The first time I was told to, “go home” was when I was the child of a single mother in a culture where the good people were measured by certain outward appearances and the rest of us were labeled as “bad”. My mama tried everything. I was always dressed nicely, my hair was brushed, I obeyed, we showed up and were helpful. In the end, I was always still the child of a divorced woman. When girls had sleep overs, when people gathered or when they were chosen to participate I was told, “go home”. It was too risky to include a child that might lead other children to sin.
All the while, I knew. I knew my value. I knew what the other kids were doing when their parents weren’t looking, but never told. Places of faith were hard for me.
Later, I could remember being told to, “go home” again. It was at a Food event. I had poured my heart and soul into that day and there at the end my friend Amanda with the tamales and other women working to lean into their calling were told that it wasn’t going to be enough. I cried. I was vulnerable.
Deep inside, I expected everyone around me to see how strong I was, instead they said, “Go home and we will take it from here. Thanks for gathering these folks and helping us see this opportunity, but you need to go home to your family and rest.” That was part true.
I did need to go home. I did need to rest. But only to gather up strength to show up again, over and over again, and that’s what I’ve done. It’s there at home that we find our power.
We need the folks on the margins to gather up their strength and show up. They are the ones that know what we need to know. They make things work. They use common words in common ways to do common things that make life worth living.
Some of you may feel strongly about the words “go home” used against Beth Moore recently. Some of you may have no idea why those words matter, but those of you like me, know. Those words hit you to the core and your response might be, "I’ll keep showing up. Watch me. I’m just getting started.”
This is a portrait of Michelle Howell, a hardworking farmwife, mother of five, author, and advocate. On the left side of the bust you can read text from the poem “Anyway” that was on a wall of Mother Teresa’s home for children in Calcutta, India. “If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.” “The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.”
Leslie Nichols, Artist