The Deafening Sound of Silence

I hesitate to write about the racial issues that are plaguing this country because, as a White woman, I feel like I have little to say. And let’s be honest, I am nervous about saying the wrong  thing. But my silence is deafening. At least to my Black friends. I am quick to cry over injustices in Kenya or Peru. I tearfully read my friends’ blogs about the plight of orphans. I post and post about these issues. “Why aren’t we adopting? Why don’t we do more?” I talk about all these things with my social media friends.

But about racial tension, death at the hands of police and retaliation, I have been silent. I have not known what to say, so I say nothing. This is the wrong thing to do.

A Black friend of mine recently posted on Facebook about our response as Kingdom people  to what the Black community  is experiencing. Her reminders weren’t revolutionary or new or laid out on a thoughtfully crafted Pinterest board. Her words were Jesus’ words. They were from the Bible. They were words and verses I have read, journaled about and poured over before.

A central theme in her reminders was the power of presence: sometimes, the best thing is to just be with someone.

My friends, our Black brothers and sisters, are hurting. They’re suffering. One of my friends said, “I’m scared that they {the boys she mentors} will be innocently doing what almost anyone would say is just ‘boys being boys’ and that they will become the next hashtag.”

The life and the words of Jesus encourage me. What do we do when our brothers and sisters—cut from the same cloth, made in the same Image and by the same God—are suffering? We enter in.

We make ourselves awkward, just as Jesus made Himself awkward. Jesus, fully God, the creator of the Universe, the King of all that is and has been and will be, Jesus, who lived in perfect harmony with the Spirit and the Father, came to earth as a baby. Not as a king on a warrior horse or as a politician with parades in front.

Imagine. Creating the seas, stretching the skies and then—being born into a baby’s skin, with fingers newly unfurled and eyes blurred, not yet cleared of their opacity. Jesus came into this world awkwardly, as one of us.

We can do the same. We can enter in with our Black peers. We take the first, awkward step. And then say something. Not defend or make excuses. Just speak life and love. And if it’s awkward, just remember the One who came awkward—and spoke Life and Love to you.

 

Resources

Joanna recommends . . .

Be the Bridge Community: “Be the Bridge desires to create space and conversations that would begin to tear down racial barriers that have divided people – even God’s people.”

Shalom in the City: A thoughtful blog and podcast.

Another great resource? Find a friend. Just as other people need you, you need them. A good place to start a conversation about racial tensions might go something like, “This is really awkward. I want to do something, say something, but I don’t know how. Can you help me?”

When Your Dreams Fall Apart

My husband and I had a plan. But the year we were supposed to go overseas, we gave birth to beautiful twin girls. And although I had looked forward to becoming a mother my whole life, I was not initially very excited about them. I felt afraid, anxious and uncertain of who I was and how to care for my babies. But the biggest shock was my change in heart about living overseas. I no longer wanted to live outside our community. And once we learned what postpartum depression was all about… the door to the overseas life closed.

And this led me to the life of Joseph.

The next time you open up your Bible, take time to read Genesis 37-50. (That seems like quite a chunk, but take it from me, it reads like a fast-paced novel.) You’ll encounter a man who has a clear vision for his life. So clear, in fact, he brags about it to his ten older brothers. (Which in my family with 3 older brothers would have meant I was ‘cruisin for a bruisin’!)

Joseph had no plans to become a falsely accused inmate or a slave. It all turned out very different from what he had pictured and dreamed. I was like Joseph. My dream fell apart. I didn’t want to be on the sidelines supporting people living overseas, I wanted to be the one living overseas. Maybe you are like Joseph, too. Maybe life has you someplace not at all where you thought you’d be.

He could have gotten “hung up.” It’s easy to do that when life goes painfully off course. When my path changed, I struggled with guilt. Guilt that I had “lost it.” Guilt that I was not strong enough to “deny myself.” But Joseph didn’t let job titles stop him from trusting God and doing the very best he could. He took the responsibility he was given and worked at it, and eventually, “he was made responsible for all that was done there. The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did” (Gen. 39:22-23).

In addition to broken dreams, here’s one more thing we have in common with Joseph – the Lord is with us, whether we live in our parent’s basement or in a trendy New York City high-rise. He has given you and me this place in life to trust Him fully and to be the best we can be. We can start today.