I began today by weeping again.
This week has been full of violence. From the brutal killing of Alton Sterling in Louisiana, the unwarranted shooting of Philando Castile in Minnesota, and this morning I woke to news of sniper shootings on police officers at a protest in Dallas.
My heart groans and my prayers offer much of the same…all saturated in a deep ache I can’t seen to put to words.
We have a rampant racism in our country that needs to be not only acknowledged, but addressed. There is profiling and mistreatment and IT IS WRONG that we don’t operate in the fullness of our country’s foundation that “all men are created equal.”
I believe that we must find our way towards what that looks like…to honor one another well, to love one another equally, and to embrace justice and mercy. I don’t know how to do it on a broad scale, and I confess that I’m terrified that I’ll get it wrong. I’m afraid of saying the wrong thing and hurting my black friends, of alienating my white friends, of dishonoring those who put their lives on the line to truly serve and protect. I’m afraid of having my words seem dismissive of any hurt or fear, because at the root of so much of this I believe there is fear. And at the root of fear, I believe we find evil.
I have talked with my friends of color over the past several years and have been trying to figure out how I, a middle class white woman who was born with privilege and lives with it so ingrained that most of the time I don’t even realize it, can help right the wrongs of our country’s past and present. And there are times for me to ask questions, and there are times where I need to just get up and figure out how to come alongside those who are hurting as well.
When a friend loses a loved one, I acknowledge the pain and sit with them tearfully in it. I bring them a meal. When my children are afraid, I offer protection and safety and my own self sacrifice to ensure it. When I haven’t loved well, I confess my wrongdoing and work to make it right, to reconcile the wrong. And while the issues of race we face today are SO MUCH more complicated and deeply rooted than my daily difficulties, I do believe that there are some simple places for us to begin when we don’t know what to do.
- We begin in keeping up with and acknowledging the losses
- We mourn with those who mourn.
- We empathize and internalize the grief and don’t try to bandaid the pain, but sit in it with those who are hurting.
- We offer protection to the extent that we can (I believe that ultimately this will extend to laws and government, but for today it is about teaching my own children to stick up for and stand by those who sadly aren’t extended the same inherent privilege for whatever reason) and offer refuge however we can.
- It is about accepting responsibility and sacrificing my own comfort for the sake of another.
- We acknowledge the problem and work to make it right…work to change our own thinking, our own patterns of behaviors, our own relationships.
- We talk about the things we are afraid of because nothing left in silence ever saw the light.
I’m mostly afraid of messing things up, but I’m more afraid that if we aren’t willing to fumble in the dark, we won’t find our way into the light. And in this case, when love and reconciliation are the heart of our fumbling, and Christ is the source of our light, we will hit bumps along the way. But, I do believe we will find a way into true reconciliation…into true righting of wrongs.
Let us weep and groan and mourn and change laws to change lives together, but let us not repay evil with evil. Please, let’s be willing to stumble towards light.
Our real enemy is not one another. It is not against flesh and blood or skin tone or religious bent…it is pure unadulterated evil that comes from the pit of hell and wants to destroy every single human being on the face of the earth. If every skin tone, every nationality, every age and face is created in the image of God, then we are all…we are ALL…under attack, and we have an enemy who succeeds in that by having us attack one another. But for today, it is painfully clear that our friends of color have been particularly wronged for a long, long time, and we need to reconcile that. We have to fight evil together…overturn injustice together…combat hate together.
In the meantime, I want to uncover how to pursue the reconciliation. I want to hear the cries, enter the pain, and move forward towards wholeness alongside my brothers and sisters of color who are hurting and scared, alongside peaceful muslim brothers and sisters who are afraid, alongside my neighbors across the street, and alongside others who are trying to figure out what we can do or say to effect change.
Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it[a] to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
For right now, I’m doing my best. We may very well get it wrong, but that can’t stop us from trying. So for today I want to offer this.
A couple of weeks ago I held an online Curious Living Summit to dig into what it looks like to live curiously in different areas of our lives. In two of the conversations, we talked about building relationships cross culturally and about racial reconciliation. While the entire summit is available for purchase HERE, I wanted to pull out and offer these two conversations for free.
The first conversation is with my dear friend Alisha Gordon, a social activist, writer and teacher who has her Masters of Divinity, and works tirelessly to see justice come for our brothers and sisters of color. The second conversation is with Deidra Riggs, an author and speaker, a conference host, a respected voice on reconciliation, and I’d also like to call her a peacemaker. Both of these women are wise, strong, kind, and dear to me personally. I have entered into conversations on the topic of racial reconcilation with them over the past several years and I trust them so deeply. I believe that you can too.
I wanted to make these conversations available to you in case you’d like to figure out where to begin in the move towards reconciling our nation unto itself, and ultimately for me, to the heart of God. (Both conversations were recorded over the past couple of months before this recent string of horrific events.) I hope that you not only enjoy our conversations but feel the courage to begin alongside many of us who are curious enough to fumble towards the light.
Building Countercultural Friendships: Alisha and Logan met under a big shady tree in Atlanta. Is there any better way to start a friendship? Through a mutual desire to enter into the common human experience, Alisha and Logan decided to foster community with one another. Each searching for a friend to break the bubble of homogeny with an aim to have raw conversations about differences – primarily racial differences. In this interview, Logan and Alisha talk about broadening their respective worldviews. Both women believe that diversifying friendships requires genuine curiosity because without that curiosity, vulnerability is impossible. This particular interview is extra special in that it offers us a testimony…a testimony that can be ours if we too break down the walls of fear, judgment, and political correctness. Alisha and Logan’s friendship is swathed in grace and that’s why we love them so much.
Uncovering Your Potential and Becoming a Peacemaker: It seems impossible to leave a conversation with Deidra Riggs unchanged. In this interview, she exhorts viewers with a message undeniably from God:don’t buy the lie that this, right here, right now, is all you amount to, all you were ever made to be, all you ever can be. Don’t wish away the season you’re in, however tempting that may be, but realize that what follows next isn’t better…it’s the fulfillment of the obediences and the choices you’re making today. That’s Deidra, part one. Part two is insight into Deidra’s book, a work-in-progress that brings race and the church to the forefront, instead of shoving it under a hymnal in the back pew. What Deidra has found, in writing her next book, is that race is not the only line of division we draw in the church. There are multiple lines crisscrossing all over the place. And if we believe that we are marked by Jesus, then it is our job to untangle them, one by one, until peace reigns richly. When we make space for the other, God is glorified, and when our mission is to glorify God, instead of proving ourselves right, then his kingdom is truly advanced.
Also, if you’d like to educate yourself, I suggest following the news, as well as prominent black leaders. I’d like to focus on christian leaders and there is a great list HERE. Also, a few other women of color who talk about reconciliation that I highly esteem and respect and encourage you to follow: Austin Channing, Christena Cleveland, Osheta Moore, Latasha Morrison, and Amena Brown. There are many more, but I don’t want to overload you either. And for the record, I began googling and reaching out awkwardly in the beginning (and still do.)
Read some articles like this one (My Little Boys Will Be Black Men), this one (Advice for White Folks in the Wake of the Police Murder of a Black Person), and this one (Is Black Lives Matter the New Civil Rights Movement) to begin to educate yourself from different perspectives. And also…share about the injustices…encourage and love on your friends who are afraid and grieving. Grieve alongside…sit in the pain…be curious how you fit into restoration…and lets move towards the light together.