I’ve had a pit in my stomach the last several days. And the feeling just won’t go away. I’ve tried everything to make it disappear–staying off the Internet. Avoiding the news. Hugging my children. Praying for our country. Yet there it is. Still gnawing at me. And then it hit me. Maybe I can’t ignore it because I shouldn’t be able to ignore it. Two more black men being senselessly murdered is not worth being ignored. I should feel sick. I should feel grieved.
How the color of skin can change the way someone is treated has never made a bit of sense to me. Trying to explain racism to my children this morning, “Well, boys. Sometimes people are cruel to each other because their skin color is different” is such a confusing and ridiculous concept, I can’t believe I even have to teach them about it. And their response of confusion about how skin tone can make someone subject to different treatment by others makes me feel even more sick. Because they shouldn’t have to accept this reality as a reality. But they do. Because it happens still. In 2016. Not 1816. How is this still possible? I don’t know.
But I do know this. Philando Castile and Alton Sterling were born black. I was born white. And that is the only difference between our beginnings. But their ending is now forever defined by their skin. And I doubt my skin color will ever be any part of my death. Yet they are dead for no other reason. I’m disgusted.
The hate. The filth. The darkness in the world overwhelms me. And not the beautiful dark skin that covered these men. The darkness that is evil. The darkness that is hate. The darkness that is retaliating against hate with more hate. Killing more innocent people to take a stand for the innocent. It’s just more darkness.
When I begin to focus on the reality of all the darkness, it can scare me. It can sadden me. It can even make me feel desolate and wonder, “What’s the point in having hope? Darkness is overtaking and there is nothing that can be done. ” My sons will forever grow up in an evil world. With hate-filled people.
But of course I know this isn’t true. And I certainly don’t want it to be. Yes. Darkness. Evil. Horrible stories will always exist. Like the ones today. They always have. And they should be grieved. But the darkness that drives people to make these decisions has no real power to paralyze us in fear and despair. If we remember how to stop it from continuing.
We have to obliterate it with light. And we can. Because scientifically, darkness, is just the absence of light. Or evil is just the absence of goodness. And darkness can never have the power to do damage if its in the presence of light. Even children know that. The boogie monster disappears when the light comes on.
Scripture refers to Jesus as the light of the world. And when you think about it, his life was full of energy and power. People didn’t know what to make of all that he was able to do with his light. But they were drawn to Him because he illuminated darkness. And I am desperately craving that same illumination for our world right now.
In response to what has happened, the world needs lights today. Now more than ever. And you can be a light in this world just like Jesus. A powerful one in fact. His light is the biggest. But his light through you and me can shine even more brightly than just one light alone. But you have to stop letting darkness paralyze you into doing nothing.
My boys said they were scared after hearing about what has happened. They asked me what makes it better. And I realized the pit in my stomach went away when I told them to be Jesus in the world. To be lights of love and goodness when despair is around. So if you are disgusted like me, in honor of Alton and Philando and the fallen police officers, shine the light of Jesus today. Shine the darkness away.
- Turn the Other Cheek
Think of someone that rubs you the wrong way or even better, someone that you feel treats you badly. Maybe a coworker that is rude to you? Or a friend that has intentionally done something that is mean to you? Then go out of your way to do something nice for them. To show love and care for them even though they don’t deserve it. Leave a sweet breakfast treat on their desk at work. Or show up to their house and bring them their favorite drink. And attach a note saying, “You are valuable to so many, including me.”
- Affirm a Stranger
Take time to stop someone and tell them something they are doing well today. Maybe a complete stranger. Maybe someone you always think positively about but never share. I continually see a man that walks his dogs up and down a busy street each day and I’m always impressed with the care he gives his dogs. I rolled down my window the other day and told him, “You are an amazing caregiver to those dogs.” You should have seen his smile.
- Stop Gossip
Instead of partaking in gossip of someone that annoys you, advocate for them. Don’t stay silent. Stop the conversation in its tracks. If you know the conversation would be hurtful to them, step in and kill the flames. That may annoy the people gossiping. But it will stand out to them as well. They will know you would do the same for them.
- Put Others Before Yourself
Go somewhere where everyone is in a hurry and wait. Let 10 cars cut in front of you in a carpool line. Open the door for 5 people at a restaurant and let them put their name in first. Let a mom with a full cart of groceries and 3 kids get in front of you at the grocery store. Your kindness WILL stand out to someone.
- Connect with Someone in Grief
Is there someone in your life that you haven’t talked with in forever? Someone you know that has gone through a hard time? Well instead of being like the average person who ignores their grief after the appropriate amount of time has passed, make a call and ask them how they are doing. Be specific. “How are you doing with the loss of your mom?” Then just listen. This can be so powerful.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5: 14-16
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The author of this article is a wife, mother, blogger and licensed marriage and family therapist. 99% of her time is spent keeping her 3 boys alive and the other 1% is spent writing about their crazy times in her blog Sanctification and Spitup, which is also found on Facebook.