Things Christians Probably Shouldn’t Say: All Lives Matter

{the DISCLAIMER I didn’t think was necessary: I am specifically referring to using “All Lives Matter” as a rebuttal and combative response to a movement -” Black Lives Matter”- that requires and deserves attention and action rather than a silencing, all-encompassing and hollow catchphrase. Shout out to @shannon_boothman for articulating it so well.}

I’d be a terrible current events reporter. The Black Lives Matter movement has been around since 2013, and people have been responding with “All Lives Matter” since the beginning. Why write about it now? Well, because people keep saying it.

I don’t feel qualified – theologically, culturally, or academically – to write this post, but, D.H. Lawrence said, “Be still when you have nothing to say; when genuine passion moves you, say what you’ve got to say, and say it hot.”

So here I am.

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First, a brief history lesson.

#BlackLivesMatter began in 2013 after Trayvon Martin’s murderer, George Zimmerman, was acquitted for his crime.

Alicia Garza, one of the founding women of the Black Lives Matter movement, describes it this way, “Black Lives Matter is a broad umbrella for social justice campaigns to eradicate poverty and unemployment, overhaul the public education and health care systems, reduce the prison population and end racial profiling.”

And, in case you’ve been living under a rock, Black Lives Matter has BLOWN UP.

In response to the Black Lives Matter movement, some white folks have responded with Well, All Lives Matter, and while this statement comes across as a unifying and honorable one, it’s actually quite the opposite. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

Second, some current events:*

Even when income and credit risk are equal, African-Americans are up to 34% more likely to receive higher‐rate and subprime loans with a prepayment penalty than are their similarly situated white counterparts.

While African-Americans constitute 13.1% of the nation’s population, they make up nearly 40% of the prison population.

African-Americans represent 12% of the total population of drug users, but 38% of those arrested for drug offenses, and 59% of those in state prison for a drug offense.

African-Americans serve virtually as much time in prison for a drug offense (58.7 months) as whites do for a violent offense (61.7 months).

in 2012, a black man was killed by a security officer every 28 hours.

These statistics, effectively say, “Black lives do not matter.”

Earlier this week the Ferguson Commission issued their final report stating; “What we are pointing out is that the data suggests, time and again, that our institutions and existing systems are not equal, and that this has racial repercussions,” the report continues. “Black people in the region feel those repercussions when it comes to law enforcement, the justice system, housing, health, education, and income.” (Emphasis mine.)

I could list statistics and facts and figures that outline the systemic racism in our country for. days. but instead, why don’t you go read The New Jim Crow and learn it for yourself?

If I weren’t a Jesus follower, and heck, even as one, it’s tempting to respond to “All Lives Matter”  with something like this…

Things Christians Probably SHouldn't Say: All Lives Matter

Or say, that’s just stupid, and move on.

But as a Christian, the fact that our country is based on the foundation that some lives matter more than others is not one I can just let go or forget about or pretend does not exist.

According to Paul, who wrote more of the New Testament than anyone else, we are to let our love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. We’re supposed to love one another with brotherly affection. (Romans 12:9-10) We can’t do that if we pretend the struggles and fears and experiences of our Brothers and Sisters do not exist.

What, on the surface, “All Lives Matter” attempts to communicate – that is, we all matter, we all have value, we are all of the same race, all human, all the same color on the inside – actually accomplishes the opposite. Instead of bringing ALL lives together, “All Lives Matter” is, in essence, attempting to erase the experience of the black community. In saying all lives matter, you are choosing to ignore the lives that are not being valued now.

Paul goes on to say we are to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep. Not argue with, not discredit, not silence, not ignore: rejoice and weep. In fact, Paul says these are the marks of a true Christian.

When any one member of the body of Christ suffers, we all suffer. As a whole, we’ve lost the art of weeping with others. We’ve become so uncomfortable with being uncomfortable, we don’t even know how to say, “I don’t get it, I’ve never lived it, but I will sit here with you and I will weep with you because you are my Family.” Maybe we’re unable to enter in, because we spend so much time avoiding pain and suffering, but as fellow heirs with Christ, that’s part of the deal. (Romans 8:17)

In Ephesians chapter 4, Paul speaks of the unity of the body of Christ.  “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Emphasis mine.)

Here’s the question rolling around in my head:

Is “All Lives Matter” a unifying statement?

Friends, unity is not everyone looking and acting the same, unity is pouring ourselves out for one another in Acts of Love. Unity is living like Jesus, loving like Jesus, and serving like Jesus – because unity is a product of Jesus’ work on the cross. There is unity to be found, on earth as it is in heaven, but it will not be found in erasing, ignoring, or demeaning the experiences of others.

We all came to the Good News the same way – regardless of our age, sex, color, economic status – our belonging in the family of God was blood-bought and we have a Kingdom-Ushering responsibility to do more than side-step the reality of our Brothers and Sisters because locking arms with them is too hard or too risky or too far outside our comfort zones.

Do all lives matter? Of course they do, but that reality is not playing out in our world. In the face of superficial unity, we need to let our love be genuine and hold fast to what is good. We need to declare Black Lives Matter.

How are you bearing with your Brothers and Sisters of color? Are you weeping with those who weep? [A simple first step may be to push back when you read or hear someone declare All Lives Matter.] 

*Stats can be found here and here.

This post contains affiliate links. Read what that means here.

Things Christians Probably Shouldn’t Say: All That Matters is That It’s Healthy

{I’ve had this guest writer in mind form the very beginning of the Things Christians Probably Shouldn’t Say series and am excited to finally share her words with you here. Enjoy!}

I’ve heard it dozens of times and said it myself at least that many:

“It doesn’t matter whether it’s a boy or girl. All that matters is that it’s healthy.

allthatmatters

It seems pleasant and benign – a harmless way to express good wishes for a new child and the family. But I think there are a couple of reasons why this phrase is something a Christian shouldn’t say.

First, it’s not true. As the mother of a six year-old with a history of epilepsy, who can’t talk or kiss, walk or wave, who uses a machine to sleep and a tube to eat, I’m here to tell you: health is not the only thing that matters. Neither is having all of your “faculties” or being “fully functional” – whatever that means.

Collin’s life is good. He is safe and loved. His days are filled with work, rest, and laughter. His capacity for joy is enviable. He reflects the image of God to me in a unique and poignant way. What matters about Collin is that he is Collin.

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And my life is good. Truly good. Not make-the-most-of-what-we-ended-up-with good. More like so-much-better-than-I-could-have-thought-to-ask-for good. It is rich and full of beauty because of Collin.

But listen: it’s still not what I would choose. Because it is dang hard. The goodness of our lives doesn’t come from the fact that we’re blessed with desirable circumstances; it comes from living in relationship with a God who can transform anything into goodness, anything into beauty.

The other reason the health of a baby isn’t all that matters is because God says so. In Zephaniah 3:19, He promises, “I will save the lame and gather the outcast, and I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth.” Implicit in this promise is a recognition that being “lame” and “outcast” is difficult and undesirable and also a tenderness toward those who endure it. Because a person is so much more than the health of her body, so much more than what he can or cannot do. Those with physical impairments matter to God. Those who don’t fit the norm matter to God. So much so that He promises not just to bring them up to the status quo one day, but to honor them before everyone.

Second, that statement comes from fear. It is a way to block ourselves from thinking about the worst possibilities. It is a hopeful assumption that all will be well. Which, in a way, is perfectly natural. Who doesn’t wish for the best for themselves and their child?

But what if something DOES go wrong?  What if, in counting the proverbial ten perfect fingers and toes, something doesn’t add up? What if an examination of your precious one brings worried looks to the doctor’s face? What if the uttering of a diagnosis causes your imagined experience of motherhood or fatherhood to fall away and leaves you stranded in a world no parent would choose?

These are not questions we should be afraid to ask. In fact, they are important because they allow us to see what we really believe about God. If you are coming from a place of fear concerning this child, why is that? And rather than being honest with God and yourself about that fear, are you creating a false security that hinges on a completely uncontrollable factor (the health of the baby)?

Virtually every “what if” that I was too scared to express came true with Collin. I can’t help but wish that I had spent much less time and energy tamping down my fears and assuring myself the everything was fine and much more time being honest and receiving the assurance that, no matter what, everything really would be fine.

So, the next time someone asks you your preferences for a coming baby, take heart. Take it as an opportunity to step out of the whirlwind of showers and registries and nursery planning and remember that all that matters about this child is that it’s yours. And all that matters about both of you is that you are His. Then you can answer with confidence that you will love this little one, no matter what.

annie

Annie is a Kentucky woman who writes, edits, and parents a spectacular six year old who also has a rare genetic condition and multiple disabilities. At This Rare Day, she writes about the richness and mess of living that unexpected life.

Things Christians Probably Shouldn’t Say: “You are such a good person for adopting.”

I’m delighted to have my friend McCall here at Light Breaks Forth today!  
McCall
See this smile?
It was fake.
Phony.
Not real.

 

It had been a bad day.

And this wasn’t the first one of its kind and probably won’t be the last.

Can we just be honest for a minute?
Can we peel back the layers and speak truth?

I hope so.

Let me just say that adoption is hard.
I knew it would be hard.

I never for one second doubted that it would be hard.

And it is.
The paperwork is overwhelming.
The fundraising is never-ending.
And the missing my girl?

It hurts every single day.

But those hardships I knew would come with this journey.

I was waiting for them from day one and longing for her long before we ever officially said yes to adoption.

However, one of the hardest parts of this whole thing is something I never expected or saw coming–

 

the isolation.

Maybe it’s just me—
I hear stories of other people who live in areas where adoption is so readily accepted.
Their churches and schools and neighborhoods
are sprinkled with families that
don’t look alike.
They speak the adoption language; words like ‘dossier’ and ‘homestudy’ and ‘cocooning’.

Their adoption support systems are readily built in to their everyday lives.

Unfortunately, that’s just not our situation.

 

I’ve debating writing this post.
In fact, I’ve started and stopped it about five times over the past few months.
There’s a certain weight that I feel comes with adoption in an area where international adoption is still a relatively foreign concept; I feel like I have to be careful so as not to scare people away.
I’d never, ever want someone to feel called to adopt and think something like,

‘Oh, but when McCall did it it was so hard for her. I don’t think I can do that.

On the flip side, I also struggle with being genuine and transparent.

Adoption IS hard, and I would also never want someone to have unrealistic expectations before committing to the process, and more importantly, the child that comes home once the process is all said and done.

So, why am I sharing this?
What made me bite the bullet?
The fact that I’m NOT alone in feeling this way.
I’ve talked to several adoptive mamas, some in our state and some not,

who also feel isolated during the process.

Please hear me when I say that no one has been ugly to us about adopting.

However, there have been several comments that make it very apparent how misinformed people are.

I feel like I’ve spent the better part of the past year and half on an island.

Some people ask questions and don’t like the answers I give them.

“Oh, so when will your daughter be home?”

 

“We have no idea.”

 

“Oh, so like this year?”

 

“We honestly don’t know, but probably not.”

 

“What? Why? Can’t you just go get her?”

 

Other people don’t acknowledge our adoption at all.

 
*insert awkward crickets here*

 

And then I think other people are just plain tired of talking about it.

They’re ready for me to be thinking about and talking about something else, especially when there’s no news to report.

But, the most isolating statement of all comes from the other Christians.
They’re trying to be supportive.
I honestly believe that,

but there are just some things Christians shouldn’t say.

For me, this is it:

You are such a good person for adopting. 

 

TCPSSadopting

For the record, I’m not a good person.

I’m just a sinner, saved by grace, trying my hardest to be obedient.
Do I try to be a good person?
Absolutely.
Do I fail every.single. day?

Yes, yes, and yes.

For me and my family, being obedient means adoption.
It means caring for one of God’s children.

It’s what we’re called to do, and we simply said YES.

The fact that what we’re called to do may be out of someone else’s comfort zone does IN NO WAY make us any better, nicer, sweeter, or any other adjective than any one else.

We’re all called to different things.
God calls some us to be pastors.
Others are missionaries.

Some are teachers, doctors, and stay-at-moms working hard to take care of their families.

I realize this statement commonly comes from a good place– people are recognizing that adoption is a Godly thing to do, are trying to be positive, and sometimes just don’t have anything else to say.

But, when adoption is hard and we get frustrated, just as every other parent on this planet tends to do from time to time, does that make us BAD?
Absolutely not.
But that statement?

It kinda implies that it does.

And the flip side to this statement?
It makes people believe they are NOT GOOD ENOUGH–
not good enough to be obedient, not good enough to say yes,
 not good enough to follow GOD’S CALL to take care of HIS CHILDREN.

It makes people who are willing to adopt say NO because it leads them to believe they ARE NOT ENOUGH, which is so untrue.

We are ALL ENOUGH to be obedient to whatever God calls us to do.

We are ALL ENOUGH to say YES to Him and to His word.

So please, for the love, enough with this statement.

Adoptive parents aren’t super heroes.
We don’t wear capes and fight crime in dark alleys.
We aren’t any better than anyone else.
We don’t live in perfect Christian bubbles.
We’re simply people who said yes.
We’re just people who chose to be obedient and follow Jesus.
And I pray that you say yes to whatever God is calling you to do today, tomorrow, or any day in the future, no matter how out of your comfort zone it may be.

///\\\

fix8edited2

 

McCall is a wife to one and mother to three (one of whom is still waiting to come home from the DRC).
She’s passionate about orphan care, empowering women, and saying yes to whatever Jesus is calling her to do.
She lives in small town Mississippi, spends way too much time watching ‘Parenthood’ re-runs, and would always rather be in Africa.
Sometimes she tries to be funny, but mostly she just loves Jesus.

Things Christians Probably Shouldn’t Say: “I’m/We’re/My kids are colorblind.”

I truly hope this short series on race has only begun or contributed to the conversations that will continue in your homes and communities and churches forever and ever amen. If you’re just joining us, you can read the first three posts (including two thought-provoking interviews) here and here and here.

As I said in the opening postI know very-little-to-nothing about race. Being the adoptive parent of children of color does not make me an expert. In fact, it provokes far more questions than I have answers for.

Before diving into this conversation, there was one thing I did know: the remark that “I’m/We’re/My kids are colorblind.” never set well with me. Now I know why.

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Before I share what I’ve learned these last few months, let me first say, this post is for all of us.

Unless you grew up on an island where all people are treated equally and live together in perfect harmony without judgement of sex or color or education or physical beauty or anything else, then this is for you.  (If you did grow up on such an island, please let me know, I’d like to visit.)

My focus is on God’s Word because I believe that’s where it should be, but logically, if you are colorblind how can you celebrate other cultures? Or for that matter, your own culture?

If you don’t see color, race or ethnicity, how can you delight in ways unfamiliar to you? How can you revel in the unique creativity with which we were all made? How can you enjoy the rich heritage of a foreign land if you don’t see it?

What I’m arguing is, you do see it, and when you say you don’t see color, what you really mean is, “I’m not racist.”

Not being racist is a good place to start, but it’s not where God wants us to stay. Our sin tells us to hang out with people like us, our Savior says pursue all nations for the glory of God. (Paraphrase from Mr. Curtis Woods.)

Friends, this idea that we are colorblind is not biblical because God LOVES color.

This is important: if God loves color, we cannot pretend it doesn’t exist. Our Bibles and our cultural reality are screaming this. Jesus has been modeling it from the moment he met the woman at the well. (The first cross-cultural evangelical encounter from Acts 1) The movement from Judea to Samaria demanded the early Christians cross longstanding ethnic, religious, and cultural boundaries. And we must follow.

We have the ability and the authority to change culture, to cross those same longstanding ethnic, religious, and cultural boundaries. I’m not suggesting it will be easy. It most certainly will not be. 

But, as my friend TC said yesterday, we have a responsibility as Christians to be changers and influencers. To live in the freedom of the Third Race given to us as the body of Jesus.

“The bible does not begin with the creation of a special race of people. When the first human is introduced into the story he is simply called adam, which means ‘humankind.’ …Adam and Eve are not Hebrews or Egyptians or Canaanites. It is incorrect for the White Church to view them as White or for the Black Church to view them as Black. Their ‘race’ is not identifiable. They became the mother and father of all people.” – J. Daniel Hays, From Every People and Nation: A Biblical Theology of Race

In Revelation 5, the Elders declared to Jesus the Lamb, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” (Emphasis mine.)

This conversation is holy ground. Let’s take off our shoes, shed our pride, and enter it as Learners. Wiling to be wrong, willing to be challenged, willing to forgive and seek forgiveness. The blood of Jesus has already crossed the chasm that exists between us. Crossing it ourselves is necessary if the church of Jesus Christ on Earth is to ever look like it does in Heaven.

{ Resources for the Road }

A Beautiful Design sermon series form the Village Church. Sermons 1 & 2 are particularly helpful in unpacking the imago dei.

From Every People and Nation: A Biblical Theology of Race from J. Daniel Hays

Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria: And Other Conversations About Race from Beverly Tatum

The Souls of Black Folk from W.E.B. Du Bois

Revelation 5

Revelation 9

Things Christians Probably Shouldn’t Say: “God’s Timing is Perfect”

lindsyfile

Today’s post comes from my soon-to-be friend Carrie. Carrie and I are in the same adoption world and she shared her thoughts on Facebook yesterday about my post on God’s timing.

When I first read her comment I thought, “Amen, I agree with that! Wait, did I say something contradicting to that, because, I agree with it?” So I messaged Carrie and asked her if she would be willing to share a bit more here. I LOVE what she shares AND how the Lord is working out things in her that are similar to what He’s working out in me yet it’s unique and personal to each of us. 

 

I’m excited to say Carrie and I are going to be partnering together on a series entitled “Things Christians Probably Shouldn’t Say”! Stay tuned for more.

 

I know you’re going to appreciate her words.
Every major area of my life has seen major blows…finance, kids, health, relationships, faith…it’s been a wild ride for the last 8ish years. God has been working out lots of things. One of them is the Christian “answers” we give to people who are looking into the face of suffering.

 

Things like “God has a perfect plan”, “God’s timing is perfect”, “just focus on your blessings and give thanks.”, etc.

 

It’s isn’t that these things in and of themselves are false. Of course God’s timing is perfect. He is perfect so there can’t be any flaw in Him. But that isn’t what we mean when we say that. What we are trying to say (most of the time) is that “it’s all gonna work out just right.”

 

It’s supposed to help us not worry or not feel so bad or not focus on our suffering, like God is some genie in a bottle who will pop out and make everything better right in the nick of time.

 

That just isn’t who God is and it isn’t what the Bible promises us.

 

The Bible promises us suffering. It tells us this world is not our home…we are sojourners in a fallen and broken world. He is always WITH us. So in that way, yes, He always shows up just in time, because He is always there. We have 24/7 access to Him.

 

He met the woman at the well just where she was…at the well at noon, but this isn’t an example of Him making everything better for her just in time. It’s an example of how He comes to us. How He meets every spiritual need we have.

 

So, sometimes that house sells right on time, but sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes that bag of groceries shows at our door or that check comes in the mail and is just the amount we need and sometimes it doesn’t.

 

Does that mean sometimes God’s timing is perfect for some and not for others??? That can’t be true.

 

I think what is really happening when that house sells, those groceries show up or that check comes in the mail, is Him showering or lavishing His amazing grace on us. He is doing more than He promised us.

 

But what we can also count on that the rest of the world can’t, is in our fallen world, in our brokenness, in our suffering, He is going to DO something with that.

 

He is going to redeem it and use it for our eternal good and His glory. THAT is what makes Him so amazing. The unbeliever has no hope for that. The best they have is experiencing the aftershocks of His grace to us here. He doesn’t leave the believer alone in their suffering…to sit in it and waste away with no hope. He is WITH us and will mold us and change us into something more complete (James 1).

 

He loves us so much He will not waste one single moment of suffering.

 

Our children won’t come home from the DRC one day and we’ll say “geez, that was perfect timing.” We are so past perfect here on earth…it went out with the garden. We live in broken. We live in fallen. God is perfect and God is love and in His love, He works all that not perfect timing and not perfect plan for our eternal good and for His glory.

 

He has a plan and we can’t mess it up (praise Jesus), but His plan is now worked out in our fallen, broken world making us long all the more for heaven.

 

I dare not look in the eyes of my adopted child or to the woman in the heart of Africa who has lost so much and say, “God’s plan and timing for your life was just perfect.”

 

No, I will look at them and say, “God will use this. He will redeem this. He loves you so much that He will come to you just where you are and crown you in glory when you get to Him. He suffers here with you. He knows sorrow and intercedes for your soul! He will make all of this have so much meaning…He will DO something will all this pain and brokenness.”
Carrie
Carrie is a follower of Jesus working out her faith one day at a time with much fear and trembling. She’s a mother of five – three biological (two at home, one living with the Savior of the world) and two adopted from Congo. (one still living in Congo) Carrie’s been married to her childhood best friend for 13 years. She’s a self-identified homeschooling, artist, farmer-wanna-be.

 

followership-31-days
Things Christians Probably Shouldn’t Say: Part One is the twenty-third in a thirty-one day study on followership. View the rest of the study here.