“The proposed cure revealed to me that I had been oblivious to the disease.”Kathy Keller (The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller with Kathy Keller, page 175)
Kathy wrote this about the feminist movement in the seventies. Having grown up in a uniquely progressive household, she was unaware of the women who felt trapped, exploited, and devalued. As someone unaffected by the disease,the need for a cure came as a shock.
I read these words a couple weeks back, in the wake of the George Floyd murder and couldn’t help but think of my own heart towards race relations in this country. I knew that things weren’t perfect and there were “those people” with broken hearts and hateful words. I knew racism existed on a small scale and that words of malice can spew poison into the hearts of hurting people. Words can bring death, pain, and destruction. They can shroud our hearts and eyes with fear; causing us to see one who bears the image of God in a cruel light that was never intended for them. I knew that, but I didn’t realize the fabric of prejudice that still permeates our system. I didn’t grasp the uphill battle and the painful cure that shines a light on the oppressed and oppressors alike.
I still don’t grasp it, not fully. I’m a baby in this fight and my life has not been marked with the same disease. At least I haven’t felt its pain and acknowledged it, I am now though. I am listening, reading, thinking, growing, breaking….as I dissect the sickness in my own heart. The times I have turned a blind eye or deaf ear. The times I have saved face by choosing “peace-keeping” over the longer road of peace-making.
“For you were once darkness, but now you are light of the Lord. Walk as children of the light- for the fruit of the light results in all goodness, righteousness and truth- discerning what is pleasing to the Lord. Don’t participate in the fruitless works of darkness but instead expose them.”
Ephesians 5: 8-11
This disease analogy is fitting for my family right now. My father recently underwent his first round of chemotherapy. We received news last month that he was suffering from AML (Acute myeloid Leukemia) and that it was extremely aggresive. Almost as soon as this information came to light, my parents were on a plane to Seattle. They have been receiving tests, signing paperwork, undergoing procedures, signing paper work, praying, signing paper work, attempting to rest, signing…. you get the idea. This is a no joke, no holds-barred situation. The treatment is invasive, painful, humbling. There is no reason someone would undergo this level of physical and emotional discomfort without knowledge of the underlying disease. A painful cure does not make sense until we know what we are fighting for.
This week. This month, This year, has been a constant journey of confronting ugliness in my own heart and some of it has been really, really painful.
I’ve been examining the way my words and bottled temper affect my children. My tendency to stuff, stuff, stuff, and then explode.
I’ve been confronted with the knowledge that some of the most challenging traits in these kids are *gulp* directly from me.
I’ve been examining prejudice in my own heart; whether it is political, racial, or spiritual.
The struggles between working moms and stay-at-home moms. The noise of our bi-partisan society. Those in support of social distancing and those clamoring to get their lives back.
Have I been contributing to peace or sowing discord? Am I choosing temporary peace over advocating for justice and love? Am I speaking up for a pat on the back or because I really want to enter the ring? Can kindness sometimes mean disagreement? Does the cure mean I need to be comfortable opening up and feeling discomfort?
We speak the truth, in love, and expose the disease. These trails, these hardships have a way of showing us what we are really made of and the way we can be fit back together more beautiful then ever…if we let them change us. If we let God move into those questions and seek His heart for His people. We need to grapple with these questions with people who don’t look like us, think like us, vote like us, live like us. Moving forwards toward a goal of unity takes hard conversation, active listening, heaps of humility, and peaceful-powerful action.
“He has told you, O man, what is good and what it is the Lord requires of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God”Micah 6:8
I want to seek Justice, sow mercy, and walk humbly with my God. I need to let humility usher it’s way into my heart and change me, cause me to grow in love for all people. There is a lot of noise right now and, frankly, I’m confused and overwhelmed by it. I’m tired of feeling like I have to choose who to love. I can care about; immigrants or homeless veterans, women or pre-born children, immunocompromised people or hurting business, our friends and neighbors in the black community or the great cops who are seeking true justice.
I believe the cure starts in our own hearts, in our willingness to acknowledge the history and stories of those around us. In our love for humanity and the diverse beauty God created in it. The strokes of a heavenly paintbrush that give a richness and variety of colors, music, and culture. Cultures that work together to explore the creativity and soul of our designer. It is in seeking to earnestly understand the cries of broken, hurting people and pausing to hear their voices, seeking discernment that goes beyond political affiliation. Political lines may be blurred, but we answer to a higher authority. We answer to a God who came to set the captives free. It isn’t my place to tell anyone how to live or vote. That is personal and I am confused myself. It is fair, however, to ask that we all try to learn from this. Try to seek various opinions, read real stories, understand where the cry is coming from. Listen. Listen to our friends and neighbors, listen to those who differ from us.
I want to learn more Black History and not have it be lumped into one month on our calendar. Black History is American History and it is important for us all to understand that. I want to learn more about the culture and grow more fully in love for my neighbor and the Designer who created the beautiful variety. I want to see more authority figures and heroes of color on children’s television shows. I have always thought that was something that children in the black community needed and it didn’t really affect my children, but that is not true. My blue-eyed blonde babies need to see a more full display of God’s creation working together, they need to see people who don’t look like them as heroes and authorities. A black princess or baby doll are not only important for dark skinned beauties, my fair skinned children need to see their beauty and learn to care for them as well.
One thing my children have started doing, that makes my heart so happy, is playing doctor. They like to operate on mommy, which means I lay in bed and they rush around to care for me. #goals. Here is the thing I love; they take turns playing nurse and doctor. I have one boy and one girl and they rotate who comes in to take my temperature, fluff my pillow, listen to my heart beat, etc. They do their nurse routine and then tell me the doctor will be right in, and whoever is doctor that day walks in to care for me. Usually involving some kind of surgery and a hair cut, the scissors in the doctors kit are confusing to them so it becomes a medical spa day. I love that there is no concept that my two year old daughter isn’t just as likely to be the doctor as my four year old son.
When I was growing up, I didn’t understand the division of labor between doctors and nurses, it was my understanding that they shared the same job, but “nurse” was a girl word and “doctor” was a boy word. You know, like actor and actress. I had never seen a female doctor, or a male nurse, and concluded that it was a biological impossibility. Granted, this was around the same time that I thought all cats were girls and all dogs were boys. So I wasn’t particularly educated on the subject, but I love that my children get it. They have seen a healthy representation of women in authority, and that isn’t only important for my daughter to believe she is capable. It is important for my son to see that it isn’t a threat to his confidence to have a female boss. He needs to know that the world has room for many types of; doctors and nurses, lawyers and judges, officers and soldiers, business leaders, politicians, etc. It is important for my children to see these things as normal.
“And I pray this, that your love will grow in knowledge and every kind of discernment so that you can determine what truly matters and be pure and blameless in the day of Christ.”
Progress is personal and we need to grapple with the darkness in our own hearts. I want to acknowledge the suffering and not throw the baby out with the bathwater. I don’t want to throw the great officers down with the biased ones and I don’t want to miss out on justice because I don’t agree with the methods. The battle line has been drawn and I don’t want to choose. I want to walk the line, cover the needy in love and bridge the gap as I seek to understand the cries, moving forward in assurance of mutual humanity. I’m trying to sit in the junk of my own heart, and clear it out so I can teach my children that these lives not only matter, they are worthy.
There is power in being seen, there is healing in acknowledging pain, and showing up even if we don’t know how to fix it. I haven’t spoken much because I’m new to this fight, I’m terribly confused by the sides, and I believe a posture of listening is more necessary right now.
I don’t know how to fix it and, honestly, I’m not convinced it will be fully fixed this side of heaven but that is no reason to stop trying. We are charged to be the image of the unseen God to this world and fight His fight. We have a duty to defend and encourage. I’m not sure what it looks like exactly, to sit here in the middle and be a conduit, but I’m seeking the heart of our father. Please join me. Don’t let all the noise and confusion drown out the needs of broken people. Seek healing in your heart, in your family, in your own ways and listen. Listen to Christ, listen to His people and find a better way.
“Search me, Oh God,and know my heart. Try me and know my thoughts. See if there be any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.”Psalm 139: 23-24
Lord, these times are divided, I suppose they always have been. A light is exposing the secret things and we want to work towards the light of glory. To cleanse the secret acts and ignore them no longer. Father, it is painful to sit in this tension. Grieving lives lost to sickness, injustice, and riots. Black lives, police lives, elderly lives, protesters, rioters. It hurts to see this brokenness. It stings to see where I have contributed, but therein lies the cure. Show me where I can grow, Lord, where I can speak life. Show me the hands to hold and hearts to heal as we bring Heaven down. We want to bring Heaven into racial divide, into fear, into our conversations and daily lives. We want to bring your goodness here. We want to discern what really matters, LORD, and move forward in unity. Help us to grieve with a holy grief as we confront our own sickness and give us strength to fight it. I’m sitting in confusion, Father, but you are not. You are not surprised, you are not unaware. Help us to be your hands and your feet to our hurting brothers and sisters. Open our eyes to see and our ears to hear. Quiet the division and shine light on your image-bearers.