Pastor Debbie's E-Devotion - August 28, 2020

 I was talking with a friend the other day about the need for more growth, healing, and repentance for racial relations across the country. We talked about microaggressions, the challenge of being challenged to confront our own prejudice, and a need to be open and humble to continued learning. As I thought about it, it seemed a lot like working out. Stay with me….

When you work out, you are working on strength, endurance, and flexibility. If you haven’t been working out regularly when you start back everything hurts. Often for days. You become aware of muscles you didn’t even know you had. Right? And, the pain can tempt you to go back to the couch instead of the gym. But, as you grow back into the habit, generally you hurt less. A daily routine of exercise gives you a sustainable strength and flexibility that frees you to try more, and do more without as much pain. Though every once in a while, you’ll do a new exercise, or add weight, or go further, and then you have that significant pain all over again.

I call it “good pain”. It’s different than “bad pain”—the pain signals when something is broken, or torn, or bruised. Good pain is a signal that your muscles are growing stronger. It can be hard to differentiate between the types of pain…after all…it hurts either way. But, with good pain you know it’s because you’ve been working hard at growing stronger. It’s a reflection of your efforts. And there’s an odd satisfaction in it because you know you’ll be stronger, have more endurance, and be more flexible.

Confronting racial prejudice and injustice is often painful. If you aren’t accustomed, it can be really painful as you get started, so much so that you don’t want to go back to it. But, when we work to fight injustice, be more compassionate, and truly hear the stories of those around us we become stronger and more flexible. And…it hurts. That truth is there, too. It takes consistent work. Without it, every time we come back to it, the pain will be severe. But if we stick with it, taking action almost daily, then our efforts pay off. We suffer less with each “exercise” of racial reconciliation; and even when it hurts, we can take some heart in knowing it’s “good pain”. It’s pain that’s helping us become a better person, one who is more readily able to reflect the kingdom of God—where all persons are valued and treated with respect, dignity, and compassion.

I have to admit, there have been times in my life when I was fully immersed in the work of racial reconciliation. I was doing “exercises” daily that opened my heart and my eyes to systemic injustice, unstated prejudice, and micro-aggressions. And, there have been other times in my life where I knew that I did it then and didn’t work as hard at staying in shape. And when I got back at it…examining my own prejudice, listening to perspectives that were divergent from my own, and practicing humility in it, it hurt. It hurt to think I might be contributing to racial injustice. It hurt to think that my friends from other races and ethnicities may think I’m participating or complicit in their suffering. But as I get back into the rhythm, it hurts less. I build my strength and my flexibility, and hopefully my endurance, too.

One thing that seems abundantly clear in this wave of racial awareness (for lack of another way of saying it) is that we can’t think that changing systems of oppression, injustice, and outright hatred will be overcome in just a couple of weeks, months, or even years. We have to commit to a life-long journey of being better as individuals to be better as a community to be better as a society.

Just like exercising for a couple of months won’t sustain my health for the next couple of decades, my work of racial reconciliation for a manner of weeks won’t make the change needed to be different in 20 years. I have to be consistent.

At the very least, I hope you know I’m in it for the long haul. Just like I’ve spent significant time and energy over the last few years modifying my daily exercise habits, I’ve also worked to modify my daily racial justice habits. I’m not fully fit in either regard. There is always room to grow. But I’m in it. And I hope that means you’ll see me as a resource. If I can be a sounding board, if I can recommend podcasts, or books, or movies that have helped me think and see differently, I’m happy to do that.

In Christ
Pastor Debbie


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