Off The Deep End

I had decided a couple of weeks ago that I was going to do a blog post this week, because I haven’t blogged in a long time and I miss doing it. I figured I would do a post about Thanksgiving, and gratitude, and all that I have to be thankful for. That was my plan, and I’m sure that post would have been just precious (at least to my relatives and closest friends). And don’t get me wrong – I am so, so grateful for so many things. But I’m just not feeling that particular post tonight. I have some other things on my heart.

Along with everyone else in America, I have watched over the past few days as events have transpired throughout our country. I have read articles, and blog posts from much wiser and more legit bloggers than myself, and social media commentary, and comments. So many comments. Comments I wish I could un-see, and comments I am thankful I had the opportunity to read. And I am not here to add to the sea of  commentary on the events of this week – but what I find myself deeply aware of tonight is that one young man is dead, one officer’s life will never be the same, two families are devastated, and people are hurting.

Many of my black friends are hurting. Whether this incident began as a racial incident or not, it has become one, and it has opened up wounds among so many. And I am grieved over this. And I am thankful that I am grieved over this, because I fear what will have become of me if the day comes when the pain of so many people does not touch my heart.

Many of my law enforcement friends and their spouses are hurting. Backlash against law enforcement has been significant, and I know many law enforcement officers who conduct their jobs day in and day out with integrity. They are at greater risk any time there is widespread unrest, and they and their families are also heavy on my heart.

So I find myself thinking, “What can I do?” As a white person who has never known racism. As a citizen who does not have to place my life at risk each day when I go to work. As an imperfect Christ follower who wants desperately to see peace and to see an end to the hurting of so many, but often feels powerless to effect healing on a larger scale. And as I prayed through this question, these are the ideas that came to mind regarding steps that I can take in my own small corner of the world:

1) Listen. Listen deeply. Listen with humility and compassion to people whose life experiences differ from my own. Don’t rush to judgment. Acknowledge the pain of others when they hurt. Be mindful that I will never fully understand the path that my black friends (and Hispanic friends, and Asian friends, and Middle Eastern friends) have walked, because I haven’t walked it. Acknowledge that racism is real, and that it still exists in many forms today, as much as I would like to close my eyes and pretend it doesn’t.

2) Pray. Pray for healing in our country. Pray for my black brothers and sisters, whose world is still not the same as mine, as much as I would like for it to be. Pray for my white brothers and sisters, that we would pursue racial reconciliation. Pray that we would be all be brave and kind as we talk about the hard issues, and that we would listen to each other and seek to really hear, rather than just be heard. Pray for our law enforcement officers, that they would be safe, that they would have discernment in the decisions their job requires them to make, that they would be protected from harm.

3) Celebrate. Celebrate the beauty in diversity. I heard someone say recently that they “don’t see color.” And I think what was meant by this comment was a well-intentioned sentiment of, “I don’t discriminate based on race/ethnicity.” But my thought after hearing this statement was, “How sad would it be if none of us saw color? If we didn’t see the beauty and the variety in our skin tones? In our hair textures? In our accents? In our cultures?” How monochromatic would things be if everyone looked like me? Talked like me? Thought like me about everything? Had only my particular set of experiences?

For example, my friend Xiomara recently allowed her young son to place colored drink stir sticks in her hair (what she refers to as her “Teenie Weenie Afro” or “TWA.”)


When I tried the same trick with my thin, stringy, white-girl hair, this is the result I got:


Not at all the same. In this lifetime, I will never be able to pull off a TWA. But I can admire Xio’s.

We are created to celebrate each other. And to do this, we have to really SEE each other.

3). Act. I have heard a couple of people say in the past few days that true peace will never exist this side of heaven. And I understand what they are saying. But we still need to work for it. We need to work for it with everything we have. As Christ followers, we are commanded to do this. Biblically, it is not optional. Christ is the source of peace, He is the embodiment of peace, and as His followers, we are commanded to represent Him in such a way that people see love, and truth, and peace when they look at us. This side of heaven, we will do this imperfectly. But we have to keep trying. To heal with our words, rather than wound. To extend grace. To love. To hold out Christ as the ultimate healer, the ultimate peace-giver.

As I have been thinking throughout the day about Thanksgiving, I thought back to what I remember learning in school about the origin of the holiday. It just seemed relevant, and important. And I did some googling. Turns out, the first Thanksgiving on record was celebrated between the European settlers (or Pilgrims) and the Wampanoag tribe of Native Americans. The first Thanksgiving was not only a celebration of a successful harvest, but was also a celebration of racial reconciliation between these two peoples. And this is what is on my heart, and in my prayers, as this Thanksgiving rolls around.

As I prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow, I am reminded that many of the blessings we hold most dear are born out of struggle. And my hope is that we will pursue peace, be willing to wrestle with the hard issues, and be able to celebrate progress as we take steps towards the fulfillment of Romans 12:18, where God tells us:

“If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

~Romans 12:18

Best wishes for a peace-filled and peace-bringing Thanksgiving.