for the angsty one

For the Angsty One

Somewhere between Philando Castile and the shooting of an unarmed therapist lying on the ground with his hands up, I grew angsty. I used the word “despair” when discussing the state of our country. I was frustrated and lost. I laid in bed at night unable to sleep. I started emailing friends my own stupid white people questions. I desperately wanted to know what to “do.”

In the past, I have followed the guidance given me by people of color. The marching orders go something like this:

Step One: Sit down and listen.
Step Two: Educate yourself, yourself.
Step Three: Diversify your social circles.
Step Four: Acknowledge your own implicit bias and talk to other white people about racism, systemic injustice, mass incarceration, redlining, etc.

I fear this paragraph coming off as self-congratulatory. I have not arrived, but I have taken these steps seriously. I listen and attempt to educate myself, myself. I have friends of color, I live in an all black neighborhood – I see racial injustice every day. I acknowledge my implicit bias and family members have blocked me on Facebook for saying #blacklivesmatter… and yet, it does not feel like enough. Because it’s not.

The reason it’s not enough is partly because it’s actually just not enough, and partly because it’s not about me.

As it turns out, my desire to “fix” it (fix racism? systemic injustice? hundreds of years of oppression?) is central to my own privilege. I unknowingly made the “fixing” about me, and – NEWSFLASH – it’s not about me. At all.

In case you’re not seeing it – because, you know, privilege – the privilege I’m referring to is exactly what makes me think I can fix things to begin with. I’ve experienced hardship, but overall my position in society  – social networks, education, access to financial capital – has allowed me to bring forth changes when and where I’ve desired them. That’s privilege.

I got over myself and started asking God what my actual role is. I have one.  So do you. We all have a role to play in dismantling racial injustice at a macro-level AND at a micro-level. (Isaiah 58 anyone?)

And I have repeatedly found myself face-to-face with Jeremiah 29:1 – 7.
 
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”

 

God tells the people to live their lives. “Do your thang! Build new houses and grow tomatoes and get some chickens! Get married and make more image bearers!  AND, seek the shalom of your city. Pray for your city and in it’s wholeness, you will find peace.

 

The Hebrew word for welfare is shalom. Shalom covers all aspects of peace and wholeness, manifested most clearly in times of persecution and trial. Lisa Sharon Harper, in her book The Very Good Gospel, says it like this;

 

“Shalom is the stuff of the Kingdom. It’s what the Kingdom of God looks like in context. It’s what citizenship in the Kingdom of God requires and what the Kingdom promises to those who choose God and God’s ways to peace.”

 

Practically speaking, what does this look like? This is where I get stuck. I’ve started and stopped writing this post several times. I want you to think me a credible source, but the truth is I don’t know. I’m still figuring out what it looks like for me – I sure as heck don’t know what it looks like for you.
But, us white church folk, we like formulas. Action steps. Meetings and checklists and committees and more meetings. But God says in Isaiah (58 again) he is sick of all our meetings. He says get out there and break chains.

 

I’m not a chain breaking expert; my God is. He is in the business of setting people free and for some crazy reason, his method is us. But here’s the thing – it’s messy. You’ll start and you’ll stop, jump on a bandwagon and fall off. You’ll make mistakes and say the wrong thing. You’ll make mistakes and say the wrong thing. Again. You’ll show up with answers and walk away with questions. Your heart will knit together with people you have but one thing in common – your humanity. And it will be the most glorious display of redemption and beauty you have ever experienced.

 

The list of injustices and wrongs to right is a mile long and we need not all be in the same lane. Maybe you heart bleeds for sex trafficking survivors or the homeless or addicted or mentally ill or the incarcerated or abandoned children or elderly or immigrants. They exist in your city. They do. And what you post about them on social media does not hold a candle to what you do or don’t do for them in your everyday life.

Are you pro-life? Great. What are you doing about that every day of the year that is not Election Day? Are you volunteering at a pregnancy crisis center? Are you resettling refugees? Are you a foster parent? Do you volunteer as a hospice worker? How are you not just being against abortion, but for the actual lives around you?

Do you know any public school teachers? Social workers? Principals? Judges? Who is the police commander overseeing your neighborhood? Who is your city council member? County commissioner? State representative? Do you know what they believe, how they conduct themselves, what their needs are?

For the Angsty One

I want a five step program, and I want to give one to you too. But that is not our God.

We muck all this up when oftentimes, I think it’s just really simple. Who around you is hurting? Who around you is oppressed? Who around you is being displaced? Who around you is dying in the streets? Who around you is neglected? Who around you is hungry? Who around you is homeless? Who around you is blind to injustice or oppression? Who around you is full of fear? Who around you is missing the fullness of Isaiah 58? Who around you is angsty and doesn’t know what to “do?” {raises hand}

Who?

Seek their welfare. Ask the Lord to break our chains. And together we will find peace.
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12 Comments

  1. Lindsey September 19, 2016

    I hear you. So much. Thanks for the encouragement to keep at it. Everyday.

    Reply
  2. Meghan September 19, 2016

    Thank you thank you thank you! Beautiful, true, righteous words.

    Reply
  3. Melanie Kaye Avila September 20, 2016

    Amen!!! I’m with you in it all…the privilege, the desire, not having answers but trying to be and do my darnest anyway.

    Reply
    • Lindsy Wallace October 10, 2016

      I know you are Mel! SO great to have you on this journey with me!

      Reply
  4. Jamie S. Harper September 24, 2016

    I really enjoyed this. These are things I know but have trouble finding ways to put them into practice.

    Reply
    • Lindsy Wallace October 10, 2016

      Thanks Jamie! I’m the least disciplined person on the planet so I hear you! Praying for us both to find practical ways to follow through!

      Reply
  5. Megan Zip Parker September 27, 2016

    I love heart. Where you said it’s part of our privilege that we think we can fix it…so convicting in the best way. Thank you for sharing your journey. I read Isaiah 58 and It’s just so much YES! :)

    Reply
    • Lindsy Wallace October 10, 2016

      Thank you for reading Megan! Isn’t Isaiah 58 the best?!

      Reply
  6. Lindsay Watkins October 26, 2016

    Ooo. Challenging, stuff, Lindsy. You’ve hit me squarely between the eyes. Glad you are honest and willing to be raw.

    Reply

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