebrate wins before it’s on to the next thing.
This week’s essay had me writing about my journey of faith. If you’ve been following me for awhile you know I’m a practising Christian. Recently, though, the practising part’s been rather harder than usual, which is partly what I’m exploring in therapy (which I started this week).
Then came this week’s writing prompt suggesting writing about returning to something we’ve left, and I couldn’t help think about how my experience with faith turns out to be how I’ve once heard a Christian describe it: an ongoing repentance.
Here’s the start:
The first time I returned to faith was on a balcony in my medical school.
My mum had come to faith in my first year of life, while doing her Masters in Michigan State University. She had grown up in a religious home with her parents being regular church attenders, but it was then she took it on as a personal adult decision. She would go on to share her newfound faith with all her children. I took it all seriously, even making my own commitment to faith before age ten.
I also had lots of questions.
You can read the rest of the essay here: Living in return: Reflections on a faith journey
Meanwhile, have you noticed my last few essays have been a bit more personal than usual? It’s especially interesting to me because I’ve always struggled with personal writing and felt like it didn’t seem to come naturally. But then I’ve recently been trying my hand at prompts from Medium’s Creators Hub: they give prompts every week, and you write something along those lines.
I’d done two essays before realising I was putting out more personal writing than I’d ever done. Turns out what I thought was a struggle just needed prompts to unlock.
A reminder that some things that feel hard are way easier to resolve than we might think, and sometimes what you need isn’t more effort (and head banging!), but a different approach.
Equality as an article of faith (link)
And speaking of faith, there’s a great essay by David Perell outlining how the idea of universal human equality hasn’t always been as obvious as it might seem to us today. In fact even now, the persistence of discrimination in all its multiple forms would indicate that equality remains a difficult idea to accept.
Perell’s essay outlines some of the thinking about the role Christianity played in the idea becoming as powerful as it now is, even if our practice of it still leaves much wanting.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.”
This is the most famous sentence in America’s Declaration of Independence. It’s the driving intellectual force behind the nation’s constitutional belief in legal equality. Educated citizens base their commitment to American ideals on it. This commitment shows up in our theories of democracy, in which each citizen has an equal vote, and our justice system, in which all humans are supposedly equal under the law.
But there’s a problem: human equality isn’t self-evident at all.
Read the rest of it here: Why you’re Christian, by David Perell
Hot water (proverb)
Hot water cannot be held in the mouth: it must be either swallowed or spat out.
Some things leave us no fence to sit on: we have to make a choice. You facing anything like that right now?