“Push.”

Push.

Shove.

Break Through

Deal with the hatred

But keep pushing.

Pushing is how you got here….

Pushed from your mother’s womb…

Breaking through to life…

Breathe.

Confusion breaks like a gray cloud over the city,

But you push on

And those that don’t understand

Say they do

But they never can

And you push on.

On the ground,

Cattle call

Sounds familiar as history recalls

Gathered off and carted off

Your anger has teeth.

FearLeadsToAngerLeadsToHateLeadsToViolenceLeadsToFear

The cycle

Perpetuates

Systemic

Failure.

Those that control

Are not controlled

And change must come

If pushing leads to break through

If breaking through

Changes history

That has yet to be made…

They look down from their podiums

Wide-eyed and afraid

Afraid not just of you

But of the truth you represent

Of the truth that you

Push

Past

Their

Borders.

Telling the truth means

Changing the game

And opening the doors

To the Boys’ Club

Don’tAskDon’tTellYouDidn’tSeeAnythingBut

I

Can’t

Breathe.

Push.

Shove.

Break Through.

I stand in unity.

I stand for change.

I stand for peace…and I stand for

Conversation.

Action.

Answers.

I cannot understand,

But I will listen to you…

I will push with you.

Change WILL come.

 

 

 

Solidarity in the Midst of Confusion

Most of y’all know that I typically present as a regular ol’ Conservative, suburban mom…I (albeit, begrudgingly) have voted a straight Republican ticket since I was 18, and consider the issues of being Pro-Life as the pinnacle decision maker in any political choice. I know a lot of people are posting in anger about the protests. People have had trips ruined, concerts cancelled, businesses damaged, and the fear that is running through the veins of this city is suddenly palpable to everyone (not just the folks who live here).

When Ferguson happened, I started out just like everyone I knew: The protestors are horrible people! They’re ridiculous! They should all be jailed!!! However, our church began working with other churches in a prayer tent in Ferguson, and the longer they were there, the more stories and truths began to come out.

The more time I have had to reflect on Ferguson, and on working in the city during the process…the more cases that have come out that raise the questions about police accountability…the more my heart has changed. I don’t stand where I stood when Mr. Brown died. Do I agree with every case that has been brought to the press with the accusations of police brutality or racism? No. No, I don’t.

However…

The outcry is so great…the volume is so loud. How can we ignore the cry from the hearts of the African American community? We can say, “Well, just do what the nice police officer says, and no one will get hurt.”

Sure—makes sense…

Unless…

Unless you’ve done nothing wrong. You instinctively want to plead your case.

Unless you’ve done something wrong. You instinctively do not want to get caught; is dying, worth it? Why is death the first option?

Unless you’re scared that your name may be the one on the protest banners as another person who fell under the banner of, “my life felt threatened.” How flexible is that reason? And where is the outside accountability? Who holds the police department accountable? Internal Affairs? Who monitors IA?

Never let it be thought that I do not support the police department and law enforcement—I 100% support the police. I believe you can support a cause but ask for reform. I support the Republican party, but look at that hot mess! I most DEFINITELY support reform for that cause! So, yeah—I support the police. I’ve been pulled over before, by a cop who was having a bad day, one time—it was 1 out of the 5-6 times I have been pulled over—but that little encounter was enough to make me not like the police in a particular part of town, and I know good and well that if another one of “those” copes pulls me over? I’m probably going to have a ‘tude. And that’s after just ONE encounter.

When he’s older, I can let my son walk down the sidewalk in my neighborhood—even in my redneck neighborhood—without fear of getting derailed by police.

There’s no derelict building in my subdivision that houses drug dealers and addicts. There’s no abandoned building that we’ve BEGGED the city to take down, where a man abducted a little girl from a bus stop, and raped her.

When my son gets his license, I most likely won’t have to worry about him getting pulled over and never coming home again.

When my son gets his CCW, he most likely won’t have to be afraid to tell a police officer that it’s in the car.

My son’s school doesn’t have a breakfast and a lunch program through the summer, because I can’t provide food for him year-round.

I have a good job, I received a decent education, and I had teachers in my community that helped me succeed. No one side-eyed me because I was “different,” or wrote me off when I struggled, because I didn’t look quite like them.

I don’t get funny looks when I walk into a high-dollar store in the mall (as long as I haven’t rolled up in my sweats and a ball cap, LOL—they do look at me, then). No one usually looks at me like I don’t belong there, or follows me around the store. Frankly, if they did, I’d confront them, and the situation would be sorted out, and I would leave the store in my own vehicle, on my own terms.  Security most likely wouldn’t be called, police wouldn’t be called, and the drama would be over…for me.

During Ferguson, I learned about this concept called “white privilege.” What a crock, right? I mean, I worked hard for what I have. My mom worked her ass off, as have I—I grew up with a single mom, then a stepdad, and they worked hard every single day. We didn’t have a single thing handed to us…however…

I received scholarships based on academic performance, talent, and interviews. I’ve received job offers based on face-to-face interviews.  Things weren’t made particularly easy for me, but I’m learning that the simple fact that the opportunities were made available, is a form of privilege. I’ve never felt racially oppressed or profiled—that’s a form of privilege. Have I felt discriminated against? As a woman, yes. As a white woman in particular, no. My race has never once played into any feeling of oppression, hostility, etc. Not. Once.

I don’t know how that feels.

So how can I say that I can’t understand or empathize with those that do? How can I discount their cries for justice, when I have never felt their INJUSTICE? How can I brush them off, because I don’t see, or don’t know what they’re talking about?

WE CAN’T.

Jesus tells us to love. He tells us to listen with “gentleness and respect” (I Pet. 3:15). He tells us to have compassion, and to let our hearts break with what breaks His heart. I promise you, His heart breaks over racism.

He grieves for St. Louis, right now.

He grieves for the police who are being treated terribly right now…for those brave men and women who are dealing with the worst kinds of disrespect. He grieves for their families. He grieves for the African American community and their anger, for the injustices they have suffered throughout history, and for the children who are seeing this behavior as part of the “new normal.” He GRIEVES for the civil destruction and for the hearts that are being hardened by the fear that cloaks this city.

Our inconvenience—our ruined trips, cancelled concerts, blocked streets—are NOTHING compared to the hurting hearts of every person that is out there right now.

As a white chick, what in the world can I do? My own family disagrees with my positions on this issue, and that’s okay—they deal with things in their own ways, and God will work within them, if they listen.

I can listen.

I can tell my African-American friends that I do not discount their pain because of the things that inconvenience me.

I can stand for peace and discourse, over destruction and violence.

I can stand for compassion.

I can love.

And that’s where I am.

Do I understand where they’re coming from? Nope. I’m white. That’s an automatic, “no, you just don’t understand,” regardless of the environment or place you grew up. You’re white. Stop playing.

I don’t have to understand in order to have compassion.

I don’t have to understand, to show love.

I don’t have to understand, to be like Jesus.

 

“Holiness in the Shadowlands,” AKA, “Listening to Praise Music while Wanting to Throat-Chop People in Traffic”

Sometimes, when I talk about my faith, I feel like a giant hypocrite. Man-oh-man, do I make mistakes…I mean it when I say, “I love Jesus but I swear a little (somedays, more than others).” My filters are occasionally nonexistent, but I promise you, I am working on it.

I’m grateful for grace.

This morning, as I was on my walk around the local university, a kid (Millennials, LOL) with a man-bun, who was wearing those ridiculous Adidas slides with socks (they’re only ridiculous when worn WITH SOCKS), was texting and walking, and somehow walked OUT of their shoe, and tripped…because they were texting and walking. Did I respond with compassion?

Nope.

I laughed, and posted about it on Facebook, with the hashtag, #WhyDoesJesusLoveMe

I’m grateful for grace.

Last night, I was driving home with my windows open and my stereo BLARING a Brian & Katie Torwalt CD (BTW, what’s with mixing worship CDs with a crap-ton of bass? Are people gettin’ down in the club to worship songs?!?! I mean, Lord knows I love my bass, but it seems weird to have it bumped up in a quiet worship interlude? Is this for Da Youts? Am I just getting OLD?!?!?!?!?!?!?). I was singing along (loudly–sorry, other drives. Okay, I’m NOT sorry), and driving through what’s known as The Depressed Section of the city. It’s where the highway goes under the streets and pedestrian overpasses of downtown; it’s very congested, and dirty, and LOUD, and stands in direct contrast to the song about holiness that I was singing along with….

The juxtaposition of Holiness and “The Depressed Section” was not lost on me, and as the music (and the drive) went on, I could feel a fire erupt in my chest…

You see, this city–Saint Louis–stands on the brink. We stand on the brink of decisions that could potentially change the course of this city. We stand on the brink of once again, being the center of attention of this nation…this nation that is already so divided, and so on edge.

Everything is uneasy…

Everything is disjointed…

But the music in my car plays on…and I drive by the dirt and the graffiti, by the trash and by that glorious Gateway to the West…I breathe the fumes from the exhausts, but I refuse to roll up my windows, because I feel like the words to the song are a healing balm to this city….because I feel like maybe if I play it louder, someone–anyone–will hear it, and remember Who Reigns…

Holy Spirit You are welcome here
Come flood this place and fill the atmosphere
Your glory God is what our hearts long for
To be overcome by Your presence Lord”

He is welcome in this city…there is still a remnant left, and we cry out daily for the hearts of St. Louis…

The song plays on, and my mind is taking in the scene around me as the traffic comes to a standstill…

My heart cries, “Holy.”

The dichotomy of Holiness and helplessness…the struggles in this city, the poverty, the glut of resources and the lack of communication in getting them out…the children that cannot fend for themselves, and the adults who are too selfish to help them stand on their feet…my brain and my heart are arguing, but the music answers the questions:

“Let us become more aware of Your Presence
Let us experience the glory of Your goodness”

That is my prayer, for myself, for my church, and for this city…that we Understand a Glimpse of the Grace of God….just a glimpse….

The traffic is thick, but the song says to “sing Holy,” so I do…because I HAVE to, because it is what I was made to do…I get cut off in construction, and I wonder, “Lord, where do these two worlds meet?!?”

And He says:

“I

Am

Greater.”

God is greater. He is greater than every mess in this city. He is greater than the violence and the fear; He is greater than the racism and He knows better than anyone that it is real. He is greater than the traffic that is sucking my soul; He is greater than the accident that just happened. He is greater than the storms and the hurricanes and the earthquakes. He Is Greater.

God is greater, and His holiness exists, regardless of where we are or where we live. His holiness reigns supreme in this microcosm of a city, and it reigns in every corner of every house in this nation. Our mind CANNOT HANDLE IT, so we try to drown Him out.

We fail.

He simply cannot be dimmed, and when we pause for worship, we are reminded that His holiness is the greatest Light. Everything else is in shadows.

My mind is ready to throw a stick at the next car that cuts me off, but my soul still cries in harmony with the music playing in my car…I cry “Holy,” with the heart of a grieving mother…with the heart of a stubborn wife…with the heart of a Daughter of the King, with the heart of someone who is struggling to reconcile what He sees in me, with what I see in myself. He is greater than all of my insecurities, my judgmental behaviors, my filter issues. He is greater.

I don’t understand Him, but I will not stop worshiping His Name, even in traffic…

Even when I laugh at falling Millennials.

I am so, SO grateful for grace….