Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Over Tea //

In school I certainly learned more about the Civil War than about the Civil Rights Movement. I dont know much but I do know that for such a ethnically diverse and multi-cultural land as America to still dance awkwardly around the subject of race is a clue pointing to a much deeper issue. Its something to be addressed. When there is conflict in your marriage does it get resolved by ignoring the issue, harboring your opposite thoughts and feelings, and pretending that there isnt an issue all the while being on pins and needles afraid youll step on the toes of the other at any moment and things will explode? Thats a rhetorical question. Of course not! You restore unity by facing the conflict and holding tight to each other as you seek to understand the other's heart, to grow through the issues together and keep the bonds of trust and open communication strong so that you foster the safe place for vulnerability and intimacy in your relationship. This works to unify the vast differences of two genders through love and respect, I suspect it works just as well to intentionally tend to unifying our diversity.

"I really care about you. Help me understand." Ive heard my Dad say this to me as my head was buried in my pillow saturated with hot tears and he sat on the foot of my bed bewildered at what had caused the melt down. Sometimes he was frustrated at my emotion, certain it was an over-reaction or, preoccupied with what seemed must be more important issues, was inconvenienced by the deeper time and focus I was requiring. Too far removed from the cares of the childhood season of life to relate, speaking too quickly from a position of ignorance regarding what it is like to be in the body of a woman as he is a man, or simply ill-equipped for an issue never before encountered and never anticipated, his words were not always fitly spoken. Such a picture of our response, as white Americans, to the tender issue of race. It always made such a difference when my Dad simply entered into my hurt because he cared deeply about me and, not presuming to have all the answers but sincerely wanting to do all he could to help and comfort, invited me to help him understand.

Dr. King -- Martin Luther King, Jr. -- is a figure recognized all over the world. We know a phrase of his most famous speech -- much like we know about one sentence of the documents that founded our country's government, and his birthday is a national holiday which to us mostly has meant a day off of school. For me, he was the starting point for my education on racial tensions and the strive to close the gap, to bridge it, through history. I wanted to hear from the heart of a spokesperson, someone who much, if not all, of the black community trusted to represent their own hearts well. I wanted to hear from someone not ready to pick a fight because theyd been kept down so long and it had wound them so tight they finally snapped, but from someone who stood their ground in the face of ugly opposition and revealed the suffered injustices through raw but non-violent displays. I had never known he was a pastor. Im not sure that Id even known he was a brother, of mine, in the Lord. I had just finished reading his brief but revealing account in "Why we cannot wait", which opened my eyes, when the movie "Selma" was released in theaters. The film recounts the foundational account of the march to secure equal opportunity to vote through Selma, Alabama in 1965. Almost as difficult to watch as "12 Years a Slave", "Selma" was the most powerful and inspiring films I have seen in years.

The original song, "Glory" from "Selma" took home an Oscar this year. John Legend and Common performed it live at the awards show and it gave me chills.

We cant afford to walk in ignorance on this and reconciling the issue cannot wait. Before you ask why I care so much, be careful, for why could anyone NOT care? No one is more equipped to get down into the trenches of all of this tender, powerful stuff than the Church. Unity is a heart-desire of our God -- He walked among us in human flesh just to reconcile us back to Him, and that when we were at war against Him and had nothing about us that would be found desirable. Again, being peace makers does not mean avoiding an issue or pretending it doesnt exist. Peace making is a fruit of love, ultimately, and if we are being truly loving we know that putting another's needs before our own and considering their life worth more than our own is what that looks like in its most basic form.

I observe the life of Dr. King or Solomon Northup and I count myself blessed to identify myself as a fellow member of the human race with them, as well as the true Body of Christ. I want to be like them. I want my kids to look to them as an example. They look like their heavenly Father, with their patience and long-suffering and love of mercy, and their understanding of His heart through the experience of it in the midst of tribulation is breathtakingly powerful. Character transcends racial borders. Love pulls down the barriers.

I went to a grade school concert tonight for the little boy I nanny. The performers and the audience alike represented many ethnicities and they werent sitting in segregated clumps by color but rather as families all mixed together. Friends, neighbors, co-workers, spouses, all mixed. How its supposed to be. Just like adults and children mix, like men and women mix. We have separate and unique needs and perspectives and issues but we gladly enter into that diversity, seeking after unity, because we love each other.

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