Corruption here, oppression there; I know about it, but do I care?

 

Sometimes I fear that I am becoming apathetic.

Every morning, I listen to the news on my commute to campus. Every mile that I travel is filled with tragedy. I hear stories about political and social injustice in the United States. I hear about the crises in Mali and Syria, the global fight for women’s rights, the conditions that refugees face in South Sudan. Sometimes, I don’t even blink when I hear phrases like “the death toll has risen to…” or “in a catastrophic turn of events…”

What has happened to me?

Today I realized something that I hope I’ll never forget.

Every news story that I hear has something in common – every story involves people. I know this statement sounds like common sense, but I feel that I have become so desensitized to the things going on in this world that I forget the fact that these events that I’m hearing about are real. With real people living real lives, who have real hopes and real dreams. The people affected, those who are suffering, those who are starving, those who are being abused, those who are doing the abusing… they are all people. With a story. Just like me – I’m a real person, with a real story.

Embracing apathy and becoming desensitized is not the solution to the world’s problems. In fact, I’d argue that it actually contributes to them. I’ll admit that there are no easy solutions to these problems. Sometimes, I even fear there is no solution at all. Even so, that does not give me an excuse to idly sit by and wait for somebody else to take action. I have to take action, even if it seems to be insufficient in comparison to the scope of the worlds’ problems.

So today, I took action.

Today, I prayed.

Sometimes, all you can do is pray. Today is one of those days.

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The Limitless Canvas

I was going through some old photos  yesterday and realized something that I think I’ve always known, but haven’t been able to put words to before. We live in world that is made up of art. Think about it – the world that surrounds us, the food we eat, the people we meet, the beauty that fills the earth and skies. We live on a canvas, and it’s the greatest canvas of all!

Simply speaking, art surrounds us, and this is just one small reason why we are blessed to live.

With the help of some old photos that I’ve taken, I want pay a small tribute to the world of art in which we live. So why don’t you take a moment to slow down, reflect, and appreciate the brilliance of the world.

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From swirling, stormy skies, to reflections on ponds that you drive by, or droplets of water formed on glass, to the sun in the sky or a town you pass; winter, spring, summer, fall, a meal that you share, or flowers so tall! Even in peeling paint – there’s art in this world to appreciate.

-britney johnna

Integrity and Compassion

Integrity and Compassion.

This is what today’s leaders are lacking.

The more I think about this statement, the more I can’t help but believe it.

I had a dream a few nights ago that I wish I could broadcast to all of humanity. In this dream, I was watching a speaker address the issue of the leadership in our world. He noted previous presidents, what they accomplished during their time in office, and how they accomplished these things.

He said the reason these men were successful was because they led with integrity and compassion. He then said the statement that has been echoing through my mind since I had this dream: “integrity and compassion – that’s what today’s leaders are lacking.”

I think my subconscious was onto something.

Imagine if the world’s top leaders were guided by this standard of leading with integrity and compassion. Imagine if every day, the people at the top, middle, and bottom embodied these principles. Imagine what a tremendous change that would be!

Now, I want you to stop imagining this utopian world and start working towards it.

Show the people you work with, walk with, talk with, drive with, ride with – the people you share this world with – show them all integrity and compassion.

I fully believe that if we start leading with integrity and compassion in our daily living, it will inspire others to do the same.

If we can’t change the whole world, at least we can change our own worlds.

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Stand Out.
(Photo Credit – Britney Molloy)

-britney johnna

 

Forgive and Forgive

 

“There exists a greater testimony of grace when we fully know and understand what has happened, but still choose to forgive.”

I was just taking a trip down memory lane and found this written in one of my old journals. I find these words to be quite profound, so I wanted to share them.

I think it’s far too easy to be bitter – to hold onto hurt and be angry towards those who have wronged us. I also think it’s far too easy to forget – to suppress our painful experiences and pretend like nothing has happened. In fact, I honestly believe that the old expression forgive and forget isn’t forgiveness at all. I think this goes against the whole purpose of forgiveness and leaves us broken, with wounds that will not fully heal.

So I want to end this with a challenge. I know it’s not easy, but I challenge you to choose to forgive, but don’t forget. There is something freeing and powerful about recognizing the wrong that has been done against you and still deciding to forgive.

This kind of forgiveness speaks loudly to the person who has wronged you.

It relieves bitterness, anger, and pain.

This kind of forgiveness heals.

This is true forgiveness.

Journal Entry on Forgiveness

 -britney johnna

The Great Performance

“All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players:

They have their exists and their entrances;

And one man in his time plays many parts,”

– William Shakespeare

What beautiful words this man wrote – so inspiring! I find encouragement in these words and want to share why.

I know that I sometimes feel paralyzed by fear – I’m afraid to act, because I don’t know what will happen if I succeed. I’m afraid to act, because I don’t want to fail. I’m afraid to act because I don’t want to make the wrong decision. I’m afraid to act, which means I’m too scared to step out and play the lead role in my own life.

But what kind of life is that, where the encroachment of fear steals the lead?

I think the reason why I find the words of Shakespeare so encouraging is because of the line that reads. “And one man in his time plays many parts…”

To me, this line is saturated with hope. A wrong choice or poor decision is not the end – it’s just another part to play, another opportunity to grow and to learn. If I act and I fail, it’s okay because there are many more parts to play. If I act and succeed, I can rest assured knowing that my success was because of one thing – I took action.

Fear, I won’t let you hinder me any longer. It’s time I step out and embrace the lead.

– Britney Johnna

Photo Credit: Unknown

Jams for Cans

Let me begin by saying that it is incredibly difficult to keep a blog whenever internet access is hard to come by! I don’t have the internet at my house, so I have to get a little creative about blog posts.

I wanted to take some time to write about an event that I’m planning called Jams for Cans. The event is a benefit concert set for November 15, 2012. To get into the concert, students and campus organizations will donate cans of food that they have been collecting. At the end of the night, we’ll donate all of the cans to a food pantry either in Edwardsville or St. Louis.

Just a little bit of background information about the concert:

Every year, my stepdad puts on an event called Got FAITH? (Feed And Inspire The Hungry). This event is a yard sale where you “buy” items for a can of food. Most of the churches in Jerseyville donate items or money to the yard sale. I’m amazed every year at how the churches come together for this single cause, regardless of their denomination. This is something I hope to see at SIUE – students being able to join together and help fight hunger regardless of their majors, backgrounds, or beliefs.

Over the three years of Got FAITH? we’ve collected almost 15,000 cans of food, which were all donated to local food pantries.

I was telling my friend about this and we decided to do something similar, but geared towards SIUE – which is where the idea of Jams for Cans came from.

So now that you know about the background of Jams for Cans, here’s a little about the passion behind the event:

Lately I’ve been becoming more aware of the issue of hunger in America. A lot of this was from my experience working in Virginia this summer – I volunteered at a food pantry quite a few times and saw the hundreds of people who were completely dependent on the food pantry to feed their families.

I know that in this area, many food pantries have been struggling to keep their shelves stocked. So now there are children who don’t receive proper nutrition, there are mothers who can’t feed their kids, fathers who can’t provide for their families… This is a real issue that families here in the St. Louis area are facing. I think it would be amazing to see students from SIUE to come together and support this cause – to help people who can’t help themselves.

One hope I have for this event is that it will help people (families in need of food, professors and students here at SIUE, the musicians who will be playing and anybody else who is involved) to see and understand that we’ve all been called to care and we should look after others in practical, tangible ways.

So if you read this, I would be blessed beyond belief if you would join me on November 15, with a can of food in your hands, ready to help fight against hunger.

Photo by: Britney Molloy

-britney johnna

 

Does Anyone Understand?

The other day, I told a missionary woman that I want to write songs about social injustice and political corruption, and then travel the country playing these songs, raising awareness about these issues. I told her that I want to start a movement of sorts – where people act out of care and concern for other people’s well being, instead of just their own.

When I told her this, she simply said, “Well…” and then her voice trailed off.

I thought to myself, surely this woman, out of all people, would understand. A missionary to Colombia; a woman whose entire life has been dedicated to helping other people…Surely she would understand this crazy desire of mine! If she doesn’t, then who will?

I was discouraged by her reaction, to say the least.

After her brief response to my life ambition, she asked about what my main focus would be. I told her that throughout my college career, I have been researching human trafficking (for the record, last week’s blog gives you a brief glimpse into my research). I then explained to her, in a typical, ambitious college student fashion, that I want to bring justice, in whatever way I can, to this issue.

Our conversation didn’t last much longer. The woman I was talking to was the speaker at a women’s conference in Alton, Illinois, where I would be playing music. Shortly after our conversation, the conference started.

Although the conference was quite lovely, I really want to share about something that happened afterwards.

I was playing guitar, providing the background music for the women as they got into groups to pray for each other. While I was playing, the woman I wrote about earlier came over and began to pray for me.

I often feel awkward whenever somebody does this. I don’t know what to do! Do I close my eyes and bow my head? Do I mumble in agreement under my breath? Do I pray for the person after they pray for me? And, in this case, do I keep playing guitar?!

Fighting these questions back, I continued playing guitar, and I also focused on what this woman was praying.

She prayed that my eyes would be open to injustice in this world.

That I would have the words to speak and the songs to sing.

That, as I speak, I would inspire others around me.

That, as I write, my lyrics would be blessed.

That, as I step, my path would be guided.

That I would have courage.

And perseverance.

It was then that I realized, she understood.

-britney johnna

Women’s Conference – Cornerstone Church in Alton, Illinois
(Photo by: Britney Molloy)