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Miriam McWhite

When the Subject You’re Studying Becomes a Subject of Controversy

Let me begin by expressing my heartbreak over the loss Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, the 5 Dallas police officers and the many more who have lost their lives to similar circumstances. My prayers are with each and every family member and friend who has lost their loved ones not only this week, but in weeks, months and years past.


In less than 7 weeks, I will begin my senior year at North Greenville University. This will be my fourth and final year studying criminal justice. I’ve heard pretty much every opinion concerning my major from “you shouldn’t do that because you’re a female” to “if you try to pull me over, I’m not going to stop.” While I hear those comments more often than I’d like, most people are very encouraging when I tell them my major. Some even express more excitement than I do. But here recently, it’s a topic I don’t want to discuss. Not because I’m not proud of what I’m studying or because I’m not proud of my accomplishments over the last 3 years, but because “it’s a bad time to be a cop.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that. I haven’t decided yet what I want to do with my college degree, but the likelihood of me entering the realm of law enforcement is great. So let me express my thoughts on that…

I will be the first to admit that the Criminal Justice System in America is cracked, even shattered at times. We live in a country where the white name “Clinton” acquits you of more federal charges than I can count. We live in a country where a black college athlete receives 15 to 25 years for raping an unconscious female, but a white college athlete receives 3 to 6 months for committing the same crime. And we live in a country where a white police officer shoots and kills a black man for reaching for his wallet.

However, we also live in a country where a black teenager shoots and kills a white police officer less than 30 minutes from my house. We live in a country where black men attend protests for the sole purpose of shooting and killing white police officers. We live in a country where some advocates of the Black Lives Matter movement hate police officers so much that they come up with chants like “Pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon,” referring to police officers in body bags.

So there it is. There is the injustice on both sides of the spectrum. And that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface. Should I continue on why blurting out my major isn’t the first thing I want to do? I get tired of hearing, “It’s a bad time to be a cop.” I get tired of hearing, “Are you sure you want to do this?” Yes, I want to do this. No, this doesn’t make me want to run for the door. Yes, I get worried when my Narcotics Detective brother goes on duty and my State Constable dad leaves the house in his uniform. But no, that doesn’t mean I don’t want to be out there along side them one day. This is when they are needed the most. This is when we step up and fight. And when I say fight, I mean we fight the injustice of racism and hatred that this country has battled since it began in 1776. And when I say we, I mean each and every citizen of the United States of America. Red and yellow, black and white.

You see, we have to understand that we are equal. We. Are. Equal. Yes, black lives matter. The lives of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile mattered. But the lives of those Dallas police officers mattered, too. The life of Officer Allen Jacobs mattered. We cannot continue to believe that only one of those statements is true.

Law enforcement, it is time to defy the racist stereotype that you have been given since the first police force was created almost 200 years ago. It is time to treat each and every citizen under your jurisdiction subjectively and with respect, on and off duty. Each and every citizen, it is time to give that same respect to authority. It is time to understand that law enforcement was created for the benefit of you and your community, even if that is hard to believe right now.

As for me, I am proud to say I am studying criminal justice. I look forward to my career, whether I am a police officer or a victim’s advocate, or whether I work for the Department of Social Services. At this point, I have no idea where I am headed. But I do know this: Every citizen of this country deserves equality, and every citizen deserves to be treated with respect. My prayer is that I never lose sight of those truths, no matter my career.

 

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His Faithfulness is More

It has been months since I have opened my computer for the purpose of coming to this page. When I began blogging, I was so excited to share all of the ways the Lord was making Himself evident in my life. He had taught me so many beautiful lessons during the summer of 2015, and I decided then that I wanted to tell the world about it. My last post was on August 15, 2015.

Then the first semester of my junior year began, and I had nothing to write. I could have told the world about what was happening in my life, but there would have been no happy ending. My depression would have been transparent through the pages of my posts. I tried writing several times. It wasn’t even really for the purpose of sharing with everyone; it was more for me to get my thoughts out, to understand why I was hurting so badly. But the truth was, I didn’t understand. And I felt so incredibly alone. I felt like God wasn’t talking to me anymore. He wasn’t teaching me new lessons, and He wasn’t  making Himself evident to me. Looking back, I realize that maybe I wasn’t seeking Him as much as I should have been. Maybe He was talking, but I was too busy being stubborn to listen. Or maybe, He was waiting for this moment to prove Himself more faithful than ever.

Towards the end of the semester, I began feeling like myself again. While it was the hardest semester of college (and of my life) that I had ever had, I was able to get through it. I finished my semester with an actual smile on my face and breathed the heaviest sigh of relief I could have mustered. The day after exams, I hopped on a plane to the Czech Republic to visit my brother and his beautiful family. It was a wonderful trip, and when I returned home, I continued to enjoy the rest of my Christmas break.

January started with a bang, literally. On January 2nd, I received a shiny new speeding ticket to take home to mom and dad. This was my second speeding ticket, so you can imagine my feelings walking into my house. My sweet sister had called my dad ahead of time to brace him. That’s what big sisters are for, right? My precious parents handled it beautifully, although I still ended up in a puddle of tears by the end of the night.  My tears didn’t come from anywhere other than a feeling of disappointment. I was disappointed because I thought 2016 would be better. I was disappointed in myself because I should have done better. I immediately began a pity party themed “Mimi is the worst daughter of the year.” Literally, the year had just started. (Woohoo!) As the days moved on, I realized I was probably being a tad dramatic. After all, I could pay for the ticket, and everything would be okay. Except insurance. Insurance would not be okay. Sorry, pops!

On January 8th, my parents took me out to eat for my last dinner before I moved back into school. I drove separately, and while leaving the Olive Garden parking lot, my car was hit by a minivan. And just like that, my bad year got a lot worse. Praise the Lord that nobody was hurt physically, but mentally, I was broken. Just 6 days after my speeding ticket, I got into a wreck. And it was my fault. I didn’t have the courage to walk to the front of my car to look at the damage, but I could tell by the sound of other cars running over pieces of my car that it wasn’t good. It was only when the tow truck came and hauled my car of only a year and a half away that I realized how bad it was. The man who towed it told me it was most likely totaled, and my dad was sure of it too. So here I was, with a THIRD ticket that was double the price of my speeding ticket, a totaled car, and all of the self-pity in the world. I had blown it. I didn’t even have words. I had no idea what to do. I was totally helpless. It was the worst feeling, and I can honestly say that it was the lowest I had ever been. I know that my night could have been a lot worse. I know that speeding tickets and minor (in the grand scheme of things) car accidents are the least of other people’s worries. I know that my story is nothing compared to some stories I have read recently that are unbelievably heartbreaking. But this story is a testament of who God is, and no matter how mundane my situation might have been, a story of His faithfulness is never too small to share.

Friday and Saturday were very difficult for me. I had many conversations with my sweet mom of me pouring out my heart (and all of my tears). Again, I felt like a disappointment. A disappointment to myself and my entire family. Just when things were looking up from last semester, this happened. At the beginning of a fresh, new year, I messed everything up. On Friday night, I pulled out my journal and began writing.  I began my journal entry with this: “Oh God, what a year this has already been. I give up… I am hopeless, helpless and empty.” I begged the Lord to help me. I opened my favorite devotional book and turned to the devotion for January 8th, and this is some of what it said: “The weaker you are, the more gently I approach you. Let your weakness be a door to My presence. Whenever you feel inadequate, remember that I am your ever-present Help. Hope in me and you will be protected from DEPRESSION and SELF-PITY.” WOW!!!!!!! “Hope is like a golden cord connecting you to heaven. The more you cling to this cord, the more I bear the weight of your burdens; thus, you are lightened.” WOW again! I am blown away even now as I read that again. I prayed those things over my own life; that I would cling to Him and that He would make my burdens light. I prayed that somehow, this would get easier.

On Monday, January 11th, I went and saw my dad for the first time since my wreck on Friday. We talked for a little while, and then we talked about everything that had happened just three days before. We had talked about my totaled car and made plans to go clean it out the next day. In the course of the conversation, my dad told me that my ticket for the wreck had been taken care of. As in dropped. WHAT? My tears started all over again. This was such a beautiful relief. There He went, making my burdens light, just like He promised to. Not even an hour later, my dad called me to tell me that he had just gotten a call from our insurance agent telling us that my car was NOT totaled. Again, WHAT??? We were all sure of it. I mean, my car was totally ruined. But now, it was being fixed. We didn’t have to pay for a new car. How is God so good??? I pulled out my journal again to thank Him for what He had done. I opened my devotional to January 11. This is what it said: “When you bring Me prayer requests, lay out your concerns before Me. Speak to Me candidly; pour out your heart. Then thank Me for the answers I have set into motion long before you can discern results. When your requests come to mind again, continue to thank Me for the answers that are on the way.” I mean, was this devotional book written specifically for me??? When I opened my Bible to mark the verses that went along with the January 11 devotion, this is what happened:

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I can’t make this stuff up! Right beside one of my January 11th verses was one of my January 8th verses. Side by side! They were in the same chapter!!! He is so faithful!!!

I have come to realize that His faithfulness is one of His characteristics most prominent in my life. Every major lesson in my life has proved His faithfulness to me. And His faithfulness is more. More than my wrecked car, more than my tears, more than my self-pity, and more than my doubt when it looked like everything was falling apart. While He showed me His faithfulness through the outcome of this wreck, He is not faithful because of the outcome of this wreck. He is faithful because He is God. And He still would have been faithful even if my car had been totaled. Even if I had been hurt. He would have been faithful because that is who He is. This wreck just reminded me of that. He is faithful. And He will continue to be faithful. So when life is literally a wreck, keep clinging to the golden cord connecting you to Heaven. I let go of it so often. But when I cling to this cord, He makes my burdens light, no matter the situation. And He will be faithful to do the same for you!

 

 

My Mountaintop Moment

Her little brown face lay against the back of her sister. She was strapped on with a small blanket rag just big enough to hold her two year old body. I was sure she wouldn’t let me hold her, but I held my arms out anyway. I think her own sister was just as surprised as I was when she reached for me.


The second half of my month in Uganda was spent in a town called Kaabong. Kaabong is very much considered “the bush.” It is located in the Northern Mountains of Uganda. It took us two days to get there from Hoima, which was where we spent the first half of our trip.

Every morning in Kaabong, we drove approximately two hours into the mountains to reach the remote villages that we would be spending time with that day. On the second day, we drove up to a village called Kamion. Once we got there, we began hiking up mountains that I thought would never end. When we reached the top of the second mountain, I was completely speechless. I was surrounded by the most beautiful view I had ever seen. I was staring at Uganda, Kenya, and all of the mountains and plains in between. Not to mention there were dozens of kids gathered around me who had come along for the hike, too. I would hike those mountains 100 more times to experience that beautiful moment again, but that wasn’t even the best part.


I kept staring at a child who looked to be about two on the back of another child who looked to be about five or six. A baby on the back of a small child makes for a really cute photo in Uganda, but in reality, it’s heartbreaking. In most cases, those small children are left to take care of those babies. So I kept looking, wishing I could take care of her instead. Unlike the children in Hoima who constantly loved on us, the children in Kaabong were a little frightened by us. For many of them, we were the first white faces they had ever seen. Knowing this, I knew that my chances of holding that baby were slim, especially since she was clinging to her sister. But I tried anyway. Just like that, she was in my arms.

A lot of the kids we met during our time in the north were malnourished. Their dark skin was almost translucent over their defined little bones, and their extended bellies stuck out from underneath their clothes, if they were wearing clothes at all. Another sign of malnourishment is a runny nose. Almost every child on top of that mountain had a runny nose, including that baby that was now laying on my chest. I had some wet wipes in my bag, so I pulled them out and started wiping her nose and face. It took a lot of wipes and a lot of time, but for maybe the first time in her life, she had a clean face.   As soon as she was clean, it started to rain. I mean pour. I wrapped my arms around this little baby and hurried toward a tree to keep her as dry as I could. I just kept hugging her, knowing by her little goosebumps that she was cold. Finally, the rain stopped, and that precious baby was asleep. Asleep, in my arms, on top of a mountain overlooking the most breathtaking view. I was completely in awe.  If you read my previous post about my time in Uganda, you know that it was a very difficult month for me. I constantly wrestled with God, wondering why He ever told me to go. But then, for probably the 50th time (because I needed it that much), He faithfully sent me a reminder. He sent me a beautiful little baby. A baby to hold, to love on, and to give shelter to in the middle of a storm. A baby that reminded me that in that very moment, God was doing the exact same thing for me. Me. I was alone, and He and held me (Isaiah 41:13). I was broken, and He loved me (Psalm 86:15). I was in the middle of a storm, and He was my refuge and my strength (Psalm 46:1). The entire month I was in Uganda, God was (and still is) revealing to me how faithful He is to meet my every need (Philippians 4:19). That day in Kamion, He used a beautiful baby girl to do it.

My mountaintop moment, literally, will be something that I will always remember, and I thank God for using that day to remind me of His truths in such a special way. I pray that I will always be mindful of His unfailing faithfulness.

What God Says About You

I have struggled with insecurities my entire life. There. I said it. It’s not something I like to admit, but it’s the truth. We all have insecurities, but sometimes I feel like I am the most insecure person in the room. Ever felt that way? If you have, you know that the last thing you want to hear is something along the lines of “but God thinks you are beautiful.” Thanks! Haven’t heard that one a thousand times. But why is it that we never want to hear that? Why is it that it doesn’t really seem to make us feel any better when we are reminded that God, a perfect, holy, righteous creator, thinks that we are beautiful? Or smart, or talented, or good enough, or whatever the word may be. I think it’s because we don’t believe it. I mean, we know God loves us, but sometimes we have a hard time really believing and understanding what He says about us. We don’t really believe that we are worthy of being called anything other than how our insecurities make us feel.

Truthfully, as sinners, we aren’t worthy of anything other than death. But that is the beauty of the cross. You see, when I accepted Jesus, I was made worthy. And if you have accepted Jesus, you have been made worthy, too. So, it’s time we start believing what God says about us.

In His true and living and holy Word, God tells us who we are. To really give you some perspective, try putting your name in the place of “us.” God calls us justified and redeemed (Romans 3:24). He calls us forgiven (Ephesians 1:7). He calls us righteous and holy (Ephesians 4:24). He calls us loved and chosen (1 Thessalonians 1:4). He tells us that we are made complete (Colossians 2:10). He tells us that we are set free (Galatians 5:1). He calls us bold and confident (Ephesians 3:12). He calls us blameless (Ephesians 1:4). He calls us His children and His heirs (Galatians 4:7), and He calls us a multitude of other beautiful names that knock our insecurities to the ground. After all, our insecurities are rooted in Satan, and Satan has already been defeated. Our God already won the victory. Through Him, we are victorious, too!

As someone who struggles with insecurities on a daily basis, I will be the first to tell you that I often forget what God says about me. It’s really easy for me to look in the mirror and think “I’m not good enough” or “I have zero self-confidence today.” I forget that I am victorious over the lies that Satan tells me. I forget that all of those beautiful names written in God’s Word actually apply to me. But just when I need it the most, I am reminded that because of Jesus, I am worthy. You are worthy. So the next time Satan tries to deceive you, listen to what God says about you. I promise He means every word!

I Pray My Traveling Never Stops

Two years ago, the Lord began stirring in me a longing to serve Him in Africa. It wasn’t a shock that I wanted to take part in overseas missions. My parents were missionaries to South America, my sister devoted months to missions in both South America and Africa, and my oldest brother is currently serving as a church planter in the Czech Republic. It wasn’t surprising at all that my heart began beating for a country on the other side of the world. It was almost expected, really. I began praying and begging God to open doors for me to go Africa. I waited patiently because I knew in my heart that God had called me there, and if He called me there, He would take me there. A year and a half later, my door finally opened, and I began preparing myself spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally for a month in Uganda.

Two months ago, I finally boarded a plane that would take me to the place I had dreamed of going for two years. I was so excited! I had waited for what seemed like an eternity for this day, and I was ready for whatever God was going to do with me during my time in Uganda. I just knew I would fall in love and come home planning my next trip, or maybe even planning my life there. A month later, I came back to America. I wish I could tell you that I cried leaving Uganda, or that I spent all 16 hours of flight time wishing I could have stayed just a little bit longer. However, that just isn’t true. We landed in Atlanta, and I stepped off of that plane planning to never go back. Wait, what?

That’s right. I never wanted to go back. The truth was, I wasn’t ready. It was too hard. I was too weak. How could I possibly think that I was capable of spending a month in a foreign country? I wasn’t making a difference there. They couldn’t understand me. I had no idea what I was doing, and I was foolish to think this was something I could handle. These were the thoughts that ran through my head on a daily basis during my time in Uganda. The verse I constantly kept going back to was Micah 7:7  which says “But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation.” Really? Why couldn’t my verse be something like Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say rejoice!” I mean, come on. But the truth was, I was heartbroken. I needed a verse like Micah 7:7 to meditate on and to remember so that when I felt utterly hopeless, I could look to my God and wait for Him to show me what do to next. You see, my heart was so conflicted. I knew God had called me to Uganda, but why did He call me there only for me to feel defeated? Why did He call me there if I couldn’t handle it? Because it made me rely on Him more than I ever had in my entire life.

I want to set something straight. Every church going person has heard the phrase “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” False. God will absolutely give you more than you can handle. But that is actually a beautiful thing to realize because that is where He teaches you that HE can handle it. It seems unbearable to us because it is unbearable to us. That is when we get on our faces before the Lord and give him our burdens, our temptations, our month overseas that seems too much to carry, and ask Him to carry it for us. Once you surrender to the Lord whatever it is that is burdening your heart, He shows you His unfathomable love that is able to make your burden light (Matthew 11).  For me, it was a month in Uganda. For you, it may be a lifetime overseas, or a relationship, or deciding what college to go to, or even deciding your college major. Relying on the Lord for your burdens shows you that at your darkest hour, He gives you light. In the midst of your heart break, He showers you with love. And when you’ve faithfully answered God’s calling on your life – no matter what it may be – and it just doesn’t look the way you pictured it, He reminds you that His ways are higher than your ways, and His thoughts are higher than your thoughts (Isaiah 55). He loves you, and He loves me. And His plan for our lives is something so much more beautiful than we could ever imagine.

Today, I sometimes find myself in tears over missing Uganda. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about my time there. Funny how God works, huh? I couldn’t see it at the time, but He was using my broken heart to get me to this place of gratitude for His love and faithfulness. I saw His love through so many little brown faces, through mountain tops overlooking Kenya, and through my tears at the end of the day that sometimes took a little too long to dry up. And now, I long to be back there. I long to love Jesus with the people of Uganda, and to see His love displayed in a way that was more real and more beautiful to me than ever before. He is such a wonderful Father, and if He has to take me across the world to teach me a certain lesson, or to show me just how much I need Him, I pray my traveling never stops.

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