I’m going to be very honest with you. I didn’t want to write this post. I woke up with it fitfully on my brain; I had dreamed of it. Then even as I would try to fall back asleep, I would wake with it flitting through my mind. I tried to explore a couple of topics I wanted to write about, but this one kept getting in the way. So I’ve decided to put it down and see what happens. Just know that anything I feel led to say here is with love, but I am also human, so if I flub my words I do ask for your grace.
Recently my husband and I watched a great movie called The Free State of Jones. If you haven’t seen it I suggest you check it out. If you don’t know the history of your nation then you really should take the time to learn it. History is how we face our past mistakes and then learn from them. The best way to commune with others is by trying to walk a mile in their shoes, and though you can’t always make the same hard trek they have, you can lay a sympathetic hand on their shoulder and say, “I’m sorry, friend.”
As Ben and I watched this film we were naturally affected by how this huge piece of history ties into our lives. As children of God, and more importantly lovers of Jesus, our main goal in life is to approach other children of the King in a way that pleases our Father. That’s not always easy in this life, but when you see what a wretch you are personally and how God redeemed you, it just makes sense.
At one point, though, my husband said something bothersome. Bothersome because it was true.
“It’s like the Civil War is happening all over again.” He said sadly. “We’re not going forwards, we’re going backwards.”
His words come back to me this week as I watch anger around me. I see people speak certain things, and I can almost picture the rage dripping off their tongues. They’re angry, and anger is good. Righteous indignation can move mountains, and it can get points across where mere meek words are unable. But anger is also a double-edged sword, and many times it can cut the people who wish to stand boldly with you. So as they lay bleeding on the sidelines in shock and awe they wonder, what did I do exactly?
So many wrongs lay in the past that they absolutely cannot be made right. They can’t! Saying sorry doesn’t work, and although raising your children to think differently than perhaps your grandparents did goes a long way, it will not bring healing. Only Jesus can do that. Equality is a goal, and I see it moving forward, but sometimes I wonder if that’s what everyone really wants. Sometimes I think people don’t so much want equality. Instead they want retribution. They want payback for their pain, and I just can’t help but think that’s not the answer.
When your anger becomes a feeling of “I have been wronged, and now I need justice by any means necessary,” there isn’t healing. There isn’t forgiveness. There isn’t a forward momentum, no matter what may be assumed. There’s only regression. There’s only hate. There’s only division.
In my reading of God’s word I’ve found forgiveness brings healing, but I also know that isn’t easy. In instances where I have been personally wronged and rejected (and no, I’m not trying to make an exact comparison) I have found that the longer I project anger towards my enemy the longer I hurt. But when I allow God to heal my pain and show me the good people in my life I am able to go forward in joy. I also discovered I can’t change some people’s hearts no matter how mad I get, but God can take care of it.
This is hard. Sigh. I’m not trying to say that injustice doesn’t exist, and I’m not trying to sweep it under the rug. What I am trying to do is encourage everyone to look inside your heart, pray, and ask the Lord, “do I seek equality, or do I seek retribution? Am I desiring your healing, or am I wanting an eye for an eye, and hurt for my hurt? Is that what you desire for me, or do you wish to heal this land?”
Sometimes we all can focus so much on ourselves that we lose sight of God’s bigger purposes. Where is He taking us? What does He have in mind? I don’t believe it’s division, to fall backwards, or to slay our friends who just want to try and understand our pain.
This morning this verse came to mind.
Philippians 2:3-4 ESV
Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
I just wonder if God might more readily be able to bring healing to our land if we can stop saying me & I? This is where I am hurt, or this is how you’re offending me. What if we could focus on how our brothers are hurting, or how our sister might need encouragement today. What if we died to self, forgave our enemies, and laid down our anger that has become like a shackle around our neck?
What if we could seek equality and justice without seeking revenge or retribution? What if instead of asking “how are you gonna make this right” we asked “what can we do to move forward in healing?” Is it time to seek forgiveness rather than searching for a needle of injustice in a haystack of life?
The thing is if you want to seek negativity you will always find it. If you want to gather together angry voices they won’t be hard to find. What’s harder is letting go of past pain, asking for God’s restoration, and moving forward in a state of forgiveness. It’s not easy to be the bigger person, but in my experience it feels so good.
I hope my husband is wrong. I hope we’re not falling backwards to a place where people will hate me and judge me because my skin is white. I wish my fellow man could see past my pigment to the soul that will be with me for all eternity. It has no color, only love. I wish we could see with soul eyes. Is that too much to ask?