Saturday, June 6, 2020

Four reasons I didn't say Black Lives Matter & the one reason I do now

A friend of mine posed an honest question on Facebook. For those who are stuck on "All Lives Matter," why are you still there?

I thought giving an honest answer might help others understand how to get the message across as well. Then, when I went back to paste my answer in, the question was gone. So I decided to turn it into a blog post. 

I, of course, believe Black Lives Matter. Always have. I love people, all people.

However, I only started saying it that way very recently... within the last week or two. It was hard to switch from saying ALL to BLACK... Here's why.

First of all, I felt pressured into the change. I was told I was a racist for not saying it. And because I know I'm not, I wasn't going to be shamed into changing. 

Many people who are passionate about this issue are also hateful to those who don't understand. So hateful, we fear asking questions because we know the answers we will get and labels that will be put on us. For many of us, our first response is to cling tighter to what we believe and ignore those who hurt us.

Second, change and growth often mean admitting you were wrong before. Admitting you might have been wrong is a hard thing for us humans, but so are change and growth... and we know those are desirable. Still, because of the other reasons mentioned here, there was no way I was saying they were right and I was wrong.   

Third, it seemed like it was tied to a political party. I felt saying it meant turning my back on my other political beliefs. I was afraid I was accepting an agenda I knew nothing about and didn't understand from a political party that makes no sense to me.
I wasn't giving up a part of myself that was important to me (the rest of my political beliefs) for a phrase I didn't understand.

Which is the fourth reason... I really didn't understand. All lives matter feels like the most agenda-less of the two phrases. It felt like a phrase nobody could disagree with in a society where everyone fights about everything all the time. "All lives matter" feels safe.

But this last couple weeks everyone has been angry with each other, fighting over every word and action and definition. Quick to accuse and delete and I realized the first thing I needed to do was try to understand.

Asking questions was awful. I don't know why people are so mean to someone who WANTS to understand them. Instead, many would rather make me feel bad for not understanding them already. So I saved questions for when I really needed to hear other people's thoughts. The rest of the time I researched on my own. 

When I first read the burning house analogy, it sort of made sense to me.
I was thinking about that one a little bit. 

But then I saw this post on Facebook about Jesus leaving the 99 to go after the 1. 

That's what made it clear. I was able to see it & understand then. And because nobody was yelling at me or looking down their nose being condescending to me, I also was able to realize it wasn't political tied to an agenda. It's about people who are hurting, asking us to acknowledge their value.

How many times in my life, have I sat at the feet of  Jesus, broken, and said, "Tell me You love me, Lord." Imagine if the message He sent back, however He sent it, came across as, "I love all my children." 

While true, that answer would have crushed me... because I didn't need reassurance about all God's children in that moment. I needed to know that I was loved. Looking back, I've come to realize that God has NEVER ONE TIME let me leave one of those moments without knowing I was loved. 

People stuck on the word "all" need realize this is not about politics or agendas or bowing to pressure. It's not about whether you have been right or wrong.
This is about a group of people crying out in pain saying, "Please tell me I matter to you."
When that happens, we have to put aside our own fear, politics, agendas, and feelings, and tell them, "Yes, you matter to me. Of course you matter to me. I hear your pain and I want you to know, your life matters to me." 

And that's the one reason I say, Black Lives Matter.


Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Delete me if

Our country is a sad, scary place right now. I could write for hours about all the terrible things happening. But there is something people aren't talking about, and it hurts my heart to see it over and over again in a time when we all need to be coming together. 

You've seen the posts. Maybe you've written the posts...
"Delete me if..." 
"If you believe XYZ, delete me." 
"If you don't agree with XZY, delete yourself... I don't have time for you." 

Time and again I've seen it posted this last several days, and it's heartbreaking.

Does deleting them say more about you or them?
Many people feel they are saying, "This belief is so important, I will sacrifice friends for it." and "Your beliefs aren't worth hearing because they are ridiculous."  But these people forget it's a two way street. You are also saying, "I don't believe I can make a difference in your life."

And maybe you won't. But shouldn't you try, even if trying is just you living your life true to you and they see it and make changes that you never see?

Another problem with this... You are helping propagate selection & confirmation bias for both you and the person you want to delete. Everybody believes something that is based almost entirely on the fact that everyone they know believes the same thing. Or, these days, because they read it on Facebook in one of their heavily biased groups. You might be the only voice of reason some of your friends see on a given topic. 

I've done it myself. I've posted about subjects I thought I knew inside and out, only to learn new facts from friends who believe differently than I did. I can't imagine how much growth within myself would have been stunted if I only surrounded myself with people who believed the same as I do, (or who never said anything if they didn't.)

If you are ever going to make a difference on a personal level, it has to be done with love. Telling someone to "Delete me if..." is the same as saying, "I don't care about you." and that isn't love. Love is patient and kind and slow to anger. 

Another thing that is often slow... change. Even once it happens the person who is changing may not let on. Growth is hard. And admitting you are growing is even harder because you have to admit that you might have been wrong before. In other words, just because you don't see growth, doesn't mean it isn't happening.

Just remember, someone's friendship or impact on your life (or your impact on theirs) is more important than a belief they hold, however strongly either of you feel about it. Imagine if I said, "Delete me if you don't believe Jesus Christ is the son of God and you make fun of people who do." I would lose a lot of amazing people from my life. 

There are some good reasons to delete or block people from your life at times. If they harass you or cause you problems, or if their beliefs are directly impacting more than your social media timelines, then by all means, quietly delete them and let it go.

You don't have to be friends with everyone, and boundaries are good. But when your boundaries are so tight that you can't even turn your head to try to see something from someone else's viewpoint or to see that there is more value to another human being than one belief they hold, then regardless of what it is you don't agree with, there is something wrong with your boundaries.

Even Jesus hung out with imperfect people who sometimes said and/or believed stupid things. He didn't cast them away. He walked in grace and gave them the opportunity to learn.

Even if you don't agree with any of this, I don't want you to delete me. 

I want you to know that I love you and value you and your opinions and beliefs, even if they are different from my own. 

Maybe that should say especially if they are different from my own. Much of the learning and growing that I have done over the years has come through friends who shared their different perspective and knowledge with me... and I wouldn't trade that for a bunch of people who agreed with everything I said, any day of the week. 

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. 
John 13:34-35

Bless those who persecute you; bless and don't curse them.
Live in harmony with one another. 
Do not be haughty, but associate with the humble. 
Never be wise in your own sight.
~ Romans 12 (Excerpts)