As my beautiful family packs themselves into the car to drive the 20 min to our local AME (African Methodist Episcopal) church this morning…I’m taking a health day. I’m sipping coffee and snuggling the pups. There is plenty I could be reading, but for now, I’m processing.
We are in a time of learning here at the Ebed House. We are doing deep soul work, life changing kind of learning. Some days I wake up and jump in with joy, while other days I find myself so affected by anxiety that I can’t leave the house or open my social media pages. We’ve been on a bit of a roller coaster the last few months. We are making purposeful choices about what we pull ourselves out of and where we will press in. We are saying hard things, we are listening to voices of color and we are holding on tight to see where it will take us. I feel like I have my eyes shut tight but I crack one just enough to peek from time to time. Honestly, I don’t know that I have ever heard my husband so passionate, so resolved, and so clear in what he believes and why. It’s all a bit soul shaking for me.
Awhile back I received a good word about making the choice to speak from our scars rather than from our wounds. This little bit of wisdom was life changing for me. It was freeing rather then silencing and gave me the permission to heal before I speak, before I write…before I teach. After five years of struggle, I am forming scars.
Our country is broken. The events in Charlottesville speak to that. Over and over and over again, those who have been wronged cry out for justice and find themselves running headlong into systems that are weighted against bodies of color. This is not new. We have not turned a corner in the road and suddenly landed here, but somehow, among many white communities, these voices have been lulled, dismissed or lost over the years. This cannot continue. Those of us who see…must speak.
Here’s the thing I have been asking myself, ‘who’ is my audience? Where do I have a voice in my community?’ My clear and unflinching conclusion is this, the church. Wish, as I may, I can’t run from it, can’t pretend…can’t hope for another audience….for different ears. I was born to you…you are my past, my foundation…you have raised me up.
Church, your hands held me when I was young. There has never been a time when I haven’t known the inside of your walls…from velvet pews to multi-purpose spaces, from a re-purposed theater to a working funeral home. You taught me, you created programs to guide my youth, and platforms to speak from as I grew. When I had questions you helped me find answers. When I went to college, you were there…your elders shared their wisdom…your leaders introduced me to the wide world and taught me how to love those who didn’t know Jesus.
It was at your feet that I learned about repentance. You showed me how to be still in the Word, how to read and understand scripture while allowing it to convict my heart…It was in your fold that I learned about the great revivals that came when the church corporately repented and asked for the Holy Spirit to come. It was within your congregations that I learned repentance demands something of us…a physical change from one direction to another. It was you that taught me that when there is no recognition of a problem there can be no hope of reconciliation.
I am confused and heartbroken. When you preach that we must repent of our sins, and that the Bible is applicable for life today…Why are you surprised that I believe you? Why are you defensive when I point the light of the gospel into our shadows? Why are sins outside of the church put up as deflections to the issues of racism and prejudice within our own walls? Why do you buy into the idea that we must choose one issue over another when both demand our attention and action? Why do you write me off and others like me when our application is other then you expected? You have been our school, our teacher, and our leader. I cut my teeth on Evangelicalism and today I find it’s nourishment less then sustaining.
Do you see church, that it is your own teaching that has brought me to this place of utter undone-ness? Praise be to God! It may be easier to place me at the top of the pile labeled ‘discontent’. Please feel free….For what you see as my sin issue, I will choose to wear as a badge that spurs me and those willing to hear, onto repentance in the hopes of growth and reconciliation. I will continue to speak into our dark places and pray that the Lord will give us all ears to hear and strength to step forward. I love you church. You break my heart, and I love you still. You steal and rob, you pretend and deflect, you label and dismiss….and the list is endless….because we are all becoming….we are all working out this great faith. Dear God help us to see our faithlessness and bring us to repentance.