2020 has been a hard year. But this weekend hit me particularly hard.
In my house, we have been having some hard conversations. Discussing heartbreaking topics, without having any answers. I’ve been torn about writing. Wanting to share our hearts and our confusion with this community, but also struggling to know what to say.
So today, I decided to write. There are many others who will write more eloquently and with better strategies than me. Still, on balance, more voices, even halting imperfect ones, are better.
Today, I will share some of the conversations I have been having with the kids about the death of George Floyd and racial injustice in America.
While at a dear friend’s with little bit this weekend, she saw a news clip of Nashville on fire. It started our conversation about the protests and the basis for them.
First, I showed her a picture of George Floyd. Then I showed her a pictured of Mr. Floyd with a police officer’s knee on his neck and I explained what happened. Eight minutes and 46 seconds. “I can’t breathe.” Calling for his mama. Then I opened Facebook and I showed her pictures of my friends standing alongside their handsome black sons. And we talked about how scared they must be. All the time.
We talked about prejudice that people hold. Some police officers, but some not. Some just regular people, including us. How people make a decision about someone because of the way they look on the outside.
We talked about leadership and how some officials are trying to start a conversation of understanding between people in their communities, while other leaders are sowing even more division and terror. We talked about some of them by name. It was not a political conversation. It was a human conversation.
She prayed. She prayed specifically that “police officers would not think that black people are dangerous,” and she prayed for mothers who were worried and she prayed for leaders to lead better and she prayed for everyone who has suffered for years who were lamenting on the streets of our American cities.
When we returned home and the boys came back for the ranch, then we had more conversations.
This time, I sat in the boys room with all three of them.
Little bit explained what she understood and expressed her outrage. She said she wanted to be President because she wanted to say things to people who were scared and worried and she wanted African Americans to be treated better.
The boys had more questions. We talked about their black and brown friends, naming all the people we know who must be so angry and sad and scared. I asked them how could it be that the eldest could walk through our neighborhood in a black hoodie every day and never worry, but if his friend was walking in those same clothes on those same streets, then his friend might get reported to police or stopped, or worse, hurt.
They don’t move immediately to empathy like she did, they move to action. What can we DO?
If you present them with a problem, then they want an solution.
I explained we can’t change other people’s hearts but we can do some things. We can support those who seek to lead our communities who want to hold people accountable and ensure people of all colors are treated fairly. We talked about how they could be an advocate, and what that means. I read from my friend Karen’s post who reminded us, “We can’t wait for police reform entirely because that takes time… we need to be heard and seen when we see black or brown people being questioned by the police. Just stay close, your presence might make the difference.” We talked about what they could have done if they were there on that street. How do you speak out?
We talked about how we have all judged someone based on their shape or size or color or accent.
And then we prayed. Because in light of all this heaviness, what is there except to cry out to God?
We prayed for the family of George Floyd. We prayed for our friends who have been singled out and hurt or bullied or treated unfairly because of the color of their skin. We prayed for forgiveness for where we have assumed or judged or not seen others as God sees them, His unique creation. We prayed for our world and our country and our city.
We will continue to pray.
We will continue to listen.
We will speak out.
And I will run my daughter’s campaign, when she is old enough to run for office and add her clarion voice to the chorus demanding change.
I have been reading so much over the past few days, and here are a few excerpts that struck me.
This one from inCourage:
We need to feel the pain of lives lost to the inhumanity of racism. We need to feel the tension of how our privilege can distances us from wanting to feel the pain. We need to lean into the fire and know the flame with our sisters. We need to do the hard work of listening, of learning, of loving well. We are many parts of One Body, connected in and by and for Christ. Our hearts are on fire, and as on Pentecost, we need to let them burn so that we may be filled with the Holy Spirit and empowered by Him to come together as many parts of one body. Romans 12:4-5: Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.
This one from Esau McCaulley:
The first is to recognize that the problem is not just out there. It’s in our hearts. The problem isn’t just that there are racists in the world. The problem is that we all live in rebellion against God and his will for us. The gospel demands a decision from each of us about our own sins. If Jesus had a theme for his ministry it is repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand… We do have a message for a city and a world on fire. There is a God who loves you and died that you might know him. This love is sufficient to gather the divided peoples of the world when all the politicians and philosophers fail. There is a God of justice who sees and acts on behalf of the beleaguered peoples of the world, people like George Floyd.
From my dear friend and prayer partner and active social justice advocate:
I believe a revival and Awakening is coming, greater than ever before. Yet those have always started with laying down one’s own pride and understanding, to travail in prayer. They have begun because what is impossible for us is only possible with God. It’s going to take a level of sacrifice never before yet seen.
‘Thou Christ of burning, cleansing flame, Thy blood-bought gift today we claim, Look down and see this waiting host, We want another Pentecost, Send the Fire.’ [From hymn, Lord Send the Fire]