Let’s be honest, if the recent events have not ignited an earnest time of heart check self-reflection, it’s not too late. You may have chosen to not click on the horrific images of the atrocities done to Ahmaud Arbery or George Floyd. Or you may be purposefully tuning the news about protests and racial justice movements off. That is your choice and that is fine. But don’t bypass this critical and beautiful opportunity to pause and look within. It’s not easy. It’s not fun. But it is OH so critical for our children and our children’s children. Let’s be honest!
Here are some practical steps to begin an earnest heart check:
- Ask questions. The first question you might be prone to ask is, “Am I a racist?” Most of us would emphatically respond, “No way!” Especially as believers in Jesus we sure hope we are colorblind. However, really dig deep. Remove that harsh negative self-label and ask the question differently…have I ever made an overgeneralized statement about someone different from me? Especially based on their skin color? Whether it was negative or positive? When we make statements that we apply to an entire race, be it an outright statement, inferred joke or assumption, there are levels of racism present and accounted for.
- Confront your sin nature. Again, rather than focus on if you are an outright racist or not (that is not the point to label or identify as such, by the way), get to the core issue. It goes much deeper than skin and is rooted in a heart of sin. The Book of Romans reminds us that we all sin and fall short of the glory of God. This is not to condemn nor point the finger. At the end of the day we are ALL guilty of this sin. We all have laughed at off-color joke or made an overarching blanket statement about a race or ethnicity or even simply remained silent when others have said or done something. Be aware of where you have sinned and where you may be prone to doing so. Confront it honestly and vulnerably with God.
- Repent. As with all of our sins, God’s desire for our heart is to repent or turn away from the sin. No more. If nothing else, this tense time in history should solidify, NO MORE. Turn away from the sins of your past and turn towards God.
- Forgive. Start with yourself. Do not beat yourself up stewing and brewing in self-guilt or denigration. Release it to God and ask for His forgiveness. Also, you may have to take an external step in forgiving someone or multiple someones. You have likely been a recipient of racist comments whether you are in the majority or the minority. Dig deep, talk with God and come to a place of forgiveness towards those who have pointed racist arrows at you. Do not fight fire with fire. Douse the fire out with water.
- Commit to be different. The greatest motivation for change can be for your children and your children’s children. What you believe, think, say and do leaks out. And it most immediately and influentially leaks out onto your children. Commit, first between you and God, that you will be different. No more in the wrong direction, instead do and be more in the right direction. This may take a humble parenting moment with your child if you need to take responsibility for anything you have said or done in the past that your child has internalized as ok or appropriate but truly is not. You may not recall anything specifically so do not feel you must dredge up every iniquity. Rather, it is the humble heart desiring to change our words and deeds moving forward that you need to commit to. Let your children know about this commitment.
These are just the beginning stages of change. It by no means exhausts the teachable moments or conversations with your children surrounding this world of racial injustice. It is just the beginning. And, it starts with me and you, mom and dad. Let’s do the hard work.