Silence is Golden

      So many have been asking me, "What should I say?" They feel obligated to post something, to show a sign of life and solidarity, to follow along with the crowd, into it, disappearing yet making a statement by, at the very least, blending in with it, being present.
      We live in a time when nothing we say is right. It's always wrong, always misconstrued, misinterpreted. . . never heard. We have picked sides and teams rather than cast those differences to the pit of hell where they belong in an effort to work together, to die to self for the greater good, to function as one--one team, one community, one mind and heart, one Body.
      Paul said that we are one body with many parts and that not one of those parts is more important than the next. What we fail to realize is that Paul wasn't just referring to jobs in the church body; he was talking about the many different facets of how we are joined together: our cultures, our opinions, our states of mind, our political stances, etc. No, we won't always share the same opinions; we have to work together at achieving the same goal no matter the differences. Why and how do we know this? It's simple: the heart and mind we are after is that of Christ Jesus, so if our motives don't line up with His, we're doing it wrong.
      I have remained silent, not out of weakness, passivity, or compliance. If I'm honest, posting to social media has nothing to do with any of those. Besides that, who am I? Do I have a voice at all, let alone now? My community is comprised of mainly white individuals from all walks of life. I come from a town that is majority white with a handful of brown friends. (We will address my use of "color" words shortly.) I have even less black friends. Why? Not because I choose for it to be that way, rather because that is my societal and geographical background. I can't help that not many races outside of the white one do not reside in the mountains of North Georgia, nor will I make ill assumptions or uneducated guesses as to why this is the case. The few black families I have been utterly privileged to know and grow up with were and are some of the finest people I know. Their color and my lack thereof were never really a noted topic of conversation.
      Presently, I live in a multicultural neighborhood with many different varying backgrounds; however, I'm still new to the area and we haven't all connected. So why would I post to social media? To please others? To follow along and blend in with the crowd? All for my community of white people? Why can't I just reach out to my black or brown friends personally? Is public posting necessary to make a statement I don't fully understand and can't totally explain?  And don't be angry with that question; I do not understand what it is to be on the receiving end of a generations long hatred because of the color of my skin.
      No, I have remained silent out of obedience. God called me into silence before all hell broke loose and for that I am grateful. As light peaked through the darkness, God revealed even more behind His reasons for my silence. I want God to influence and fill my mouth--not my political stance or my southern upbringing, not the pressure to do or say, post or story one thing or another for the fear of judgment from one "side" or the other. I want nothing pouring into my ears, my eyes, or my heart but God's Spirit and heart for me, for His people.
      I believe the old adage that “silence is golden.”  The word "golden" means that something is quite literally made of gold. To appreciate gold itself we have to understand its elemental process. Gold in its purest form, before it ever becomes a precious metal, comes from pieces of fallen stars (asteroids, for those who aren't romantics like me.) How beautiful and almost magical that God would supply us with shards of the heavens with which to decorate ourselves. Aside from this, gold is then found deep in the earth's crust, in the dirt and darkness, where we have to dig to find it, to behold its secret message of beauty. Then, to fully evoke all that it has to offer, it is refined by fire where all impurities are pulled out, revealing the finest of metals and a beauty and value unmatched. Only then do we know its true worth.
      Isn't it ironic that silence is likened to such, and yet we value volume. . . gibberish. . . banter. . . blather. . . hatefulness. . . noise. . . trash.
      If God has shown me anything in my time of silence with Him it's that He is refining my gold in His fire and withdrawing all of my words that are worth anything at all, while separating them from the impurities within me.
      I ask Him, "What is YOUR heart for this time we're in, for this situation, our world--no--YOUR world, YOUR people? What can I do? What would You have me do, Lord?"
      "You can be silent, be still, and listen to my voice."
      Only now do I feel the release and calling to speak, regardless of what I think of my place in the argument or my place in the world. When God calls, we answer. When He commissions, we obey. In His release for me to speak and speak the words He has given me, I pray that I don't get it wrong. I pray that my words will be delivered in love and not perceived in fear. I pray that I will not speak in any tongue but that of love from the Father lest my voice be nothing to you but another exasperating noise in your ear. (1 Corinthians 13:1)
      I don't know what it's like to be a black man. I don't know anything outside of my comfy little southern white girl bubble. I have experienced discrimination because of my gender, my education, my religion, the way I look, my cultural background, my geographical heritage, even my position as a stay-at-home-mom. But I have never experienced it due to my skin color. I do not know what it's like to be looked over and examined suspiciously. I don't know what it means to fear for my future and my life therein because of my skin color. I won't pretend to understand it. I can't understand it. I can only do my part to make sure that I am not the one discriminating.
      Racism is not an American breed. No, racism is as old as time and its earliest recording is in the book of Numbers chapter 12. Moses' sister and brother, Miriam and Aaron, did not approve of Moses' Cushite wife. The word Cushite means/meant Ethiopian. This was the writer's way of notating black skin and is again mentioned in the book of Jeremiah. And Miriam wasn't a fan of Moses' better half's darker hue. By noting her geographical heritage, the writer also inadvertently sheds a pretty bright light on all of Miriam's issues with the Cushite wife: she disliked everything about this woman. Her culture, her religious practices, her upbringing, the foods she ate or didn't eat, the way she dressed, all of which are covered under the umbrella of her geography. As a result, God becomes angry with Miriam specifically because she so values lighter colored skin. So He strikes her with the lightest skin He can: leprosy. Even God doesn't condone racism. He created this colored people palette of humanity and won't be apologizing for it.
      We have so allowed the aforementioned sides to determine our fate--and I mean ALL sides: black, white; left, right;  southerner and northerner; liberal, conservative; Christian, atheist. Each of those breaks down into even more sides and opinions, groups and divisions. I've heard so much chaos even during this break from social media--derogatory remarks regarding all skin colors, all backgrounds and ethnicities, cultures, slang terms from every corner, and horrendous phrases like, "your own people." It has been a constant barrage of what words and phrases are acceptable and what are not, exceptions made to the implied rule--rules that only apply to one group or the other and weak arguments to explain the whys and why nots, only widening the rift. We have become so overly sensitive to words such as "color," "black," "community," and "life," not fully understanding the meaning of them, as each have morphed into something of a sinister nature, all by our own misunderstanding hands.
      This is not a democrat or republican problem.
      It's not a gender problem.a
      It's not a cultural or societal problem.
      It's not a churched or un-churched problem.
      This is a humanity problem that is as old as time itself, a flame fanned by many a human, all colors, over thousands of years. It is a generational curse over the head of every man and woman.
       I have been angry on all sides of this problem. I've been angry for George Floyd's family and other families that have been treated unfairly, unjustly, and those aren’t  even the strongest words I can find to describe it. I'm angry for black people in general who have been profiled because of their skin color, by authorities or their neighbors. I've also be angered by how police have been treated and profiled because they wear a badge and their job is to protect and serve us all. In either group, one bad apple does not spoil the whole cart. There are good and bad in both camps. There is good and bad in all of us.
      I believe that to kill the problem we have to kill the root; but if we're going to continue to plant the same seeds, we're going to end up with the same fruitless trees. For example, earlier I used colors rather than terms like Hispanic or African American. Here's why: We do not know, nor can we pretend to know, nor do we have the right to make assumptions about someone's geographical heritage based on skin color. Some of you are asking, "What about Numbers and the Cushite woman?" Moses wrote Numbers. I think he knew where his wife was from. Not all black people are African; some are Haitian, Jamaican, etc. Not all brown people are Hispanic; some are Indian, Pakistani, Egyptian, Native American, etc. And not all Africans are black; many South Africans are white. Also, if we're going to call a person's "race" based on geographical heritage rather than skin color as the word is defined, that would make me French-Irish-Cherokee-American. Come on, y'all.
      A well-known man in our town, Carlos Whitaker, recently posted on Instagram a story about his elderly white neighbor that, in ten years of being neighbors, he's never spoken to. Carlos is biracial--half black, half Mexican, a man of God, and like all of us, he isn't perfect and he'll tell you that before you can recognize it in him. I don't know him personally, I just follow him on Instagram because I think he's pretty cool. His neighbor who lives across the street has two white rabbit garden statues at the end of his driveway. Recently, in the midst of all of this chaos, the man painted one black. Carlos details this incredible story of finally walking across the street to his neighbor and introducing himself, inquiring about the rabbit, and then apologizing beautifully, and humbly for assuming the man didn't like him because he was a different color--apologizing for his "racial bias."
      I thought this was so precious. Heartfelt. Humble. Loving. Grace-filled. And I so appreciate his willingness to admit any wrongdoing and make his neighbor his friend. I just have one question:
      Why, when a person of color assumes certain things about a white person based on his/her skin color is it called "cultural bias," but when the opposite happens it's called "racism?"
      A third example is the language we use regarding all races, including our own. I’ve heard it said that only “bad” white people are white trash or rednecks; I’ve also heard that only “bad” black people are n*****. The list goes on for terms we use to label human beings created in the image of God the Father. And no matter how good one person is over another, every sin can be washed in the blood. Consider someone you may have spoken that word over and how he/she is created in the same image of God that you were created in. Jesus wasn’t white, friends. He also wasn’t black. He was more than likely brown based on what we know of the people who come from His region historically. Would you call Him the disgusting term you use to label the people of the same region?
      These are roots that have to be destroyed. We cannot dig up part of the infection and not clean out the entire wound.
      In this time of stillness, this fiery furnace of emotion and passion for God's people has refined my silence and extracted a worth I never even considered before. The bottom line is that human life, no matter its hue, is simply not valued as it should be by anyone in this world except for the selfish price we place on our own heads and opinions—all races, genders, and ages.
      When you post or when you expect someone else to post, when you're standing up for others think about the following:  Are you allowing God to mine your finest? Who are our words actually about? Who are they for? Are they glorifying God?  No matter what you're saying or who you're talking about: a different race or your own, Obama, Biden, Trump, Bush, Pelosi, your governor, your mayor, any other political figure; George Floyd or Officer Chauvin; the people responsible for the acts of arson during the protests, the protesters themselves; your neighbors, the people you don't agree with on social media so you choose to delete them from your life; the people you attack or send private messages of attack; the passive posts, the blatant posts. Are we remembering in all outlets that harsh words stir up anger, for the speaker as well as the listener, but gentle answers turn away that anger? (Proverbs 15:1)
      Silence isn't weakness. It isn't picking one side or the other and it certainly isn't compliance. Silence is allowing God's voice and mouth to do the talking and it is the allowance of His Spirit to release you when He has finished pouring His heart into your mouth. It's not allowing your voice to be a noisy gong or clanging cymbal that no one wants to hear and inevitably tune it out; it's knowing that what you pray and speak in private over those who are hurting, the interceding you do for them, is more honorable, more worthy, more pure than anything you post on social media out of pressure, out of fear, because it's your social duty, or to make a political statement. Does that mean you can't speak up or that you shouldn't? No, it only challenges you to check your motives before God the Father. Again, this is not a political, societal, or cultural issue, this is a human issue. Until we can all see with our eyes what God has gifted us to see, and hear with our ears what God has gifted us to hear, and seek out HIS heart with both, we will never heal. (Matthew 9:15)

Comments

Popular Posts