Disclaimer: Lengthy but necessary text ahead…get some tea….
It is difficult for me to process my emotions as a result of George Floyd’s murder, and honestly I do not want to have to do that. However, I think that the value in processing my feelings can be found in the growth and maturation that reflection facilitates. I have been intentionally processing my feelings; through prayer; through reading; through connecting with folks on the phone.
This is my way of taking advantage of the precious opportunity I have to breathe, and it has helped to filter out feelings that raise my spiritual conviction. I felt like specific feelings that I was processing were eventually going to be associated with cold behavior(s), fake response(s), and/or thought(s), if I did not deal with them.
A few years ago a wise colleague of mine once said that race is always on the table for him (black men) despite our professional role as Educators. Think about how relevant that statement is…but with the current events that statement is true now for ALL. To take it a step further, as a black male educator (and believer) I am tasked with resisting the temptation to communicate in my pride, in my flesh or immediacy of my feelings.
It is imperative for me to keep in mind that I am a child of God, and I am capable of regulating my emotions, with His strength to guide me (Isaiah 54:17). Not only that but He has given me a way out when faced with the challenge of overcoming temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13). The hard part is actually walking in that strength, and disciplining myself to regulate my emotions so that it does not interfere with the work I am doing with students and/or colleagues.
Feelings of anger, resentment, and worthlessness have surfaced as a result of the George Floyd murder. We are reliving the list that includes but is not limited to: Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin, Botham Jean, and Eric Garner. We want to know when will it stop? It is almost impossible to accept the simple answer “it is for God to decide not us” without context. Keep in mind He knows the story before it unfolds.
So I think the more important questions we need to ask are:
- Why are you allowing this to happen, God?
- What are you trying to reveal to me through this devastating time?
- How can I use my gifts to be of service to Your Kingdom during this time?
The dilemma presents itself when I consider the strong disdain that consumes me in responding to text. I automatically begin to have thoughts that threaten the integrity of my faith.
I have to choose:
a) Genuinely Educate and Enlighten White Folk
- Pride (Flesh) Thought: “I will pass”.
- Pride (Flesh) Thought: I am an educator. I went to school to educate children. Not to educate adults on how to deal with me and my black counterparts.
- Faith Thought: …it is God’s will for me to do so (Proverbs 31:9) [period pooh]
b) Respond without Authenticity to the White Folk who text me
- This could be mistaken for coddling.
- I have to think if I want to respond with my genuine feelings or if I want to take a second position.
- I have to censor myself to a certain degree, and that is difficult to do when the uncensored murder of my black brother is the cause of all of this.
- Again, (Proverbs 31:9) it is God’s will for me to speak up.
Prideful thoughts associated with work:
- Is my white counterpart entitled to an explanation about why I am not going to a protest at my job?
- Why am I tasked with a responsibility of explaining how I feel?
- Why does my white friend checking in with me and sharing that I matter make me feel anything but love?
More Prideful “Politically Correct” Thoughts:
- I do not want the social injustice to make folks feel like they or I need to be coddled.
- I do not want the social injustice to make me feel indifferent to my good folks check-ins.
- I believe everyone should stand up for what they believe right now. Regardless of skin color and of how it makes someone else feel. Even if that means I believe you should not be texting me.
Prideful thoughts are debatable when it comes to right or wrong. It seems like the time is now to be selfish. With that said, my sense of conviction with some of those thoughts and feelings has led me to seeking answers.
Feelings of inadequacy formed, and strengthened, as I continued to rest in the counterproductive nature of my feelings. It did not seem like there was a preview of what my role is in serving as a change agent. When in actuality, I was distracted dealing with my affect.
After many discussions with my wife that were cathartic, going to the Word of God, and conversations with accountability and Clergy I started to make progress on confronting these feelings and getting answers.
My spiritual mentors could hear the rage, compassion, anger, and frustration in my voice. They could also hear the passion in my drive to make a change. Moreover, the most important feeling and driver for these conversations is confusion and a desire to grow! The confusion was with scriptures that give us direct instructions on how to act with grace in a time like this (Proverbs 25:21).
One of the biggest hurdles I jumped over was calling the Principal of the school I work at. He is a middle aged white man who I admire and respect. At the same time, our relationship has not always been pristine when it comes to racism (I can accept responsibility for my faults). We have come to blows but there’s a mutual respect professionally that maintains the integrity of our workmanship. Part of me was scared to call him when the thought popped in my mind. I was scared that I may not be able to control my emotion. For a brief second during my feelings of doubt, I thought about how I want “All The Smoke”, so I called.
The impact of me calling to check on him was unbelievably bigger than my forecast. The conversation was productive and seemingly cathartic for us both. The confusing and sort of frustrating part was how a conversation where I called to check-in on him turned into him asking me to step up and share my black voice. It was necessary for me to push my pride to the side. I needed to be able to hear the message, regardless of the deliverer, and despite the tone of the delivery. He was asking me to do exactly what God would have me to do during this time. This was His way of answering my prayers.
I feel strongly that the Holy Spirit called me to check-in on my boss. I operated in a professional athlete, 1 Corinthians 9:27 mindset, confidently making that decision to call my boss and not allowing the temptation of my flesh (pride) deter me from being the caring being God designed me to be. My two objectives were: a) to be a support to someone that rarely has a safe space to share b) to potentially gain information from him.
Dude shared with me that outside of his direct professional learning community, the administrative team, I am the only one who called to check on him. Understand, I am not sharing this info with you to build myself up. I want to convey the reality and strong feeling I have that suggests the Holy Spirit fostered that connection. I am thankful for ALL that has happened to get me to this point (Romans 8:28), because without my experience and commitment to the Lord I would not have been in a posture to receive (1 Corinthians 9:27). Doubt would have held me back from God’s destiny in that situation.
I encourage you to join me in increasing your time with the Lord. Get right with God ya’ll! We cannot afford to miss out on any time. It is the only thing you cannot get back. We have been granted many luxuries during this chaotic season of the pandemic. His yoke is easy and his burden is light.
In reality, I am charged with serving from a perspective of all lives matter (which is true) regardless of the circumstances. In flesh or my pride, I want to curse someone all the way out to Panama, and I am not sure why. That would do nothing for me but make me feel conviction.
In faith, I am charged with doing the work of the Lord regardless of the circumstance. And I recognize that these are the best ways I can support considering the facts:
- Through serving myself and others in God’s love and with fidelity.
- Through acknowledging the need to strengthen my faith and walk with God to afford more love.
- All while critically considering the flesh vs faith dynamic on a daily basis. I encourage you to consider the same.
Stephen Jackson (Stak) held George Floyd’s daughter on his neck, he is 6’8 so she was high in the sky, and she repeated after “Stak” and said “Daddy’s going to change the world”. I know that with death comes new life so I honestly believe that even if George did not change the world, he changed me. And I appreciate that big bro (RIP G.Floyd). God Bless Him and His Family. God Bless you as a reader. I pray this provides encouragement and insight.