Read, pray, love… and listen: Finding our way to justice for all and anti-racism

Pictured are the young hands of neighbourhood friends of my granddaughter Leah and her little bro, Emerson. This joyful photo was taken in their backyard by their mom, Katrina. I love this photo and think of it as the next generation reaching high for a bright and hopeful future filled with peace, understanding and brotherly/sisterly love.

To be dragged kicking and screaming out of our comfort zones, or to stay right where we are—in our little boxes with the lids on? That is the question.

I’ve been so stumped with this one. A couple of weeks ago I was brought to tears when I asked God a question and I felt His immediate response, “Write something.” But I was at a complete loss for words and somewhat conflicted and disturbed.

So, I prayed, I read, I watched, I listened.

Feeling totally inadequate and completely out of my league—I know there’s a lot of work ahead and a lesson in store for me. And even though I still lack clarity, I reply to God, “I’m ready”.

So, I continue with another question: Do you find things happen, big things that are meant to change us happen, but time passes and we just kind of carry on with our lives the way they were? I feel like we are so moved at first, but are easily distracted with everything else happening in the world, that we don’t stay focused on that one thing long enough to be changed, deeply changed.

Here’s an example: For days I cried, I burst into tears every time I saw, and thought of, the images of a man kneeling on another man’s throat. Just typing that makes me brim with unbelief and sorrow. A strapping, 46 year-old Black man uttering repeatedly, what would be his last words, “I can’t breathe,” and then calling for his deceased mom, has the life senselessly squeezed out of him, right before our eyes. How does that even happen? And, does it change us?

I want it to change me. I really do! I want that image, as terribly uncomfortable and painful as it is, to stay in my mind for a really long time, so I might grieve with George Floyd’s family and friends and get really mad about social injustice, and racism. And I somehow want to make a difference. But, not only do I not have a clue about what I can do, I’m afraid it’s really easy for someone like me, to quickly resume a privileged life and stay the same—not change—not grow—not gain understanding.

So, I pray, I read, I watch, I listen.

When Jesus was asked what the most important commandment was, He replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Matt 22:37-40

So basically, it all comes down to this: LOVE GOD AND LOVE PEOPLE!

I am quick to say, “I’m not racist!” But the Black Lives Matter movement has got me asking God to search my heart and show me my narrow mindedness, my biases, and my lack of love and understanding towards other people.

So I’m praying, reading, watching and listening.

I personally think difference is a good thing. I assume most of us do. They say variety is the spice of life, and it makes me think of how big and creative our Creator is. It’s amazing to me (and sometimes hard to believe) that we are made in His image—His brilliant, unique, diverse, colourful, glorious image. But until we honour God’s image in each other, we will never come close to loving Him, one another, and even ourselves for that matter, the way we are meant to. 

His image in us, means every human being, of every race, age, gender, social class, culture and religion—from conception to death—deserves the same respect, dignity, honour and protection. That, indeed, is what God intended. And until human hearts change, I’m afraid nothing will change.

Twelve year old actor, Lonnie Chavis, from the TV show, This Is Us, recently wrote a compelling letter to his mother that went viral. The letter was about growing up in America as a Black boy and struggling to find words to convey his feelings about the death of George Floyd. He concluded his very moving message with this: “Policies need to change, laws need to change, the police need to change, Hollywood needs to change, hearts need to change, America needs to change.”

Chavis is an anti-bullying advocate and started the “Fix Your Heart” campaign. In an online interview, he says, “I hope it evokes change and ultimately I’d like people to see past my skin colour just long enough to see my heart.” In a video on his Instagram account, he says he doesn’t have the answers to end racism but believes change is coming, but doesn’t know what that looks like. “Educating yourself is first and important because people can’t do what they don’t know how to do… I’m very hopeful that tomorrow can be better for us than today. Change begins with you. Fix your heart.”

Nothing can significantly change until hearts change. For a long time now, that’s been my own prayer campaign (regarding everything that offends and hurts God). I believe hearts will change when they are surrendered to the One who made them. The One who designed them to love with a deep selfless love… a brotherly, sisterly, familial kind of love. The kind of love that lays itself down for a friend—even a stranger. A radical love—merciful, inclusive, tender!

It will take the power of love, a love so high and so wide, that comes from the Creator of the Earth and sky, to eradicate hate, injustice, ignorance and indifference. We have a perfect example of this kind of love in Jesus.

And I pray, “Lord start with me. Fix my heart.” And I read, I watch, I listen.

This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. (1 John 3:11)

I’ve appreciated Emmanuel Echo’s YouTube video series called, Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man. I highly recommend you check it out. Click here is the first one. Click here to find them all. Instagram

I also recommend my son, Nathan’s recent and compelling blog post : Black Lives Matter: My guide through this tension and division

Click on this link to read Lonnie Chavis’ powerful letter to his mom: “My life matters, but does it?”

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. (John 13:34)

Do everything in love. (1 Corinthians 16:14)

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)

Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:18)

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