SAVING OUR BROKEN HUMANITY, ONE CONVERSATION AT A TIME

My wife, Julie Snodgrass, had the idea of her posting on here once in a while. So she wrote this beautiful post and I had to share with you all… Enjoy!

“I was talking to a friend yesterday and I was struck but the amazing capacity in the development of people, relationships, and human possibility. You see when I met this young woman, she was only in high school and while she was beautiful and talented, she was a somewhat insecure, not-to-sure of herself high school student who sought approval of those around her to define her. I was her “leader.” Now she is in her twenties, and is a young woman that inspires me. She is a bold and daring, and deeply insightful woman who is empowered in who she was made to be. And now, here we sit, not leader and follower, but friends- talking life, current worldly events, and sharing our hearts on the devastation of hatred, pride, ignorance, and arrogance that is destroying our country, and really the world.

As we sat and talked I found myself in a posture of learning through her experience. We talked about what life was like for her growing up in a multi-ethnic home and the identity struggles that came with that. I even asked her advice and expressed my own concerns about raising my muli-ethnic family. And here we are teacher turned student…. Isn’t that the beauty of relationship? And not just the beauty of relationship, but that is the beauty of all of humanity?

We are creatures who can learn and grow from one another, we learn by stories, and every time we hear someone else’s story, we expand our view of this world and we expand our possibilities as a society.

At one point in our conversation she said, “I just wish people can understand that it is possible and even healthy to live in duality: I grieve with Black Lives Matter AND care deeply about the lives of Officers.” And she is right. Living in a single and isolated mindset is what everyone in our culture today would call ignorance. So what is the uncomfortable middle? It is that, uncomfortable for now, but desperately needed. We need to be people who can learn to listen to “both sides” and create a circle around them. We need to actively be reconcilers: but how do we do that?

My cousins’ facbook post the other day talked about how he was jogging down his street working out and how a car pulled into a driveway about 20 yards ahead of him and a woman got out and started yelling, “You F*ing N*er you are what is wrong with this world…” I couldn’t really read past the first three words without wanting to scream, and as I read on to finish the devastating comment along with the comments he was receiving back I realized what kind of lose-lose situation that put him in.
1) He responds back with the same amount of anger back at her and falls into the stereotypes she OBVIOUSLY thinks fit his color

2) He holds his tongue and she thinks she is right in giving vent to her anger

Let me tell you, my cousin it not what is wrong with this world. He is a caring, talented, amazing young man who held his tongue and chose the only win he could see that day- not to legitimize her anger or her stereotypes.

So how, when that is our current situation, can we be reconcilers? Can there be a bridge built between my cousin and the woman who verbally assaulted him? Maybe. And it might not have been possible the heat of that moment. But what if they actually got to know each other? What if she took a chance to actually have a relationship with a black person? What if she just lost a relative who was an officer? What if she is a mother, a daughter? Would she be so harsh if she knew even 2 amazing people of color? So living as a reconciler is not pretty, it is messy. There is unspeakable pain that happens day in and day out in this world, and we need to start a conversation, get uncomfortable, hear how other people have been made to feel in their life situation and seek forgiveness, love, and mercy. None of that is easy, but it is necessary. You see, we are a species who can learn and grow from story, from experience, and when we open ourselves up to experience beyond our own, we open up a whole new world of growth and learning. Lets diversify our dinner parties, let’s learn what it’s like in someone else’s shoes and let’s open our heart and mind to listen, learn, love, and heal.”

Written by: Julie Snodgrass

Posted on July 20, 2016 in Leadership, Personal Growth, Racial Reconciliation, Relationships, Unite Church

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