Darkness into Light: Healing in Discomfort
It’s hard to believe that just two and a half weeks ago, we were trying to figure out how to return to normal. How to begin seeing each other in person, how to travel, to plan for school in the fall, to find work or navigate finances--how to get as close to our old normal as possible, with Covid-19 still plaguing our footsteps.
And now, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, we are facing perhaps the most disturbing grief yet--normal wasn’t what we thought it was.
We are grieving that the safe, comfortable world we lived in wasn’t really safe and comfortable. It was an illusion of safety and comfort, for those of us privileged to enjoy the illusion.
The safe, comfortable world we lived in wasn’t really safe and comfortable. It was an illusion of safety and comfort, for those of us privileged to enjoy the illusion.
That’s the most uncomfortable part of my grief. For I see more clearly than I ever have before my contribution to the divides created by ongoing and systemic racism.
I bought into society’s unspoken agreement to not talk about race. It was a scary, sensitive topic. I often pushed aside my hard questions or was silent where I should have spoken, because I thought I was completely ill-qualified to speak on any issues of race. I was scared to ask about what I didn’t understand. What if I said it wrong? What if I sounded racist?!
Our fear of racism has fed our illusion of equality. We have been so afraid and so ashamed of the slightest appearance of racism that we have hidden--rather than dealt with--our biases, our questions, and our fears.
Fear thrives in darkness. Hidden sin breeds more sin. We knew that from God’s Word, and we knew it from our own lives. But it was so accepted, so routine, most of us didn’t even realize it was happening. We grew up learning to not talk much about race, except at leadership conferences or diversity trainings, with close friends, or in the safety of our homes.
But now we have been given a tremendous gift. A gift at once beautiful and agonizing:
The gift of light.
A flooding of light--on the murders of Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and countless others; on police brutality toward protestors; corrupt police departments; black lives lived with a thousand daily humiliations--the list goes on and on, and the stories are endless and gut-wrenching.
It’s a floodlight on what was once hushed and hidden.
We’re all in the spotlight. We have all sinned, and we have all been exposed. It’s incredibly uncomfortable, but yet incredibly freeing. Our sins lose power over us when they are exposed. As I began to confess and to repent, I felt so relieved. It was like I got to put down a weight I didn’t even know I had been carrying.
I know this is only the beginning of a very long process of healing. A lot of us are wondering what to do in this painful place of exposure. Here are four places to begin:
1) Searching Our Hearts
We have a unique opportunity to examine our own lives and the biases we have. We get to choose whether to hide from our sin or try to uncover it.
Psalm 139 shows us how David asked God to reveal and correct his sins: “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Questions for Heart Searching:
What is going on here for me?
What is causing me to feel as I do?
What is true about what I am feeling? What might not be true?
What assumptions am I making?
Where do I get defensive? Where do I tend to justify or excuse?
What have I been afraid of?
2) Learning the Issues
The illusions of equality have been so deeply ingrained it has been easy to miss or ignore what has been happening in our country. Learning helps us to better perceive not only our own sins but also our power to be part of the solution.
We can ask ourselves:
What have I been assuming about these issues?
Who have I been listening to? Who truly has authority on these topics?
What are my questions about the issues?
What hard questions haven’t I been asking?
What pieces of the puzzle am I missing?
What is going on in my community?
We need to be patient with ourselves, others, and the process. Change will take time. This is a journey. While it’s great to channel our fresh zeal into action right now, we also need to ready ourselves to be intentional over time--because the pain that’s motivating us now will fade.
Mindsets to Promote Patience
There is no one right way to be part of the solution. Search with God for the steps you need to take.
Hate the sin, not the sinner. Choose to feel compassion for the brokenness and sin that causes racism in order to hate the sin and not the sinner.
We cannot change people. We can choose how we respond.
Be okay with speaking imperfectly. If we allow ourselves grace to make mistakes, we can continue to learn and grow.
Learn more about the fruit of patience here.
4) Confession & Repentance
It is only through confessing our wrongs to God and to each other that we can truly be free to heal. It’s foundational to Christianity, but yet I know I still struggle to vulnerably and transparently bring my deepest shame before God. It is so hard. But every time that I do--every time I give everything to Him--He is good in His promise to bear my shame and make me clean.
He loves us more than we can ever comprehend, and He wants our mess. He died for it. Share it with God, and share it with others--for sharing with others inspires greater transparency and deeper healing.
Join the Conversation:
How are you finding healing?