Your Voice Matters

UNITEDYour voice matters. Your actions will matter more, but your voice is a start. After two days of crying, praying, and endless conversations with friends-I’ve seen how much a simple statement of love and support can mean. Right now is the time to speak out for healing and unity. Then we can stand and act for justice. This is not about sides. It is not about proving right or wrong. It is about the need to tear down walls and bring love and grace to a devastated community. It is time for ALL of us to step outside of our own perspectives and lenses, and see with the eyes of Jesus.

I am white. I am a cop’s wife. I am a pastor at an intentionally diverse church. Over the past two days I have had a number of people ask my opinions, based on those identities. I have had people ask if I’m going to pick sides, based on those identities. The answer is no. The only identity that matters to me right now is that I am a child of God. And I see too many of God’s children hurting, mourning, confused, broken, and grieved right now. God sees beyond race. Beyond culture. Beyond job title. And I’m asking Him to help me do the same.

I am heartbroken. I am angry. I am infuriated at a broken system. I am dismayed that we, as a society, are not further along than we are. I am appalled at the lack of regard for human life. I am sympathetic to those who live and work in fear. And I am asking, as I hope we all are, how do I make a difference?

I did not first learn about what was going on from the news or social media. I learned about it because one of my black friends texted me. He started by saying how much he loves and respects me and Mike (my husband), and how he knows Mike is one of the good cops. And then he said that he wanted to share that so that we knew that anything he posted on social media wasn’t personal. This is how I first learned about the situation we now find ourselves in-because a good friend cared enough to say “Hey I’m angry, and I HAVE to speak out, but I want you to know first that I also stand with YOU.” That simple act set the tone for how I would process and respond to the events of the past couple days. Never underestimate the power of your words and voice.

I have spent the past couple days calling, texting, and talking with friends. Asking questions. Sharing my heart. Listening to theirs. And speaking words that I felt needed to be spoken. If you weren’t one of those calls/texts, it is not because I did not think of you or pray for you-but simply because there are only so many hours in the day and SO many conversations to have. So to those that I have not yet had the chance to speak with personally, please hear my heart…

I’m sorry. I’m sorry for every hateful, hurtful word that’s ever been spoken to or about you. I’m sorry that too many have remained silent and not shared in your grief or joined in your fight. I’m sorry that your reality has been ignored and denied. I’m sorry for every black parent who has had to teach their sons how to act, talk, and carry themselves to avoid being stereotyped or worse. I’m sorry that its been generations, and we have not made much progress. I’m sorry you have been abandoned or belittled by those that should have been speaking out. I’m sorry it has turned into “sides” when it should have been about healing. I know one voice doesn’t make much of a difference, but you have mine. And I hope there will be more that join. And I pray that it will eventually be loud enough to affect real change! Or at least loud enough to drown out everyone else. Most importantly, I’m sorry if this is the first “I’m sorry” that you’ve received. We must do better. I pray for you.

I see your heart. I know that most of you genuinely desire to serve and protect your community. To fight against the very injustices that you now find yourselves in the midst of. To be a voice for the voiceless and a guardian of your city. It is a great responsibility that you have taken on. It is a responsibility that requires you to hold yourselves and each other to a higher level of expectation and accountability. I know that those who do not uphold these expectations make it harder on the rest of you. I know over the past couple days you have been judged simply because of the uniform you wear. I know you have been stereotyped, spit on, and cussed out just because you are trying to do your job. I know because Mike told me. If this is the first time you personally experienced this type of prejudice, I’m sorry. I know it hurts. I know it makes you angry. Now that you know what it feels like to be a minority, to be judged by something as insignificant as the uniform you wear (or the color of your skin) I pray that this enlightens you and enables you to be an even greater protector for your community and guardian against such injustices. You have voice with your fellow officers-use it! I pray for you.

Its simple. Just because it isn’t your experience doesn’t mean it isn’t real. Do not turn a blind eye. Do not shy away. Do not fall victim to apathy or “white guilt.” If you have a voice that is listened to without prejudice, then USE IT! You have been positioned to make a difference! Whatever your platform of influence may be, stand and speak. Even if, at the very least, to say “I’m sorry…please share your story with me…what can I do?”

And, most importantly, TO THE CHURCH:
Our mandate is to live, preach, and share the love of God and the truth of the gospel until the whole world is transformed by it. And we have a very real enemy who will use every trick in the book to thwart that mission-hate, fear, division, prejudice. He has been doing it since the beginning of time. We must pray. We must act. We must speak. Jesus died for this. And yet Sunday morning is still one of the most segregated hours of the week.That has to change. We may have legislation that bans segregation, but personal preference still allows it. Our churches and our circle of friends need to look like our cities if we’re going to have a voice of credibility. It is not enough to worship together for an hour on the weekend and then go on about our lives. Our commission doesn’t change simply because of social climate. It transcends it. It covers it. We have a GREATER obligation to respond to situations like this because WE know the ultimate answer! And that is the love and grace of a good Heavenly Father. We must speak out and expose the injustice of racism and prejudice. Darkness loses its power the moment we shine even the tiniest bit of light into it. What legacy will you leave? Acts 18:9-10, the Lord says “Don’t be afraid! Speak out! Don’t be silent! For I am with you, and no one will attack and harm you, for many people in this city belong to me.”

Where do we start? Here’s what I did.
Ask questions. Not to respond, but to hear.
Intentionally reach out to those who will have a different perspective from you-whether through age, gender, race, culture, socioeconomic status, education, etc.
Bring people from these different worlds together in one place. First we must heal and then we can build.

There is hope.

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