“Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.’” -Matthew 22:37-39
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” -Galatians 6:2
The summer of 2016 was a tough one for me. My husband’s union was on strike. My mother had a major surgery that would require at least 10 months of recovery time, and I had just begun a new job so I had to keep it together and produce at top levels. These personal challenges were also up against a backdrop of continuing violence against Black men and women across the country. The murder of Philando Castile was particularly painful and traumatic for me - and it was all captured on video.
Philando was murdered during a traffic stop while in the car with his girlfriend. In fact, she filmed it and watched helplessly as he bled to death in front of her. Of all of the violence that took place that summer, this murder, this couple, broke my heart.
Philando worked for the public schools in his neighborhood, as I did. He wore dreadlocks, as I do and many of my family members do as well. He was driving around with his girlfriend as my husband and I do. He was Black, as I am and much of my family is. This could have been one of my cousins or uncles or nephews. This could have been me and my husband. Yes, his murder absolutely broke my heart, and I carried that burden with me to church.
And if I can be completely honest here, although at Liquid we collectively focused our attention on the sin of racism and the church for two short weeks, afterward all went back to normal for most. But there I sat still carrying the sadness and the burden that racism burns into my everyday life, without my church to walk alongside me, without the understanding and compassion that I needed to help heal the trauma that lives within me.
Flash forward to 2020. This new decade brought disruption, and the murder of George Floyd woke up the nation and the church. And as horrible as it all was, there was a stark difference for me this time. This time I had my church family to grieve with. This time I did not have to explain who he was and why it mattered. This time I could hear from the stage that I was not alone and that the church that I loved saw me and my pain. I cannot express how much healing that has introduced into my heart.
So, as the racial injustice in our nation bubbled to the top once again, I chose to learn more about the roots of racism within the country and the church. I embarked on this journey so that I would be better equipped to answer the many questions that were coming my way and so that I could reconcile my feelings. Feeling and experiencing racism is much different from understanding it.
I spent much of the summer and fall of 2020 reading and watching as much material about the topic as possible. I cried a lot. I prayed a lot. I grieved and I mourned but mostly I walked away knowing that by equipping myself and then sharing this information with others, I am doing my part to love my brothers and sisters in Christ well.
Can I challenge you to do the same? To read, to watch, and to listen to gain a better understanding of the issue of racial injustice? I have learned over the years that one of the best ways to love people well is to try to get a very real understanding of what they are going through. I have found that in having a good foundation for what they are facing, I am much more useful when they are in need of a safe place to lay down their burdens. I don’t risk re-injuring them by having to ask them to give me all of the basics. People deserve to be able to share their truth without having to teach at the same time. I have made this effort in several areas including addiction, fostering children, and child loss.
As a person who desires to be the hands and feet of Jesus, I have asked in prayer for God to break my heart for the things that break His. I want to love my brothers and sisters in Christ well. The sin of racism is deep rooted but often overlooked or even denied by those that don’t experience it. I can attest that racism is very real.
As the body of Christ we are asked to carry each other's burdens. I invite you to learn more about the burdens that your brothers and sisters of color face. I invite you to set aside what you think you know and allow your heart to be present in all that you read. I invite you to love your brothers and sisters well by educating yourself. If we are all aware then perhaps we can move forward with more understanding and unity. Perhaps, next time, no one will feel alone in their burden as I once did.
Please visit our Racial Reconciliation Resources webpage and take your next step by educating yourself on the topic of racial justice and reconciliation. We have compiled recommended resources - messages, books, and videos - representing a diversity of voices. We encourage you to dive deeper on these issues and to join us in our reconciliation journey.