It's been a very long time... I don't really consider myself a writer, but sometimes there's just no better way to process. Sometimes it's just too much to keep inside. And that's a good thing. It's not healthy to keep it inside. And it's usually easier to figure out my scrambled thoughts through writing and rearranging than talking. So here goes...
Today I read this by Eugene Peterson, “Pain isn’t the worst thing. Being hated isn’t the worst thing. Being separated from the one you love isn’t the worst thing. Death isn't the worst thing. The worst thing is failing to deal with reality and becoming disconnected from what is actual. The worst thing is trivializing the honorable, desecrating the sacred. What I do with my grief affects the way you handle your grief; together we form a community that deals with death and other loss in the context of God’s sovereignty, which is expressed finally in resurrection…We don’t become mature human beings by getting lucky or cleverly circumventing loss, and certainly not by avoidance and distraction. Learn to lament.”
Our culture has a tendency to want to avoid dealing with things like pain loss and grief. We go to funerals and now we celebrate the deceased’s life as opposed to mourning the loss of their life. We “comfort” those who can’t conceive with cliches about God’s timing and facts on adoptions or treatments. Black boys and men are getting killed at an overwhelming rate and so many of us continue walking through our daily routines with perhaps a head shake or a “what is going on with the world”, but without taking the time to mourn the loss of so much potential. Not just the potential of these individual lives, created in the image of God, but the potential for our nation to heal and be reconciled, one to another, dwelling together in unity. Perhaps we’re still dealing with this issue because as a nation, as a church we’ve never taken the time to mourn the loss of the african american (and native american) lives and freedom that were taken unfairly and too soon. We do ourselves no justice by avoiding, sweeping under the rug, and the “let’s just forget and move on” mentality. If the way I deal with my grief as a white person affects the way you deal with your grief, then what I do and say and how I act in regards to news about these lives and verdicts is extremely important.
We need to learn to lament. Not forget. Not keep calm and carry on. Not riot. But lament. Cry. Mourn with those who mourn. Because his death affects your life, even if you can’t see how. I’m so thankful for a church who is willing to walk into the pain of it’s people. For brothers and sisters who are willing to share their pain and stories and sisters and brothers who are willing to hear and wrestle with the pain of others. We need so much more of this. In formal and informal settings, in the church and outside of it, at work and over coffee.
While I’m sure the news is a hot mess right now of who’s right and who’s wrong and who deserved what (I don’t actually watch the news), can we all just agree that despite whatever justice or injustice has been done, the loss of life, the segregation of our country, the inequalities that still exist are worthy of grieving. Let’s not become disconnected from the pain, but push into it. Let's not ignore the difficult, but embrace it. To my white brothers and sisters, I beg of you, be willing to interact with the pain, the anger, the grief. We’ve got to listen. No facts, no cliches, just shared grieving. To my brothers and sisters of color, I beg of you, continue to share your pain. I can only imagine how hard it is when you feel like your deepest emotions and fears are being written off as unjustified or over-reactive. But please don't give up on us.
God calls us to lament, he calls us to reconcile, and he calls us to unity. We can’t have one without the others.