When we read the news and see unjust murders and riots, we should be upset. Its right to mourn that this is the way things are in our nation. And when we see it repeatedly, its so easy to get apathetic. Its so easy to wonder if there will ever be change.
This year the serenity prayer has been etched in my mind more than ever before—to accept the things we cannot change and change the things we can. This year I have had a lot of pain in accepting some of the things that I cannot change in my life and the hard decisions that come along with that. At the same time, I believe God is opening my eyes to hope that we can change some things still.
Can you or I change the fact that there are racist people in this world? No. I doubt it. Maybe there will be windows of opportunity for conversations. Maybe there will be words you can write that open eyes in the light of tragedies like those we have seen.
And yet, there are things in our control. We control who we vote for. Even that at times makes me feel very apathetic because a vote tends to come with a huge platform of ideas. We may not always get a candidate or a party who seems to care about everyone that we care about.
But I am taking a huge leap of faith this year—because I honestly believe that there are so many more people in our country who would state that they honestly hate racism than the amount of people who are racist. Maybe I am wrong in that. But its my optimism coming through.
I don’t say this to minimize the fact that racism is very real. I say that coming from a place where it is one political issue that I don’t believe our nation has faced as seriously as we can. I would love to know that both political parties are committed to actual steps that show they are taking the lives lost from hate crimes seriously.
Is there anyone else out there who believes that we should be hearing stories in the media to know when injustice happens, to lament the injustices, to see that it is followed by justice, and then—this is where I feel that we need so much improvement—to hear what people are doing to change policies.
Let’s take this idea over to other areas—our institutions, our churches, and our communities. On a very real and personal level, I have seen girls that lived with me face racist attitudes. I don’t know about you—but if you hurt me, I will tend to overlook it. If you hurt someone I love, I will fight you as far as I can.
The hardest thing I have faced as a parent or parental figure is to have to tell someone I cared for that I have no clue what I can do about her situation. That essentially, I was powerless to change what she was going through.
And its true, there are situations that we cannot change and have to leave to the hands of God. We can’t resurrect people who have been murdered for their race. I pray for the families who were involved and for the effect all of this has on them as I cannot even begin to imagine the excruciating pain they are experiencing.
But wisdom comes in seeing what we can do.
We can listen. We can learn. We can speak. We can write.
Political leaders—if you want to stay in office—tell me what you are doing to change things. Don’t sit content with the status quo, shaking hands, smiling, and posting combative thoughts. Or happy thoughts. I want to see what you are doing.
Institutional leaders—if you want support—show me how you are changing things. Don’t be content that this is how things have worked for 200 years. Care enough about your people to keep moving forward. Make sure you are thinking about everyone in your care as you consider your policies and procedures and when you learn that there is a better way—acknowledge how you are changing things for the better.
Church leaders—I ask you the same question—do you care how the church you are a part of has impacted your community? Is there known racism in the past of your church and community? And if so—what are you doing to change things?
In the community I just left, we have a beautiful Community Christmas event every year. Its one of the highlights of my year as we join other denominations to celebrate the birth of Christ. I have looked forward to it every year I have been a part of that community. But looking closely, as lovely as it is, there has been something lacking. No black churches in the community are a part of this event.
I don’t mention this to cast blame on anyone. This event is a longstanding tradition. The sanctuary is packed out. I can understand that people may not have thought to invite anyone else to participate. Nonetheless, this year something has changed. This year, a new larger sanctuary has been built. And I can’t help but think that maybe it’s a God-ordained moment to invite some other churches to become a part of your Christmas Tradition.
Maybe it’s a moment to stand with solidarity as the body of Christ in this community. Maybe it’s a moment to make sure that the entire community of Christ is represented. And maybe it’s a moment for any church who would take issue in still being a part of such a service to study the Bible and ask themselves some long and hard questions about what they believe about race and image bearers of God.