How I Plan To Stop Being An Ignorant White Person
If you are already offended by the title of this post please don't stop reading now. Let me explain. I have attempted to write a previous article about how my family and I are navigating the most recent flare of social injustice in our nation. I sent the original post to a black friend who politely shared her thoughts. Basically, it was crap. It wasn’t motivating, helpful, or informative. The part that convicted me most was a question that she asked.
“We sat down several years ago and shared our hearts about racism in this country. What has been the overt change that has compelled you to “do” something now?”
When I considered this question, my complacency was tied to my ignorance. I don’t consider myself to be stupid but I am an ignorant white person in this context. I am only starting to understand the depth and breadth of the circumstances my black friends have faced their entire lives. When you first hear stories of racism and discrimination as a white person it can be tempting to think those are isolated events. The catalyst that George Floyd’s death set off no longer allowed me the comfort of believing these atrocities were one-off occurrences. I am sad and embarrassed I didn’t “get it and get going” before now.
So the goal of this post is to share how I plan to stop being an ignorant white person. I want to become an informed ally to my black friends. What I am sharing are things I am trying to read, watch, and listen to educate myself. Listed below are resources that have been recommended to help me become informed.
White Rage by Carol Anderson - This book presents evidence of policies and legislation that have perpetuated black enslavement and legalized incarceration throughout history. A jaw-dropping tour of black history from acclaimed historian Carol Anderson.
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates - This is a narrative letter from the author to his son describing historically what it means to be black and carry the burden of slavery, segregation, wrongful incarceration, and murder. It is history woven through a personal narrative and it is one of the most recognized books to read on the topic of racism.
Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria by Beverly Daniel Tatum - This is a book that addresses topics we should be prepared to discuss if we are ever going to actually facilitate real change. A sensitive literary work that challenges the racial barriers threatening to continue to divide us.
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration In the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander - I am most interested in diving into this book because it puts our judicial system on trial. It challenges what legislation has done to limit the rights and freedoms of black Americans.
How to Be an Anti Racist - This is a conversation between author, Ibram X. Kendi and Brene Brown. Professor Kendi has written several best-selling books on the topic of antiracism including; How To Be An Antiracist, Stamped, and a children’s board book called Antiracist Baby. It’s never too early to begin teaching our children about racism and how to dismantle it!
Tell Black Stories - This is an entire organization dedicated to the celebration and accurate representation of people of color in the media. It started as an extension of “Color of Change” in Hollywood but now reaches a nationwide audience. This show gives you so many reasons to celebrate the accomplishments and plight of the black creative community.
A Decade of Watching Black People Die from Codeswitch - This episode presented by NPR’s race-focused podcast, Code Switch highlights that the recent surge in racial conversations isn’t new for the black community. It is truly just a larger awakening of white people joining from the sidelines.
Things to watch:
Just Mercy - This is a book that was made into a movie about the true story of civil rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson and his work with death row inmates in Alabama.
Brian Banks - Another true story of wrongful conviction and imprisonment of a young black teen on fabricated rape charges. It highlights the brokenness of the system but more importantly that the people working within the judicial system need to make choices that uphold justice even if the methods are unorthodox.
The Central Park Five/When They See Us - The Central Park Five film is a documentary based on the famous case of five black and Hispanic teens who were wrongfully charged with the rape of a white woman in Central Park in 1989. The film When They See Us is a feature film based on the story.
13th - This is a documentary film that explores the truths that the U.S. imprisons more people than any other nation in the world and ⅓ of the inmates are black. A disproportionate incarceration statistic is only the beginning.
This is obviously not an exhaustive list it’s just where I am starting. For more great Anti-racism tools check out GoodGoodGood.co. If you are like me and want to help change our nation but are unsure where to begin this content is a good place to start. I am very interested in more resources on this topic so if you have recommendations please get in touch through the comments below.
Discovering Sabbath Rest
In an effort to maximize the time while socially isolating, I have started reflecting on lessons God has been teaching me. I am hoping to share a few thoughts over the next few weeks that might resonate with you and be an encouragement that this crisis wasn’t for nothing. I got another revelation (yes this has happened more than once) of how bad I am at rest. I am terrible at sitting still, leaving days unplanned, and keeping an open agenda. I am a “get it done” person. I’m proud of that quality, but it isn’t always beneficial. During this period of social isolation where all of my interactions, school classes, workouts, and professional events were canceled I actually began to discover Sabbath rest.
Before this crisis, I didn’t feel the freedom to choose rest because so many of the events I was involved in were “good” things. Serving at church is a good thing. Shuttling kids to their sports is a good thing. Building healthy friendships through dinner parties is a good thing. Mentoring young people is a good thing. All these are “good things” until they rob you of obedience to God’s word.
“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:9-11 NIV)
The passage above points out that those that follow God’s way rest from their work. God created the heavens and the earth and rested. He enjoyed a day off. I didn’t realize that I had believed a lie that all the “good things” I had packed into my life were paramount to rest. I would fill almost everyday and every moment with something. Social isolation was mandated and my calendar was cleared. This required slowing of life helped me uncovered the restorative fullness that God’s rest provides. I realized I had been allowing the “fullness” of life to be stolen from me.
As I discovered Sabbath rest the anxious and high-strung mindset I carried began to dissolve. The stressed-out feeling of always being behind dissipated. I wasn’t worried about missing an important event or capitalizing on an opportunity. I rested. I felt a deepening sense of trust in the timing and sovereignty of God. I didn’t stop working but I honored the rhythms of work and rest prescribed in the word of God. I enjoyed multiple weeks of mirroring God’s rest. Working for six days and resting for one. I felt peace and joy even though the world seemed to be falling apart.
What did Sabbath rest look like for me?
I knew that this was what I needed before social isolation began but I didn’t choose it. I didn’t take a stand against the enemy of my soul by protecting and preferring God’s way. The self-justifying contentment I felt from being busy was a cheap reward compared to the revitalizing rest God offered. I am realizing now that I never want to go back to the break-neck pace I had before. As we begin to ease the social isolation regulations I can already sense the tension to go-go-go. That familiar temptation to fill my calendar with “good things”. I have a compelling vision to help me choose God’s Sabbath rest. I want my children to lead lives that balance hard work and divine rest. If I don’t choose to model it...it will be much harder for them to discover Sabbath rest for themselves.
If you struggle to discover Sabbath rest, start today. Do something you enjoy. Go to a quiet space and ask for help in being still. Prioritize rest. You will find that the problems you are facing have fewer tentacles to thwart your efforts. You just might find that a little rest will bring about new ideas, hobbies, and talents that would have been left undiscovered in busyness. How have you found rest during social isolation? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. If this was helpful please consider sharing it with your friends.
Building Community While Isolating
If you are like me you have been struggling to engage with your community during social isolation. I find myself in a number of “zoom rooms” throughout my week. How many of you are feeling the “Zoom fatigue” like I am? Yes, that is a real thing! While it is great that we have the technology to meet virtually, it doesn’t fill the need for face-to-face contact. We are meant to live in a community. How can we continue to build a healthy community while isolating?
“The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” (Genesis 2:18 NIV)
Living in a community helps us feel like our lives are full. Sharing our experiences with others increases our joy, our ability to get through tough seasons, and brings a multiplication of knowledge. Even if you are an extreme introvert I bet this pandemic triggered an unfamiliar longing to be around people again. If so here are a few ideas other than zoom we can leverage to strengthen and build community during this pandemic.
Book clubs are brilliant - Books and how they affect us are deeply personal. We can read them in isolation but when we share our ideas with a group of people we feel connected to them. We learn something about their personality, history, and knowledge. This builds community! I recommend having a virtual hangout to discuss your thoughts along with a favorite beverage! Most successful clubs meet once a month. There are several celebrity book clubs that have huge communities; like Hello Sunshine, Oprah’s Book Club and the Andrew Luck Book Club. I recommend starting with a few of their suggested titles but ask friends or people in your neighborhood to join you. After all, once this is over it would be great to gather face to face right? If you want to know what is currently on my list of books to read:
Community building while being required to isolate is different. It causes us to leverage more tools and more creativity. Community is built through mutual experiences, having fun, and growing in our understanding and care for one another. These are just a few practical ideas that might help us get through this. I love what it says in Ecclesiastes.
¹There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: ⁴ a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…(Ecclesiastes 3: 1,4)
This is a temporary season. When we finally reunite I hope we have created stronger, honest, vulnerable, and fun communities. I’d love to hear what you have been doing to continue to build community while isolating? Please leave a comment below.
Persevering through the pandemic - Part 2
Practical tips for life at home
In the first segment of this series, I talked about how we can persevere well through this global COVID-19 pandemic. It is important that we focus our thoughts, laugh, and give ourselves permission to grieve. In this segment, we are going to get practical. I like to hear philosophies and ideas but when I am juggling the new reality of homeschooling, cooking 500 times a day, and not having any face to face girlfriend time...I need hands-on tips. Two problems we are adjusting to include; doing school at home and meal planning and preparation.
Homeschool - Our new normal.
Don’t laugh but we are pre-dating the one-room schoolhouse and homeschooling has become the new normal. I homeschooled my kids (by choice) when they were preschool age. During that time I learned some best practices that made it doable.
Cooking - Meal planning, preparation, and cleanup 24/7.
After the second week of social distancing the enthusiasm I felt about stretching my culinary skills was wearing thin. At first, I was excited to bake my own bread and try out making French Macarons. However, the reality was that my kitchen became a 24/7 diner. I was the short-order cook responsible for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. When asked, “What are we having for dinner?” I would stare blankly in the refrigerator hoping the answer would already be prepared. Here are a few tips that might help you out in your meal planning saga!
Leftovers are lifesavers.
More than a decade ago I started a blog called Leftover Remix. The idea was that I would share with the reader how to use one meal to make two or three different meals. For example, pot roast one night became beef wasabi quesadilla’s the next night. I would “remix” meals from what I had. I came to realize there are several cuisines or food types that can almost be made from ANY type of leftover. Here they are with some suggestions.
If you are running out of ideas, try out a vegetarian option. Baked pasta dishes are fabulous with or without meat and they are almost always crowd-pleasers. I love Cookie + Kate because she has a lot of recipes that will satisfy the most discerning carnivores.
Cooks don’t clean.
In our house whoever cooks doesn’t have to do the cleanup. This motivates the other members of my household to offer to cook! It also, allows me to rest once the cooking is complete. Either way, this is a win-win rule to adopt.
Use meal planning delivery or service.
I have used a meal planning program for years called, “E-Meals.” I love it. It is a weekly meal plan with recipes and shopping lists all in one. Also, you can customize it by your family dietary type. It is by far my favorite that I have tried. If you are more likely to cook when everything is portioned and delivered to your door use options like Hello Fresh or Blue Apron.
Local restaurants still need our business even though we are eating at home more regularly. Make a plan to order a pizza or take-out once in a while to give your in-house diner staff a break.
Our world has changed and so we are adapting. This time can feel overwhelming but it can give us an opportunity to stretch. We are capable of adopting new patterns, learning new rhythms, and trying new things. This pandemic is a perfect reason to get creative. One of the things I have learned from Lee Burns, while attending Hillsong College is that “Failure is just feedback.” So I might try a bunch of different ways to get through this pandemic. Not all of them will work for me or my family, BUT I’m gonna continue to try new things. What new things have you tried? What’s working? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Persevering through the pandemic: Part 1
Last year I wrote a book called, “Chart a Course: Taking a Journey With God at the Helm”. The point of the book was to encourage and equip the reader to follow the God-sized dream inside them. There are four main segments which include; plan, prepare, persevere and praise. Each segment relates to the different seasons that life presents. However, as we are all facing the COVID pandemic the section on perseverance relates to all of us. It is a global storm we are weathering together. Over the next few weeks, I am going to share some of the insights I discovered as I wrote the perseverance segment. I hope it will equip you to endure COVID-19 and to find divine revelation through it.
Persevere: continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no prospect of success.
The definition of persevering is a challenge to carry on without any assurance you will succeed. This pandemic is presenting the perfect conditions for us to rise to the challenge. Most of us are sheltering in place, working under new safety protocols, or trying to adapt to new rhythms that have been forced on us during this time. There is no real end in sight. It’s depressing. It’s hard. It’s scary. We can find ourselves asking, “What is the point?”
“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:4 NIV)
The last words of this scripture give me hope. “Not lacking anything.” When we are able to endure hardship, pressure, and the crucible of COVID-19 we will come out on the other side having gained something of value. One of the outcomes that perseverance produces is the ability to delay gratification. What I believe we all want right now is for COVID-19 to disappear. We want to get back to work and get back to seeing our friends and family face-to-face. However, what could some potential benefits be if we must delay this desire for a time?
Persevering through the Pandemic - Delayed gratification benefits:
Facing the COVID-19 crisis with a positive mindset to persevere will change the way we come out of this pandemic. That doesn’t eliminate the pain, the uncertainty, or the time we must endure.
Practically how do we persevere well?
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)
First, we have to focus our thoughts. Going down a depressing rabbit hole is easy if you are constantly checking the news or the latest social media post. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be informed but we need to be intentional what we are meditating on. During this pandemic, it is important to focus on what is noble, right, pure, and lovely and admirable. There are so many examples of heroism happening in every community around the world. Let’s be people that post, share, and participate in spreading the “good news” of the times.
“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22)
Second, we need to laugh. All I know is there are some really good memes out there that have made me spit out my coffee they were so funny. Here are a two of my recent favorites.
Laughing is good for us. It helps us to overcome grief, which by the way we all are grieving in some way. It helps us to relieve stress and increases the strength of your immune system. It’s not just a figure of speech...laughter is literally good MEDICINE!
“So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” (John 16:22)
Lastly, all of us are grieving in some way during this COVID-19 crisis. We could be grieving the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, or the simple loss of interaction with others. Regardless of what we might be grieving all of us have lost something. It is ok to grieve. It is ok to be sad. It is ok to long for the future. The key is not to stay there. Grieve as it comes and for a time, but remind ourselves that we will be together again. It might look different but it will be a glorious celebration.
Persevering through this pandemic isn’t going to be easy. It breeds uncertainty and fear, but I am confident that we can endure and be better for it in the end. I’m so encouraged by what I am already seeing around me with neighbors waving and being outside. Whole car parades for graduating seniors and birthdays. We are human beings, made in the image and likeness of our creator, and this pandemic is forcing us to get creative! As we continue to ride out this storm we can stay healthy by thinking good thoughts, laughing as often as possible, and grieving together as well. My prayer is that we “Chart a Course” (shameless plug) through this crisis to safe harbors with more faith and hope than ever before!
What are the things you are doing to help you persevere through the pandemic? I’d love to hear your thoughts.