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Chaos, Social Justice, and Facing Fear in order to Seek God's Face

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You.  Isaiah 26:3 A warning in advance-in...

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Saturday, July 25, 2015

I Am #SandraBland

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Romans 12:15-18 ESV

I am #SandraBland
A call to action I could not let pass…I honored the memory and the family of #SandraBland by changing my profile picture on Facebook to her image as her family prepares to lay her body to rest today, as her mother vows to be “ready for war;” ensuring that her daughter’s abuse at the hands of an unchecked state trooper does not go unaddressed. So many FB friends immediately responded with kind words about seeing my face and how beautiful I looked…that’s when it hit me. The image both isn’t and is me.

I am #SandraBland.  In making my peace with present-day matters of race, gender, and power in America; in finding a way through my disappointment, frustration, and fear, I had to embrace that I am #SandraBland.

By the end of the week, I was overstimulated to the point of exhaustion. I was weary. Spent. I thought I’d had enough worrying about my husband, son, brother, nephews, cousins, etc., all the men I love desperately, bravely living while Black in America where it seems we are constantly reminded we do not belong, we are not worthy, we do not have a valid stake. Oh yeah and now there's a new thing-women driving while Black ‪#‎SandraBland. If that weren’t enough, I find myself actually having conversations with people I love not only about‪#‎IfIDieinPoliceCustody as a hashtag but that it's a real thing. My son and I discussed the possibilities, e.g., #IfIDieinPoliceCustody I did not commit suicide, don’t let anyone touch my body, and please, look after your father.

As I watched the #SandraBland dashcam video, I rehearsed in my mind what I'd need to do to be safe(r) (yeah, right) if that were me. Doors locked (no, I will not exit the car), window only partially down, cellphone in my hand, likely with an open channel to someone I’d already called to monitor the interaction. This is now my life.

So much for respectability politics. #SandraBland was college educated, articulate, well-spoken, Christian, doing everything our beloved country tells us to do to be included, and now she's dead. What's worse, she is vilified even as her family celebrates her brief life. Roxanne Gay writing in the New York Times today, offers these cautionary words…

Because Sandra Bland was driving while black, because she was not subservient in the manner this trooper preferred, a routine traffic stop became a death sentence. Even if Ms. Bland did commit suicide, there is an entire system of injustice whose fingerprints left bruises on her throat. 

Working hard and acting right, the hallmarks of respectability politics, are no longer enough. #SandraBland is dead.

For the last several weeks, as events unfolded one after the other, I felt a stirring in my spirit different from anything I’ve ever known. I am moved. Why do I write? What am I writing about and what does it matter? In the face of such injustice and so much personal pain, where are the voices of Believers? What are we going to do??

Well, I know what I cannot do, I cannot calm down and I will NOT do nothing.

I appreciate the sentiment, and I am grateful for Grace, but if one more well-meaning, well-intended Christian tells me that "Fear is not of God" (I KNOW THAT), that "All Lives Matter" (well, obviously, but all lives are not currently under siege), I'm about to act up like Jesus in the temple tossing tables, snapping whips and worse. I am ANGRY. I am HURT. I despise what's happening in this country right now. Eric Garner spoke these as his last words, and I whisper them in desperation now...I CAN'T BREATHE. 

I actually took myself out to the backyard and lay me down in the hammock under the apple and plum trees exhaling pissed-off, inhaling Grace. I felt better, but I don't feel well. I can NO LONGER hold my peace. My prayer this morning after devotion was to have a heart for Justice and to be filled with Divine Grace. I’ve been singing Smokie Norful since....I Need You Now.

Jesus healed the leper; His call was to serve the least. It’s not like those were popular choices then, and they’re no sexier now. My call to action was clear…we’ve got to do better.

How often do we actually put into practice, “WWJD?” Does it frame and inform every action? How about all the words we say, or every single approaches we take, not just on Sundays but in every area of our lives? I know my answer-social justice should be a sacrament.                                                                                                                                         
There is too much happening in the world that affects me personally, affecting us all to remain silent and still any longer. Being mistaken for #SandraBland on Facebook was a wake-up call. More of church, Most of church needs to happen outside the walls, and I’m committing here and now. I’ll be doing more because it all matters. Because He never forgets the works we do or the love we show His people. We need to be about Our Father’s business, all the time.

Eric Garland, writer and strategist describes our current state of affairs as follows,

The machine that we task with law and order has gone insane and is killing random people for bull**** reasons. Stop everything. 
This comes first. Any of us could be next.

Any of us could be next. I am #SandraBland, and so are you. 

OneWord 2015

OneWord 2015

C'mon. Follow along. Please?