Far be it from me to tell someone how to react to anything. I am a red-headed firecracker on a path of destruction most days, then I remember in whose image I was made and try to reduce myself back to humbleness. I say that, to say this. I am not here to weigh in on the state of my country right now, because another empty voice shouting into the void does nothing. I will, though, implore anyone reading to understand one thing—not everyone processes grief and expresses themselves the same way.
It’s true. Sometimes it is difficult to understand or accept when someone isn’t as infuriated as you are—or so you believe because they are not raging around destroying everything. But please understand, some people are called upon to do the repair work, some are here to hold hands and offer warm embraces when it’s just too much, some are meant to soothe the souls in the aftermath—not light the world on fire.
Before shaming your friends for not screaming, ask them what they are doing. So, what am I doing? I am raising a daughter who sees all colors as unique and beautiful, created without mistake in the vision of God—even if you disagree with them. I work hard to ensure I support causes that lift people from poverty, and I work in the community to ensure the hungry are fed, the poor have housing, and more.
I do not want to toot my own horn because there is always more work to do. It is never done, and I can never do enough to be worthy enough to say it is. But I am saddened when I hear “you are part of the problem” because I don’t scream, rage, or light things on fire. I am a creator, not a destroyer. Many, like me, hear quiet voices, and it calls us to action. And there are more like me everywhere, so please, let those with soft voices use them because they often reach those who are afraid of the loudness of the world. They reach people who would otherwise hide in their safe, quiet corners and call them to action.
So, obviously, this blog post is a little different. My country is on fire, and it is scary for everyone. But beneath it all, I see hope. I see the quiet exchanges of love, the warm embraces of strangers of all colors, the pure heart of most people—and it is not violence or oppression.
I want to leave this post with a small story of an interaction I had with a man earlier this year. I’m not going to preach or rage, only offer that sliver of hope (I pray).
I was in a bookstore searching for a children’s Bible, which was surprisingly difficult. I passed a man browsing devotionals several times, apologizing profusely for each time I asked him to excuse me (the aisle was small). We stood there searching for at least ten minutes before he spoke up and said, “When did you become a believer?”
My back stiffened as I turned to face him. I was terrified of this man’s question. Anyone who knows me well knows the series of events that took me from someone who “believed in God” to someone who “knows God.” But boy, was it scary to try to tell a stranger.
He knew that, too. There he was, a tall African American man (maybe 18 inches taller than me), large and well built, wearing a black hoodie and jeans—and me, an average-sized, pale as snow, woman on a mission to find something, staring at him with fear. But he was also a wise man. He knew that fear, and he knew it had nothing at all to do with him and everything to do with sharing my story.
His eyes softened, and in them was the most kindness I had ever seen in my life—ever. And I could also see he was afraid, too. I think he was as scared to share his story as I was.
I almost melted right there, and for the first time, I told a complete stranger the story that dragged me through Hell before it deposited me right at the feet of hope. Then he told me his, which, even though I have not stated his name, I will still keep to myself because a confession of faith is something personal and meant to be told by the individual.
There was a moment of uncertainty, that moment when you know you have connected with someone on an indescribable level, but you can’t quite name it. We looked at each other, knowing how close we had both been to devastation, how close one of us was to leaving earth unfulfilled, and how—by chance alone—we found each other in a bookstore searching for the same thing.
It turns out, we weren’t searching for a Bible or a devotional. We were searching for peace, and for another person who could hear our struggle and absorb some of the pain for us.
I offered my hand, he offered his arm. Before I knew it, I was getting one of the best hugs of my life. It was cozy, wrapped up in that hoodie and massive arms!
Then my husband and daughter walked up just after we separated and finished talking. My daughter shyly hugged my leg and waved to him. He waved in return, then shook hands with my husband.
And that was it. We said our goodbyes with what we came for—connection.
During the madness, I urge you to find those who can connect with you where you are. Force never changed anyone for long, so let your quiet protesters do their work. It’s necessary.
What happened to George Floyd was an abomination, and I pray nightly for his family and friends. I pray for the broken hearts and the fearful, that they may find a way to bridge gaps between us all, to end hate, no matter our color because we cannot know another’s pain until we feel it with them.