"Til it happens to you..."
I first heard those lyrics sung by Lady Gaga last year (I think, don't hold me to that timeline), and I cannot help but think that the Lord spoke through her and Diane Warren when the duo wrote it. Moved by the holy spirit in a psalmist fashion to melt our hearts and listen to the voices of the oppressed and victimized.
At one time, before I took medication for ADD and OCD, before I suffered and considered ending my life due to depression, before listening to the story of loved ones who had experienced rape, I acted as if I could see more clearly from my spot outside than from their spot on the inside.
I remember once saying that with the right attitude, good prayer life, and the correct amount of discipline anyone could get over their mental disorders. Until it happened to me, I could only assume--incorrectly at that. I told depressed friends to pray more and think happy thoughts. Interpretation: "Get over it." How well do you think that worked?
Just two days ago I read a Facebook post from an upset mother. The post involved a 1st grade phonics assignment. The content, from her perspective, was body shaming to little girls. As a guy who used to teach English, I did not see it that way and wondered what the big deal was. My wife read it and had the same reaction as the mother on Facebook. However, when I showed it to three of my male friends, their first reaction was like my own, each one asking, "What's the big deal?" After I explained why the mom was mad, my three friends could see why it would be considered distasteful and not appropriate material for an elementary school assignment. I even asked one if he thought parents would have been upset if the character's name in the assignment had been Seth instead of Beth. His reply, "Probably not."
The three of us could not fully understand the mom's frustration and probably never will. Why? Because we are men and not women. In the US men rarely have to worry about body image. Women on the other hand, well, every magazine rack shelves plenty of covers showing the "perfect" female form.
I wish the Church could apply "Til it happens to you..." before we speak for or against anything during this political charged atmosphere. Until centuries of slavery, racism, Jim Crow Laws, lynchings, segregation happens to the majority of American men and women (who are white) then they will never understand why a black man and woman do not feel safe around police. Why a black man would kneel for the national anthem. Why a black man or woman would start or join groups like BLM. Until a white person experiences racial profiling...until a white person is assumed guilty before judged innocent...then the white person will never know. Otherwise, you--a white member of the Church of Christ--sound insensitive, uncaring, unloving, unsupportive of your fellow Christian and American. It sounds like you're saying, "I'm better than you." even though you can never truly understand because it has never happened to you.
As Christians, our first response should never be chastisement or judgement. I'm sorry to say that I have used satire and sarcasm to try and condemn the condemners. In the past and present. But let's turn it around. Let's listen to why our black brothers and sisters are upset. Instead of throwing skewed statistics or "explanations" at them, let's give our brother or sister a hug. Let's ask, "How does this make you feel?" or "What kind of racism have you experienced?" I promise you, each answer will be different but honest.
Until you have a customer look at you warily because you're black, but immediately change her facial expression the moment she hears your voice is like a "white guy" and thus "not intimidating," don't feel compelled to give advice on the right way to protest or deal with anger. Instead, ask questions. Show support.
Until you have a guy slip something in your drink and then have his way with you without your consent, please refrain from telling a victim to get over it--or to forgive her trespasser. Just love and support her.
Until you have doctor's tell you that your wife will die if she continues to carry the baby, don't condemn prochoicers.
Christ said people will believe the gospel because of our love, kindness, and generosity to one another. Are you surprised then, that more people are leaving the church? More turn to atheism or agnosticism? I'm not.
People are more important than a flag.
Christ is more important than a country.
The soul is more important than a creed.
God is bigger than our interpretation of a book.
So, my fellow Christians, until we experience the same hate, disgust, injustice, and pain others do daily, let's step inside their world and give comfort. Because until we go through the same ordeal, we will never understand. And until we can understand through our own experiences, our opinions holds the same value as fool's gold.