Last year, I felt God whisper to me in one of my inward moments of self-reflection. I was having a conversation with God about the meaning and purpose of some of my deepest hopes and dreams- that are not currently reality. God whispered,
it is not what you have to say that others need to hear, it is what others have to say that YOU need to hear.
I spent the early part of 2014 asking God,
what am I listening for?
It was only this December, when school was over, the Christmas tree had been taken down, after months of lamenting Michael Brown, and wondering what God was asking me to do in response to the brokenness I and my community were struggling through, as I was preparing to spend some time listening for a new word or theme for 2015. This thought dawned on me, (I am slow sometimes!) my place in the work of reconciliation, begins with this very idea: listen to those around you. I have spent my life listening only to certain voices. Those that tell me I am a child of God. Those that tell me that all people are equal in God’s eyes. Those that tell me that I should feel bad about what happens to people of color in my community, but I can’t really do anything about it. Those that tell me that reconciliation is only possible when Jesus comes again. Those that tell me it’s not my problem. Not all those voices have been good.
In reconciliation work, I must first take a posture of listening.
The voices to whom I listen to, matter. I am continually reflecting on my role and responsibility in the work of reconciliation in my family and community context. I desire to be more deeply connected to what God’s word says about reconciliation, identity and being the family of God. This is an area where I need to grow, to focus, and to pay attention. I study and dialogue and engage; taking faithful and brave steps to be involved in God’s work of reconciliation in my neighborhood, community and even world (that sounds big, because it is!).
It can be as simple as pointing other people to credible witnesses in our communities that are important voices which need to be elevated. So this is what I do. I share the men and women I am learning from, inspired by, and listening to.
- Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil
- Dr. Brian Bantum
- Austin Channing
- Gail Song Bantum
- Dr. Liz Mosbo VerHage
- Eugene Cho
- Nancy Rust
- Ebony Johanna
- Christena Cleveland
- Lisa Sharon Harper
Whose voices are you listening to, learning from and encouraged by? What steps are you taking to resist the urge to ignore our communities needs for confession, repentance and restored relationships between cultures?