I’ve noticed a lot of pressure to say something. But say the right thing. In exactly the right way.
This may not be that post, but I did want to share my thoughts, and I wanted to do it here, with my friends.
I want to speak about God’s love for every single human being. I want to point out that as much as there seems to be an “either/or” fence out there, things are often more complex than simple. I want to illustrate our capability to be discerning, rather than to merely choose a camp. Perhaps that discernment will lead you to a certain camp; perhaps not.
The point is, there are more than two options, and you decide where you stand.
Let’s start with the least bold example: “health”. I’ve struggled with my health since the birth of my second. There are those who shout from the rooftops that dieting is wrong. It leads people to feel like they are not enough. It idolizes “skinny”. Or. Dieting is not all bad. Achieving your goals lends to greater self-confidence. Putting certain foods into your body helps you feel better, strengthens your heart, and shows respect.
In my struggles over the last few years, I’ve gone back and forth. I want to take care of my body. But I also want to love myself exactly as I am. Only recently, I’ve discovered that I can do both. There may be two camps in the world, but I have the opportunity to make decisions in the moment, based on what is right for me.
Sometimes, that looks like not weighing myself for months and meeting with a dietitian who specializes in Intuitive Eating & unconditional permission. It looks like no longer obsessing about food and my body, and no longer feeling like I’m falling short of the mark. It looks like building a better relationship with food, and with myself.
Sometimes, that looks like counting calories before we try for our next child, so that I can lose enough weight to have a healthy, happy pregnancy the third time around. Do I believe that you have to be ____lbs. before trying? Absolutely not. But when I was pregnant with my son, my weight exacerbated some problems I would love to mitigate in the future. I had a hard pregnancy, and severe postpartum depression afterward. If counting calories works for me, that’s okay.
For me, in the end, it looks like both at once – I count calories, but I eat mindfully and listen to my body. I don’t pay attention to macros. And if there’s a special treat that will tip the scales, I often eat it anyway – guilt-free.
I pray about my body, and my health, and I make my own camp.
A Two-Party System
How about politics?
My parents are Republican. My neighbors are Democrats. My friends are both. Personally, I won’t tell you where I fall, but I will tell you that I don’t vote straight “Red” or “Blue”. I vote according to my principles. I believe a fetus is a precious life with inherent rights therein. I believe that a refugee is the same – a precious life with inherent rights therein.
I pray about the issues, and I make my own camp.
Sometimes that prayer involves a great wrestling, and I learn a lot.
Now, to my point, but allow me to first clear the air. Murder is murder. George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor… these are just three names of what I am sure is a very long list. What happened to them is a horrible injustice, and a heartbreak for every son and daughter of God.
Most of the people I follow or encounter agree on that front.
The two “camps” I’ve run into instead center around what to do about it. “Yes, things are horrible, but the riots are not right.” Or. “Things are horrible enough to warrant this response.”
I understand the concept that silence is deafening. That not saying something is a message all on its own. But I struggle to define my own message, because it doesn’t fall into one of the available options. There are so many complexities.
First, while I may not entirely agree with the rioting, that doesn’t mean I believe violence isn’t the answer. That may be shocking to hear coming from me. I believe violence should be used as a last resort, but I also believe that peaceful avenues have been thoroughly exhausted in this case. At the time of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks, the actions they took were also illegal, radical, and yet they were pivotal.
However, I believe the violence ought to be strategic self defense, even when taking the offensive position, that collateral damage to innocent bystanders and their property ought to be minimized, and that we are always responsible for our actions – so we ought to make sure we can stand by them.
Second – I’ve seen a video of a supposed white supremacist taking the opportunity to make the rioting look worse:
People damage things to vilify. People loot to get free stuff. Parties are involved that have nothing to do with the protest. That adds complexity, too. You can’t simply say, “But look at the horrible things they are doing in response.”
Third, I feel like, who am I to have an opinion on this? I can’t judge what is a “right” or “wrong” retaliation. I don’t know what it is to be a black person living in America. That gives me zero authority to tell someone how they ought to be handling it. Thus, I can only say what I know:
- George Floyd was very clearly murdered, and he wasn’t the first. Sometimes, good trouble, necessary trouble precedes necessary change. What constitutes good trouble, I couldn’t always say.
- People are hurting, and that’s not okay. Empathy, kindness, and compassion are some of my most deeply-cherished values. How can I mourn with those that mourn if I don’t take the time to hear someone else’s story? Someone different from me? There is so much power in being willing to listen.
- I am extremely privileged, entirely without any action on my part, but I hope to use that privilege to help wherever I can. The worth of EVERY soul is great in the eyes of God.
- Actions speak louder than words. Proximity sometimes makes this difficult, but I try to use my voice. I also know I can make the biggest difference within my own home – in how I teach my kids. That’s why I work so hard to educate myself, and we are learning so much as a family.
- Sometimes, discomfort is a part of this walk, and that’s okay. It doesn’t have to be perfect, or a well-thought-out solution… I only know I can’t say nothing.
Maybe your list looks different. I make my own camp, and I pray about it.
I hope that I can make a difference. That this is good enough. That I’m not “complicit” in the racism around me, as I would never want to be. That all people can feel safe and loved soon.
What do you know?