I debated about writing this for a while. One, because no one needs my words. Everything under the sun has been said already by people like me who probably don't have enough knowledge to be valuable, and two, because I struggle with the sin of pride. I have an unhealthy competitive nature, and I have written words too many times before where my main goal has not been God's glory but my own. We don't need another Karen running for most woke white lady. We don't need another white person talking. We don't need more white savior mentality. Full stop.
And I will--not maybe--say something dumb and uneducated at some point because I will be writing about situations I don't really and can never fully understand. I'm trying, and it would be unintentional and out of ignorance and not malice, but I am afraid of it regardless.
So what to do? I don't think, despite the aforementioned facts, that staying silent is the course of action anymore.
I have been in a season of reconsidering for a while now. Reconsidering my choices as a parent, a teacher, a friend, and a person of faith. In fact, I am currently reading a book called All Things Reconsidered: How Rethinking What We Know Helps Us Know What We Believe by Knox McCoy (a super dope podcaster/writer I follow and adore). Full disclosure, I don't even agree with him on some of his reconsiderations, and that is cool and normal and okay. But what I have loved about this book is how he lays out the three outcomes of reconsidering deeply held beliefs (whether that be something trivial like whether nuggets are better than strips or reconsidering something deeper like how you should vote in November):
- We can reconsider and end up more confident than before with what we believe. The questioning affirms and bolsters us.
- We can reconsider and get to the end of it and still have no clue, so we end up with a child-like wonder--an open-handed humility--where we don't know and may never know and there is peace in that too.
- We can reconsider something we have always believed or something we've been taught, and we can change our minds.
I love all three of those options, and all three of them are operating in some form in my life today. Questioning is good. Reflection is good. Anything else is stagnant and lukewarm.
But today I thought I would write about a recent reconsideration where I changed my mind.
I am reconsidering (confessing and repenting) that personalities/people can't change. I'm an introvert. I don't love meeting new people or being outside of my zone of comfort. I have a core group of people I interact with on a daily basis, and while they are definitely not all like me nor do they all think or believe the same as me, I haven't made a concerted effort to be a good neighbor/friend/advocate in some scenarios. And I have been much too comfortable patting myself on the back for the (few) good things I am doing.
I have placated myself that we all have different gifts and different lanes and different callings and mine just isn't seeking out new relationships. But I think that opinion needs to die.
I am NOT advocating for all of us to reach out to our one-two black friends/acquaintances and try to force inauthentic and self-serving relationships. No, just no. Don't do that. This is not their burden to bear in addition to everything else. This is not about us. This is not about me "blessing" another person with my super awesome, exclusive friendship that I've been withholding like a miser. No!
This is generally being a kind person and a good friend/neighbor in any situation that arises. This is putting myself in situations where listening to and learning from new people is a possibility. This is about building capacity within myself because the status quo--"this is just how I am"--is not going to cut it anymore. And that might mean stepping out of my predominately white/affluent neighborhood, place of work, church, etc. on occasion. To be completely transparent, I don't really know how to start with this, but I know it is a necessity.
In addition, to being physically present and open to new relationships and perspectives, I have also had to address my fear of confrontation and offending people (which is a privilege in and of itself). I would hope that no one would argue what a massive cesspool/dumpster fire social media can be, and until recently, I have operated under the guise that it is what it is and nothing will remedy it especially another righteously indignant clap backer.
Now you may be thinking a lack of confrontation might mean a peaceful and tranquil spirit, but nah mate. The internet tends to stoke my rage, which almost on contact, morphs into resentment...a passive sort of seething. Not gonna lie, I have been unfollowing people right and left this past week because my blood pressure just could not with all the white privilege and fragility in my feed (despite the fact that I know I've behaved poorly out of those mindsets at times in the past).
If you know me at all, you know that calling someone out even in a civilized and edifying sort of way, causes me to shake and break out into hives. Largely due to childhood woundings wherein I learned it was best to be pleasant and good and not make any waves. But lately, I have experienced some deliverance and healing in this area, and the side of my Enneagram 1 personality that wants to be viewed as good now is more in tune with and concerned for the greater good.
I am reconsidering my passivity, and that may upset some people. The problem is that we have been conditioned to be comfortable at any cost in a society that does not offer that option to all of its citizens. The fact that I can choose to clap back with only the fear that someone might unfollow me on social media is just ludicrous. If we can't wade into, even in the minutest way, the waters of discomfort for our brothers and sisters of color, then nothing will change. They don't need to be saved by me; I couldn't anyway. They don't need my defense or my words, but neither does my silence, apathy, indifference, or passivity help anyone.
I try to believe that generally when educated and given the chance to do/be better, people will. Truth presented in love can make change. I know it has in my own life. So instead of clicking that unfollow button, I am going to try to engage in a productive way.
So dear brothers and sisters who claim the name and grace of Jesus Christ but do not extend His grace, mercy, and justice that Christ literally embodied in His birth, teaching, death, and resurrection, imma probably have some words for you.
It is not enough to hold up a Bible in a staged photo-op especially when you don't live your life in any kinda way that models Jesus. That is actually counterintuitive and backward. It's also not enough to do a one-off Insta repost of some trendy social justice thing in an effort to fit in or check off a box to assuage your white guilt.
You cannot profess Christ and some of the racist junk I've seen on social media outta the same mouth. It's doublespeak and hypocrisy. You can't care more about windows and spray paint than the asphyxiation of an innocent man. You cannot be pro-life without being pro-black and brown lives. You cannot expect someone to believe in your loving God when you do not show love consistently.
Because love is patient. It is kind. It does not envy. It does not boast. It is not proud. It does NOT rejoice in injustice but rejoices in TRUTH. It endures. And no matter how much you think you know or how fancy you speak or write, unless it's in love than it's just discordant noise. 1 Corinthians 13...check it. :)
Christians, we cannot be complicit. Jesus wasn't.
He was zealous for justice. He crossed every cultural and racial and gender line. He served the marginalized. He was the O.G. stonecatcher, people. He stepped in front of the sinful. He drew a line in the dirt daring the haters to cross. He clapped back at the self-righteous. He still stands in the gap for us. He LOVES...always. His love endures forever, and it is not this weaponized-anglicized-self-serving gospel. No.
There are things that a perfect God detests, and to me, the Bible is pretty clear that neglecting the poor, the widow, the orphan, the marginalized, etc. is pretty darn high up on that list. So we need to be doers of the Word. We won't be perfect. I know I haven't been, and I know I will continue to stumble. But doing nothing, saying nothing is no longer an option. If you have that Holy Spirit power inside of you, then you have been called in a powerful, world-changing kinda way. The kind that brings His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. Amen?
Even after reconsideration and even in this janky world, I am still so dang convinced of God's sovereignty, love, grace, mercy, and justice. I see a good Creator when I look at the diversity and beauty all around us. And yes, there are still things I don't fully understand after questioning. Still areas in my heart where I have had to make space for real, open-handed faith. And I am still working to juxtapose the absolute truths I hold sacred with the things that will evolve with the things that I am repenting and rebuking completely from my heart and life.
There is room for improvement, and there is grace.
Great words Gretchen. No more silence. No more complacent nods. Let’s change the trajectory of this ship before it sinks – or if it’s sinking, let’s go down in a blaze of glory and rebuild stronger than ever. Bravo.
Thank you, Andrew! Amen!
Enjoyed this. I too have been on the path of reconsidering. Also trying to put more effort into being a student of the word. I know that we will all give an account for our time. I fear that for I will fall short. Allowing the past to hold me back is not sensible. So I am striving to be and grow to the person I am supposed to be. I would very much like to get to know you.
Thank you for your words.
Blessings to you.