Read His Words Before Ours!
The thought of this Journey theme, Palette, made me squirm. When Rebecca first mentioned racial injustice as a Journey theme, I knew that we were supposed to do it… but that didn’t make the topic any easier to broach. Let’s face it: we live in tumultuous times. We tear each other down with our words and actions, but even more so with our self-oriented “status updates” and “likes.” Some of us imagine we are subtly snubbing our sisters and brothers by passive-aggressively “with-holding our likes.” (Oh, it’s a thing alright. Google “withholding likes.” You’ll be amazed…and you just might recognize something that resonates.) We build each other up by “sharing” posts and “commenting” our support, but when it comes to relating to one another in person, in real life, we fall painfully short.
Sometimes we aren’t sure what to do or say when we witness an injustice take place. Sometimes we know what to do or say, but we are afraid of rocking the boat.
Sometimes we are so afraid of saying the wrong thing,
or the right thing in the wrong way,
that we get completely caught up in our own heads and fail to say anything at all.
Two questions return to mind.
Is this loving well?
Is this loving at all?
When faced with this injustice, do we withdraw from engaging those around us because we are so worried about semantics that we forget our calling – to love?
Sometimes, we do.
I sat down with my friend, Dom, to talk about her experiences growing up as part of a minority group. I asked her to share with me some of the things she had experienced that have affected how she raises her own daughter, things that someone else like me might take for granted. I’m not really sure what I was expecting to hear or learn, but the insight she shared brought several points into sharp focus for me.
Dom shared that growing up in the midwest, she was one of only a few black students in her high school about 20 minutes outside of Kansas City. She compared her high school experience to any other, with highs and lows and in-betweens. In high school and now, years later she mentioned that classmates and friends would begin sentences with “No offense, but…” in reference to her. This only ever served to create or highlight offense, because the words which followed inevitably compared her to other people her friends considered part of her minority group. She recalled one instance in which a classmate used hateful language and racial slurs in reference to her. She shared that while it was awful, he later apologized for his words and she forgave him. Dom explained that for the most part, she hasn’t really felt that she has been the victim of the kinds of things we often expect or hear about when it comes to racism. While she is keenly aware of the things happening within the United States in terms of injustice and minority groups, she chooses to keep a positive outlook and is intent on teaching that to her young daughter as well. “I try to teach her that every person is different and has different experiences. We have to look at people as individuals, rather than groups. I try to teach her to look out for people who need a friend,” Dom stated.
When asked what we can all do to pull together to “right the ship,” Dom readily shared. “We are not listening to one another. We need to stop and listen. I feel like we forgot how to be loving and caring to one another.”
She’s right. We are each so often caught up in our own perceptions of others and their experiences or background that we are failing to see them as individuals. Even when I scheduled my meeting with Dom, I held subconscious expectations of what she would share with me. I assumed she would have numerous instances to share, stories of wild injustice and times when she had been slighted. That was wrong of me. Even with my best intentions, I lumped her into a group of people who had been wronged in many ways. I wasn’t thinking about her and her experiences with an open mind and no expectations.
Sisters, we have to stop. We have to listen. We have to be loving and caring to one another, and we can’t do that if we continue to feed our own expectations rather than asking others to share their stories with us. We can’t expect to come alongside those who are hurting when we are unwilling to find out why they personally are hurting.
I would encourage you to reach out to a friend or family member this week. Maybe they are a member of a minority group, or maybe you are. Either way, ask to meet over a cup of coffee. Ask them to share their stories with you.
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!