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Dear White Christian

Dear white Christian,

I am you.

I am overwhelmingly and uncomfortably aware right now that racism is still alive and well in our country.

Yet I have not always been this way.

If you haven’t perused this blog, you may not know that I have been married to a black man for a little over a year now. I am ashamed to say that my relationship with my husband is the first real, deep, interpersonal relationship I ever had with a person of color. I always pushed that fact aside, saying that it was because of where I was raised.

Yet no part of me ever sought to get to know anyone who was not like me. I sat where I was comfortable. I avoided uncomfortable conversations. I kept my mouth shut.

I said things like, “If I were around during slavery, I would have never stood for that.”

And “I just don’t understand racism.”

And the beloved, “I don’t see color.”

Yet by the same breath, I would easily say something like, “You speak so well and articulately,” and (I am so very ashamed to type this) “You’re like an oreo: black on the outside but white on the inside.”

As if whiteness is something to be desired—the goal—and blackness is just the barrier standing in the way of true goodness.

I believed that our country had truly come strides and that we were pretty good.

Then I met Austin (and all my other awesome friends of color from speech. Thank you.)

I began to hear words and phrases like, “institutional racism” and learned that “colorblindness” was not, in fact, a good thing. I listened to all my people explain how they had to do so much more to be trusted. My husband, boyfriend at the time, explained that he spends the majority of his time smiling just so he doesn’t come across like “that guy on the news.” He revealed how tired he was.

Unfortunately, like most of us are, I was questioning at first. All my mind saw during Black Lives Matter rally’s was the little bit of violence that was happening. I didn’t stop and ask myself why it was that they felt that was the option. I didn’t look into the eyes of the mothers of black children that sat in the background. I didn’t heed to the exhaustion my friends of color expressed.

White Christian, I am begging you to catch on more quickly than I did. I am begging you to look at what just happened and recognize that this is not a random act of hatred. It was methodically planned. The ideas that these people hold were approved by our leadership.

Take this for example: When the governor of Virginia was addressing the rioters, he told them that they were not real patriots. That the real patriots were George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. He completely neglected the fact that these men owned black people as property. They are the ones we are so quickly to worship and also the ones who instigated the kind of violent ideas these people build their ideologies upon.

It is those kind of statements—the kind of statements that we make subconsciously—that make people of color feel unsafe in the home that people who look like us dragged them to.

I could go on for years. But I will ask that, instead, you take these steps toward being the kind ally that I believe Christ calls us to be. It all comes down to one action.

Respond.

Respond in prayer and repentance.

First and foremost, let’s ask God that He would show us our own evil hearts. Sisters and brothers, we will never walk a day in black skin. We will not know the fear when sirens sound. We will never know what it is like to have to question the choice of wearing a sweatshirt over a sweater vest. We will never know what it is like to listen to the stories of our parents and grandparents being hosed down in the streets or hung from trees because of the skin they were born in.

A few weeks ago, I attended the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. As I walked through the section detailing the horrors of segregation and Jim Crow, the man in front of me said, “Yes! This is exactly what my school looked like. I remember this well.” The man was in his 60s at the latest.

Friends, this is not buried deep in history. We have sisters and brothers who have lived and are still living in hatred that you and I will never experience. That’s what the Lord revealed to me in that moment. Tears. Instantly. This reality should produce nothing less that just that!

Christian, ask Jesus to show you your prejudices. You have them. I have them still. Ask Jesus to remind you of the injustice that He experienced. Ask Him to reveal to you the unique hatred that this land of the free freely poured out onto the backs of innocent black lives.

Then repent.

Turn! Write those prejudices down that you might remember their lies. Satan wants nothing more than for us to be divided, and he will do everything in his power to pull you away from the conviction that our Father will bring about.

Respond on your platforms.

Here is food for thought: if you posted something about how “unpatriotic” Collin Kapernick was when he refused to sing the National Anthem, why aren’t you posting about the horrendous nature of this—the exact thing he was fighting against!

Brothers and sisters, we should be horrified to admit that this is surprising on social media. It is what Black Lives Matter has been warning us about as we have been calling them a terrorist organization! When I say respond on social media, this is what I mean:

Do what I did in the paragraphs above. Admit where you have been prejudice. Let others know that you are not beyond reproach. Turn the blame off of the protestors and remember the fact that, if we are in Christ, we believe that we hold the same amount of sin they do. Let’s turn our focus to what we can do. What we have been doing wrong. How we have been slowly (and for some unknowingly) perpetuating this kind of thought.

Respond in your conversations.

Look for opportunities to talk about how God feels about racial injustice. Remember that when John looked into heaven, he SAW people from every tribe, tongue, and nation—meaning they looked different! Color is not the problem, friends. It is beautiful. Our skin tones are exactly what God has given us. They are unique and strong and give us platform for His glory.

Let’s talk about some ways to respond to some specific phrases you might hear.

“The only race is the human race.” Or “I don’t see color.”

You could say, “I know that you mean that we are all one in Christ, but by saying that, we are neglecting the unique, horrible, recent hardships that most of our friends of color have had to experience. Yes, we should absolutely treat all people with respect no matter their skin color. That point you make is correct! But part of treating someone with respect is understanding and recognizing the struggles they face because of their skin color.”

“Black Lives Matter just needs to get over it.”

You could say, “What makes you say that? Would you look at someone who has faced any other hardship and say that? What if a widow who had lost her husband years ago grieved him actively right now? You would aid her. You would come to her side and love on her. You would listen to her.”

“They have just as much of an opportunity to be successful as anyone else.”

You should say, “Now that is not true. I am not saying that white people haven’t had to struggle for success, but I am saying that our great grandparents weren’t considered 3/5’s human. That is recent! The African American community is just now seeing a generation that actively seeks out school. There has been a lot of catching up to do that people who look like us haven’t had to deal with.”

“I am just so shocked that white supremacists still exist.”

Please ask, “Why? There have been lynching’s this year. Our black brothers and sisters are crying out in pain all around us, and our first inclination is to push aside their frustrations (see above statements). We didn’t listen when people of color were heart broken when Trump won the Presidency. They saw this coming. They warned us over and over and over! We should all be pushing our jaws back up and looking at the warning signs we have been ignoring by people made in the image of God.”

Respond in your listening

Finally, brothers and sisters, let us listen.

If you have a friend of color, buy them a cup of coffee and ask them to educate you. Refrain from the words, “yeah, but…”.

Look up Christian authors and pastors who are excited about racial reconciliation. Log onto the website, The Front Porch, and just read and read and read.

You might be skeptical, but I ask that you please, please set that aside and open your ears. We preach over and over that “there is neither Jew nor Greek,” and believe that by saying that we are pulling races together. Sisters and brothers, we are pushing aside the concerns of our sisters and brothers! We are saying, “the only perspective that matters is mine, and you should just conform.”

I am not saying that any one person is always right, but why do we have such a hard time with giving someone the courtesy to share their heart?

This weekend opened my eyes.

It opened my eyes to the fact that yes, most of us can agree that this extreme kind of racism should not be tolerated. But what about the subtle racism? What about when someone says to my husband, “I don’t usually like black people, but I like you.” Yes, that has been said to him. What if it is just something as simple as the things I said before I was educated? Those phrases, those words are hurtful, and when we use the, we misrepresent our Jesus.

We don’t want people made in the image of God. We want them made in the image of us.

We’ve Been Married for a Year and This is What We’ve Learned

Married for a year. This is fiercely weird to say.

It seems as if it were five minutes ago that I was driving frantically around Bowling Green, Kentucky the night before my wedding trying to find our marriage license (yes, that happened). It seems as if it were just the other day that we were lounging on the beach during our honeymoon when the storm alarm began sounding across the city of Destin, FL. It seems like it was just yesterday that my man carried me into our first home, awaiting the marriage that would soon ensue.

And yet it also seems like he has always been my husband.

Yesterday, as we celebrated, I was ironically reminded of what our entire year had looked like. We began the day worshiping the Lord with our local body of believers, we went to Long Horn and used a gift card (cause the first year married has us poor), then we got on the road to begin our day that Austin had scheduled out.

First, we would go mini golfing and settle a two-year long tie. Then, we would go to the Soda Parlor and get ice cream floats. Finally, we would walk around downtown Nashville before eating at a fancy restaurant we had no business stepping foot in.

However.

When we got on the road to go mini golfing, we began hearing a loud sound coming from under our car. A little nervous, we pulled over, only to smell some serious burning. Low and behold, one of our tires was not only flat but absolutely shredded to the core. Austin grinned, relieved that it was only a tire and headed to the trunk where he would show me how my man could change a tire in just a few minutes. He had the confidence of the NASCAR crew. Only, instead of finding what he needed, he found a tire that was literally stuck to our car and a tool case with no tools in it.

Did I mention it was 90 degrees outside and we were on an interstate?

Needless to say, the day was not picture perfect or Instagram worthy. It was real though! We cackled on the side of the road as we waited for roadside assistance to show up. We sweated through our clothes trying to beat one another at mini golf. We walked into 5th and Taylor (fancy restaurant) in jeans (which is apparently not something you do), then we laid on the couch watching America’s Got Talent.

Oddly enough, it was one of the most fun days I have ever had.

And that is what I believe marriage is. Making the weird, and often hard, moments enjoyable for the other. It’s putting aside your own discomforts for the comfort of your partner. It’s remembering back to the time you lost your temper because something didn’t go perfectly and using that as motivation to react differently now. It is not what social media tells you it is, and it is often not even what I tell you it is, but it is the greatest gift God has ever given me. I am so excited to share with you what He has shared with me over this last year.

Everything was not as big a deal as it felt.

The first month of our marriage was a breeze. I loved him more than I thought possible–and it was the fairy-tale, happy-all-the-time, over-the-top kind of love. The honeymoon stage was REAL y’all. Then month two happened, and we began to settle into things.

15032336_10207710552218721_2018233938094522195_n.jpgI became comfortable with talking to him however I wanted.

He became comfortable with looking at his phone instead of listening to me.

And then it started. We bickered and argued over small, stupid things. Things that should not matter at all. After months of wondering why it was that we seemed to be in an argument rut, the Lord revealed to me what was going on in my heart.

Newly weds! Listen up!

When you make the kind of commitment that marriage makes, everything gets way more personal. The love is much bigger and the hurt is much deeper. Yes, it evens out over time, but in the moment, the Lord has taught me to stop and remember whose I am. Not Austin’s but His.

It puts everything back into perspective. It reminds me that I am here in this life and in this marriage for the glory of Jesus Christ and not to fulfill some kind of dream marriage or to even fulfill all my husband’s desires. Our eyes cannot be on ourselves or even on anything in this world but on our God. I’ll touch on that more in a minute.

Weddings are fun. Marriage is better.

If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me if I was sad that the wedding was over, I would have all the money in the world to pay for seminary this fall! (#RealWorldProbs). Yes, the wedding was fun. However. Marriage is better! The wedding day is just that: a day. It comes and goes just like any other day in your life15032065_10207710317452852_2418948156771825846_n BUT much faster.

Honestly, my favorite part about having had the wedding is hearing about how much my friends enjoyed themselves. It was enjoying one another in community and celebration of our God and His picture of marriage! Oh, it was fun, guys.

But I would not trade a day of being married to my man for another big party. He is too good, too kind, and this daily sleepover kind of thing is way too fun for all that.

Caring for something (or someone) makes my marriage more fulfilling.

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Okay, I might get judged for this one. We did get a dog and it was one of the best decisions we have made! I am not saying that everyone should get a dog for their first

little stint of marriage, and I am definitely not saying that a marriage without something to care for is any less fulfilling than mine. I am, however, saying that we love to watch one another love on something.

We love to have a common goal and to take responsibility for something together.

And it’s just plain fun!

Though I am positive that caring for a dog will be nothing like caring for our own children one day, I freakin love my dog, and I love that my husband loves my dog. It brings in a whole lot more love to what is already a whole lot of love. 10/10 would recommend.

When Jesus isn’t the center, we have nothing stable to hold onto.

We have struggled, friends. And not just simple struggles like being stranded on the side of the road! We have struggled with staying in our word consistently. We have struggled with our spiritual disciplines. We have just plain struggled. Funny how the times that we struggle spiritually are the times we are struggling in our marriage.

You might ask, well did you try things like bringing in better communication or making a list of why you love him? Yes, we have tried some logistical things, but Jesus is what it always comes back to. And it is always going to be! If He was the thing we built our marriage upon, if He was the reason we stepped out in a big kind of faith to get married when and at the cost we did, He has to be what we center of our whole relationship. I mean all of it. The decisions we make financially, the relationships we pour ourselves into, the jobs we take, the time we spend, and everything in between must come back to Him or we will crumble. We will turn into ourselves or become obsessed with “pleasing” the other to a point of self-destruction. When we are right with Him, we are right with one another. Always.

Pinterest doesn’t tell the truth.

I am sitting in a very cluttered apartment right now, and you wanna know why? Pinterest. (And Facebook and Instagram and any other social media site that tells me all the stuff I need). Log off! Trust me. We are about to spend about two weeks purging our apartment because most of the stuff we have is not necessary. It has created unrealistic expectations in our household and it has brought unneeded shame and stress into our lives. Do yourself a favor and put it away.

Build a home that YOU love and that reflects your faith from the moment guests enter the door.

I can’t wait for a lifetime with this man.15094310_10207710551298698_977603201733002791_n

This year has been the best of my life. It has not been the easiest; in fact, it has also been the most challenging. But the Lord has stretched my little family in ways that have given us no other choice than to cling tightly to Him.

That has been what has grown my love for Austin so much. Not the pretty, Pinterest-worthy moments, but the gritty, hard, “you only have each other and Jesus” kind of moments. I pray that God gives me more time with this human than I know what to do with. I pray that we walk alongside one another it life’s beautiful moments as well as its beautifully devastating moments. I pray that we encounter the Holy Spirit daily and that we have kids who love Jesus more than we do.

Year one of marriage has come and gone. It goes by fast, girls. Savor it. Love Him. Get ready for what’s next.

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August 5: Entrusted

This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith,

(1 Timothy 1:18-19 ESV)

Have you ever been entrusted with valuable information? Maybe it was at work, maybe it was some kind of family information. One of my favorite things to watch on TV is medical shows. When I place myself in the shoes of some of these doctors and nurses, I become terrified. One piece of misinformation could mean the end of a patient’s life. I milliliter of the wrong medication could mean devastation for a family. However, the communication and spread of correct information could be life-changing for hundreds. In this passage, Paul is telling Timothy the importance of the information he has been entrusted with: the Gospel. This is news that is to be spread that all ears may hear. It is news that is to be valued that one might hold no higher possession. It is news that is to be implemented in every decision and aspect of life. No information is more valuable. Let us hold in high esteem that with which we are entrusted, oh Christian. It is a matter of death. Yet it is also a matter of life and life abundant.

Lord, thank you for looking upon me and entrusting me with the Gospel. I am confident that by giving me this precious news, you do not want me to hoard it to myself, but to share it with everyone that they might be entrusted with it too. Help me see and do that every day, Jesus. I love you, Lord.

August 4: Decreased

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”

(John 3:30 ESV)

I love the simplicity of this verse. Seven small words. One simple concept–so it seems. While we say these words with all of the confidence in the world that we know exactly how to implement them, I believe they are some of the most challenging verses in scripture. You see, we are born with an innate desire to increase ourselves. It is built into our culture, our ideals, our values. We are constantly striving for the next bigger and better thing for our own betterment. Then, we take on this verse–or at least half of it. I find myself seeking to increase Him without decreasing myself. I want His goodness and blessing on top of the success and lifestyle I have already created for myself. I find myself implementing these words instead: He must increase, but I am not going to change myself. What would it look like if we truly sought to decrease our own selfish desires, even our own pure desires, our desires for anything other than Jesus? Let’s begin praying both of those phrases with full hearts. God must increase. I must decrease.

God, when You say, the old is gone, behold the new has come, I sometimes wonder how much I am actually seeking to live in that new. Help me to die in my trespasses and rid myself of the sin that still plagues me. Increase in me God, and decrease me completely.

August 3: Sovereignty over Authority

But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself.

(Daniel 1:8 ESV)

I find myself in continual frustration toward our nations governance. No matter what “side” one chooses, there are values upon values that differ from what Christ commands that we stand for. In fact, even when we look back upon our own country’s history, we see that the values of “one nation under God” have been a rare occurrence. When I find myself becoming frustrated with the state of our governance and our attitudes toward governance, I like to go back to Daniel. You see, not only was Daniel under leadership that didn’t follow God, He was taken from his own land and forced into this new land. He was under the microscope of the king and all the king’s men. All the while, he was asked to eat, say, and do things in direct defiance to God. And his response is exactly the response that I need! He didn’t sway, but he held respect. He knew that God, in His sovereignty, places kings on thrones. Do those kings always do what He stands for? Usually not. Let’s start praying for an attitude like Daniel’s. An attitude where we do not stand for defiling ourselves with hatefulness or any devaluing of human life, yet we trust God’s sovereignty as that authority reigns.

God, I am so quick to become bitter toward the leadership in our country. Yet I know that you have not called us to bitterness. Let me be a light that shines on you when everything seems to point away from you. I love you, Lord.

August 2: My Ways

All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the spirit. Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established.

(Proverbs 16:2-3 ESV)

I have a bad reputation in my family for always needing to be right. When I am convinced of something, I will seek to prove myself correct over and over again until I am either victorious in the conversation or humbled greatly. You see, my desire to be right should not come as a surprise to anyone because, as Proverbs reveals, it is a desire hidden deep within all of us. Whether it is the sin of proving ourselves right to the world, or even telling God what way we think we should go, our ways are always correct in our own eyes. Here is the problem: our perspective is limited. My husband has seen and done things in a different way than I have because of his experience on this earth in the same way as my grandmother has a different perspective than both of us. Most importantly, our God is the only one with perfect perspective. He is the one who lays the foundations of our plans and who sees the past and future as if they were happening right now. He is outside of time; He is the creator of good; He has given Himself to us to be our wise council. Let us pray today that we might rid ourselves of our desire for correctness, and ask God to establish all our ways.

Lord, I am so sinful. Somehow my own pride is what creates in me a spirit of correctness. Yet I know that you are the only one with that ability. Please remove that desire from my heart, and replace it with a spirit that leans solely on you. I love you, Jesus.

August 1: Dwelling Place

Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place—the Most High, who is my refuge—no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent.

(Psalm 91:9-10 ESV)

When I read the words “dwelling place” the first thing that comes to my mind is my home. It’s a little apartment with a couple of bedrooms, bathrooms, a kitchen, and a living room. There is a couch that I sip my coffee on and a patio where I sit and do some of my writing. I spend time there. I make investments there. I grow there and build own relationships there. It is where I dwell. So when this verse tells me that I need to make the Lord my dwelling place, I naturally tend to compare the two. In essence, this verse reveals that if we make Christ our home. If we spend time in His presence, if we invest into His character and kingdom, if we build relationships because of Him and under His reign, we will be hidden in His favor. Does this mean that nothing bad will happen to us ever? Absolutely not. But our Dwelling Pace can never be plagued or taken from us. We will forever be safe in His arms.

Jesus, I want nothing but to dwell in you. Help me to value you as my dwelling place more than I value any other safety net I have on this earth.