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I’m taking deep breaths today. It’s been one long crazy week on top of other long weeks and seasons. Part of me wants to disengage completely and part of me wants to roll on with spirit-led gusto.

Anyway, after an insane number of tech issues and a plethora of words and posts I’ve wanted to write but haven’t yet, I’m sharing this today. Partially because I feel I need to, even though it feels downright scary. And partially because I believe that God is calling me to just keep writing and sharing this vision of cultivating a life well-lived from a number of angles, regardless of what the outcome may be.

On social media I shared my heart break for Terence Crutcher and for all my black friends. My outcry doesn’t negate the heart break I also feel for cops and those affected by violent protests. However, I noticed one thing happening on my post which caused me more sadness.

I cried out “no” for the evil of racism. I asked us all to examine our hearts and ask the Spirit to work. I suggested our seemingly small steps to learn, listen, and grow in this area are important. I prayed for all of us to see the injustices around us and to seek God’s work.

I also said, Black Lives Matter.

In the Wake of Another Shooting

Photo Credit: Cindee Snider Re on Flickr

 

Goodness, y’all. Somehow my post became about making sure judgment calls weren’t made about the cop. It became about how black people are also acting violently. Somehow it became as if I was condoning the violent acts done by some who wave the flag of BLM. Let me say, not only do I not condone those atrocities, I have several black friends who don’t either. In any case…

What it did not become, is about the very cry which I made.

Identifying that racism still exists, calling all of us to let our hearts be examined and transformed by the Holy Spirit, and mourning with those who mourn.

What it did not become, was a recognition that many in the black community are hurting and live with fear for the lives of themselves and their children. Not just based on media reports, but based on personal experiences too.

Dear friends, this post is hard for me, but my heart can’t stay silent. I am part of a multi-ethnic and incredibly diverse church which I love. We seek the power of the Holy Spirit in each of our lives and we engage in hard discussions because they help us learn and grow. They help us build compassion and empathy for others, which is the way of Christ. Yes?

We must remember that fear and sin will keep us from growing more like Christ and from being a unified body of believers who make an impact for the kingdom of God. We must remember that we are all prone to faulty filters. Most definitely, I am.

So, with much love to all of my white friends in particular, please consider how our responses to these tragedies can further propagate anger, division, and even soul hurts for those already wounded by racism.

I write to cultivate a life well-lived because a life well-lived goes from surviving to thriving, no matter what the circumstances are.

In order for us to live well, we must remember that we live in community. We live as part of the over arching church family of God. We live as broken people desperately in need of Jesus’ redemption and of the empowerment and conviction of the Holy Spirit, which Jesus gave to all believers.

My plea is not for division, angry responses, hurt fueling more hurt, or even a debate about whether racism exists or whether we should be talking about other issues.

My plea is for every one who calls themselves a follower of Christ to examine their hearts, allow the Spirit to work, and see what transformation God will bring about. In this, reconciliation of all kinds is wholly possible by the power of the Gospel.

Below is a reply I posted on social media to the responses which came from my initial post. I hope that in some way this blesses and encourages those who read it. May it also be challenging, because in the challenges we grow. I’m in this with you.

with love,
Jolene

Y’all, I love you. I do. At the same time, it hurts my heart to hear these responses. For me, and for the way it hurts my friends and keeps us from seeing some of the deeper things at play here.
If we don’t recognize the evil which continues to persist in our society, we can’t do anything about it.
I’m going back to my original statement and prayer plea. Let each of us examine our own hearts.
I don’t know how to phrase this right. So, please bear with me. The thing is, I don’t see how saying things like we can’t judge and cops should be innocent until proven guilty is helpful in any way. Quite honestly, especially for my black friends, it’s painful and dismissive of the very real pain the are experiencing as they see these situations happen over and over again.
There’s truth in saying we can’t judge one situation by one report. There’s truth in saying we should allow more details to come to light to decide innocence and guilt.
There’s also truth in the way all of us tend to let fears overtake our senses.
And there’s truth in the fact that racism is still an issue in America.
The thing is, I used to say the same things in my mind. I didn’t say them out loud, but I thought them. Then, I kept watching things play out. I heard stories and heart break from numerous black friends whom I care about deeply.
I had to step back and say, “God, show me what I might be missing. Help me to see things from their perspective.”
I see their pain, and it’s making more sense. [added: It’s becoming more real and oh so valid.] It’s become more heart breaking to watch these events unfold. It’s wakened me up to my own internal predisposed judgments that are not right.
I also see the likelihood of cops living with fears on the job and I know what it’s like to live in a hyper-vigilant state. It can make your brain fire off actions that you wouldn’t want to do. I know that when we have fears they cause us to do damaging things.
This too hurts my heart for my friends who are cops, both black and white.
This is one of the big reasons I am passionate about heart and soul care, because it gets at the root of our fears.
Like I said above, if we don’t recognize there’s an issue, we can’t deal with it. I believe we all live with fears that need healing and truth so we can walk more fully in the peace, joy, and freedom Christ offers.
But, if we don’t consider they are there. We can’t do anything with it.
So it goes with making comments about not judging etc. As politely as I know how to say this, it’s missing the point.
The point is, racism is an issue.
The point is, an innocent man died unjustly and this is far from an isolated incident.
It’s not OK and it should wake us up to something bigger at play.
For those of us who don’t think we have any racist issues, we might consider that we still might have fears of people who are different from us, whether it be race, culture, poverty, mental illness, etc.
Every single one of us can look into our hearts and ask the Lord to reveal where we might have racist thoughts and beliefs, even though we don’t think we do and don’t want to. It might be a lot more subtle than we realize, but it could still be there. Little quick judgments and expectations for example. I found that true for me, even though I would have never in a million years thought it possible. It was far more hidden and subversive.
Every single one of us can look into our own hearts and ask God to help us work through our fears so that we can be a force in our culture that helps advance the kingdom of God.
May it be, that we look at situations like this and learn to listen to the black community and hear their cries. There are many who are simply hurting and living with their own fears. Fears like, will my children be safe if their car stalls?
May it be, that we also pray for the cops who suffer injustice of their own in many ways. May we support the ones who are looking to do well in their job and make American safer. There are many who do.
May it be, that we all choose to NOT neglect our own hearts so that whatever God may have for us to learn there, we can learn.
The question on my mind with regards to this and a whole host of other areas This is a question for all of us, especially me:

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