This past November I made my first trip to Washington, D.C. It was a lovely experience and helped to bring the history of this country alive in new ways. Two of the most meaningful museums for me were the African American Museum and the Holocaust Museum. It was painful and humbling to witness evidence for the ways that our world and our country have turned a blind eye to injustice or have often been the instigators of inequality.
A little over a week ago, the Golden Globes focused on the #metoo movement. It was encouraging to hear Oprah’s speech, especially when she directed her talk to the young women watching the broadcast. But listening to story after story of women being overlooked, assaulted and abused is awful – this is reality for many of my sisters.
Have we changed? Yes. But….
It is worth celebrating the end of slavery and the Jim Crow era. It is worth celebrating women claiming their rights and saying no to sexual assault and abuse. It is worth celebrating those who helped bring about changes and gave everything to do so.
But we cannot stop here. Both racism and sexism deal with structures of power and control. Even when the more overt sides of these issues are quelled, there still remains the subtle beliefs and structures that continue to create chaos and hatred in our society.
I visited Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Memorial in DC. I cried as I looked on his statue and read quotes of his. I cried because his call to freedom and equality are just as needed today. While so much has changed, it can feel like nothing has changed.
We have come a long way, but we have a long way to go. We find ourselves in the middle of change.
The temptation in the midst of change is to become hopeless or full of false hope. We become hopeless when the work seems too extensive, and those resisting change seem infinite. We lean into a false hope (or as Dr. King would say, a “superficial optimism”) when we see some change and assume all the work is finished.
How do we keep hope? How do we stay grounded in reality? How do we stand in the tension of the middle space of change?
I must admit that I have struggled to hope this past year. Discord in our country, countless stories of abuse, Charlottesville, and most recently the statements made by our president about Haiti and African countries, have made me want to give up. It is disheartening for me to witness one in power make, at the least, dismissive, at the worst, racist, statements. (Note: While this past year has been particularly hopeless for me, I must acknowledge that as a white woman, I have had the privilege to be removed for much of the racist sentiments and violence that the African American community has dealt with on a daily basis.)
I feel a bit like the little drummer boy, with not much to offer. The abilities I have to make changes seem small and insignificant. I am not a politician with a large base to fund my fight. I am not a person of note, to whom many will listen to. Here’s what I can do.
I can write and speak to those in my communities. I can march. I can write my politicians. And I can pray.
Perhaps you feel similarly powerless in the face of these problems. I invite you to join me in this midway between change. Let us grieve together. Let us pray together. Let us not settle for easy answers. Let us encourage each other to keep fighting for change. Let us be surrogates of hope for those who feel hopeless and worn out.
Let us be together.
To help you pray and reflect through these ideas, I’ve written a few questions. Spend some time praying through these questions with God:
- How do I respond to the problems I see around me? Do I tend towards hopelessness or towards a false optimism? Why might that be?
- God, how might you want to meet me here?
- How do I feel about stepping into the middle of change? How do I need Jesus in this place?
- Jesus, show me your heart for people impacted by racism, sexism, etc. How do you see them? Where are you calling me to in the midst of these problems?