Buzzed

Today, my wife became a global topic of discussion, thanks to the interview and subsequent article that was posted on BuzzFeed this morning about my wife and her decision to wear hijab for Lent.  There are very few people who go through this sort of a reality – and most of those who do have probably grown used to seeing the one they love the object of both admiration and public scrutiny.

It’s not an easy thing to deal with.

First of all, the article that was published by BuzzFeed was almost exclusively positive or neutral.  My wife was asked six questions via email and that became the framework for the article.  For the most part, nothing was taken out of context or exaggerated in what she said in the interview.  What is uncomfortable to deal with, at least for us, is that what is said may or may not be understood by the reader (or even the writer).  You send your words out into the universe and leave it to someone else to tell your story on your behalf.  Thankfully, Jessey has been writing a daily journal, so there’s actually a primary source to go back to if there is any confusion or misrepresentation.

To give an example of how vastly one could misunderstand my wife’s Lenten journey, here’s something that was written to me in an email on Sunday (before the BuzzFeed article was published): “By wearing the hijab, Jessey is essentially siding with ISIS, and the supremacist political system of Sharia. It is not just a piece of cloth. Symbols matter. Think of it this way – would any of us fly the ISIS flag at our house? Or wear the Swastika on our clothes? No way. The hijab is that powerful a symbol for Islam.”

Pause.

Breathe.

My response: “I think you have misunderstood Jessey’s purpose for wearing hijab.  It is NOT to say ‘See, hijab isn’t all that bad’.  The point is to understand what women go through on a daily basis in America who wear hijab. It is a view into what WE do to women in Islam, how WE view them, how WE treat them, how WE insult, oppress, or ignore them.”

Aside from this extreme example, there has been plenty of uproar about Jessey’s comment that she was considering using makeup to darken her complexion in an attempt to see if she is being treated more blandly because of the color of her skin while wearing hijab.  Honestly, this, when read in a vacuum, sounds pretty crazy.  This was compounded by the fact that BuzzFeed chose to change font size and use bold text for that comment, indicating that this was important to the story.  All of a sudden, my wife moved from the sphere of inspiration to bigot, racist, idiot, dope, backward, small-minded, ignorant, and foolish.  An article was even written on an alternate website about that one comment.

A full article, about one comment, about my wife and her desire for understanding a little more deeply what it means to be an outsider in a very insider culture.

Needless to say, all of the attention has been more than overwhelming and more than we could have ever expected.  In fact, it made my wife lose her mind this morning to the point that she insisted that we take the kids to Chuck E Cheese (a money pit that we have never been to with our children) just to get away from her computer and her phone.

However, one thing remains, which I think is the most important: Jessey is deepening her friendships with her Muslim friends, challenging the stereotypes and lack of neighborliness of other friends, and shared a message of reconciliation and love of neighbor, stranger, and enemy to literally thousands of people in one day.

Here’s the best from the BuzzFeed article: “Jesus said to love our neighbors, strangers, and enemies. I think this is something that is not often taken seriously by many Christians,” she told BuzzFeed News. “We are so influenced by the media, that we allow fear to take over, and forget to love. Fear is the opposite of love.”

I am immensely proud of my wife for her decision, for her willingness to make the most of the attention that her story has garnered, for her resolve, her beauty, and her heart.

She, like me, sincerely believes that love can actually change this world.  She, in her naivete, believes that hospitality is not only lacking in American communities (especially amongst people of our own race (something we’ve been learning isn’t PC to acknowledge)), but is also the necessary first step towards developing loving relationships with people across lines of difference that can potentially change the shape of our world.

That’s some good news to chew on.

In case somehow you missed it, here is the article on BuzzFeed.

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9 thoughts on “Buzzed

  1. I think the email sent to you sums up everything. That’s the kind of crap that Muslim women in American deal with on a daily basis. People who think they support ISIS because of ignorance and hate (on our part). It’s almost funny to me (but not really) that someone would send that email because it’s so obvious they don’t get it. They are making the point and even furthering her reason to do it. Because of one assumption, she is suddenly grouped with terrorists, like most muslims in america are constantly facing. And I agree that symbols do matter and I think it’s clear that they matter to Jessey with how seriously she takes this. This experiment teaches her (and us) to love the Muslims but also the dumbasses who send those emails and make those comments. (I think the latter is much more difficult.) -Mary

  2. faithalone
    03/06/15 07:11 EST
    We do not need to mimic the works of darkness to be a light to it. Rather we can become full of joy and Christ’s light to penetrate darkness and lead others to Jesus Christ. As for lent. Jesus suffered. Our intentional suffering and self denial will not bring us closer to Him, although I admit self denial is a practice of self disciple to be sure. Lenten practices are works done in vain. We are set free from that!Rather, embrace and study grace. That will draw you nearer and in fact fill you with empathy for others, seeing opportunities of ministry as the Lord directs. Otherwise we will be forever suffering to try to understand the sins Jesus died once and for all for, rising to give life eternal to all who believe. we love Him because He first loved us 1John 4:19 . We do NOT prove our love to Him to make it happen, instead we embrace what He has done and is to become fully alive in Him.be salt, be light.
    Also, have you not read Black Like Me and the controversy after its publication?

    1. You have misunderstood the purpose of my wife’s decision. Islam is not where my wife is shining light, but rather on the church and her lack of love for neighbors, strangers, and enemies. This is not evangelism. I am really starting to wonder if there is hope for the church when people see what she is doing and read what he says and still think she is trying to act Muslim in order to save Muslims. She’s trying to help people like to see difference and embrace it, not to be a light to the nations, but a light to the church. And, in the process, she is shining a light to the nations. It’s crazy. And, I understand that you see Lent as an attempt to do a good work in order to gain favor from God. Practices and disciplines are not works and are not denials of Gods grace. They are ways to deeper connection with God, like the one you mentioned: studying. If practices are all bad and grace is everything, then I shouldn’t waste my time studying either, since whatever there is to know has already been accomplished. As for the uproar about a thought my wife had, just rest easy. She’s not going to do it. Arrogance says, “I don’t care what people say, I’m going to do it anyway”. Humility says, “whoa, I made a mistake there. I don’t want to hurt anyone because of my insensitivity to the incredibly big racial issues that I would raise in doing so.” Shes just a mom and a person trying to help people learn to love all. I would hate to have my thoughts published on a quasi news site, wouldn’t you?

  3. So much hostility in reactions of YOURS supporters toward those who disagree. Hostile language, insults. When you put forward an idea are you really hostile then to opposing views? If so, your experiment has failed. You cannot publicly begin a social experiment full of your opinions and then malign others who publicly disagree. Your love seems to run shallow if that is the reaction. Public forums are not for the weak or spoiled who usually are surrounded by like minded people with whom they always agree. And what is with the young Christians who resort to foul swear words? That ignorant or that uneducated?

    1. Free to write whatever you want to write. I believe the distance between us removes a lot of filters though. For me, for Mary^, and for you. If you think that a husband who sees people hating his wife is wrong for standing up for her, that’s fine. Either way, typing is easier than getting together. Want to meet somewhere to talk about your thoughts on what my wife is doing sometime? I’d love one able to explain things face to face.

  4. I get it. I am glad that I stumbled upon the article, then your wife’s and your blog posts. Here in Canada we are reeling from a judge’s decision not to hear a woman in court unless she took off her hijab. We are planning a veil day in solidarity at our store. My Christian friend is wearing hijab for Lent. Blessings to you and your family.

  5. I heard about Jessey’s 40 Days of Hijab back during lent, and was intrigued and inspired at the time, but am only just now getting around to reading through all of her blog posts. I’m even more inspired now that I’m truly getting to know her better and am so glad that she chose to share her experience online! 🙂 Thank you for supporting her and helping to spread this message of love, compassion, and understanding on your own blog.

    “She, like me, sincerely believes that love can actually change this world. She, in her naivete, believes that hospitality is not only lacking in American communities (especially amongst people of our own race (something we’ve been learning isn’t PC to acknowledge)), but is also the necessary first step towards developing loving relationships with people across lines of difference that can potentially change the shape of our world.”

    This is so wonderful, and I believe this too! 🙂
    I also think it’s fantastic that the two of you lived and worked in Jordan. My husband is from there, but I haven’t been yet. Hopefully soon!! 🙂

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