The first half of 2020 has played like the opening lines from a Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”
It’s easy to put a finger on the “worst of times.” Bleeding headlines are daily realities for many, but all of us have been impacted on some level. There’s not even a need to rehash the particulars because we’re already so intimately, and sometimes painfully, acquainted.
But what about “the best of times”? How could I suggest such a possibility in the midst of societal, political, economic, cultural, pandemical, and even ecumenical upheaval? In my lifetime, I have never seen our country – or the Church – so battered and bruised, so grievously divided.
If that was where this story ends, it’d be heartbreaking and reason to despair. So, I mean it with everything in me when I say, Thank God, this isn’t the end of our story. I sense we’re in the depths of tectonic shift, and when everything feels uncertain, we need to remind each other what is true: God is still God, and He is always and only good. Thankfully, He remains in control, and not only in an abstract, future sense, but now, in our present world too.
I make a claim in For All Who Wander that explains, in part, why I’m convinced we’re living in the best of times despite the chaos and brokenness: There is no greater evidence of God at work in the world than a changed mind that leads to a changed life.
In this season, I see evidence of God at work in our world because minds are changing. Lives are changing.
Our longing for a better world reveals our desperate need for God. Never have I been more grateful for (in)courage as a companion to my faith. Every essay conveys a powerful and encouraging message of hope, light, and love, pointing to the only Truth that can disperse darkness.
Over the past several years, (in)courage has made a concerted effort to add writers of color. We’ve had the joy of getting to know them through their words here, and I’ve observed how deeply each contributor loves Jesus and cares about you, our precious readers. I’ve seen these women labor over their words to bring glory to God, encouraging and equipping the body while providing invaluable insight.
We tell diverse stories because we’re informed by our unique experiences, but our goal is always the same: to speak truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Our words are lasers pointing to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2 NKJV). We know that He alone is our Hope.
Not one of us claims to “know it all.” We earnestly desire to learn from one another – iron sharpening iron – in order to grow in our faith. We offer our words as a well-worn pair of shoes, so that for a moment, you can walk around in them and see a world so different from your own through a different set of eyes.
We can learn something important, unexpected, and beautiful when we listen with open hearts and ears. But this can only happen when we lay down personal agenda, let go of a need to be “right,” and beg the Holy Spirit to renew and transform our minds, bringing conviction when necessary.
Sometimes we’ll actually realize long-held beliefs or practices are wrong or harmful even when we sincerely didn’t mean it that way. Our intentions really don’t matter; repenting and following the Lord’s leading do.
Like years ago, when I genuinely meant something as a compliment and said to Anthony, a member of a Bible study my husband and I attended early in our marriage:
“When I look at you, I don’t see color.”
As you might conclude, he was a person with skin color different from my own.
For years I used this phrase as a sincere attempt to extol the “virtue” of colorblindness. I thought this was the right way to express equality between white people and people of color. It was a way of suggesting I wasn’t a racist and that I saw people the way God sees them.
I didn’t yet know what I didn’t know, and it certainly hadn’t occurred to me how that the phrase was hurtful. I can’t say whether someone corrected my misguided ideology or the Holy Spirit brought enlightenment, but eventually, thankfully, I realized I was wrong and eliminated it from my vocabulary.
This was all a distant memory until I recently joined a peaceful protest following George Floyd’s death. Among an ocean of signs, a bright green one stood out, a list of familiar hashtags filling its page. The eighth one down was an unexpected trigger. It said #GODDOESNOTSEECOLOR, and I wondered how my Black sisters and brothers felt when they read it. I wanted to tap the well-meaning marcher on her shoulder and help her understand the hurtfulness of that phrase because God sees and values every color.
Like me so long ago, she didn’t yet know what she didn’t know. This may even be the first time you’re noticing the distinction, and there is absolutely no shame in that. We’re learners!
Ecclesiastes 3:7 tells us there’s a time to be silent and a time to speak. Being silent doesn’t equal passivity when we’re listening. Silence allows space to learn (if we’re not being knee-jerk defensive) and for the Holy Spirit to do deep heart work.
Discovering you’re wrong about a thing can be a catalyst for transformation, and admitting it to yourself is a courageous first step in the right direction.
Bravo to the ones who are brave enough to really listen to another’s point of view and to truly reconsider long-held beliefs or ideologies. May we be women of courage who aren’t afraid to pivot.
Discovering you’re wrong about a thing can be a catalyst for transformation, and admitting it to yourself is a courageous first step in the right direction. -@robindance: Click To Tweet