Beep beep, beep beep! I must interrupt my regularly scheduled programming to talk about something not as jolly, but is unfortunately relevant due to headlines and comments and arguments and exclusive language. I will get back to goofing off about made-for-TV Christmas movies as soon as I watch one I love with all of my heart. Thank you for your patience during the wind storm that is messing with the antennae. I’ll get back to normal in two shakes of a lamb’s tail.
This is for the people who long to be understood. For the people that they long to understand them.
Before I dive in, I must scream out the window.
But, the funny thing about my screams is that they’ll be carried away by the wind and I can’t control where they go. They will whirl like-minded people, lovingly lifting up those who need support. For others though, my screams will spiral into a tornado. They’ll make them run to the basement, my voice only a freight-train of overwhelming noise plowing overhead, and they’ll hide until it’s over.
Today, I feel like I must speak in a gentle breeze. A verbose breeze, surely, but a gentle and loving one. A breeze that desperately wants to be understood.
So, hello! As some of you know, my name is Emma and I am the diarrhea-typer behind The Hallremark. I write dozens of thousands of words about the Hallmark Christmas movies that give bursts of Christmas cheer to my heart. It’s strange, I know, but it’s a nice break from what I usually write about—the book that is really pushing me to my limits! Interestingly enough, what I usually write about is suddenly THERE! Just right there! where all of my quiet thinking and relaxing movie-viewing and happy writing is. Which—dangit, darnit! I think that means I have to meld the two. Ah, WHY! I am quiet about the things I am about to talk about because I need to be quiet about them because I could easily crumple and ooh look I am floating away. Let me regroup.
I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and have had it for as long as I remember. Something that has consumed my life are my struggles with Scrupulosity. What is that?
According to the National Library of Medicine, “Scrupulosity is a psychological disorder primarily characterized by pathological guilt or obsession associated with moral or religious issues that is often accompanied by compulsive moral or religious observance and is highly distressing and maladaptive.”
I would’ve just described it as dumb and mean, so I’m glad I got some professionals to help. It’s important for me to say that I’m very blessed and privileged to have parents who are supportive, sent me to therapy when OCD symptoms were noticed, set the example to love everyone, and didn’t push church on me when it caused me great distress. Unfortunately, however, billboards and picket signs and church signs and very exclusive language are loud and everywhere. I wish with all my heart that my brain hadn’t overrode love with fear-based messaging. But, maybe, just maybe, I had that experience to help others. Who knows. I do still get super mad about it! I still rant like it’s my job! I don’t know everything, I’m far from perfect (so this post won’t be), and have way more questions than answers. I do know that I have a lump in my chest, a working computer, a very strange and specific platform (I should’ve picked world peace, but here we are), and a rawness that blasts from my fingers.
ANYWAY, what does this have to do with a Hallmark Christmas blog? A lot, unfortunately.
Hallmark Media has recently changed. For years, it was extremely exclusive. Thankfully, they have become more inclusive, their stories more representative of the actual world around us. Yes, there’s still unrealistic bubble snow and yikes-that’s-expensive Balsam Hill decorations, and houses most could only afford the porcelain Christmas figurines of. Now, however, more people are getting to see themselves in this sugary, joy-filled, dreamy Countdown to Christmas line-up. These movies have helped my mental health greatly. What is the problem with this happiness, this brain rest, this 90 minute snow globe vacation being made for all?
Because of this mentality, however, there’s been some drama. Like WOW I’m scared and stressed someone get me outta here! drama. Long story short, there’s this new channel that old bosses and actors have created and migrated to. It’s called Great American Family.
I am going to focus on their language, because language is powerful. Language has changed my life.
Exclusive language is harmful. Exclusive language is what kept me away from Christianity. Exclusive language is what kept me away from a relationship with God. Exclusive language doesn’t expand God’s Kingdom—it makes it smaller. It makes it a club. And I, a white, straight, Midwestern woman, am their demographic. If I don’t even feel welcome at their Christmas dinner table, just imagine how a lot of the population feels.
Look, even saying God’s Kingdom, God, or Jesus trip on my tongue. It’s imposter syndrome. It’s a shot of panic to my heart. It’s fear that I’ll be grouped with the language and the shouts that scare me, that harm.
Will I ever fully escape their definition of God?
I have a passion for names. For meanings. For words. For language. The annotations in my Bible are mainly definitions, translations, deep-dives of what any of this could possibly mean.
Great American Family. Break it down.
The sentences that start with this name are immediately defined by the words that follow. Traditional. Marriage. Safe. Family-Friendly. The ears that hear, the eyes that read will meld this all together. It will get burned into brains and welded until only one life, one existence, one nationality is accepted.
I am so, so sad. I really cannot contain my grief. I desperately want people to understand that fear-based and exclusive language does the opposite of what they want.
You can tell me to read the Bible. I have. The whole thing, one and a half times. You really have no idea how long it took me to get here. How long it took me to unlearn and untangled and breathe.
It took panic attacks. Spirals. A mental breakdown where I had to drop out of college for a semester. It took questioning. It took understanding and patience. It took beautiful souls to reach their hands out to me. It took me to finally do my own research. To get to know God for myself—without the noise, without the headlines, without branded Christianity, without fear-based and exclusive language.
How do you form a relationship without getting to know someone for yourself?
I didn’t know that I was allowed to question. I thought every doubt, every anxiety was blasphemy and a slingshot to Hell. But, in Genesis 32, Jacob wrestles with God all night, and he’s still loved, accepted, and given great responsibility! David’s Psalms are filled with doubt and fear and confusion, and Samuel calls him a man after God’s own heart! On the cross, Jesus cries, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Love is a loaded word. Love is a tricky feeling. Love can be confusing. Love has countless definitions and meanings. One thing I do know is that love should never be exclusive. Love should never be used as a weapon to win arguments.
God is so much more than He’s made out to be. He’s bigger than “You Deserve Hell” picket signs. He’s bigger than politics that have claimed Him. He’s bigger than the content created in His name. I guess I’m just saying all of this because for a long time I didn’t know that. I didn’t know there was a place for me.
To those who are excluded and misunderstood, I will always scream for you. To those who exclude, I will keep whispering gentle breezes until you understand.
(P.S. Something so beautiful about A Charlie Brown Christmas, and probably why it means so much to me, is that people usually are so awful to Charlie Brown. It only takes one person to be loving to him to bring him to a place of joy.)