When I was young, one of the high school football players collapsed on the field and under white hot stadium lights, surrounded by hundreds of hushed onlookers, died of unforeseen heart problem.
I wish I knew the details; maybe those who remember better than I do can enlighten my own recollection.
Now, in the Alabama town where all of this happened, the elementary, middle, and high schools share the same campus; the death sent shock waves all through our small community. My youth pastor was at our middle school the next day. I remember crowds, and commotion, and all the emotional girls.
In particular, I remember one girl asking how on earth I could stand there not crying. She did not like my response: it is tragic, but I didn’t know him.
Here’s the rhetorical question of the year: have you ever had someone tell you how you should respond?
When Facebook was screaming at me to “speak up” about Black Lives Matter, I bristled. I remembered that girl chastising my tearless state. I remembered other times when my emotional responses did not measure up.
- You aren’t jumping up and down and sqeualing like a school girl. Aren’t you excited?
- You’re not gushing tears of joy. Aren’t you happy?
- You’re not weeping and wailing. Aren’t you sad?
No. If speaking up meant tearing others down or anything else not in keeping with my character, I wanted to stay silent.
I am glad I did.
Instead of interjecting off the cuff, I watched. I listened. I sorted through my own beliefs and misbeliefs. When I did speak up, it was weighted with a week’s worth of forethought and wrestling and prayer. When I did speak up, it was in my own way.
I didn’t shout into the social media void. I didn’t take to the streets of Montgomery. I didn’t call government officials or set fire to the rebel flag billowing over I-65.
I’ll not go into the debatable significance of writing blog posts, but I will say it was the best way for me to work out what God’s been working in me.
How can you best work out what God works in you? He calls us to act justly and to love mercy, and so, yes, we must do something when people are hurting. Yet, we are one body comprised of many parts, bound together by the Spirit of God who manifests himself in many beautiful ways; we are each given varying gifts according to the wisdom of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12).
What are your gifts? How can you use them to speak up against injustice and hate, to speak truth and love?