I had a bit of a lightbulb moment this morning over my cup of coffee. Preface: Even if I agree at some level with much of the movements taking place across the US right now, I tend to shy away from the methods espoused to me on television and social media. I prefer the quiet work behind the scenes, the things no one sees or hears but, I hope, will someday benefit from.
This morning I was reading an article about the roots of the black feminism movement and how women of color felt left out of both the feminist movement (mostly white, and largely privileged) and the black equality movement (mostly men with deeply entrenched sexism – I read the pamphlets and cried), and created their own blend of the two to include a marginalized portion of society with a voice of their own. And it occurred to me that I do not march or scream or go on Facebook rants or shout at people or throw things or set things on fire, and how this perceived complicit silence has garnered me more than one critic.
In truth, I want more than some politician I’ve never met smugly signing a bill into law while surrounded by a group of the very people the law is supposed to help, but who will probably never benefit from it. I want more than yelling and screaming and bodily injury to someone who looks/acts/thinks differently than another. I want more than calculated prayers and warm thoughts and Facebook likes sent your way.
I want change from the ground up. I want the insides of every person to recognize their own humanity and, in turn, recognize the humanity of those around them. I want hurt people to stop hurting people and to instead reach out and grab a hand. I want ordinary, everyday, mundane interactions to be more compassionate, more kind, more contemplative before speaking. I want us to heed stories that look different than our own.
My silence gets me critics outside the church. My voice gives me heat inside it. I have had some tell me, rather hatefully, that I sound like a liberal. I have had others say that my faith as a Christian does not intersect in any way with the culture of the US today. Really? Because the Jesus I have heard of my whole life, confessed to and asked forgiveness from 30 years ago, in whose Name I was baptized 23 years ago, and have studied academically for the last 13 years tells me a different story. Because that Jesus, that One I claim to seek after and try to love like, well, He loved people in every group you can imagine. And He listened. Surely we can at least do that as His followers. As believers in His love and His sacrifice on the cross.
No, I don’t march or shout or throw things or post long, winding Facebook rants about the injustices of our culture. But I listen. I learn. I offer advice if I am asked. I thoughtfully consider how people are treated. I ask questions so as to gain understanding. Even if we are different, I want you to know you are heard, you are recognized, you are known, and you are loved. By a God who saved a wretch like even me.
So when you return home from your march, voice lost from shouting and heart uplifted from being around people who think like you do, I will gladly curl up in a pair of oversized chairs, offer you a mug of something warm, and listen to your story. Because at the end of the day, I care much more for your heart than our differences. Much, much more.