Keys to being a good friend when you disagree
If you are anything like me you are learning a lot about the opinions and preferences of your friends during these unprecedented times. The war is raging about whether you should wear a mask, observe strict quarantine, attend a protest, or whether you should use the #blacklivesmatter to support your black friends. Do you agree with all your friends and family on these issues? Didn’t think so. We are facing some polarizing issues and it is causing division, criticism, breakups, and breakdowns. The gospel calls us to be peacemakers and to create unity. It’s hard to be a good friend when disagreements threaten your relationships. However, the Bible outlines a few keys to being a good friend even when you disagree.
Be Compassionate. Be Kind.
Compassion means to show kindness and sympathy but it is deeper in the sense it means to co-suffer with someone. Get in the trenches with your friend even when you may not see eye to eye on the topic. How are they struggling? Demonstrate that you want to understand and help alleviate their fear, suffering, or sorrow. An example of this is, I don’t necessarily feel the need to wear a mask everywhere I go. However, I have many friends who prefer I wear a mask even when we meet for a socially distanced coffee. I’d rather wear the mask and see them than exercise my opinion of whether or not the mask is necessary! This is showing compassion and kindness.
“I don’t know.”
Saying those words is one of the hardest things for me to admit. However, the best way to be a good friend when you don’t agree is to listen and be humble enough to let them share the reasons behind their own ideals. Admitting you could lack full understanding opens the door to real honest conversation. Taking a humble approach to polarizing topics might help you learn something you didn’t know.
Biblically, this means to have a sensitive self-controlled spirit. In other words, don’t let your frustration cause you to “lose it.”
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1
If you are yelling at your kids, “I’m fine.” They know that you are anything but fine. The same is true of your friends. Sarcasm, tone, and volume indicate whether or not your voice is a gentle answer. The nuances of communication are lost on social media so make sure before you respond to something your friend said to have another “objective” person read it. #snarkycheck
I’m terrible at being patient and so this is something I am growing in through this season. In the case of trying to usher in true racial equality, it is going to be a marathon. It requires patience. I know that so many have been patient with me as I educated myself. Let’s extend the same willingness to wait while others catch up to cross the finish line. After all, winning is sweeter when you do it with friends right?
No one can claim they have never offended anyone. Even people who take a vow of silence have likely offended someone with their misguided glance or facial expression. We must be quick to forgive. Offense is not something God allows. Jesus had every right to be offended and yet he didn’t bring justice, he didn’t immediately bbq the people who were responsible for his crucifixion, he forgave. One of his last requests was for us all to be forgiven.
“Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” - Jesus on the cross
When our friends disagree with us it’s ok. When they offend us with their comments, political views, or lack of knowledge and understand we can forgive right? Forgiveness paves the way for unity and it isn’t optional. I’m not implying we must accept everything that someone says, but we can forgive when what they say hurts us.
Love One Another.
Calling someone a friend gives them a title that says, “I love you.” Love is an easy word to say and an impossible one to walk out without the help of Jesus.
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:12-13
Trying to prove my opinion is right to friends that disagree is not loving. This is pride. Love accepts people where they are and patiently waits. It forgives and erases even the residual pain of an offense. Don’t forgive and never forget. Forgive and ask to be forgetful. When we give grace to our friends we open up doors of unity, hope, and love. Sow love, reap love.
I am exhausted by the hateful comments, stories, and opinions I have seen carelessly shared. However, we have a choice of how we decide to engage. I am staying focused on speaking encouragement over people, asking questions, and being patient with others and myself as we learn how to do life in a new way. How are you being a good friend when you don’t agree with someone? I’d love to hear your story. Please get in touch through the comments below. I promise I actually read them!
Full Disclosure Friday: Waiting on Healing
Ouch. Ohhhh. Wow, that hurts. I sat up in bed. It was about 1 am and sharp pains were shooting through my chest. It felt like someone was stabbing me while sitting on my lungs. I laid back down and propped up my head. Maybe it was heartburn? Twenty minutes later the pain subsided and I fell back asleep.
The next morning I called my sister who is a cardiac nurse. She advised me to see someone asap. This launched a six-month journey of seeing specialist after specialist to determine why I was having erratic chest pains, lethargy, and shortness of breath. Every single test came back without any conclusions about what was causing my symptoms. I was “perfectly healthy.”
After so many months of feeling like an experiment, I gave up trying to figure out what was wrong. Doctors didn’t seem to think I had any imminent health threat so I just decided to carry on with life. The only problem was that I still wasn’t 100%. I still had irregular chest pains, pressure, and at times nausea and dizziness. I was not able to work out in the way that I was accustomed to, and I grew tired very quickly. This was NOT normal. I prayed for God to heal me. I had the elders at my church pray over me. I had my connect group pray and lay hands on me. I felt totally compelled to fight this infirmity.
I had so many people praying for me and one day while I was standing in a church service I felt like I got a response from God. I was tired and I had had several chest episodes so I was feeling upset I still didn’t have any answers. I really didn’t want to be in church however, as the musicians began worshipping I asked God what he wanted to share with me today. I closed my eyes and quieted my thoughts.
In my mind, I saw a flicker of light, like an old film reel when it first begins. The first image of the internal movie was of a woman walking through a crowd. I immediately recognized this woman as the one who had bled for 12 years and courageously went to seek out Jesus to heal her. (Luke 8:43-48) I saw her hand reach out to touch Jesus’ robe and instead of seeing a stranger’s hand I saw my own. I touched the hem of his robes and I believed I was healed. Moments later the woman who was the emcee for the day announced she felt led to pray for anyone who was in need of healing and proceeded to recount the exact bible story I had just watched in my own head! I was so touched and knew that this was a word for me.
I felt that I had received my healing.
I went several weeks without any symptoms and was so confident I had supernaturally moved past whatever my illness was. Unfortunately, my hope was short-lived. A whole new set of symptoms and complications cropped up a few months later. Disappointed and defeated I continued to ask God for healing.
I’m still not back to normal.
It is in this period of waiting I have a choice. To be angry with God or to trust that what he showed me that day at church was real and I am healed. Easier said than done. I have gone back and forth in my mind about whether I should relaunch into another round of experimental tests to find out what is going on or just wait and see. I’m exhausted by the thought of more labs, tests, and doctors shrugging their shoulders without any ideas what to do next.
I know two other women personally who are also medical mysteries. We are all waiting on God to either provide some direction, answers, or restore our health. Being a medical mystery sounds so interesting until it is you. I’m grateful that they shared their stories with me because I don’t feel alone. I’m sharing this to encourage you if you are struggling with a health concern, relationship challenges, or financial crisis. All of these things can cause us to doubt God’s promises and goodness.
I want you to know that I struggle with faith, God’s timing, his ways, and the doubts that I deserve healing. I know I am not alone and I also know that God has a plan and it is for my benefit. So while I continue to move around my day-to-day at 75% I am confident that the other 25% is being carried by Jesus. Perhaps that is what I haven’t quite gotten used to is leaning on him for my strength and energy every day. I’m working on it and I’d love to hear how you are doing? Are you waiting on God? Are you waiting well? If so, please share your thoughts and encouragements in the comments below.
Racial Healing by Sarah-Gayle Galbreath
Imagine a world where skin color didn’t matter because we were all made in the image of God. A world where we as Christians did not need to have conversations about race because we didn’t see color and because we believed all people were created equal. A world where we could stop talking about the hiccups of America’s past regarding race and focus on the love of God. Imagine a world where we didn’t need to talk about inequality because we truly believed that we were all one in Christ. Can you see this world? I believe this world is where many of my white brothers and sisters who are Christians in America live, and I’d like to walk you through another world for a moment.
Imagine a world where you believe much of what the first world believes. You believe you were created in the image of God and you are the apple of His eye. You understand that you are more than a conqueror in Christ Jesus and he has hope and a future for you. You have memorized and put in your heart the fact that you are fearfully and wonderfully made and you know that the love of God and the name of Jesus is powerful and world-changing. God calls you worthy, redeemed, justified, and beautiful, yet your daily experience in the world you live in says something quite different all because of the color of your skin.
In this world, your skin color determines greatly what opportunities you get and how you are treated. People in power and positions of leadership and authority are mostly the same color and that color is NOT the color of your skin. On the contrary, most of the people that make up the prison population are people that share the same color of skin that you have. In this world, people with your skin color were not seen as fully human in the past and as a result, were stolen as hostages, trafficked, abused, and raped for centuries by American presidents, leaders, families, church attenders, and the like. So much that this practice of trafficking was legally acceptable and a way of life for many. Can you see this world too?
This second world describes the world of our black brothers and sisters in America along with other people of color. There is a gap in what God says and how the world operates and as Christians, we are called to fight for the oppressed and marginalized, just like Jesus did. But even before that, we are uniquely positioned to hear their cries.
When we are talking about racial healing,there is not a one size fits all, unfortunately, but there is always hope. As followers of Jesus we know that He can do the impossible. We know that no relationship is beyond His reach to heal and restore and He knows more about reconciliation than anyone. After all, His blood reconciled us to His father. Following and seeking Jesus throughout our pursuit of racial healing is vital and I will even say what is required for true and lasting healing to occur. Without Jesus, our flesh, our offenses, and our pride are too strong and the plank in our eye too big.
I have found that there are a couple of steps that can be extremely helpful to take when one is seeking to be a bridge when it comes to racial healing. Step one would be slowing down to HEAR the cries. If we are not aware that there is even a problem then we will not look to help bring a solution. If we do not hear the cries of black people right now, then we cannot fathom their pain, so our engagement will be minimal. The cries alert us to the pain and the pain alerts us to the problem. I’d like to pause here. The cries of hurting people are not always convenient for us to hear or agreeable to our ears. Let me say that again, the cries of hurting people are not always convenient for us to hear or agreeable to our ears. Yet as followers of Jesus, mandated to love God and love our neighbor, we must listen.
Step two is education. If we don’t know anything about the second world, how do we know what would even be helpful? Some of this education will happen through relationships and conversations we have with people who look different from us. When we take the time to have conversations with people that are hurting with the goal to listen, learn, and support, we are loving them in action and it means more than we can ever realize. Check-in with your friends and families of color.
Additional education will come from our own treasure hunt if you will. History has been erased when it comes to most African American accomplishments as well as how African Americans were abused and strategically oppressed. The climate and systems of today continue to build on what was created in the past. If we don’t know what was created in the past we won’t have the context we need to bring a solution or even learn what part we can play in helping in a relevant way today. Some terms/concepts to get us started so that we can gain some context for what is happening today are black codes, Jim Crow laws, separate but equal, and redlining.
The more we research the more we will uncover when it comes to unjust laws, discarded lives, and abuse beyond imagination. Not only will we find things that we were NEVER taught in school but much of what we find will seem impossible to believe due
to the horror and tortuous dehumanization of black people. America’s past and remnants of the past that continue in the present, highlight more than anything why we need a Savior. The capacity of the human heart to harbor tremendous hate and do evil is unbearable but God saw and sees, so sent Jesus.
America has hidden and softened much of the history that does not make it look good, just like many of us hide the things in our own lives that don’t make us look good, but how is that working for you? Darkness eventually comes into the light and what is hidden destroys what hides it. Faulty foundations will eventually come crashing down and that is where we are today in America. Praise God, our God is bigger than America. The more we learn, the more our hearts will break and that is when we know we are that much closer to being a vessel for racial healing. May God’s spirit of truth and hope guide you on this journey.
The instinct for many of us as we stretch ourselves and embark on uncharted waters when it comes to race, is to spiritualize it and go back to the first world that was described. The first world does not see color and is a bit less confrontational and a bit more comfortable. I want to challenge us to lean in and learn/do what it takes to love those who don’t look like us. It’s not good enough for us as followers of Christ to be at odds with our brother or sister or to wash our hands of an image-bearer. God wants more for His children and invites us to live out scripture rather than just quote it.
“Our faith without works is dead.” - James 2:26
Following Jesus requires us to be uncomfortable more often than not. Sometimes it puts us on the wrong side of popularity and even our families. Loving people is not always easy and is not always acceptable in society. But we must lean on Jesus not only for his words but for the power of the Holy Spirit to help us to live out the kind of love He poured out onto us. The love that cost Him His life. Yes, love can demand action, and in the case of racial harmony loving our brothers and sisters demands our action. Our actions are where we unite.
“And what does the Lord require of you but to love justice, do mercy and walk humbly with your God.” - Micah 6:8
You see, in the first world, it seems that faith is used to bring peace to our hearts whereas in the second world faith is needed to bring justice to the earth. We need both of the worlds mentioned above to collide and bridge the gap that exists with racial injustice. That is why we need the entire body of Christ, red and yellow, black and white, all precious in HIS sight, to engage in the fight for racial healing. Yes, it will be a fight because after all
“Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” - Ephesians 6:12
The devil comes to kill, steal, and destroy and he will not back down easily when it comes to us fighting for racial justice on the earth. The very earth that he slums around in, accusing, dividing, and creating division in. So yes let’s quote our scriptures and stand on the promises of God that do not return void AND yes let’s get to work in the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit that God has given us to destroy strongholds, set captives free, raise to life what was once dead and call things that are not as though they were. God has equipped us for such a time as this. Let us become protective of one another and the hope and love of Christ so much that we, as His followers, are truly known by our love.
Sarah-Gayle Galbreath has her master's in marriage and family therapy and is the co-founder of Hoperelentless. She and her husband Chad are an interracial couple that passionately share the hope and freedom of the gospel. Sarah-Gayle is a social justice activist and continues to lead a life of compassion and conviction. She is a church and community builder and is raising two dynamite world changers.
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.