Sophia Sunshine Vilceus's Blog: In His Will

June 21, 2020

Reflections on this Father's Day

When Father’s Day rolls around I feel nothing for my father.
No grief, no anger, no longing, no loss, no longing, no sadness, no celebration.
I feel numb.
I feel nothing for my father.

But on Father’s Day, I feel a lot for my mother, ironically enough.
I long for her, I yearn for her, I wanna run errands with her, I’d like to sit with her. I miss her.
And I think I know why.
Because she has always been a parent to me.
She parented me.
She parented me for the both of them.

I’ve come to the realization that my grief for my mother has run so deep, because she was the only one who parented me. So when I lost her, I lost my parents. Even before my mother passed, my father wasn’t a decent dad. All I had was my mother. And without her, all I have is no one.

I believe that if I had a good dad--the grief that I often feel for my mother wouldn’t have been so intense and concentrated.
It would have been grief only for losing my mother, but not losing my parents.
That’s just where I’m at on this Father’s Day.

Holding on to hope...and to love...and to faith, that one day I will have many children celebrating, well, the father I picked for them. What a day that will be.
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Published on June 21, 2020 08:27 Tags: fathersday

June 2, 2020

"On Our Necks"

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Published on June 02, 2020 11:58

Why #GeorgeFloyd's Murder Hit Different

I think there are a few reasons why this one hits different.

Part of it is that we lost the Kobes, Arbery, Taylor, Floyd consecutively.
So much lost.
So fast.
So unwarranted and senseless.
We’ve been in a perpetual state of lament, grief, and anguish.

But a larger reason, at least for me, is the fact that #GeorgeFloyd’s assasination happened during a pandemic.
In a time where we have been literally sheltered in place, isolated, quarantined, grieving loved ones--and literally just trying to survive--stay alive.
Collectively, as a nation, as a world--we have become still.
So still.

We have been so still, that this death, in plain-view became so loud, so abhorrent, so apparent (not only to us) but to some of those that would have been too busy, too privileged, and too consumed to pay attention, and care if this happened pre-pandemic.

We have come to grips with the fact that hatred, systemic and structural racism/oppression, and vile police brutality do not shut down.
They don’t pause, even when the rest of us have.

The fact that #GeorgeFloyd was killed by a knee, when all we were trying to do was take one.
For this very reason.
It’s a horrific, poetric, reckoning together.
And it made us come together.
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Published on June 02, 2020 11:21

May 13, 2020

Running While Black: #IRunWithMaud

I am a runner.

A black runner.

I’ve always lived in areas with many apartment complexes, not really surrounded by houses. And for one reason or the other, I often run at community trails or parks. With a recent move to a predominantly white neighborhood, filled with houses, and not apartment complexes--I’ve found myself running through the back streets of my home, as Covid has forced me to take a pause from running at parks.

Before I had heard of the tragic reality...not just the “story” of Ahmaud Arbery… I knew him in some odd way. What I mean is: I quickly noticed my discomfort of running as a single black person through “white streets.” I noted how unsafe and un-secured I felt running, especially as I inquisitively peered at new, unfamiliar territory, street names, and homes, along my scenic runs in my new neighborhood.

I made an avid point to wave at my neighbors, so that I’d lessen their intrinsic fears about me. Most of them would wave back. Some would not, because they refused to see me. But for those who would wave back...I’d feel a bit safer...like *exhales* “okay...they won’t see me as a threat now.” I also noticed how I’d make it a point to “look” like a runner...have a water bottle in hand, headphones in, fanny pack on. Just so they’d know, without a shadow of a doubt, that I wasn’t just running through “their” streets...but I was in fact jogging, like they often do. I kept the same routes, so the same people would see me over and over again. My experience as a black person moving in this country programmed me to think this way, even well before I knew anything about Ahmaud.

Then we learned of Ahmaud Arbery. And my God, do I not have the words… I haven’t been able to watch the video. I don’t think I ever will. I’ve been watching a lot of news and reading a lot of commentary about it though. I know enough...not just about this case...but the state of our country, and all the horrific stories that came before his-- stories that created collective traumatic images and videos to remain plastered in my mind...in all of our minds. In the minds of people who courageously refuse to look away...and those of us who don’t have the privilege to even have the choice/agency to look away. Thank you to the people who have chosen not to look away--the people who never had any of these thoughts as they went for their regular runs: it is hard to confront privilege. And I genuinely commend people who do so. (This is why, as a College Professor, I have an entire unit of White Privilege--it's so important.) And I think we, as humanity, are better off as more people are willing to do that. To be frank, I am grateful to all people willing to do the work to remedy racism, race relations, white supremacy and privilege in this country...especially to white people. We need allies. I need allies.

So this morning, as I decided to go for an unusual early morning run...I decided to run on the main road, and not the back roads. And honestly, I might just stick to this route.

Because that is how I feel to be running the streets as a black woman: unprotected, dispensable, and literally a moving target. And if that’s how I feel as a black woman...God: I can’t imagine what our black men and boys must feel.

God, help us all.

God, help the people who look like me. And the people who don't.

God bless the life and legacy of Ahmaud Arbery. God, comfort all those who loved him, especially his warrior of a mother. She shouldn’t have to be a warrior though. Not like this.

God, help us all who are left changed because of him, and his tragic end.

May justice be served, and vengeance be Yours.
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Published on May 13, 2020 17:48 Tags: help, irunwithmaud, justice, murder, privilege, race, racism, running, whitesupremacy

April 16, 2020

Fumble

When I was in elementary school, we looked forward to Flag Day every year. It was a highly organized outdoor day of fun and games, to put it simply. There were stations, and races, and prizes, and blacktops, and fields--the whole bit. It was the best day.

My childhood bestie, as per usual, decided that we would pair up for all the synchronized races. We opted to do a relay race, where after I ran, I had to pass the baton to her. With so much adrenaline pumping, I ran my little heart out and passed the baton to her, and somehow in the mix, the baton was fumbled. And we lost valuable time. How tragic.

I don’t remember what became of that particular race. Whether we lost or ended up winning. But what I do remember is that even well into adulthood, this friend and I would jokingly banter about “remember when you dropped the baton for field day?” Years later, in my mind--she dropped the baton. And in her mind, I dropped it. Our perspectives were solidified.

I’ve been thinking alot of about that lately. Probably because re-learning that our loved ones will inevitably fumble from time to time, and drop the baton, or the ball with some things is just hard to accept. And obviously, we are all human so of course our humanity and fallibility will peek through our relationships, more often than we’d hope.

But how should we tend to those moments? The moments where we feel as though the person who should have not dropped the baton...because you made the hand off so easy...did.

I think what’s worse than an actual fumble though, is a person not being cognizant of the fact that they indeed fumbled.

I know for me, it’s far easier for me to let go of the indiscretion, along with the person; rather than just releasing the indiscretion, and keeping the person.That whole throwing the baby out with the bathwater is totally me. Undoing this way of thinking and feeling is hard work for me. And perhaps that’s why God will allow certain fundamental relationships to crack here and there, so I can get the lesson.

We fumble. We forget. We drop the ball. We can all be complicated people. And so, to keep loving complicated people, when complications arise, we must extend grace. And sometimes shift our expectations. And then remember, that we are complicated too. We all fumble. Forgive. Keep going, though.
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Published on April 16, 2020 08:15 Tags: field-day, race, relationships

January 29, 2020

our hearts have weights.

Went through a thing.

And came out of it.

More self aware.

More aware of others too.

That’s always the goal.

To learn and resolve to do better.

A few things that I have been ruminating over--

Sometimes when we say that something was poorly communicated by someone else. What we are really saying is: that thing that you communicated? Wasn’t communicated the way that *I* would have. Is that poor communication though? Or is that a difference in communication styles? I guess poor communication at its crux is not conveying to the other person, what we intended on articulating. I am guilty of poorly communicating at times. On the flip side of that: sometimes it’s not so much what we communicate, or even how we communicate--though these things are super important, obviously: but the readiness and the ability of the person on the other end to receive our message. Communication and relationships are nuanced and tricky.

Confrontation is so hard. Forgiveness is too. Both, necessary.

Relationship is really everything. Literally. Relationship to God. Relationship to others. Relationship with self. When any one of those is cracked---it’s alright to feel the weight of it. It just means that relationship is valued highly by you.

It’s hard to hear about ourselves. Especially when we are not ready or willing to.

Projections are real.

“The truth will set you free, but first it’ll piss you off.”

Social media is numbing cream for many.

Life is fleeting and so fragile. We should live in the constant awareness of that daily--not merely when tragedy strikes. Rest in peace Kobe, Gigi, and the equally precious lives lost on that chopper on Sunday. Our hearts have weights on them.

We cannot fault others for not being us. And for being themselves. For not being as introspective. Or maybe analytical. Or gentle. Or Firm. Or unaware. Or tender. Or complacent. We are different. And so our responsiveness will inevitably be varied. Remember that in times of conflict.

A correlation I have been drawing in my head--I think there is merit to it: loved ones who have been in therapy or are in therapy. Or really open to therapy. Who have sat with someone showing them, themselves. Are better able to do that for others, I find. And are less defensive when others do that for them. Correction or revelation, feels less of an attack when we shared in a space with a counselor doing that for us. My best accountability partners are those that have done that work... who have sat on somebody’s couch, and have been checked. And did the hard task of discovering themselves more. The ones conditioned to that practice. Those who willingly call me and say: “Soph, girl...check me, I need you to.” Those that have all the authority to say to me: “Soph...you know how you are...this is {enter unconstructive behavior/pattern here} that I see in you and this is what I think about it…” I value their judgement enough to listen, and take heed, whether what they are saying to me feels comfortable for me in the moment or not. Whether I agree with their findings or not. Friendship for me is me giving you permission and authority to hold that space for me. Vice versa. But friendship is not the same for all.

I am hypersensitive to when I feel loved ones are not standing with me. Particularly because I am coming out of a season where loved ones have not stood with me.

Intentions aren’t everything--but they are a lot of things.

Just because something *feels* like an attack, doesn’t mean it actually is.

Sometimes we aren’t clear ourselves about what our boundaries are, until someone blatantly crosses them. And then we are like...yup! Actually that’s it. You crossed it. Violation. Lol.

Humility is really really hard. I realize that I am not as great at it in some aspects of my life, as I am in others. That in and of itself is not a humble statement to make lol. What I mean is: when I feel hurt, it’s hard for me to practice humility. It’s hard for me to apologize. It’s hard for me to apologize first. And yet, in other areas of my life...with finances, flashiness, with accolades….I can generally be conservative about those things--I’m intentional about it actually...I guess humility is a nuanced concept too.

I can still have respect and love for what was, even if it’s no longer what is.

I ain’t for everybody.
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Published on January 29, 2020 17:50 Tags: communication, conflict, friendship, growth, introspection, learning, lessons, love, sophiasunshine, therapy, writing

December 3, 2019

Maurice

My community recently suffered a tragic loss. It has been heavy. Though, in many ways I am a bit on the outskirts of the loss. A bit more removed than some of my loved ones. Still, I have been constantly ruminating over it in my head. Marinating in it in my spirit. Loss.

There is something different about attending a funeral of a peer: someone in your age group. Someone in their thirties. Just different. Life is so fleeting.

As I sat in on the funeral. & even now. I am moved that our friend was saved. I am moved that salvation exists. I have been walking with God, for more years than I have not. & sadly, my fire goes in & out. The notion of salvation hasn’t been so pronounced to me recently. Because like many other things and relationships I love, the relationship with Jesus can get rote. Can get routine. Life’s stressors can serve as a distraction. I move in my faith often. I think of God daily. But not so much salvation. Because I think it’s a gift that I have under-appreciated at times. It’s a packaged gift that sometimes feels like I don’t open until the end of my life… but salvation isn’t just about Glory. It’s about how we live in the now, too.

In that funeral though, I kept thinking about what a different level of sadness it would be, had he NOT been saved. Thank God he was. Thank God I am.

This whole ordeal awakened me. Made me more alive. Makes me see my friends more. Pause. Stare into their eyes. See what they are going through. Ask questions. Be thankful. Forgive. Move beyond conflict. Laugh over nonsense. Death really does that.

I am glad that I am intentional about expressing to my loved ones how I feel about them often. It sickens most of them-- lol. I’m the sappy one in all my friend groups. But it’s because I have experienced losses before. & so it made me a firm believer that it’s not only at funerals & repasses & the eerie days following a loved one’s transition that we express our gratitude for them...that we share hilarious & nostalgic memories involving them. How fuller would our lives be if we really knew the good things that our loved ones believe of us?

Our relationships with Christ & one another are everything.

Thanks for reminding me of that, sweet Maurice. The sweetest reminder ever. I will always remember you for what you reinvigorated in me.
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Published on December 03, 2019 09:21 Tags: death, funeral, glory, heaven, love, maurice, moe, passing, salvation, sophiasunshine, transitions

October 19, 2019

Tending to my Garden

I turned to gardening in one of the most tumultuous seasons of my life. It allowed me to be outdoors, get some vitamin D, tend to something other than myself. It allowed me to escape for just a little bit, and nurture something other than the issues I had been dwelling on.

Between spring and summer, I purchased new pots, soil, and seeds. I rejoiced as I saw some greenery protruding and flourishing from their pots. I had to pivot when some were getting too brutalized from the water I was providing for them, or the blazing sun.

Every week, it seemed as though my plants needed something new: kinda like me. I loved waking up barefoot to go water my plants in the morning. Late in the evenings, before the sun would set, I’d do the same. That allowed me to experience cooler temperatures, and for two seconds reflect on what I’d hope the day would be, or what it had been.

But now we are in a new season. Autumn. And the same greenery that blossomed are withering away to a dry crunch. Some I can move indoors, some I cannot. I deemed the latter a loss. Until I realized that that they are most certainly not.

They served their purpose. I cannot salvage all of them, nor is it my responsibility to. And perhaps I was not meant to. What they did for me in the previous season was not meant to be what they do for me in this one.

So, I prune.

What looks hopeful, I bring indoors to join me in this new season, where I will most likely need something new. And that’s okay. I can be as fickle as my plants.

The rest, I bid them farewell. Knowing they served their purpose in the old season. I had no idea that tending to my garden would speak so much to me. But it has. I am walking in the new.
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Published on October 19, 2019 13:06 Tags: autumn, fall, garden, greenery, plant-lady, plants, seasons, sophiasunshine

May 6, 2019

Old Reflection of The Last Pew

What if every thought that you had, you suppressed because you deemed it the right thing to do? What kind of adult becomes the "good girl", the "a-sexual one", "the virtuous one?", "the maternal one"? What dangerous things does she act out in adulthood when she is grown up in the imaginary cage that she created for herself? How do the perceptions of ourselves contribute to the contaminated relationships that we encounter and then fall into?

For many women, living a secret life and engaging in a secret love is real life. And aside from how the world casts these women out or portray them in the sensationalized media, so many fragile, hurting, misplaced, and misguided women are desperately fighting to survive-- to survive their shame, their ache, and their loss of self as they love a man that they know, they should not. Where do these women go? Who do they confide in? Who covers them? The church dismisses them. Their loved ones marginalize them. And society berates them. This adds a whole new thick coating of pain and humiliation.

I speak on this because I know what it is like to have fallen in love with a man who wears a wedding band, while I do not. I speak on this because I know what it is like to be so isolated from every single loved one in my call log because the shame runs that deep and is that real. I speak on this because I know how insane it feels to constantly try to get out of a relationship that seems to have no end-point. I speak on this because I know that Jesus still saves. He still saves and preserves and uses and redeems the "mistress", and "the other woman", and "her" because He did it for me.

"The Last Pew: Journeying Back to God's Will After an Affair" is not a blame game. It's not a story on the "bad guy" vs. "the good girl", or vice versa. It's an honest recount of confusion, love, mess, grace, sin, shame, backsliding, healing, circles, secrets, cycles, mercy, lust, emotions, healing, forgiveness, relationships, and closure. Though you may not identify with having an affair or your spouse having one, surely you can identify with at least one of those entities, if not all. Together as a conglomerate, they simply form the human experience. My experience. On the low, so many people's experience, particularly in the pulpit and in the Church.

I invite you to begin your healing, whatever that may be. Or perhaps, you are taking my invitation to experience an anecdote about someone else's healing. I don't mean to give the story away, but I promise you, she makes it out alive and well. With God, all endings are good. Happy reading to you! Thank you for your openness and your support. Order your copy on #Amazon today
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Published on May 06, 2019 13:32