Why we avoid the things we love the most

Do you remember that strange thing at school athletics day as a kid when you’d be about to line up for the sprint race and suddenly need to pee? Never mind the fact you’d already been to the bathroom twice in the last half hour. No, just me?

I remember being so nervous about the running races in Year 9 that I was genuinely hoping I would somehow break both legs before athletics day. There was a girl who had been bullying me a bit for the last few months and we were pretty much neck and neck in terms of fitness (9 periods of sport a week together left little ambiguity). I was pretty sure I had the edge on her but I knew that it would push me to my limit physically.

But the horror of coming second, or ‘first loser’, as some competitive people like to say, drove me on and I won every single running race in that athletics competition. The most memorable was the 400 metres, my least favourite event. Middle distance is horrible, in my opinion, because it pushes you to your limit for the longest period of time. There’s no slow and steady, and you can’t give it all in the first ten seconds. Shortly after the race my legs cramped up so badly that I was lying on the grass crying while my mother stretched out my hamstrings.

I often used to look forward to long distance more than sprinting, even though I found it less enjoyable, just because I found it less stressful. And last time I was with my boyfriend Jacques the last thing I wanted to do was sprint. Because I love it so much.

I am currently working on a novel. Writing stories makes me crazy happy and I love every amazing, difficult second of it, but I have to get my cousin to give me deadlines because otherwise I will ditch writing to do the washing, or clean the house, or reorganise my pantry. Why do I avoid the thing I know will make me come alive the most? The other things are mundane tasks, yes, but it is a lot harder to fail at them. And if I did, what’s the big deal? So, I’m not a domestic goddess after all (or am I really?).

But somehow if I fail at writing, or view myself as having failed, I feel that I have failed as a person. Every writer (who actually shows their work to others) knows that you have to develop a pretty thick skin, and I have gotten better at handling rejection over the years. However if someone were to give ‘destructive criticism’ (as opposed to the more commonly used constructive criticism) I would find it hard not to perceive it as a criticism of me as a person.

In some ways it’s easier to never try your hardest, because then your all, your absolute best, can never be rejected, or deemed ‘not good enough’.

We need to decide whether the risk is worth it. Would you rather succeed at rearranging your pantry or winning an Olympic gold medal for the 100 metre sprint? Fill in the blank with your passion, but don’t avoid using the gifts that God’s placed in you because, in some ways, it’s a slap in the face.

As a side note, of course Satan would want us to become distracted and do everything but the thing that is going to have the most impact. The thing that would make us really come alive.

Look into your own heart. What desires are in there so deep that you feel like to cut them out would to become someone else entirely? Maybe you already know.

Now ask God to help you pursue that, to his glory.

 

Sincerely
Lil

 

Image: https://en.fotolia.com/tag/%22sports%20race%22, sourced 21 June 2017

Is the Apex gang taking over our streets?

I took this photograph on my run this morning after seeing my third or fourth one, sadly right near a children’s playground. This ‘South Sudanese’ gang seems to be everywhere. In the parks, lighting up our news headlines, holding up our cars, breaking into and entering our homes. Most Sudanese people probably have associations with them. Right?

Without researching, would you say that the Apex gang are pretty big? Earlier today I would have answered huge, but after doing some research I found that most of my assumptions were wrong. Big shocker there.

Most news sources manage to agree that at its peak the Apex gang contained around 130 members. Melbourne is currently home to 6007 Sudanese people. Which means that the Apex gang make up just 1.85% of the total Sudanese population. With statistics that low, it is ignorant to assume that ‘any African out there’ could be a member of Apex. You also might be interested to know that of the 2000 teenagers committing crimes in Victoria between October 2015 to September 2016, 1700 of them were born in Australia. So why aren’t we running scared from them?

One of the worst parts for me is that if I’m walking on a street at night and I see a group of young men walking towards me, sometimes I feel a twinge of fear if they are African looking. Because the thought that goes through my mind is, “Well, what if they are part of that violent minority?” Just my luck.

It is assumptions like these that can lead us to discriminate against perfectly innocent Sudanese people in the community, particularly young males. Where do we get our facts from? Do we even have any actual statistics? I know that before this week I haven’t even read one single article about the Apex gang and the way they’re ‘terrorising Melbourne’. All of my information was word of mouth, probably by people who themselves have already felt the cold fingers of anxiety creep over their shoulders and shiver down their back.

I’ve always known that the minority ruin it for the majority, but what I didn’t know until I actually read some articles is that the Apex gang contains several nationalities, including Australian, which the media largely ignores.

Other information that has reached me by word of mouth is the tough situations that Sudanese friends of mine have encountered just because of their ethnicity. If you think basic racial slurs in the schoolyard are all they’ve got to worry about, you’d be wrong. From being told to ‘get out of here’ while attempting to enter a workplace to start a shift, to being run away from when you needed help after locking your keys in your car, to assault in broad daylight on the way out of the school gates.

Several schools across the western suburbs of Melbourne have banned any ‘African looking’ people from gathering in groups of more than three because it ‘intimidates’ the other students. This is the kind of racial profiling that leads people to become even more prejudiced, and African young people to feel increasingly ostracised.

The Sunday Morning Herald referred to the Apex gang as a ‘lightning rod’ for racial violence (Michael Koziol) and The Saturday Paper claim that, “When not covered responsibly, hot topics such as race and immigration encourage discrimination against groups of people that are already marginalised” (Santilla Chingaipe).

Can you imagine what it’s like living in Melbourne as a South Sudanese young person with the shadow of the Apex gang looming over your shoulder? Sudanese all across our city are experiencing fear, suspicion and sometimes even outright rejection or hatred because of their ethnicity or fears that they may be violent, based on the actions of strangers, not their own. That shouldn’t sit alright with us.

Just to be clear, I am in no way downplaying the pain that victims of the Apex gang have suffered, merely trying to shed some light on the pain of another group of innocent victims.

Probably most of us when asked if we harbour racial prejudice would say no, but what does fearing a whole people group just because of a 1.8% gang say about us?

So when you come across people from any kind of ethnicity different to you, if their behaviour is normal and peaceful, give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they’re just a great person like you, trying to navigate life’s struggles and hoping that the world can see them for who they really are, not just the colour of their skin.

Sincerely
Lil

 

 

Sources (all found 15 June 2017):
http://profile.id.com.au/s_greater-melbourne/sudanese-population

https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/media/2017/02/25/race-stereotyping-and-melbournes-apex-gang/14879412004275

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/south-sudanese-students-banned-from-congregating-in-groups-at-several-melbourne-schools/news-story/88e7d820d1714beb59cb6bdb7722fd1f

http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/apex-gang-most-youth-crimes-committed-by-australianborn-police-say-20170412-gvj964.html