I saw a post on Instagram yesterday that said, "The opposite of love isn't hate. It's indifference." This quote stuck with me yesterday alongside the tragic images of Charlottesville and the anger that seeps out of the images of the torch bearers.
There is absolutely no excuse for this kind of hate.
As I prayed last night over our country - over the hate, over our leadership, over the oppressed - I begged God to give me something to do. Anything to help the situation that feels so far away but is actually so close. I wanted Him to give me an organization to join, a march to walk in, a concrete cause to fight for. But instead, there was a gentle sense of God whispering into the depths of my heart : "change starts at home".
When we are disciplining our kids, we can correct the behavior all we want - giving them consequences for their actions. But until we correct and curb the HEART, the behavior continues to happen.
Maybe we could start focusing on the heart behind the hate instead of just the behavior that comes from the hate? Maybe we could all stop finger pointing and trying to decide whose fault the hate is and instead each accept blame of some kind and then begin to change.
In light of all that is going on across the country, these few things might seem incredibly small and insignificant. But the more I prayed about it, the more I realized if we all begin to pursue simple changes, then we just might be able to affect great change in our neighborhoods then our cities then our states and then our country!
1. Pray for God to convict me of my own bigotry.
This was a hard one to write out, and actually made me wince, but I want to own this one, y'all.
I do not consider myself racist by any means. I try my best to love everyone well, regardless of race, religion or sexual orientation. My honest and deepest view of others is that we are ALL sinners who can be saved by grace - not one better than the other.
But, with that said, I desperately want God to ping my heart whenever a judgemental thought enters my head based on someone's appearance. Whenever I stereotype someone's lifestyle choices, voting record or religion, I want God to whisper and say, "you don't know." Whenever I cross the street subconsciously or avert my eyes unwillingly, God - make me sit up, take notice, fall to my knees and change.
Often the biggest change starts small - but I deeply want it. I want God to wring out the darkest crevices of my heart so that I might love everyone better, and be an example to my children of God's immeasurable grace and love.
2. Seek out inter-racial relationships for myself and my children.
We live in a majority - white community but it's definitely not all white. There are many opportunities to seek out friends of different races and religions right where we live. But y'all at carpool pickup why does it always feel like the white moms congregate in one area and then all of the "other" moms congregate in another area?
Why do we not set out to mingle with families who are not white?
Please hear me, I do NOT think that any of this is necessarily on purpose. I don't think these white moms (including myself) are thinking "I don't want to talk to non-white moms". I mean, that's actually a completely ridiculous way of thinking, although it obviously happens. However, even though it's natural for us to seek out friendships with those who look like us, what would happen if we also sought out friendships with people who do not look like us?
I bet that these torch bearers on the news never had friendships with black people growing up. I bet that their parents didn't provide examples of how to walk with black families, muslim families, Indian families, Hindu families, gay families and not just alongside them. I bet they grew up in a home where they were right and everyone else was wrong.
But what if we stopped referring to race or religion as "us" and "them" and instead started referring to it as "we, the people". What if we (white people) stop thinking that we have all the answers and start listening to those who are hurting around us? What if our children could grow up looking for what makes us the same instead of what makes us different? Could that change the world?
3. Gather around the table with families of color.
In the Bible, gathering around someone's table to eat was one of the deepest signs of intimacy. Even today, something sacred takes place when we sit down, put our phones away and swap stories. Talking happens around the table, of course, but listening also, and we could all use just a bit more of that.
Inviting women, families, children into our home to eat around our table and hear about their life is a great place to start changing this culture of hate. Sharing what books they read, shows they watch, food they like is such a simple but profoundly personal way to discover that we are so much more alike than we are different.
Stop being scared of different and start embracing the similarity! The easiest way to break down perceived barriers is around the family table. It's what Jesus did, and it's what we should be doing too.
I'm writing all of this down not because I want to say "look at what I'm going to do" but because I want to be held accountable. I want to come back in six months and have stories to tell about friendships that have been fostered, barriers that have been crossed and struggles that have been overcome. I want to be able to share about God's conviction and how He used that to forge a new pathway in my heart. I want to be able to tell stories of my children standing up for someone else, their tender hearts breaking for what is wrong in this world.
I am not naive enough to think that there is a quick fix to the deeply-seeded hate brooding in this country. I'm not at all diminishing the pain that Americans are in today, yesterday and tomorrow.
But I am saying that change can start with me, and I pray that it can also start with you.