“God has the power to provide you with more than enough of every kind of grace. That way, you will have everything you need always and in everything to provide more than enough for every kind of good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8
To win their case, a good litigator never asks a question that they don’t already know the answer to. It exposes them to potential blind spots and vulnerability. This practice has seeped into how we interact and live in relationship to one another. We try so hard to win debates and arguments that we end up losing what matters; each other. We don’t want to be vulnerable. It doesn’t feel good. Well sometimes we have to get uncomfortable to achieve better relationships. This is such a time. A phrase that always makes my skin crawl is “these people.” It sounds and feels distancing, especially when we need to be close. We are the people.
This year I’d been getting really excited about great strides that were being made in my community with current leadership and growing up of new leaders through healing old and current wounds, engaging in meaningful dialogue and being honest about mistakes. Yes I’m talking about getting excited about the conversations going on about and among black men. As a single black woman with a daughter the stakes are high for me. As Jill Scott sings so soulfully, “We need you.” So I was overjoyed to see men having hard conversations, facing the issues, supporting one another, admitting faults without placing blame and calling each other higher. We were growing up. We were healing. I want so badly to replace “were” with “are.” I continue to hope that progress hasn’t come to a screeching halt, but that we will continue to push through and move forward in a positive direction.
The thing with the phrase “these people” is that it allows those who use it to set themselves apart when we’re really not. What goes on in our country effects everyone, it also is a reflection of everyone whether we want to admit and embrace the thought or not. It’s “WE” the people. Not “us” or “them.” It’s time we bridge gaps and shed labels. Yes embrace who you are, but also be willing to embrace and allow space for who you’re not. Mentoring and volunteering come to mind when I think of developing relationships with those we wouldn’t normally interact with in our daily life. Maybe if we rub elbows when stakes aren’t so high, we’ll know how to act when the stakes are, without things escalating to a place where nobody wins.
I’m willing to admit that…
I don’t know… I haven’t walked in everyone’s shoes. I don’t have to. There are experiences that I have not had. There are things that I was not taught. That doesn’t mean that I will not be affected by them. That doesn’t mean that I have to have certain experiences to learn from them or sympathize. Is there something I could be doing to help? I could start with acknowledging that some have life experiences that shape them that I know nothing about.
I wasn’t prepared… There are responsibilities I have due to circumstances and some due to choices that I’ve made that I just wasn’t prepared to handle. I’m willing, however, to do my best. I’m also prepared if possible and necessary to let someone else handle it. I’m also open to counsel where I need to do better. Be willing to seek advice and wise counsel when you’re feeling overwhelmed and recognize that you don’t know what you’re doing and need help. Letting pride keep me doing things the wrong way will only hurt me and others who depend on me to get it right.
I didn’t experience… There are experiences by the grace of God that I haven’t had and will probably never have. So I need to be careful not to speak too quickly about someone else’s life experience. There’s a time to just be – listen and be there for support.
I don’t understand… Some things I don’t get. That’s when I need to ask questions. That’s when I need the patience of others – patience with my lack of understanding; patience with my questions; and willingness to bring me up to speed even if we end up disagreeing. At least we talked about it and were heard. That’s a start. We may not agree, but we can walk away understanding each other’s perspective and maybe even how we got there.
I’m not you… Somewhere, somehow the misconception that we have to all be the same came about. We aren’t and probably never will be. That’s okay. It has to be. But there is a way we can co-exist without making one another miserable. Let’s find the way.
I’m afraid of… I’m pretty brave for the most part and willing to be vulnerable no matter how many times I get hurt. And I do hurt and at times cry in the dark. When I searched myself for what I’m most afraid of…WHO I’m afraid of… It’s definitely selfish and self-centered people. I hope someday there will be more people who realize life isn’t about what they get but what they give. There truly is enough for you and for you to share.
I pray that those who need to talk start talking, those who need to listen start listening, those who need to share start sharing, and those who need to receive start accepting so that “US” and “THEM” starts looking and feeling a lot more like “WE.”
Be prepared for the healing to take time. Be prepared for there to be setbacks.
It takes maturity to admit that I was wrong, but I’m so ready to do it in the areas of my life that will help me to change for the better. I want to be so wrong about some things that it feels really good and refreshing.
Are you ready? I am…
I’m challenging myself and you to at least weekly experience something different about someone else, and let them experience something different about you. Talk to someone with whom you don’t have shared experiences, look like, don’t know and really listen with an open mind with the intent of knowing who they are. WE all need it. ❤