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It’s 3am. I wake up, toss and turn, and think…how many friends of color are in my phone? I know immediately it’s not many. Tomorrow, I am going to call them. I am going to have some hard conversations. I am going to ask how they are, ask their perspective, and ask what I can do.
Tomorrow comes. I have so few numbers to call. I am ashamed. Deeply. I am scared to make the calls. To confess how few black people are in my life. To say the wrong thing. To be judged. To be taken the wrong way.
I would never harm anyone. I would never call the police on someone based on the color of their skin. I don’t make racial slurs. But, I don’t have black friends. This devastates me to my core. This is part of the problem. This is called conviction. This is called repentance.
I pray for courage and start dialing. Most don’t answer, and I have one single conversation. She is kind and gracious with me. We talk, laugh and cry. I listen and learn. We promise each other to have more conversations. I promise myself this will lead to change.
Be The Bridge – Racial Unity, how to create your own “Be The Bridge” group.
I don’t know how to begin with systemic racism. I can’t unpack all the challenging realities of peaceful protest ending in riots. I struggle with the intricate problem of police brutality. But I can make a new friend. I can reach out to an old one. I can turn an acquaintance into a relationship. This won’t be easy. This will take work and intentionality. But I can do better.
On a road trip recently, I watched a group of motorcyclists ride down the highway. From what I could tell they were all white. About 15 minutes later another group of motorcycles came by. This time, they were all African American, wearing matching shirts that read “black knights.” It is natural to lean in towards people like you. It’s so common that research indicates often even spouses resemble one another. This natural instinct is not bad. But listening and understanding people with different perspectives, experiences, and viewpoints, that’s not just good but wise.
I have to teach my children how to share. I have to teach my children how to play nice with others. I have to teach and demonstrate good character to them. Goodness is learned and practiced, but it isn’t natural. If I want my children to be raised in a better world than the one I am experiencing today, then it has to begin with me and within our home. Conviction can lead to change.
Moms are amazing. We belittle things like washing dishes and folding laundry. We minimize the impossible balance of workload and homelife. The daily routines can feel monotonous, but at the end of the day, we are raising people. And because of that fact alone, we have the power to make great change in this world. Let’s raise up a new generation.
I am aware that making new friends sounds like a pretty small way to solve a large problem. I welcome criticism or critique. But won’t friendships open more conversations? If we were all better friends, wouldn’t we all be nicer, less likely to tolerate injustice and more likely to see through a different color lens? I hope and believe so.
I am also aware that making new friends can be challenging particularly for the intentional purpose of diversifying the people you do life with. I know organic friendships with people that you have things in common with are beneficial. Developing relationships with people outside of your circle will not happen instantly and will possibly take stepping outside of your comfort zone. This could look like inviting an acquaintance for coffee, a walk or dinner. It may look like joining a different league, school or participating in a new networking group. It’s a journey and not a quick fix.
Having more conversations within your current circle is also a part of the process. In light of tragic deaths like Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd, my friends and I have started talking more about racial inequality and the current climate of our culture. Acknowledging that these are not isolated incidents but reflective of a foundation of racial discrimination has been good and healthy process but like most of us, I have a lot to learn. We have challenged each other, learned from one another and pushed each other towards growth. If this idea sounds foreign to you, start at home, start with someone safe and practice. Practice won’t make you perfect, but it will make you better. There is certainly more that can be done, but this is a place to start.
People disagree. This won’t stop. And if we allow it, this will continue to divide us instead of unite us. The Bible has always been my gauge for truth. Why? Because the opinion of man is subjective, but the opinion of God is objective.
The Bible Project – Justice (Short Video)
Throughout the Bible you can see a clear division of nationalities. On this side of heaven, there will most certainly continue to be contention and, unfortunately, division between cultures, color and creed. While God’s Word has never shied away from this observation, it has always been clear on the message: What’s on the inside matters much more than what is on the outside. As human beings, we do not have the power or authority to judge the heart. We are to guide our actions by His order to love thy neighbor, be peacemakers, and, in humility, count others as more significant than ourselves. I know only Jesus can perform this perfectly, and that is why we need Him so desperately. But I know, I can, and I am called to do better.
I am ready to make new friends and have more conversations. Are you?
You made the heavens and the earth. Grant us, Your servants, boldness to speak and act in truth. Stretch out Your hand to heal and Your Spirit to move. In the name of Your holy servant Jesus, we ask that more would believe, and in our collective belief, we would have the miraculous ability to be of one heart and one soul, sharing all that we have in common. The world is a blazing wildfire, but Your truth gives me faith and hope. I repent now for the way my lifestyle has not reflected Your truth. I am aware that, as You demonstrate, love requires action. For it is in Christ Jesus that we are all called children of God by faith alone. There is neither black nor white, neither oppressed or privileged, nor is there male or female, for we are all one in Christ. I know these verses in Galatians do not assert that You do not see color, nationality or race, but instead by our faith, we are One in Christ. Help me with my call to love. Help me with my call to action. For I know that You are making all things new.
In Christ’s name we pray, Amen
Live well friends,