Healing is not accidental. It is not coincidental. Healing in our lives, our thinking, etc., is intentional. It is a process.
This is the journey I have been on and the journey I will be on for the rest of my life. (I almost typed “God willing”, but I know it is God’s will.)
The journey of healing in my life has been in justice. Racial justice. It has been learning more about me and my biases. It has been learning more about my culture. It has been learning more about American church culture. And American culture.
There is not some moment where I, with false humility, would have said, “I just want to be colorblind” or “I’m colorblind.” There is not some moment I could say, “I’ve never had a racist attitude.”
Over my life I have known my heart stirs when confronted with racism. I can clearly remember a moment when I was in junior high and a man asking me about my school and if we had any good (insert the “N” word here) on our basketball team. I was shaken in my bones and responded, “No sir. But, we have some great BLACK players on our team.” (And I still don’t know if that was right. I just know I was trying to hold down rage.)
Yet, I grew up in a town where I simply didn’t know the struggle my black brothers and sisters were going through in the same spaces I occupied. That is something I am still learning. It is something I am still healing.
I can remember being a young pastor in the denomination I grew up in and learning, from a black minister, the racism he dealt with in the 60s from our denomination. Yet, he was full of grace and was gladly ministering in our denomination, working to bring awareness and healing.
My journey in the past few years has a particular starting point. In this recent journey of healing, it’s been very intentional on my part to not only learn my biases, but how to understand the systems we are still dealing with and what is needed in change to bring true cultural healing.
The starting point was the book The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. It was a deep dive into statistics, legal history, and current law that helped frame my thinking. I am grateful for that book being recommended in my life by someone who knew it was the right time to mention it to me.
Over the years since I have been on a constant journey of awareness in my own life, awareness in the American church, and awareness in our culture.
I can draw a line from Michelle Alexander’s book to the one I just finished, My Grandmother’s Hands by Resmaa Menakem.
What I have found in Menaekem’s book is hope. And a challenge. His approach is as a therapist. He is not looking at our issues from a legal or historical perspective. He sees trauma. And trauma can be healed.
While he is hopeful, he is also realistic. His HOPE is he can get whites, blacks, and law enforcement to have leaders who will walk in healing… and he acknowledges this is something that will take a long time. Years. Decades. Generations. It is not out of despair he writes this. It is out of hope and a sense of longing to get to the work of healing.
This healing is possible. I am on this journey. I am also challenged because I know I need to do more. Manaekem’s book helps because I also understand I am in need of a centered body and spirit. I am in need of continual spiritual formation in my own life so I am not operating out of continual rage all the time.
I am on a journey of growing out of white-body supremacy. (You REALLY need to read the book to understand that term, but here is the simple lesson: What did you feel when you read that term: white-body supremacy? This is body trauma. This is where healing is needed.)
Some realizations on this journey from this book:
1. I will not be able to be guided by others all the time. I have been learning to read my body, my thoughts, and my actions over the years to understand how trauma is working.
2. I have to speak out more. I have to call out, in some way, the racist attitudes when I see them. This is where I need a more centered life in Christ so my emotions are settled.
3. I need to continually study the stories (as I can learn them) about my family and their journey. When they immigrated to the U.S., was it out of trauma in their homeland? What trauma did they face here?
4. I continue to study the world. I continue to study history, and reading history from multiple perspectives. Not just the white perspective.
5. It has been a years-long journey and it will continue to be years of learning.
Healing is taking place. It continues in me. I want to leave a witness here that says, “Healing is taking place in me. Now, I want healing to begin to take place through me.”