I’ve been incredibly sad lately. You see, I’ve started following a few well known black activists on Twitter, and this has plugged me in to the horrible crimes perpetuated against black citizens by police across the country, the lack of accountability, and the rise of protests. very little of which is covered by the mainstream news. Oh, they cover it when we riot, but not when we are gunned down unarmed. In essence, the black body is weaponized and degraded in society; simply being black is threatening and seems a valid excuse for police to kill us. Precious few in positions of authority seem bothered by this, and anyone objecting to this expression of institutionalized racism is radicalized and presented as a reverse racist for not shouting #AllLives Matter instead of #BlackLivesMatter. I’m not really disposed to an angry character. So instead, I’ve become gloomy, depressed and hopeless. My mother was a black radical and as a child I thought her views were so extreme and unnecessary. But these days I’m thinking about how little has changed about how American society treats us when our lives are on the line. To be honest, I’m glad I don’t have young children. I’ve been thinking seriously about moving to Canada as a way to escape the post-traumatic slavery disorder that this nation won’t acknowledge much less treat and overcome. I lie awake at night thinking, “They’re killing us. They’re systematically killing us and demonizing anyone who objects. Will I be next? Will any of my brothers and sisters be left?”
For days I’ve been taking turns between ignoring the issue completely, pretending it doesn’t exist, and floating in a paralyzing sense of confusion and hopelessness. And after this period of wrestling with this on my own, I came to my senses and realized the only healthy thing to do was bring it to the Lord and let God tell me what to do. As I was meditating on what I should do, a scripture came to mind; “Be angry and do not sin.” What the heck did that mean and how does it relate to what I’m going through? I’m not angry, I’ve given up. Should I get angry? If I go protest am I sinning? God, I wanted you to give me clarity and direction, not confusion. I spent an afternoon looking into that passage of scripture, versus 23-32 in the fourth chapter of Ephesians, looking up the meaning of the Greek works, tracking down correlating scriptures, particularly Psalm 4:4-8 and Mark 3:5. A message that spoke to me and my situation began to emerge. I’ll share these passages and then what has so far come to me about how they apply to my relationship with #BlackLivesMatter.
…and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil. Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy. Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.
When you are disturbed, do not sin; ponder it on your beds, and be silent. Selah Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord. There are many who say, “O that we might see some good! Let the light of your face shine on us, O Lord!” You have put gladness in my heart more than when their grain and wine abound. I will both lie down and sleep in peace; for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety.
Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored.
Ephesians: I need a new way of thinking about these seemingly eternal problems. My thoughts and my behavior must change and follow the ways of God. I won’t be able to blend in with the crowd. We must not remain silence but speak the essential truth of matters, the ways in which we are and are not drawing near to righteousness and holiness, to all, for the other and I are truly one. There is no flood that will come and wipe away those who think unconscious bias doesn’t exist or that undeserved inequalities are rife in our society, leaving those of us who acknowledge the fragility of our society and ourselves and are committed to change. Our fates are linked.
Things that happen can make you mad but you don’t have to act out in revenge and fall farther away from God. Every day is new, so being again with a prevailing sense of hope and closeness to God powerful enough to clear your mind of anger. Remember you and the other are one and make no room for accusation and division. Thinking of sabotaging the system? Instead focus on acts that allow you to help those in need. Don’t talk about destruction but speak in ways that will build better systems and promote much needed change and give absolutely free loving-kindness to those who can hear.
Remember that the essence of who you are, your true worth and dignity have been stamped and belonging to God and sealed from harm. Honor that reality. Do not let yourself be crushed by suffering, grief or disillusionment. Do not let you mind be consumed by anger, don’t let your anger control your actions, you should control your anger. Don’t lie in a way that will degrade others. In other words, don’t let the weights of the world crush your spirit or make your actions less loving and merciful than the way of God to which we aspire. Let everything you do be useful. Change the system for the better instead of punishing people. After all didn’t God forgive you?
Psalms: Wrestle earnestly with the things that anger and disturb you, but gain clarity internally before acting out externally. My trust can’t be in my surroundings, the police, or my society, but in God alone. Many want their circumstances to be better, but God gives me fullness in my heart that is greater than circumstance. I can have moments of rest and peace if I realize that God alone is able to offer me true safety.
Mark: Jesus became angry and grieved at the refusal of those around him to acknowledge the truth. He could have expressed wrath, after all Jesus is the only one who could fully express truly righteous anger. He could have left to air out his grief in private. He could have, in the face of the hopelessness of the people, simply given up. Instead, he did what he had been put on this earth to do; he healed the sick. So, instead of burning the place down to the ground or lying in a pool of my own passive hopelessness, what am I supposed to do? If I am truly a follower of Christ, I am called to emulate him; bring good news to the poor, proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, and let the oppressed go free (Luke 4:18). I must continue doing the essence of me that speaks life, healing and liberty unto others.
My spirit continues to meditate on this issue, but I am no longer hopeless and directionless.
Beginning today I will be offering prayers, affirmations, and a listening ear to all who could use a message of healing, freedom, hope, refreshment or enrichment, particularly to those on the front lines of the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
Call, text (857-576-0561) or email (Contact Us Button above) and we will respond with with prayers, affirmations, and conversation as requested.