Preventing Robbery in the Church

I ponder a lot these days, about racial issues and the unrest in our country, our communities, our churches. Many of my thoughts center around the recent unrest, longtime social injustice, and police brutality. I ruminate about white Christians and how so many are reluctant, have no desire to enter deeply or with any measure, into the lives of their black friends, if they have any at all.

For me it brings an interesting dynamic and definition to the word friendship, contrary to the ways I have conducted myself as a friend since childhood: being loyal, having heartfelt, honest conversations with each other; understanding and sometimes misunderstanding one another, investing time into, and placing value on the relationship; keeping it balanced – not one-sided – and above all, having one another’s back in times of crisis.

I, in no way, believe the definition or ability of a true friend changes (nor should it) based on which race you happen to be or happen to be with. Yet what does it tell us when it does? When the relationship is tested unexpectedly, does race win out over friendship and humanity?

For instance, let us say there are two Christians, one white, the other is black. They are standing in a safe place, but they happen to witness a robbery. Without hesitation, they will grab their cell phones and one will dial 911. While there is no reason for two calls to the emergency line, they know instinctively it is the right, the only correct action to take. The measures are well within their reach to those who have the power and authority to stop the criminal activity. But what if one of them, suggests instead to pray first to be sure of what steps to take? No doubt, the robbery goes off without a hitch and the robbers getaway.

Now, consider this scenario; A woman walks into a classroom of my church and takes her time to speak to everyone seated in my row by name. In what should be considered a safe place, a real robbery is about to take place. I was sitting between two white women, one whom I had recently met and my close friend K. This Christian greeted the woman on my right side, whom she knew by name, skipped over me, and then, because she did not know my friend K, deliberately touched her shoulder and with much intentionality looked at her and asked, “How are you?” She wanted to make me aware that I was not included in her greetings, for me to note she did not acknowledge that she even saw me.

She was a robber. This white ‘Christian’ attempted to rob the dignity and violate the humanity of the lone black person in the room. Perhaps her crime would go unpunished in church, but she could not force me to tolerate it. I looked up at her as she turned to walk away, and said, “I’m doing fine, thanks.” Whether she heard me or not is beside the point. It would not be the last time we watched her robbery ploys.

This incident took K by surprise. She looked at me and laughed nervously at my comment but was speechless at what had just happened. I was not surprised in the least. This type of behavior, leveled against a black person’s self-esteem, has happened with such regularity I’ve learned to laugh inwardly, to pity, and then ignore the perpetrator, especially in a church setting. Did this church member ever read God’s instruction to “be kind one to another?” Did she even bother to listen to the sermons regularly preached about the unconditional love of God?

When K and I discussed this incident later, I related several other occasions at our church where the unwelcome mat had been laid out for me.

K has long been bothered by the diversity deficit at our church. During our walks together, she wondered out loud why it is so and was convinced something must be done. She was so upset by what I refer to as “the classroom crime”, she shared her intention to bring it to the leadership’s attention, and in that moment, I felt somewhat protected by her commitment. I learned later that she’d indeed followed through and had a meeting to discuss the racial climate and lack of diversity at our church.

On another Sunday, a friend and I were engrossed in conversation in our church lobby after service and a man abruptly stepped directly in between us, his back to my face. We two had been standing so close together as we talked that I had to step back so he wouldn’t knock me over. He began speaking to my friend. I expected her to say something like “I’m sorry we were just finishing up,” or “excuse me, but we were talking.” However, she said nothing to him, he said nothing to me, but rather, they conversed with one another. Their actions spoke volumes.

When he left, I was still stunned. I expected her to express dismay at his ill-mannered behavior or feel embarrassed at his discourtesy. I thought she would surely understand how I had felt at his unChrist-like dismissal of me. Instead, she found my mention of her friend’s rude conduct uncomfortable. She took umbrage that I dared suggest it was racial. She coolly assured me she had never seen him be prejudiced or anything like that. How could you? I wondered. Look around you. Mine is the only black face you see in this membership. When would he have had the opportunity before now to show you his bias?

I don’t remember the conversation verbatim, but the conclusion was she would pray about whether to say anything to him. I’ve yet to see any change in him, so I can only conclude she is still praying. Not only that, I have come to realize that, by her silence in not addressing her friend’s rude interruption but rather excusing and no less siding with his behavior, she also took something from me, thereby becoming his accomplice. However, I did not let her keep it. I reclaimed it. Immediately. My self-worth, my dignity as a human being is worthy of common courtesy from others.

A true friend is hard to find and worth holding onto at any cost, and race should never affect the posture of the friendship. The moment it does, you will find yourself at a crossroads – choosing to justify subtle racism or to speak out; taking time to pray as you witness injustice or moving into action. Martin Luther King, Jr. said it best, “We will not remember the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

Finding the Answers to Write

Four years ago, I felt a tug at my heart to form a writer’s group and encourage those who would join me to write. I believe that nudge came from the Holy Spirit.   “There are people who are perplexed, brokenhearted, tired, sick, lost, insecure, and alone. There are those who are trusting and believing My promises. Some know Who I am, many don’t. I am the answer to every problem, every condition, and every hope. ”   
The impression in my heart born from those words wasn’t what I’d consider revelatory.  I felt like I knew and understood those things, but what did it have to do with a writer’s group?   I am called to write, and so are you. We hold the answer within us that God wants to use to cause transformation.  It is He who gives us the words, and the words we write- change lives. We give the world His answer through writing: fiction, non-fiction, children’s stories, articles, blogs, poems.  The Answer is Write, and when writers come together and set goals, encourage, motivate, inspire each other to write their stories, the reward is sharing in one another’s successes. 
I hope you will take the time to reflect on the words and purpose for sitting at your desks, or tables with your notepad or computers. I hope you will honor your gift and learn how to grow it, sharpen it, develop it by taking classes, attending conferences. More than that I pray you will find and commit to joining a writer’s group. 
Working with others who share your passion, and will give you honest, constructive feedback on your work is invaluable.
Remember, your obedience to write that answer in whatever form it takes, could possibly mean spiritual healing, and life to someone you may never know this side of Heaven.



Writers have the answer!

Snowfall, Time for Quiet Reflections and Writing

Snowfall in the South is a big deal, whether it’s only a few inches or several history-making feet. After the mad dashes, long lines and general hysteria at the grocery stores before the predicted snowstorm, once the snow has actually fallen, there’s really not much left to do except settle in and wait for it to melt.

What better opportunity than snow on the ground, is there for us as writers to sit at the computer, or grab pad and pen and start writing?   It snowed yesterday.  After sleeping in just a wee bit longer than usual, I sprang into action; fixing breakfast, snapping a few pictures of the snowfall, and finally, settling down with my laptop to write. It was both quiet and still in the early hours, and I don’t mind telling you I ended the first half of my day feeling super productive.  I’d made a good deal of progress on my novel.

I decided to stick with my creative writing flow and take full advantage of the countless Highway Patrol warnings for residents to stay home and off of the streets.  Without the added pressure of getting as much done because of a commitment to fulfill, or errand to run, I found myself totally immersed in my character’s stories, and startled when I glanced up and saw dark sky!  I hope you’ll have several interruptions brought on by Acts of God affording you the chance to take a breather from quotidian schedules and offer you the surprise pleasure of extra time to write something, anything.  My writer friend Kim reminded us that there will always be someone who needs and or will be blessed by something we’ve written. Who knows, through you, God may give someone a much yearned for solution or answer. So write! The answer is – write!


Photo by Joe Yates on Unsplash

Research?

I spent many years as a non fiction writer. Researching a topic before writing about it was a given. No, it was a necessary tool for writing a credible article.

When I started into the fiction world, I learned quickly that research was still a necessary tool for my writing, in order for it to be believable. Research doesn’t always have to be boring and laborious. I dare say I’ve spent many hours searching for information concerning the invention of aluminum cans and when vegetables and fruit first sold in said aluminum cans. I merely thought fiction writers had such vivid imaginations that they made up things as they wrote their stories. Was I ever wrong.

The story in the novel I’m currently writing takes place in 1930’s America. Here’s a short list of what I’ve learned: Your characters who live in the 1930’s should always speak the vernacular of the 1930’s. They don’t say “Awesome,” It’s “Keen.” Neither would they say “Move it, buddy!” It’s “Shake a leg!” The household items, articles of clothing and menus you write about must match the era. For example, in my book the characters owned a washing machine ( 1908) but not a clothes dryer (1938). New clothes are referred to as ‘New Duds.” I’ve actually had a lot of fun learning new slang and who knows? I just may bring some of these fun words back into circulation.

Growing As an Author

What does it mean?

Babies don’t grow without eating every day every hour.

Plants don’t grow without daily sunshine and watering.

Neither do writers who don’t write every day.

Tip: You don’t need to work on big projects or push toward a deadline to get your daily writer’s nourishment. Finding writing groups online or sharing ideas with friends is a great way to grow yourself as a writer. Join a writers group to encourage you to keep your writing consistent. These can help you create content and keep your writing fresh and diversified.

Grow daily as a writer: Find time to write about something every day.  Start a blog. Find free writing competitions and submit your work

Unintentional Blogging

If you’re a writer, you no doubt have been asked that question more time than you care to remember. I know I certainly have.

I wonder, is it because if you admit you’re a writer the whole notion sounds so nebulous? Like you’re going to write and then what?! On occasion, I’ve made the mistake of admitting I often begin my morning by sitting at the computer and just writing without any specific goal in mind.

I write to stay in practice and in shape. Comment such as those are met with silent disapproval. Do you ever write just for the sheer joy of using words? Writing like that has resulted in some of my best blog posts.