A great sense of uneasiness covers me as I begin this note to you this week. In fact, in the middle of a work task, I decided to start. I feel this expression will not be completed in one push, but instead several, in my attempt to get it posted on time for June 3rd, 2020. Although, within this very moment there are many subjects to be thankful to Lord of Heaven for, there are likewise the feelings of anguish and deep despair often stemming from the question “When will we get all this right?”
Those who know me are aware that I verbally thread lightly in most generalized settings. I am diplomatic and extremely careful, while politely getting my points across…. across tables, emails, phone and computer chats. I was gentle in the store, Target, to the “privileged” woman who stood behind me, who chose not to wear a mask while talking on the telephone with a friend. The same woman who spoke quietly about the “black woman” (me) in front of her easing up closer to the register, because she (this woman) was on the telephone. I listened to her and shook my heart while I tried to understand why she couldn’t relate to my sense of her disrespect of my personal space. And, her callousness and lack of care that even at 6 feet apart, she could still spew germs on me. Because of the color of my skin, did I not matter? Was it perfectly fine to do this, simply because I didn’t matter, even though my self-care would be assumed remarkable to most who know me? So…why was this okay?
Diplomacy of words I leave for speech. In my writings, that’s different.
The perils of the “privilege” are not mine to bear. Yet, the chords of my humanity beg me to discuss the innate discomfort I feel when exposed to this group. And, the gratefulness for my friends who are Caucasian, who help me with simple tasks, shielding me from some racist and unjust behaviors toward and before me. This could look like accompanying me to purchase wood, to pick up soil in small towns, and more. Much to consider as a single minority woman. God protects, you say. But the enemy doesn’t. My cognizance must reign over these matters. Deep love can show up in both instances? Hmmmm! Perhaps…
The last few months have been trying, disappointing, and lonely, but more so they have offered me precious moments of introspection and life-acceptance. Through these moments I have been angry, sad, anxious, joyful and on edge. But not one moment have I swayed from God. I’ve also come to recognize some of the idols in my life. Those in people and in things. This recognition was the ultimate gift of all, providing guidance, support, and discernment. I’ve also come to grips with my judging traits. Yet, the one I still cannot let go of, is that of my new neighbors who pollute my outdoor breathing and prayer space with the stench of the smoke from weed. On every occasion, I still mumble to myself, get up, walk inside and slam the door behind me. I then pray for absolution from this anger and while upset about my behavior, say “Love thy neighbor” Selah.
Lord, I’ll try…yet I still see them as part of the privilege group I struggle with, to do whatever, without care and consideration for others. I am working through this.
Life rejoinder brings me back to the “this”, in the first paragraph above. Below are my currents:
This in my work:
- Churches and the leaders of these institutions professing and speaking of justice while continuing to hold an insular group of pastors and leaders of these organizations.
- Stingy behavioral patterns, while consistently having a hand out.
- Speaking on the importance of diversity, while not making any attempt to reach out to people who look, speak, and behave differently than what are accustomed.
This in my daily life:
- When my hair is in its natural state, see me for who I am. Make no comparison to the straightened work-hair I must have in order to be taken seriously in some instances. You may compliment how great I look though 🙂 Praying on feminine vanity too!
- Do not say to me that you do not see my color. Please, I want you to see my color! For it is a great element of who I am. In really seeing the outer me, this process can help you to understand some of the trials I face in my daily life, simply because of it. In addition, when you see me and get to really know me, despite the outer me, you’ll then really know, I experience every emotion in living life that you do.
- Speak your mind with me. Do not hold back some of the discomforts you may feel about your own belief systems about race or immigrants. Talk with me!
This in my spiritual life:
- Treat me with kindness and respect in your houses of worship. Do not tell untruths about me or check my every move when I try to get a piece of tissue paper for my runny nose or to sooth my eyes from tears of love for Jesus.
- If I am not physically in your church, know that I have other ways of praising God. Be it with the brethren of my own faith, in nature or even in my garden. It doesn’t mean that I am not a real Christian!
- There are many places I offer my financial support. If one week, I choose to not tithe at your places of worship, that’s only because I believe a different group needs it more. It doesn’t mean because of my race, I do not have anything to give or I am lacking. God consistently provides well for me. In discernment, I listen and wait for His leading.
“There is a great difference between Christianity and churchianity”
– Carl Sandburg
This above, are clear traveled roads of my existence. I speak now on these things for the great reason that enough is enough, from every angle. It is my credence, that there is also a great deal between Christianity and living justly. When I am humble, I am just, and I understand mercy (Micah 6:8). Life is farce in Christian life without these collaborations. To live in the words of Micah, the doors to my heart must remain open and even when closed, I must still live love, like the love of Jesus to me, even when I slam the doors behind in frustration of “privileged”.
As an ordained minister, my life will never be beneath the umbrella of professional ministry. And, I have no interest in trying to be operative in the nuances of this world, just to fit-in with the worldly. With faithfulness, no trials are needed. With faithfulness, Jesus is effective and works on my behalf. Despite the behavioral patterns of those who approach me with the mannerisms of entitlement, he continues to support, guide, and heal me! My honor to Him, is my ministry.
“Costly grace is the gospel, which must be sought again and again. The gift, which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock… (Bonhoeffer, 1937)
Heavenly Father, please continue to consistently send me back to the roots, the paths to your door. Thank you for always hearing my knock when I feel as though I am being suffocated by some occurrences in this life around me.
Father, knock, knock…
Source: Bonhoffer, D. (1937). The cost of discipleship. New York, NY: Macmillan Publishing