We aren’t all bigots in Indiana

If you usually read my blog because it’s based on running and fitness, be warned that today it isn’t. At times I just need to write about what’s on my mind at the time, and this is definitely one of those times. This week, Indiana’s leaders, including Governor Pence, signed into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Bill. Let me start by saying I am a Christian. I was raised in the Christian church from birth. I have a strong faith, live a good life, and try very hard to live my life as Christ would want (those who know me know I have a long way to go!). I also have a daughter who is gay. I’ll get to that later.

This week, I am completely dismayed that our representatives can disregard their constituents, and sign a bill that allows discrimination against homosexuals. Here is the legal language of the bill:

Religious freedom restoration. Prohibits a governmental entity from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion, even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability, unless the governmental entity can demonstrate that the burden: (1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering the compelling governmental interest. Provides a procedure for remedying a violation. Specifies that the religious freedom law applies to the implementation or application of a law regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity or official is a party to a proceeding implementing or applying the law. Prohibits an applicant, employee, or former employee from pursuing certain causes of action against a private employer.

The leaders have said it’s misunderstood: ” they say it’s supposed to be a standard for the courts in cases involving religious freedom.” Bullshit. It allows a business to deny service to someone based on sexual orientation because it’s against the owner’s religion, and the government cannot burden that exercise of religion. Seriously. It’s 2015 and our state just took us back to the 1950s. The leaders have said the bill is just like federal legislation put into action by Bill Clinton. Bullshit. That bill was signed to allow women to wear religious garb in the workplace and Jewish men to wear yamakas without fear of consequences. The intent of these bills is not the same. One was created so that someone isn’t discriminated against, the other allows discrimination without consequences from the government. If that wasn’t Indiana’s intent, perhaps they should have worded it differently. When the entire country believes it encourages discrimination, there’s a problem, Governor Pence.

Multi-million dollar companies have threatened to pull out of Indiana; the NCAA has issues with bringing their athletes to Indiana; people on Twitter have said they will no longer spend their money in Indiana. This law does nothing positive for our state. It makes all of us look like a bunch of unacccepting rednecks. It is going to hurt our economy. And it hurts people. Real, honest, hardworking, contributing members of our communities. George Takei called for a boycott of our state. They are boycotting our state, Governor Pence. I think your hopes for a presidential run just went down the drain along with your integrity.

Christians. As I said, I am one of you. My faith has carried me through many wonderful highs and devastating lows in life. I’ve studied the Bible, and spent hours and hours in Sunday School and church. In none of my Christian education or reading did I learn that it’s okay to turn anyone away. Jesus – whom Christians are supposed to follow – denied service to no one…NO ONE! He spent time with Mary Magdalene, the prostitute; he loved her. He went to have dinner with Zacheus. We sang about it, dammit. The wee little man? Why don’t you remember? Jesus spent his time with ‘sinners’ and outcasts. He showed love to everyone. Saying you can’t serve someone because it goes against your Christian religion goes directly against the teachings of Christ. Will you also refuse to serve the following?

  • Divorced and remarried people? The Bible says they are adulterers. A big no-no.
  • Men and women who had sex before marriage? Sin. It clearly goes against Biblical teaching (there goes your business).
  • Those who use God’s name in vain? Heck, that’s even a commandment.
  • People who covet their friends’ big homes or luxury vacations? Lots of jealous people out there.
  • People who work on Sunday, not keeping the Sabbath holy? Are you open on Sunday?
  • Women who cut their hair or wear make-up? According to the Bible, that’s a sin.
  • People who drink or eat too much? Over-indulgence in food and drink…SIN.

Why do so many Christians choose which ‘sins’ are important? Who do they think they are? The Bible, above all, commands us to love. That’s it. Love. If you disagree with homosexuality, fine. But please know it isn’t a choice. Why would my then 16 year old daughter come to me to tell me she is gay if it were her choice? Why would she put herself out there to face the scorn and judgment of others? No kid wants to be different and be the target of bullies. I am heterosexual – always have been. I couldn’t make myself desire other women if my life depended on it. If I wanted to rebel against my parents or society, I still couldn’t just ‘decide’ to be gay one day. Could you? I got a text from a great friend who is also upset about this new law. She texted, ‘I am straight and the last time I checked, I can’t remember the moment when I ‘chose’ to be straight.’ We have no more control over our sexuality than we do the color of our skin. But it’s illegal to refuse service to people of different ethnicities, isn’t it?

My beautiful daughter is one of the best people I know. She is a senior, preparing for graduation and college. She is in the top 10 in her class, president of the National Honor Society, a golf and tennis player, drama club member, band member, and the list goes on and on. She is kind to everyone, willing to help others, and she’s gay. That’s a small part of the amazing person she is, yet someone could refuse to serve her because her ‘gayness’ goes against his or her religion? Someone could hurt her so deeply because our government won’t ‘burden his or her exercise of religion’? How is that following the Bible? How is that following in Christ’s footsteps? As her mother, it breaks my heart to think that this is even possible.

The implications of this new law will continue to embarrass Hoosiers. I have yet to see one positive aspect of signing this bill. I, despite having been raised Republican, have always stayed out of politics because I despise the double talk, but we have to stand up and be counted. And when the leaders of our state disregard our wishes, we have to fight harder. In a couple of weeks, the anger over this bill will die down, but we can’t let it go. Social media is powerful; use it. Email your representatives. Let fellow Americans know that we are not all bigots. Most of us welcome and encourage diversity. Most of us are loving and friendly. Our governor? Not so much. He had his own agenda, and cares nothing about what he is doing to our state. He is narrow-minded and uninformed. He is not representative of a Hoosier.

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Running Remix

Sometimes in life, we need to step back and reevaluate our intentions. Whether we examine relationships, careers, or fitness, we need to realize our goals can change in spite of us. I am at a point at which I have to reevaluate my running, and believe me, it isn’t by choice. My knees seem to be rebelling, which infuriates me. I am trying to do something good that will keep me mentally and physically healthy, but my body doesn’t want to cooperate.

 

For non-runners the answer is easy — don’t run. Runners understand that it just isn’t that simple. Though I haven’t always been a runner, after six years it has become part of my identity. My friends run; my husband runs; I want to run. Running is an emotional release after a challenging day at school. It’s a way to celebrate life’s little joys. It’s a way to deal with tragedy when I don’t know what else to do with myself. Running gives me confidence, strength, and pleasure. Running makes me angry, disappointed, and frustrated. I love going for a run with friends, and I love running alone because it allows me time to process whatever is happening in my life at the moment. In running I find peace. Simply put, I cannot imagine my life without it.

 

I had already decided that I wouldn’t run a spring half marathon. My plan was to let my knees rest by sticking with shorter runs. After running the Kentucky Derby Half Marathon the past four years, it will be difficult knowing my friends are there and I am not. I do, however, plan to run the Virginia Beach Rock n Roll with my step-daughter Labor Day weekend. After my past couple longer runs, that was even questionable. Once I would reach 4.5 miles, my ‘good’ knee would begin to stiffen up – IT band. It felt exactly the same as my right one did two years ago prior to surgery. I hobbled to get to 5 miles (I’m not sure why I have to end on an even number), and ended up disappointed that I couldn’t go further.

 

I am currently reading Tales from Another Mother Runner by Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea. It is their third book together, and since I loved the first two, I knew this would be worth my time. One of the essays struck a chord. The woman had knee problems. Ahhh…a sister in pain. She began inserting walking into her runs, and was able to complete her runs. Even though the thought of walking part of a long run, or God forbid, a race, goes against my prideful spirit, I knew I had to try something, or I’d never be able to run long distance again. Yesterday was my experiment.

 

It was going to be a warm sunny day, so I was really looking forward to the run. I had to mentally prepare myself to walk. I know myself well enough to know that if I weren’t disciplined, I would try to run as far as I could, and then I would end up in pain and angry. I decided to run the first two miles, and then walk 2/10 of each mile for the rest of my ‘run’. I didn’t know how far I would go because I just didn’t know how my knees would hold up. I had in the back of my head that I wanted to try to go seven miles because my friends who are running the Derby Half were running seven (again, my brain works in mysterious ways). I found that inserting the walking made the outing enjoyable. I looked forward to the breaks, enjoyed the beautiful weather, and didn’t stress over my distance. Each time I took off running, I knew I only had to run 8/10 mile. I ended up going eight miles – with no knee pain. I ran 6.8 miles, and walked 1.2; that’s further than I’ve been able to run in months. Even with the walking, I averaged an 11 minute pace, which isn’t that bad. Did pride step in? Of course. I was hopeful that no one would see me walking; afterall, I’m supposed to be a runner. In the end, I was very content with my effort. And I was figuring out what finish time I would have if I did that at Louisville. I think my husband might just kill me if I suddenly decide to jump in the race because he hasn’t been doing long runs. But we do have a hotel room booked. Just in case.


This is when I have to ask myself, what are my intentions in regard to running. To stay healthy? Or to compete? To spend time doing something I love? Or to beat people? The responsible answer would be that I intend to stay healthy while doing what I love, and I do, but I also want to run well. I want to have respectable times. I want to PR. In short races, I want to place in my age group. Is that going to be possible? I just don’t know. I would rather walk some if it will allow me to continue running, but my pride will have to adapt to this new vision of who I am as a runner.