Last night, like the rest of the nation, we watched as a decision was handed down in Ferguson, MO. Today, as the dust settles, I still go back to where I ended last night: My heart hurts for the Brown family. My heart hurts for Ferguson.
I’ve wrestled with writing today. Not because I didn’t know what to say, but because words can be so damaging if not spoken well. Words can be so empty if nothing changes.
As the verdict came down last night, my kids sat with us and listened. Addi was more interested in getting back to Dancing with the Stars (she’s 6, what can I say). Payne just listened. He didn’t really say much. But he will have questions. He always does. He’s a processor. He hears things and mulls them over for hours or days before he talks or asks questions. Part is because he takes everything to heart. If he sees hurt in others, he feels it himself.
We took in the verdict and did all we knew to do. We prayed. We prayed for the Brown family. We prayed for Officer Wilson. We prayed for those members of the Grand Jury. We prayed for Ferguson. But my heart still hurt.
So what I’ve wanted so badly to work out in my mind and my heart today is what to say to my kids about Ferguson and what that means for us.
- Above all else, LOVE. Love others. ALL others. Every single person on this planet is made in the image of a God who cherishes them. If God sees a person worthy of love and grace and mercy, then so should we. And God sees EVERY person worthy. To not love everyone is to not fully love God. Period.
- The unrest in Ferguson didn’t happen overnight. That kind of emotion never does. It comes from years of conflicts, big & small, that erupt when something so tragic happens. This community desperately needs healing. And healing only happens when brave people are willing to set differences aside and listen to each other. Always be willing to be a brave person and listen. You won’t always agree and that’s ok. But listen. And love. And never judge. It’s not your job.
- Violence is never the answer. Never. No one will ever hear your voice or even want to hear it if you respond to things with violence or destruction. You will see injustice in your life. More than I’d like you to, kids. But you have incredible role models throughout history that teach you how stand against injustice. Start with Jesus. That’s where all who have become pillars in civil rights started.
- Every life lost is tragic. Every single one. Every single life lost leaves behind family and friends who grieve. Trying to lessen the value of a life based on any surrounding circumstances is wrong. A family is grieving the loss of a son. Their grief is compounded by the circumstances. To see their grief as less than any other’s is wrong. There is a God in heaven who sees their grief and is grieved with them. The things that grieve the Father should grieve us because we are His children.
- Change starts with me, with us. So we don’t tell the jokes with racial undertones, but not laughing is not enough. Change begins by me taking responsibility for me. It’s not enough for me to not participate in the behavior that causes racial divides. I have to speak up when I hear it and see it first hand. Will I change it all by myself? No. But If I do it and you do it….if our family of 4 does it…maybe others will, too. And together, with individual efforts, we can make a difference in our world.
- We are the church. It’s not a building. It’s us. The local church of Ferguson, MO has a tremendous opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus to a hurt, broken and grieving community. But you know what? We have an opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus right here, right now, too. Because in this little Hill Country town people are hurting. Make no mistake, if Jesus was walking on earth today, he’d be in the middle of Ferguson right now. That’s what Jesus did. He went into the places where the hurting were, he didn’t wait for them to come to Him. He would be loving these people, ALL of them, with a big, grace-filled love and with the heart of a peace-maker. Jesus would grieve and cry with the Brown family. And he would sit with Officer Wilson and grieve and cry in a different way. Because no one won in this. No one.
Friends, I will say this. My heart hurts for this broken world. My heart is grieved for the Brown family and the loss of their son. I have children. To think of one of them being taken from me is more than my heart can bear. I was raised in a police officer’s home. I’ve seen first hand the good & the bad in law enforcement. There are more good than bad. My heart hurts for a man who will live the rest of his life with the burden of taking another man’s life. He will never be the same after this.
My heart hurts for Ferguson. My heart has hope in knowing that Jesus came to this hurting and broken world to offer us a way to peace. My soul has a new resolve to make a difference where I am. To be the hands a feet of Jesus to the hurting in my part of this world.
Jesus, help me to look like you in how I love, in how I talk, in how I live. Help me to be a peace-maker in hard places. Help me to be one of the brave to stand against injustice and in doing that, give those who are hurting and wronged a glimpse of you.