God took me to church in the middle of the allergist’s office. And I realized we need a new narrative. As a body and as brothers and sisters who are called to be united, we need a new normal.
It started with a misunderstanding with the nurse about my son’s health. After waiting two and a half months to be allowed back into the office so my son could get his shots, she was about to send us home again.
I thought to myself, “This is never going to end.”
This thought repeated itself as I tried to convince the nurse that my son didn’t have a fever. The problem was, the forehead thermometer said otherwise. For several minutes, I thought we would have to leave and reschedule.
But I protested. I asked the nurse to check it with another thermometer. I asked her to give him some water. And then, she figured it out: the cloth face mask. The mask was causing a high reading.
Instead of sending me out the door, the nurse heard me. She listened. But as I sat at home later, God spoke to my heart. In the moment when I felt like I had no voice and no one would listen to me, he was gave me a tiny glimpse. A miniscule one, at best, but a glimpse of what it feels like to be unheard. To feel as though no one will ever see or understand your burden.
Church, we need a new narrative.
I went home and cried because I know the few minutes I sat in a chair in a doctor’s office pleading with a nurse to hear me doesn’t compare to what my brothers and sisters of color feel. It doesn’t come close to seeing a brother or sister murdered on the street in broad daylight.
Over the past week, God has opened my eyes and ears. Instead of reacting, I’ve listened to stories. Not to ascertain facts or to lay blame, but to understand. And what I heard was pain. What I heard was anger and lament, but also a desire for compassion, empathy and understanding. I also heard fear. Fear for what the future held. Fear for their own lives and their children.
I’ve prayed for God to reveal his heart to me, to forgive times when I’ve been apathetic, and to use the events of the past weeks to stir action in the church.
Friends, this is not a political battle we’re fighting. It is a battle between the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of light. I am not here to condone more violence or to lump law enforcement into one category. I have many friends who are police officers, and who work tirelessly to protect and serve their communities.
What would happen if we laid our differences aside and took more time to listen to each other?
What if we saw our differences as an opportunity to learn and grow instead of seeing them as a threat?
Yesterday while scrolling through social media, I had to log off because my heart was so weighed down by what I saw. Just weeks ago, we were divided over COVID-19 protocols, face masks, and whether or not someone left their home. Now we’re divided over someone showing support for a brother or sister who doesn’t look like him or her. When will it end?
I found it no coincidence that the murder of George Floyd and subsequent uprising and conflict happened before the weekend of Pentecost. A time when we celebrate the arrival of the Holy Spirit. A time when scripture tells us men and women spoke in other tongues, not for their own benefit, but so others could hear and receive the gospel.
“When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken.”
Those who were different in race, ethnicity and spoken language could now receive the good news and join in one mission and one purpose. And many did. It was a beautiful moment in our church’s history that no one had experienced before.
Yet, a couple thousand years later, we’re fighting each other on every front. We’re bickering over someone protesting one cause instead of another or proclaiming one right instead of a different one we deem as more important.
I will be the first to say I am guilty. And I’m repenting of it right now.
Jesus’ final prayer before dying for each and every tongue, tribe and nation was for unity. He prayed for the church to be one as he and his Father were one.
I don’t think any of us have to look very far to see that we’re not one.
We’re divided by every topic under the sun. But I do believe the tide is turning, and God is using the hurt and the chaos to stir hearts. Each day, I see women and men coming together to have hard conversations, to join hands and to raise awareness about topics we’d often rather not talk about.
I want to be part of the solution. I want to listen and lament with my brothers and sisters, but I also want to go beyond hearing. How do we do that? By taking action when we see injustice. By speaking up when we see someone mistreated because of the way they look. We talk to our kids and our family about how to treat others who do not look like them.
I pray you will join me. This is not about the support of a political party, but about seeing the value of a human life. It’s about doing what we’re called to do as Christ-followers. Together, we can impact our church and our world.