“A gentle answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1
“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” James 1:19
Since last week’s post, we have come to learn about the tragic deaths of George Floyd. Amid the growing issues of tremendous gravity and delicacy surrounding his death, people are hurting and in need of even more support and compassion than ever before. Indeed, we are all still processing the shock of living through a global pandemic, and nerves are already so raw… I’m heartbroken that this issue will now compound the confusion, frustration, anger, and suffering that so many of us have been feeling over the past few months.
As I shared last week, I’ve started a daily practice of journaling with intention, prompted by some great resources I’ve found. This practice has offered me a renewed perspective and provided great insight into what is really going through my mind and how dark these thoughts can become if left unchecked.
And, man… it couldn’t have come at a better time.
I make it a practice not to watch the news and I rarely go on social media except to post for my businesses or my blog so when I started to hear about what was going on in the U.S. I was understandably stunned and concerned. And… I have to be honest… it was not my first instinct to go online and find out what the media was saying or what people were posting.
My first instinct was to speak to God.
I realize there is a lot of pressure (particularly on social media) for individuals to take a stand on this issue but before we make a decision to do that, I believe it is critical for us to pause and check in with ourselves (God) first and determine why we want to respond and how we choose to do it. While I completely agree that we must practice empathy in our effort to support those who are hurting and oppressed, my concern is also for the people who are being pressured into declaring their alliance to a cause before they have first checked their own hearts.
It was for this reason that my instinct was to speak to God, first.
I needed to check my heart.
The truth is, I have no idea what it is like to be a Black person in America and I find that very humbling. I truly wish I could relate in a way that might be meaningful or helpful to my Black friends but I honestly don’t trust that I could ever fully understand unless I was able to walk in their shoes.
Because of this, I find this issue difficult to respond to, for fear of being or ill-informed or unwittingly offensive, which is why I needed to ask God for His guidance.
What He put on my heart was to turn to some of my trusted resources to get a faith-based perspective on the situation.
That is how I found “A Gentle Answer: Our Secret Weapon in an Age of Us Against Them”, a book by Scott Sauls which, miraculously was just released this week.
I’ve only just started the book but I’m so grateful to be taking the time to study this amazing resource. It is helping to remind me, once again, that we need to leave space for the wisdom of God to reveal itself before reacting emotionally to what our minds (or others) seem to be urging us to do.
In a recent twitter post, Sauls suggests that “rushing to the internet to vent “righteous” indignation on realities and issues that have cost us nothing, personally” means very little unless you are actually prepared to get your hands dirty and sacrifice something. This is a hard truth to rumble with and a very sobering perspective for those of us it may apply to.
So, in light of this reality, what, if anything can we do?
In another post, Sauls offers the following options available to us if we take the time to step back and consider them:
Persuading vs Shaming
Listening vs Opining (to hold and state one’s opinion)
Courage vs Safety (staying in our comfort zone)
Truth vs Popularity
Jesus vs Partisanship
Humility vs Assertiveness
Serving vs Winning
Live Conversations vs Online Mobs
Costly Justice vs Cozy Suburban “Wokeness”
Kindness vs Outrage
Forgive vs Resent
Love vs Hate
These statements certainly gave me pause and I hope they do the same for you. I know they are not the whole answer but they are certainly worth taking to heart before we decide to speak out on any sensitive issue, either publicly or privately.
Another thing to consider is the mental health of those in the Black community and ourselves as we navigate this overwhelming time. If you have Black friends, they may be exhausted by the postings and other information they have to absorb on a daily basis, some of it very graphic. In this post, Donna Alexander, a Black social worker in Toronto provides the following tips on how people can raise awareness without adding to their trauma:
- Use words and comments online instead of reposting images
- Reach out and talk with people through Zoom, WhatsApp and FaceTime
- Use art, poetry, and music to express Black stories.
Alexander adds that “It’s beneficial sometimes to sit in anger, pain, and sadness because it will pass and we need to increase our tolerance of these feelings. We also need to know when we’ve had enough, when we need to disconnect, increase our self-care, and do more for our stress management. We need to know how our body holds stress and figure out what we’re going to do to self soothe and take care of our mental and spiritual self.”
I believe this is excellent advice.
As always, I value your feedback and encourage you to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your thoughts.
I wish you peace in your hearts and a renewed mind.
Until next week…