Bid Thou Our Sad Divisions Cease
A few years ago, I walked through a time of hurt and betrayal. While I had been wounded in my life prior to this time, this particular period in my life wounded me more deeply than I could have imagined.
In the aftermath, I responded in ways that surprised me. I began to distrust everyone. The slightest indication that someone might be hiding something from me brought out an almost physical response. I hurt others with my words- before they could hurt me. I built walls around my heart to protect myself from any more agony.
I lost friendships that I treasured during this time, because I pushed people away. Or I believed that they were pushing me away. For awhile I lost touch with reality and found myself living in a world of assumptions. There was no resolution, no opportunity for reconciliation and I was reeling from it all.
The response of others to me during this fragile time was interesting. Some were incredibly compassionate. They knew my heart and they weren’t afraid to get close to me, prickles and all. Others found it easier to just let me walk away. But the thing that was the most difficult was discovering that people had expectations of how I should handle this betrayal. They expected me to keep my mouth shut (after all, a pastor’s wife should just be able to deal with anything, right?). They assumed that there must be some grievous sin on my part (otherwise, why would I have been treated this way, by people they trusted as well?). But the most difficult response was from people who couldn’t understand why I felt so betrayed. Get over it already, they seemed to be saying to me.
I couldn’t explain why it hurt so deeply, but it didn’t change the fact that it did.
God has done a great work of healing in my heart, but all of these feelings and struggles came to the surface for me recently. The racial divide that is breaking our country apart is tearing ME apart. But what can a white girl from the suburbs bring to this conversation? How can I possibly say anything that will mean anything?
And yet, I feel compelled to say something. Because I don’t want to just stay silent on this issue that breaks my heart and that I know breaks the heart of my Father God. I can’t just walk away from this.
What I see as I look at the racial divisions that are causing such great rifts in our country are a lot of assumptions and expectations without a whole lot of compassion. The truth is there are black people who commit crimes. And there are white police officers who respond inappropriately. But until we are willing to go to the heart of this matter, there will be no healing, no reconciliation, no resolution to this issue that goes much deeper than the crimes committed.
As the body of Christ, we need to go beyond reacting to issues as they arise and start being proactive about loving those who are hurting. As a white woman, I will never understand the hurt and betrayal that my black brothers and sisters face. I just can’t. Knowing this to be true doesn’t mean I can excuse their pain, because I don’t get it. It doesn’t mean that I can say get over it already. That is NEVER a response that we should use as believers in Christ. Instead our role should be to have hearts of compassion, to seek to truly know those who are different than us in color, shape, background and culture. We don’t get to make judgments on how others should handle pain.
I know this is hard. It is much easier to look at societal issues and fall on one side or the other on those issues. But the example that Jesus set is the harder road. It is the road that says, you need to talk with the Samaritan woman at the well, even though that goes against all of the traditions of the day. It says that you need to have dinner with the tax collectors, regardless of how the religious leaders will respond. It means that you don’t let those with the loudest voices, the most money, the most authority have the ONLY voice.
I was reading in Galatians 3 the other day and this verse stood out to me as it always seems to do.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. ~Galatians 3:28
There is no great insight or wisdom I can give on this issue other than to point to scripture and say that when God said he loved ALL the world, he didn’t mean only the ones who look like, act like, think like me. He really meant everybody. If we are to truly reflect His love, that means we are to also love all people.
I wish that I had been met with compassion at the time of my deepest hurt, but the betrayal heaped on the hurt has given me a deeper heart of compassion. I am not willing to make blanket statements- if one black person commits a crime, all black people are criminals (how ridiculous is that?!!!). Or to say they are playing the race card. Really? That is one statement that I wish would be eradicated from our vocabulary. We can say that people are speaking out of their hurt and betrayal and we would be wise to understand that the best opportunity for reconciliation is to meet this with compassion rather than condemnation.
These thoughts are weighing so heavily on me in this season, because the birth of Jesus is a celebration of what Jesus came to this earth to accomplish. He came to give us hope, love, joy and PEACE. We sing O Come, O Come Emmanuel often and this verse always gets to me…
O Come Desire of Nations bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Bid Thou our sad divisions cease,
And be Thyself our King of Peace.
It’s my prayer this Christmas- Bid Thou our sad divisions cease. It starts with me and it starts with you. It starts with knowing our Emmanuel, God with us. It starts with seeking His heart and not our own faulty judgments. It starts with loving as Jesus loved. It starts with seeing others as equal, not less than OR superior based on status or race.
Let me be an instrument of your peace, Oh Father God!