“Will you tickle my back, mama?”
I heard her whisper from halfway down the stairs as I sat scrolling Facebook on my phone. She had been in bed for 30 minutes already, but on this night she was needing that extra touch only mom can give.
“Okay hon, I’ll be up as soon as I finish this,” I said softly, hoping none of the other kids would hear. I had just come across a news article shared by a friend: One dead and 19 injured as car strikes crowds along route of white nationalist rally in Charlottesville; two police die in helicopter crash. In just the few hours it took to eat dinner and put the kids to bed, I had missed important news.
The more I read, the more my heart broke. Just yesterday, before the torch-bearing hate march began at the University of Virginia, I shared a blog about the need for racial reconciliation in the Church, evangelicalism in particular. The responses were varied, but it met a good bit of criticism and defensiveness from my white friends (as expected). I had spent several hours on my phone throughout the day responding to people I love and respect who, for whatever reasons, do not see the problems I am seeing – and so many of our brothers and sisters of color are screaming! – in the Church.
How to we bridge this divide?
When I saw news of the march Friday night, I cringed, prayed, and honestly hoped for the best. Then my privilege and I went to bed and enjoyed a good night’s rest that was not afforded to the people of color that fear for their lives in the face of emboldened domestic terrorists who gather on public university campuses. I won’t get that kind of rest tonight, because friends, I am staying up with you, praying with you, asking God how I can use my position and privilege to defend and protect you. And I am doing everything in my power to influence a generation that will do the same. How do we bridge this divide? Arthur Ashe said, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” For me, it starts at home.
“Sweet girl,” I whispered, fingers gliding gently along her skin in fluid strokes as her breathing became slower and her shoulders melted into the pillow. “I am so proud of you.”
“I am so proud of the way you love other people, and when you see someone hurting another person, you don’t just sit back and watch. You do something about it. You aren’t afraid to stand up to bullies and tell them not to talk to your friends that way. You tell the teacher when someone is hurt. You don’t back down. I want you to promise me you will ALWAYS do that. Because in your life, you’re going to see a lot of people doing the wrong thing. And even worse, you’re going to see a lot more people not doing a thing about it. They’ll ignore it, justify it, or say it’s none of their business. They will tell you to stay out of it. But don’t you listen. When you see someone doing something wrong, you stand up and do what is right. You have that deep inside you, I know you do.”
“How do you know that, mama?”
“I know because that is the Holy Spirit in you. God made you so very sensitive. You hear when he talks to you, and you are upset when you see people hurting others. God gave you a voice and position, and you must always use it to help other people. You remember when we talked about our words, how they can be hurtful words or healing words? I want your voice to be healing, because there is so much hurt, baby. God wants to use you to help people. Don’t you ever be afraid to help. Okay??”
“Okay, mama,” she whispered. “You know, I really want a guitar, so I can write songs. Maybe that’s how I can use my voice.”