As Crystal and I resumed our conversation on race, the first since the historic election of 2016, I find myself taking deep breaths while having deep thoughts.
After diving deep on the issues and being drained from our talk, we decided we would simply post about the difficulties of being bridge builders on this very real and very relevant topic of race and discuss the rest of our talk with others in our group at our up and coming conversation mixer.
Very honestly, this has been the most difficult and emotional conversation I have had with my friend and co-writer. It was less about us disagreeing, and more about representing the people close to us who we love, and yes, sometimes that translates to the people who represent our race. Our talk also repeatedly intersected race, religion, and politics (the three “no-no” topics). We were pooped!
As a Christian, a wife, a mother, a sister, a friend, a human; the hurt that I feel is heavy from witnessing so many in this nation support a person as a presidential nominee and then president elect who I deem to be highly racist and extremely threatening and dangerous to so many affected groups (Blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, LGBT, women, etc). I have no good explanation for this to tell my kids, and it simply doesn’t make sense to me.
I have only been able to express disappointment and have “no nice words” about this national decision. Thoughtful words, but not nice.
My intentions of building bridges with others to converse on this sensitive subject, has personally pushed my own sensitivities to a limit and a part of me wants to retreat. After dreading officially writing on this on our blog page, a strange thing happened on Thanksgiving morning.
I was driving back home from doing my usual second or third run to the grocery store after forgetting needed ingredients and then I see a man, carrying a big cross, with a dog, walking in the middle of the freeway. Yes, it was sight! Yes, I passed him and wondered, what’s going on? Yes, I interrupted my cooking schedule and turned around to speak with him.
There in the middle of FM 685 in Hutto, TX, I parked in the turning lane, pushed my hazards, and safely approached this sight I had seen. He and his dog were now on the shoulder. He introduced himself as Steven and his dog as Ranger and we discussed his mission of walking to Fort Worth from the Texas Capital to bring awareness of the purpose of the “cross.” We chatted. I told him I was Christian and he prayed with me and it was supposed to be a few pictures, then on my way to my delayed food preparations.
I then shared a very weighted bit of information with him. I told him I had purposefully not been to my church since two weeks before the election. At this news, our conversation took a very meaningful and purposed turn.
I feel it too long to explain it all, but the short story is I attend a predominately white congregation, I have already struggled with feeling deep fellowship, I have concerns that I believe my church influenced members to vote Republican, and I have issues accepting that so many white evangelicals voted for a president elect who outwardly promoted racism, sexism, and hate. So I don’t feel “safe” in fellowship there. This is the same that I expressed with Crystal a week prior. I can only be honest.
Here, I will point out that this is the difficulty with being a bridge builder. At some point you have to stand on uneven footing. You have to stretch and reach farther than you think you can or think is possible. You have to extend yourself to others, even if it’s not enough to cover the gap. It is not easy work.
Ok. Back to the man, the cross, and his dog, and our hazardous roadway conversation……
I had expressed to Steven as we had a deep discussion that I was hurt and tired. He expressed to me that I should not run from what seems to be a God-given purpose, but only retreat to ask God to supernaturally empower me instead.
He did his best to remind me to put aside my weakness and allow God to fill in what I needed beyond passion and wisdom. As he asked to pray a second prayer with me on this issue, we discussed the divine appointment of us meeting and he pointed out that we were standing on a bridge at that very moment. It was surreal and very touching.
My take away from all of this is that I will pray on this issue, on the exhaustion, the pain, the anger, the fear, the disappointment, and the strong desire to retreat to those who I feel are “safe” in fellowship and worship.
I will ask God to decrease me and use me, even when this is too hard. I’m asking that others do the same and am asking that you all support Crystal and I because our desire to make an impact small or large is from the heart and is very hard and very real and so are our tears and love for each other and those we care about.
I still struggle on this. There are no other major conclusions yet, just time and prayer.
Crystal may or may not choose to blog since we were only going to post on our Facebook page. Be on the look out for her thoughts.
More information on Steve Hope, Ranger, and his mission can be found at: https://www.facebook.com/Crosscarry