Before I share my heart, I have a favor to ask. It will require your imagination a bit. I want you to imagine a sleuth of colossal, killer bears are tormenting your community. They’ve already viciously slaughtered several people and some poor helpless pets. They are leaving trails of devastating destruction in their murderous ferocious wake.
The community is terribly frightened and feels powerless against this looming and unusual threat. Children aren’t sleeping due to manic fear. Parents are worried sick.
Families, as a whole, are staying inside for fear of what is waiting outside. Food isn’t being delivered. Getting mail from mailboxes is a walk of faith. Everyone is scared beyond comprehension and no one has answers. No one knows what to do.
It’s a horrible, horrible time.
To make matters worse, the video footage reveals the bears travel miles at a time and have no regular patterns except to unabashedly kill anything in sight. Photos show the bears lurking, walking, and seeking their next victim…their next meal.
To make matters worse…
The evening news just reported several local bear enthusiasts are advocating for these animals.
They believe the bears should feel welcome in their communities. These enthusiasts leave food out for the bears to encourage them to come to eat.
How would you feel about that?
I actually have a bear problem…and I’m not the only one.
This has been my most difficult blog post to write…EVER.
It’s because I will be transparent like never before.
Really. I’m struggling with intensely anxious thoughts, unlike anything I’ve experienced in my entire life.
In years past, casting my burdens on the Lord has been rather easy for me. It’s a habit and a discipline I’ve cultivated over the years. Not so much these days. Feels like my life has been in a horror movie-type slow motion.
Everything is different. My mind is constantly “thinking”, pondering, and distressing. I know I’m operating outside faith and that bothers me. Nevertheless, it’s my current reality.
My heart even feels like a brick inside my chest. Just sitting beneath my skin – not beating, not fleshy…but like a lump of hard, cold stone.
I’m working on it…
When I feel the anxious thoughts, I do shift my atmosphere to prayer and often some form of praise and worship to calm my moaning, groaning spirit.
Today, as I type this, I’m listening to the Christian music group Selah. It’s helping so much. Just before, I prayed and spent some time in Psalms. It, too, helped …a little.
At any rate, I know if my emotional pattern persists as it has been, that worrisome feeling of fear will return again soon. That means I’ll need to repeat my ritual of prayer and exclusion all over again. I’m tired. I’m so incredibly tired.
Do you know what this is similar to?
It’s like when you cut or wound yourself at an awkward spot on your hand… like that webbed area between your thumb and index finger. Although you bandage the cut, the dumb bandage keeps falling off and you have to replace it again…and again.
That’s EXACTLY how I feel today. Sadly, no long term remedy seems to exist for me right now. I feel this painful season is simply something I must go through and somehow not let it go “through” me. It’s hard.
Let me tell you about my “bear?“
My community is dealing with an impending, hideous threat far more lethal than any bear in my analogy.
We have another type of torment altogether and it’s affecting me miserably.
You’ve seen the news stories.
It’s no secret Black men have been persecuted by law enforcement in the most heinous ways imaginable.
But, that’s not all. Everyday citizens, often referred to as “Karens”, have also become emboldened terrorists encroaching on the rights of other Americans who look just like me.
It’s a lot to process. It’s a lot to take in.
Now, as I write this, you know American communities are aburst with protests and violent outbreaks.
The people who have been ignored, abused, and have suppressed their frustration for so long are “crying out” for justice in the only ways they know how or feel empowered to do.
Besides, people who live an “ignored” existence, know passive protest won’t likely work.
Albeit their form of protest is dubious and counterproductive for the communities in which they live, it’s all still moderately understandable…at least to me.
NOTE: I wrote this before the devastating protests we all now know about.
It’s wrong AND it’s right.
I, in NO way, condone violence, theft, or vandalism, but the pain even I feel as a middle-aged black woman produces an ocean of fury and a fiery rage burning in my belly like volcanic lava.
Neither of which I can allow to remain in my heart… lest I become hateful, bitter, or even racist myself.
And the bears keep coming…and coming.
I’ve been able to manage the pain for a while. But, when I learned of the young jogger shot by the two men for doing what many white people and children had done, something inside me clicked. It snapped.
Yeah, it was some vital and precious”thing” splintering inside me moment by moment. Imagine the sound ice makes when it cracks in a glass, that’s what my spirit felt like.
After the video was released, I knew what would happen next and I even verbally predicted it to my friend. I told her “watch, they will find some disparaging video or photo of him next.”
It certainly happened. I’ve been here before.
Yep, unless God moves, I’m forever changed and not in a good way either.
For whatever reason, I have internalized this pain for the most part. I don’t share it with anyone – at least not the depth of the pain I’m struggling with.
Prayer has been a necessary constant. Silence has helped too, but I’m still wounded. I’m tired.
WHAT??? Another bear attack?
When I learned about the murder of the poor man pleading to breathe I was livid.
The basic right to inhale air was stripped from him like he was some worthless animal.
He asked several times for compassion. Instead of mercy, he received cold-blooded “murder by cop.”
It was an intentional murder. It was an execution. It was unfair.
Homicidal bears and my babies.
If you’ve read my blog for some time, you may remember my blog posts documenting the shenanigans of my little boy.
As a stay at home mom, I often wrote about my 3-year-old blaming Jesus for spilling his milk, hiding my debit card, wandering off in a department store with his big brother, and singing the Black-Eyed Pea song in a cute toddler accent. Back in those days, he gave me plenty to write about. It was so fun!
He’s bear prey now.
These days, that little, chubby-faced toddler singing “tonight’s gonna be a dood night” is now a 13-year-old Black teenager.
After the jogging incident, I had to have a talk with him about the dangers of society.
“Sweetie, some of the people we taught you to trust may hurt you because of how you look and who you are.“
“Why, mom?” He asked with such child-like innocence. I looked down at my cup of coffee.
“Because they hate Black people,” I gently replied.
“Why, mama? But, I don’t hate them? I don’t even know them.”
Fighting back scathing tears, I went on to explain how to interact with caucasian people and police officers.
I explained he must always be excessively cautious because they may view him as a threat – just because of his brown skin.
I further told him the very same policemen he idolized as a little kid, must now be handled with exceeding care because of the many racists hiding behind those badges.
He needed to know they will use those shields to justify hurting him or taking his life. I also told him if no one videoed it, they could lie about his actions.
He was visibly frightened.
It broke my heart, but, it was necessary.
The Evil “Bear” Talk….
This is a conversation most black parents have with their children. It has been referred to as “the talk” and is a very sad part of the African American experience.
“Your job is to come home” I went on to say. “Comply so you will come home,” I begged him. He understood.
The homicidal pack of bears still murdered that man.
Sadly, compliance doesn’t always ensure our boys and girls make it home.
The poor man dying under the policeman’s knee was complying…even as he was begging to breathe.
Frankly, who cares what the man did to warrant arrest. Whatever it was, he did NOT deserve to die in such a cruel, heartless way. No one does and no one should.
My nephew belongs to the same bear burrow.
I do have some dissidence in my heart because he is a member of the law enforcement community. I’m so proud of him. He’s so smart and so sweet. He’s a good person.
At the same time, I fear for his safety too.
I also fear for my grown, educated son who has made fantastic life decisions. Murderous bears don’t care and will try to hurt him because of how he looks.
I fear for my brothers – one of which is deaf. Murderous bears may think he is ignoring them and hurt him because of his race.
I’m fearful for all my nephews. They are young and common game for these blood-thirsty bears.
I fear for my cousins – old and young.
Lord knows I worry about my dear husband, my church members, our friends. I could go on and on.
Do you understand my worry? Do you get it yet? If not, stop reading. You don’t want to see it. Close your browser.
Remember, they are out there and we don’t know who they are until they strike.
Those blood-thirsty murderers are in the world and there are a lot of them.
Some people are “feeding” them (as in my bear enthusiast analogy) by defending the deadly bears. My association with those people has ended. We have no friendship. I’ve grown tired of trying to “educate” people like them.
I’m just plain tired. I have too much work to do on myself to worry about them. Some people just don’t want to know.
They shouldn’t have done it…watched it or been around it.
Sure, more facts are yet to be revealed in several cases. But, you can’t deny a pattern does exist in this country.
A model that dates back to Emmett Till.
A pattern of questionable accusations aimed directly at the victims of racist violence.
It’s always “their fault” either for how they look, how they dressed, or what someone imagined their intentions were.
I wish I had a guide book on handling this.
Christian Woman, I need God’s comfort and intervention.
Fighting bitterness is not an easy chore. Neither is battling the worry that comes with these current times.
I need Jesus so desperately right now. He’s the only One who can heal this hole in my heart.
Speaking to others doesn’t help me much. In fact, it may even make things worse. On a positive point, talking does serve to affirm one another’s anguish, but eventually, anger always follows.
Anger to act on our own behalf. That’s a dangerous prospect.
The anger is usually followed by reemerging suffering. Then then the anger resurfaces again.
It’s a painstaking emotional cycle. One I avoid right now.
Currently, I’m in trouble…big trouble but, I won’t stay here …in this dark place. I refused to.
Yes, every single time my husband or my sons are out of my sight, I struggle with worry.
The kind of worry you have when you are certain of approaching danger in your community – like the savage bears.
Why should I -or any wife or mother – have to live with this misery while the unjust bullies live in peace? No! It’s reprehensible. NOT ACCEPTABLE!
This is strenuous spiritual work.
I fast and pray about this time and time again throughout the day.
Even so, the heavy, ominous curtain of despondency still hangs in the distance.
I imagine this is what Black mothers have felt for generations every single time a loved one left the house.
I’m sure my great-grandmother felt this torment when my grandfather was young.
I’ll bet my grandmother did too as she navigated the harsh realities of the 1930s, ’40s, ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, etc.
As sad as it is, I know with complete certainty my mom, too, is very familiar with this dis-ease and suffering.
Now, how pitiful is it, generations later, I grapple with the very same heartache my predecessors did? How racism affects Black mothers is different from other moms. We shoulder the tasks of educating, supporting, protecting, providing, and more.
Although I smile, speak words of faith, and live my life, this poison that burns in my spirit has been robbing me of my joy and usurping me of my peace.
What scares me the most…
If I felt only fear, I think I’d be somehow more comfortable with that. But, I also feel this ferocious, infernal rage – like a ticking time bomb waiting to explode.
This feeling disturbs me because I don’t want to “explode” on an innocent person or at the wrong time. I must get rid of it!
To be clear, I’m not a violent person. I’m not talking about hurting anyone or anything like that. I’m speaking more about being irritable or responding with impatience or unkind words.
Hmm… maybe this inner pain is why some people sort of snap and “go off” on folks verbally.
You’ll think “Wow! Where did that come from?” Perhaps, they had compressed something inside for so long it all just burst. Nah, I can’t have that. This must go!
The elephant in the room.
I don’t pretend Christianity doesn’t have it’s history.
Some horrible Whites have, in the name of Christianity, lynched people who look like me and my family.
They pillaged, assaulted, and murdered children while self-identifying as Christians.
Let’s be clear. They were nothing more than demonic beings acting on hate and wickedness. They were NOT Christians.
Those people are still around and are the reason I must fight hatred and keep it from taking root in my heart.
Further, as you know, the most segregated day of the week is Sunday, the most common day of worship. Ugh.
Christianity has it’s issues. Jesus does not.
I can’t address it -I just can’t.
Historical contexts and present-day church issues – nope.
No capacity to deal with all that right now, so I won’t go any further.
Nonetheless, it is an elephant in the room of our country and in our faith. There’s no avoiding that.
One of the reasons my heart is safe from hating others.
No, the hatred will never take root.
Aside from the fact I won’t allow it, I also have to remember my “blessings.”
I literally must remind myself of people like my former pastor, Dr. George Westlake, a White preacher who helped me learn God’s word and grow toward righteousness.
I can’t forget Rachel and Joel who love justice just as much as I do in spite of the color of their skin. They love me too and I love them.
I have to remember Debbie who has been my friend for so long and would help me at a moment’s notice.
I think of Kody who I love so very dearly and has a burning heart for equity.
There’s Jennifer. She’s an outspoken spitfire who advocates daily and doesn’t have a racists bone in her body.
Oh yes, I am reminded of Kevin and Rebecca who love and served the Lord with deep-seated conviction and who have raised more Black children than I have. Without them, I’d never met my husband.
Oh man…Laura is my friend for life. We have enjoyed many years of friendship and will have many more.
I also remember Deborah who prompted me to pursue higher education, supported me in the hardest times of my life and I love her like a sister.
Yes ma’am. Remembering them cleanses my heart from bitterness. They remind me not everyone is like the wicked people we read about in the headlines.
Beyond flesh and blood…
The spiritually discerning people know something is happening and the enemy is at the heart of it. He is the author of confusion.
He will divide and bring pain in any way he can.
The question becomes: will we be dumb enough to let him do it? Will I be so stupid myself?
I say NO! It’s going to be a battle, but I’m a fighter and I say NO WAY! I will find my way back to love, trust, and hope.
What I think may help.
What is the answer? I don’t know, but I know what helps me manage my pain and fear. Let me share.
1. Realize that not all are the same.
The context of prejudice is the act of pre-judging a person, right?
If you are white, remember, all Black people are not the same. There is good and bad in all people.
Identically, if you are a Black person, remember the same is true.
Stop making statements like “white people” do this or that. It’s not fair to either side.
I know Caucasian people who are kinder and sweeter than anyone else in my world. I also know some White people who shield their racism behind smiles and privilege.
I can’t put these people all in the same group. It wouldn’t be right. I don’t want to do that.
2. White people need to speak up.
Many people don’t know or don’t want to know, but White people played a massive role in the Civil Rights Movement of the 50s and 60s.
White citizens risked and gave their lives to fight injusice too.
One woman, I hold dear in my heart. I honor her memory. Her name was Viola Fauver Liuzzo. Have you heard of her?
After viewing coverage of Bloody Sunday, she literally drove from Detroit, leaving her husband and five children, to help the movement in Selma, Alabama.
Think about that for moment.
She was one of the bravest women I ever learned about.
Her courage costed her life. She died so I could have the rights I enjoy today. for this reason, fifty-four years later, a Black woman in Missouri thanks God for her sacrifice and will never forget her. Look up her story.
Don’t you DARE say all White people are racists!
I’ll fight you for such a statement. You will never convince me all white people are bigots, but I do believe not all of them will speak out against racism.
As a result, it will slow the change. It will hinder improvement. Nevertheless, change will come.
As a person of the “majority”, your voice matters.
If you are a person of no color, please speak up when you see an injustice or hear prejudice.
It will make others in your social circle think and may even help shape the way they view the world and other people.
If the person saying it is a Christian, reinforce racism is ungodly. Challenge them. You will have more influence over that person than any news story or protest march in the streets.
Black people … US TOO!
My situation is the opposite. I often hear Black people say things like “they don’t care” speaking of White people.
I won’t tolerate it because I know some do care. I’ve mentioned a few in my own life. We cannot categorize the whole based on the actions of a segment.
My speaking up will make a difference and if I don’t it will also make ONE. All this to say: use your influence to speak out.
Little by little, we can change this world.
Don’t forget to check on your friends.
If you have a Black friend, trust me, they may not be okay right now. Reach out.
Tell them, you’re sorry they have to experience what is happening in the world. Do this only if you have a genuine friendship with them. If you don’t, your outreach could seem pithy and meaningless. So, in that case, just pray.
As I was writing this, I got a text from my friend Rachel. It lifted my spirits and got me through that day. It makes a difference.
I wish everyone had a friend like her. <3
3. Use your social media … for the good.
You know social media is an incredibly powerful tool. I’m often floored by how far-reaching it is. It connects us and even has the power to shape our moods from day today.
Once again, if you are a White person, speak out against what’s happening. It really does make a difference.
Believe it or not, it also provides some comfort to your Black and Brown friends. I know it does for me.
When my White friends post and say “This is HORRIBLE AND IS NOT RIGHT!” it helps me feel less alone in this world.
Censor yourself …watch what you say.
As a woman of color, I avoid adding to the vitriol that already exists on social media.
We all know it’s wrong – DEVESTATINGLY wrong, but we really have to use our words carefully.
Our words, too, are incredibly compelling.
As a result, we can’t post things that perpetuate pain, nor fuel more anger. It’s irresponsible to do so.
Social media is not your personal therapy session.
Protect those who are more vulnerable.
As you know, it’s hard to determine the state of a person’s mental health online.
Some people are emotionally frailer than others.
The words we post just could be the very thing that pushes someone over the edge and results in terrible actions.
Be careful what you say!
Remember Social media is a public forum.
Be strong and reserve your innermost feelings for a trusted confident IN REAL LIFE!!!
I really believe one of the reasons we see so much suicide these days is due – IN PART – to social media.
We are all angry. Everyone already knows. Be wise what you put out there and how much you say.
Ask yourself “Is this hope-filled?” Is it informative? Is it praise-worthy? “What is my goal?”
If your goal is “venting”, call a friend.
Forgiveness is important.
4. Forgive the wicked racists perpetrating these atrocities.
As you know forgiveness is not so much about the other person as it is about you.
When I see the image of the police officer with his hand in his pocket while murdering the man struggling to breathe, I fight strong feelings of hate.
When I see the video of the ignorant, awful woman and the dog, I fight feelings of loathing just like everyone else.
This can’t be.
I must release these emotions somehow.
These days, it feels like constant work to forgive.
Girl, upon every memory of these incidents, I must release it and forgive it again and again.
Frankly, I’m tired of this battle. I’m exhausted by this fight.
Yet, if I don’t do it, I’ll become an embittered, hate-filled woman. I can’t have that. I won’t.
The murderous bears are loose and we are all in danger.
Surely, “they” are out there and it’s going to take every one of us to eliminate their authority so the world may be safer for all people.
More of them will emerge.
Sure, more bears will wander from the dark forest from time to time. We can worry about them later.
We have to focus on destroying the ones in front of us now.
As a country, we’ve come so incredibly far in the context of racial relations. Without a doubt, we have so so far to go.
We all need to take a stand so we can get there…together.
No bear sympathizers allowed.
Will you be part of the solution?
Or will you plainly watch the bears terrorizing and just hide inside the comfort of your walls?
Will you protect them and support them in their reign of hate.
Will you become bitter, hard-hearted and full of hate as a result of all this?
Your response says a lot about who you are as a person and who you are as a Christian.
Think about it.
Hey, I’ll continue my work…on me. I mean it when I say I love you.