I’ve been vacillating back and forth on whether to write anything about the Ferguson situation. I’ve experienced a wide range of thoughts and emotions. These may or may not be fully coherent…but I’ll do my best to form a cohesive thought process for you and try to limit the rambling.
1. I just had a hysterectomy. I am on several pain medications. So this may sound intelligent and well thought out in my head and be in reality incoherent and unintelligible.
2. I stay vague about where I live and who I am. Mainly to protect both my husband, and those he has dealt with on the job. I don’t want to tarnish someone’s good name because of some poor choices they made one day. But I can say I do not live in Ferguson. I don’t know what the day to day life was and is like there. This is the perspective of an outsider peering in through little nooks and crannies. Take it with a grain of salt.
3. I am not black. I have not experienced what it is like to have people afraid of me merely by the color of my skin. This doesn’t mean I can’t have insight, or can’t empathize. But it does mean I can’t fully grasp the struggles that the black people of America experience. I’m acknowledging this, and want everyone to be aware that I have no pretenses that I have the answers here.
Disclaimers are now over. Now for some of my thoughts. My initial reactions have been from that of a police officer’s wife. My husband is an amazing and godly man. He does his job to the best of his ability. He takes it seriously, and wants to enforce justice and protect the innocent. He is not in it to abuse power or exercise authority. Most officers I know (which are obviously quite a few) are similar. Obviously I don’t respect them as much as my husband. Because my husband is amazballs (typo is on purpose) and no one compares to him. But I respect them all and their judgement. They have difficult jobs. They have to drudge through the worst of humanity and somehow approach it expecting the best. We don’t want callous and unfeeling men and women in law enforcement. We don’t want them to not care, because that is when true police brutality will begin to occur. When they have become hardened and no longer care about those whom they were supposed to protect. We do need to do something to add support to our officers. To show them that the community appreciates their hard work and appreciates those officers who do their duty to the best of their ability. This is a conversation we need to have in America.
As the story unfolded I formed my own opinions about what happened. I will not share them here. This is not about posing blame or stating unequivocally what happened. I think I covered it fairly well in the disclaimers that I don’t know what happened. We all have our opinions. I’m keeping mine to myself for now. Why? Because our nation is hurting. The rioting, the looting, the anger and hatred I see spewing from all sides. This is a nation that is wounded. It seems appropriate that I am laying in bed working through the pain of my own body healing, as I see how our own nation needs healing at the same time. We need rest. We need to take things slow. We need to find the root issues and fix them. I have no answers for government. I don’t think laws will fix this. Legislation will not solve hurt and pain. They are merely external forces. Something needs to happen internally for us to heal. I joke that my hysterectomy was the removal of my evil organ. We need to do something similar in America. We need to remove the hate and anger. We need to have an internal change of heart before things will get better.
How do we look at each other? This is what it comes down to. This seems to be a convicting theme God had been drilling into me over several weeks now. The term image-bearers of God has come up several times…from multiple sources. My pastor preached on it a couple of weeks ago. He spoke of abortion, and also suicide and euthanasia. Mainly, that our culture no longer views everyone as valuable. If we have lost our health. If we are disabled. We somehow have lost our value and it becomes okay for you to want to end your life. This quote stuck with me, “Terminating treatment is different from terminating life”. I realized in my own mind it didn’t seem so bad that someone who has terminal cancer would want to end their life while it is still “worth living”. But what does that say about how I view the lives of those who are infirm? Are they less valuable? Are they somehow no longer made in the image of God? It shocked me to realize I had let myself down that path. Then this whole thing in Ferguson happened. I was looking for a way to process what was happening. I had thoughts and ideas on how people should be acting. Then I read this post written by Voddie Bauchum. What an incredible view! This man has been through so much, and to still act with grace and dignity…he is a better person than I am. Here is a quote from the article, “However, I have come to realize that it was no more ‘the system’ when white cops pulled me over than it was ‘the system’ when a black thug robbed me at gunpoint. It was sin! The men who robbed me were sinners. The cops who stopped me were sinners. They were not taking their cues from some script designed to ‘keep me down.’ They were simply men who didn’t understand what it meant to treat others with the dignity and respect they deserve as image bearers of God.” It convicted me. Oh, how I’ve been convicted. I admit, I looked down on the looters and rioters. Because they were not acting in a godly manner. They were hurting others, and hurting their own cause. I still do NOT condone their actions. But they deserve my love and compassion anyway. Why? Because they bear the image of God! God created each one of them. He fashioned every molecule in their body. He chose every hair on their head. He collects every tear they have cried. Their pain hurts Him. It hurts Him, and thus it should hurt me. I am not saved because of what I have done. God didn’t rescue me from sin based on my merit. My love should be equally unconditional! It makes a great sound bite. But it is difficult to practice.
Our country needs to learn to love. On both ends. Not love that is conditional. I cannot expect people to reasoned out of deep pain. But God’s love can heal all manner of wounds. So I ask the Christian community. Love. Love those you don’t understand, you don’t agree with. Love people who are sinning, who mistreat you, who antagonize you. We can either fuel the hate and anger with self-righteous superiority (no matter what side you agree with) or we can calm the storm with a love that only God can give. Which will you choose?
I’ll leave you with some verses I’ve been pondering:
Matthew 5:43-48 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Luke 6:35-36: “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
1 Corinthians 13:1-7: “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
Ephesians 2:8-19: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”