I’ve been mostly silent about Charleston, stunned and saddened and totally at a loss to understand the hatred directed toward someone whose skin color just happens to be a different shade. I’ve also been hesitant to speak or write for fear of saying something too stupid, too simple, too superficial. Of speaking without understanding. Of being misunderstood. Of minimizing the problem of racism. And I’ve been so overwhelmed with myself and my own little world and the whole big world, that I can’t hardly absorb or deal with one more thing.
It’s not that I don’t care.
I’m so tired.
I just can’t.
I don’t even know where to start.
And besides, others are way more eloquent.
So I’ve been still.
I find myself wondering why in the world God didn’t just stamp us all with the same crayon. I mean, He knew what issues this would cause. And I wonder why so many of us who are white spend so much time and money (and risk cancer) trying to brown-wash our outsides.
Maybe it’s more than color. Maybe it’s more about superiority and power and white skin that houses black hearts.
I’m also saddened and a little bewildered at what some see as easy and too-quick forgiveness. I think about those schoolgirls who were shot and how people were so awed and inspired over the forgiveness and grace extended by the Amish community.
But then, they don’t wear black skin. They don’t carry the same past, the same present, the same pain.
An NPR story quotes Jonas Beiler (husband of Anne of Aunt Annie’s Pretzels as saying, “Tragedy changes you. You can’t stay the same,” Beiler says. “Where that lands you don’t always know. But what I found out in my own experience if you bring what little pieces you have left to God, he somehow helps you make good out of it. And I see that happening in this school shooting as well. One just simple thing that the whole world got to see was this simple message of forgiveness.”
And then this: “Beiler says that because the Amish can express that forgiveness, and because they hold no grudges, they are better able to concentrate on the work of their own healing.”
Anger is part of the grief process, but Jesus commanded forgiveness. And He didn’t say to forgive after things were better. This is something I need to ponder in my own heart toward a certain person who has perpetrated great pain toward someone I love–and toward myself for how I may have enabled it.
Full healing will never come without it, without my continued inability (or refusal) to drop the knife of anger and guilt.
I also know I sometimes accomplish way more when I harness my anger.
But I digress.
The healing of the races will never happen until we drop our knives, our guns, our words, our attitudes, our fear. Maybe we’ll never be able to really move forward without forgiveness.
I bought a set of church dolls at a craft show last weekend… a little white girl, a little black girl, and a little multiracial boy all wrapped in a pocket of multicolored fish fabric. I’m hanging onto them for myself, a reminder that God created all the colors and has us all wrapped together in His hands.
God, take all our pieces and wrap them up into something good. Change our hearts. Help us to forgive, to pour out the grace you’ve so freely given. Help us to love one another. Help us to heal.
Begin with me.
“So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.” ~ Colossians 3:12-14 (Message)
In the stillness,