Ok, humans. I need to preface all of this with an acknowledgment that I’ve spent a significant amount of time debating clicking ‘Publish.’ Because we might not be on the same page. I also want to make it 10000% clear that I believe in humanity as a whole. And I also support those whose role is to protect and serve. In fact, I personally know and love some of them. But, it is possible you might not like what I’ve poured out here. And, it’s ok. And also? Going back to something I’d shared a while back, I can’t give one single crap about that. Finally, I truly believe we can still be friends. The world would be so boring if we all felt the same. Amiright?
So just as sameness in the way we think would be super boring, sameness in almost every other aspect of our lives would be a complete travesty.
To say that I’ve been doing a bit of introspection these past few weeks would be an understatement. Do you ever have those moments where you know how you feel about a given topic and then something takes places that has you questioning literally everything? Well, if you have, that’s where I’m at.
I started asking … but am I a racist?
To be clear, I would have vehemently said a hard ‘no’ a few weeks ago. I would have said without question that I am not a racist.
The loss of human life (that’s actually plural but any life is the point) has caused me to reconsider. To recall past events and how I responded. To ask God to search my heart to expose offenses. And to ask questions of my friends. Specifically, ‘how can i help you right now? i feel so helpless.’
When I recalled past events, there were moments that resurfaced with some intensity. I debated sharing details but that’s not necessary nor the point. What I will share is that I had to put greater focus on each and consider what had stayed with me in follow-up to those experiences. And why. There was one I would call traumatic whereas most would have been everyday encounters that may have been altered by what my mind (skewed by a life of media/cultural/generational distraction and distortion) was receiving as reality. Even being vague about those moments is hard. It means I couldn’t be as confident in my reply. And that is not easy to admit.
With that perspective, the recent loss of black lives led me to pursue content that could help me to process what (I imagine) many of us are feeling. Or some of us. Or maybe just me. I won’t assume to know where you are. But for me? I just wanted to know how I could be better. How I could avoid staying silent and thus, muting my voice to the injustice. The real oppression that’s occurred for much, much longer than I’ve been on this planet. Because what I’ve realized is that it is simply not enough to say (or even believe) that I am not a racist.
Let me explain.
Jesus says (confirmed by red letters) in Matthew that we are to be salt and light.
The job of salt is two-fold. It’s here to flavor and preserve.
Anyone else love salt? My doctor actually told me once that there weren’t many people for whom she would recommend an increase in sodium but I was one of them given my low blood pressure. That was one of those #bestdayever conversations because I love (love, love) me some salt. I especially like pink salt. I hear Himalayan is just better.
Regardless, there really isn’t much you can’t make infinitely more tasty with a little salt. Even fruit. I mean it. Try it if you haven’t.
So, if we have the option to add salt, why wouldn’t we? Jesus says that we need to be the freaking salt. Go flavor the world (he basically said). In fact, in the Message version, the verse states:
Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of the earth … Matthew 5:13 (MSG)
When I read that first statement, it literally stopped me in my tracks. We are here to be salt. We are here to flavor this beautiful world with the God-flavors of the earth.
And what does God-type flavor look like?
I don’t know. Maybe it’s too simple for the problems of this world. Maybe love isn’t enough. But I beg to differ. He says again in that famous love chapter I just talked about, it’s one of those three that remains. And in Colossians, He tells us to wear love like a garment.
So if we are given such a direct charge to flavor this world, we must be love.
Here’s another way to put it. You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world … Matthew 5:14 (MSG)
Again, this could come across as naive to some. And I’m ok with that. My point is, here Jesus is literally telling us what we are to be and do here. We are literally on this planet to cast light into the dark places. And can you at least agree that it’s dark? It’s so very dark.
But I also see where there is hope (another one that remains, fyi). Because we don’t have to stay where we are. We can actually change. In fact, we’re encouraged to! Even Paul admitted that he was not yet where he was going, but it was what he was passionately pursuing:
I admit that I haven’t yet acquired the absolute fullness that I’m pursuing, but I run with passion into his abundance so that I may reach the purpose that Jesus Chris has called me to fulfill and wants me to discover. I don’t depend on my own strength to accomplish this; however I do have one compelling focus: I forget all of the past as I fasten my heart to the future instead. Philippians 3:12-13 (TPT)
See that? We don’t do this on our own. We put down our flawed human biases and allow the Spirit to take over. The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives in each one of us (some just don’t know it yet *wink*). Considering that? We are in the perfect position to be salt. To be light.
The Truth is God created man in His image. And then he created woman because, well, God knew that man couldn’t do the thing alone (I’m KIDDING
sort of). And from day one, it was about relationship. When we went and screwed that all up, God initiated plan B (that’s Jesus) and through Him, we got what we never deserved.
Forgiveness. An opportunity for reconciliation. To restore what was lost.
And while so much has been lost (so, so much), we have the opportunity to be the change. To further the mission of forgiveness and reconciliation. To become a voice that echoes that black lives matter. I took a few lines from a transcript that was shared with us today at Spectrum Health’s Day of Understanding. As Cleo Wade titled this piece, ‘ … Start by being brave enough to care.’
The world will say to you, “We need to end racism.” Start by healing it in your own family. The world will say to you, “How do we speak to bias and bigotry?” Start by having the first conversation at your own kitchen table. The world will say to you, “There is so much hate.” Devote yourself to love. Love yourself so much that you can love others without barriers and without judgment.
When the world asks us big question that require big answers, we have two options. One: to feel so overwhelmed or unqualified, we do nothing. Two: to start with one small act and qualify ourselves.