Teach Me

… She opened up and explained to me that as a black woman she has too often been described in her life as cool or brave or strong; she has more often experienced compliments that are masculinizing. She shared with me that her hair is like an object to people: different, trendy, or interesting. What she wants though as a woman, is to be embraced with adjectives such as beautiful, stunning, and pretty.

White people, she told me, always get those kinds of compliments. Black people … get strong.

In that moment held between the two of us, I leaned into her story and I empathized deeply with her words. It was something that in my privilege I had been completely naïve about. It took asking questions and listening, despite my pride.

And at that table, I looked at my friend and I apologized:

I am sorry. I am sorry that my words put you back in that same place that you have been rising up out of. I am sorry that my words belittled your beauty. I am sorry for my ignorance within my privilege. I am sorry for your pain. … 

[ I am overjoyed to guest write over at SheLovesMagazine today! READ THE REST HERE ]

– Jenny Rose Foster

A Time To Lament…

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I know that I am not alone with this. I know that you also feel it too. As far apart in distance as we span in this nation…so many of us are collectively feeling this burden. Collectively holding hands. But my sadness and exasperation of these tragedies is nothing more than a glimpse of empathy… the pain I feel is real, my empathy is real, my desire to want to do something to show that I care is REAL… but it doesn’t hold a candle to the sorrow that so many families are engulfed in; living all of the nightmares in the reality of their loss.

Last week was one tragedy after another. Pain upon pain on top of pain. Hurt on hurt. Hate on hate…FEAR on FEAR… This is FRESH…but only a few weeks ago we had more of it… and months ago and years ago… it is not new…it is HERE; it is NOW; and it is PAST and the fallibility of the human condition is still trembling with pain.

Last weeks tragedies shocked, enraged, and stirred up the nation. And as it so often goes, the social media posts began pumping out “answers”, opinions, gun control banters and gun freedom banter. blue lives vs. black lives, polarizing comments full of exclusive nature… Confusing statements of judgement and demobilization of progression, and of course questions… so many questions… questions of how can we speak up for the injustice? How can we bring change? How can we make resolve … so that it is not our FUTURE…

I have always been the kind of person that sees a problem and wants to fix it. Sometimes to a point of being so confident in my self proclaimed ability to come up with solutions or make sense of things that I forget the bigger picture and I forget how little I really am. — When tragedy hits the news media and everyone and their cat wants to banter a little or push some point to be made…and mind you, many people are incredibly well meaning!! I am guilty of it. I most certainly want to say things that I think would make some sense of a situation, I am as contemplative and deep thinking as the rest of us…but sometimes it is better to simply stand back and soak in the reality of what it is that is actually happening…and to give time for lament.

Lives were lost because of deeply rooted issues…Issues of exclusion. Issues of elitism. Issues of segregation. Issues of supremacy. Issues of hate. Issues of fear…   stories from the past that are still rumbling to this day. The cords of our past stories have not been cut off… If we pretend that our history doesn’t influence our future, if we forget about the past because it is simply “long ago”, then we have the ability to pretend that the now is OK… but that kind of mental pretending can catch up to us all when the tremors of the past rise back up… Sometimes we have to face the past to address the pain that was never healed… Our Nation holds a lot of pain that has never been properly faced, and the darkness of these stories of our past are still living in action today…there is much work to be done. Healing takes time and healing takes care and healing takes change.

When I heard the news last week I wanted to say a lot of things…I did say a little, and I even re-posted a few things that I thought were so good at the moment, but then admittedly I deleted them after realizing that maybe there were aspects of this that I still need to understand. I know that I need go deeper. We need to dig deeper as a nation. Dig into our history and really take a truth look at how far we have come and also to see how much we still must push towards…Every time I feel like I have found good perspective, solid understanding…Every time, I am turned and twisted upside down, baffled by my own thinking…realizing time and time again how much MORE I need to listen and how much MORE I need to learn…it will be an always process. If we think that we know it all…or if we think that we have come to a place where we have the answers…then maybe we are the very people that need to shut up! 

At the moment, I have no answers except for this: I think I (we) need to LISTEN MORE and I think that I (we) need to PRAY MORE… here is the thing about prayer: prayer really doesn’t stay right there in a physical stance of prayer, but prayer really is action. To become what we pray for .

We pray for peace…then BE PEACE.

We pray for more love in this world…then BE LOVE.

We pray for grace…then BE GRACE.

We pray for understanding…then BE A LISTENER.

We pray for healing…then BE A HEALER.

We pray for freedom of injustice…THEN BE JUSTICE.

We pray for change…THEN BE CHANGE.

if We pray for black lives to matter…THEN SHOW THAT THEY MATTER. 

if We pray for native lives to matter…THEN SHOW THAT THEY MATTER.

We pray for all lives to matter…THEN SHOW THAT THEY MATTER…

… starting with the “least of these” …

(that runs deep in so many directions if you let that settle a bit).

A simple band-aid answer simply says… “God cares about all Lives…Jesus is our answer”. Whilst I believe this to be essentially true; I would hope that I am not guilty of simply throwing some Bible verses at the pain and assuming I DID something to help with the injustice. As a believer of the the faith of The Way of Jesus Christ, I have great admiration for how Jesus lived… and what he did that impressed me so much is that HE DID what he said, and he lived out his PRAYERS...he lived out his love and died for the ultimate LOVE… he didn’t slap a label — A hash tag — A bible verse — A Love or Peace sign — a quote — a word of “wisdom” onto the pain of this world…no…he LIVED IT! His LIVING IT, is what was REVOLUTIONIZING and is the very thing that HEALED. LOVE IS LIVING and moving and breathing. LOVE IS ALIVE. LOVE IS MOVING. LOVE IS EMBRACE. LOVE IS EYES OF VALUE.

So before we speak too much… may we quiet our mouths for a moment and lament…

Saying the names of last weeks loss…

Brent Thompson.

Patrick Zamarripa.

Michael Krol.

Lorne Ahrens.

Michael Smith.

Alton Sterling.

Philando Castile.

To those that lost your lives last week I lament. I light a candle and I will say your names. You are deeply valued. Oh there are so many more names to call out. Name of scattered throughout history…names; valued names.

And in this moment I know there is much work to be done. There are so many ways that we can stand with one another…but I am not going to spout or banter solutions right now… I am going to do my best to live out understanding, respect and love in my personal realm of influence that I am given, that is a place to carry out what you live. May I be a person that shows value to every person that my life encounters… that is my prayer that I deeply desire to live and become… and may I never shy away from the hard questions. From the hard topics and from speaking up for injustice.

In this moment may we pause then, with all of these thoughts and light a candle to lament…