By Andrena Sawyer
In general, I’m a calculated and cautious person. I tend to take information with a grain of salt, process it, dissect it, then process it again before I react. This is why it has sometimes taken me months before I even mourn for a loved one, or to share joyful news that would cause most people to shout from rooftops. However, this week I wept—publicly and loudly—for people I don’t know. I wept at work, in front of my staff, for children that I may never meet. I wept for families whose pain resonated so deeply that it made me angry.
As a Christian, this matters. The pain matters. This fear matters. The brokenness matters. All of it matters. It matters to God, and it should matter to everyone—black, white, woman, man, child.
This week, the more I processed the fate of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, the angrier I became. I was angry at their public executions, angry at systemic failures, angry that my children may grow up numb to these types of incidences, and angry at the fear that was brewing inside for my own life. What angered me the most, however, was the seeming apathy of other believers. Like the inability to look away from a bad car crash, I found myself drawn to angry Facebook postings that drew responses from people who were blaming victims and using the bible to spew insolent and careless rhetoric. It all hurt so bad. So last night I did the only thing I know to do when I am overwhelmed this way—I prayed.
As I was praying, I was reminded of the book of Exodus and the ordained killing of all the Hebrew male children. A community was fearful, chaos was rampant, and children were being slaughtered for what was beyond their control. I was instantly also reminded of 2 Chronicles 7:14 which says, if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray, I will heal their land. I was convicted, not for my anger, but for compartmentalizing my faith and giving in to my desire (although seemingly justified) to fuel my rage.
My rage causes me to want to protest. It makes me want to ignore (to put it nicely) White people and to use every platform I have to fuel other people’s anger—in hopes that if we’re all angry enough, we can cause change. Some of these things aren’t inherently bad, but given the wrong set of circumstances, they can take things from bad to worse quicker than most can blink an eye. What I’ve decided to do instead is to choose faith over rage. I’m not talking passivity and blind ignorance, but I am talking about faith that comes from strength that chooses peace in times like this.
To my White brethren, if you believe you are a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, you have to see what’s happening as symptomatic of brokenness for a community that has historically been controlled by fear, violence and deprivation. A passive and intolerant stance does nothing to help that brokenness. In fact, it is offensive and arrogant. Righteous indignation calls sin…sin. Bigotry is sin. Racism is sin. Oppression is sin. Control by fear is sin. Violence is sin. Lukewarm-ness is sin. The quicker we can all admit that the quicker the healing will begin. My prayer is that if you are guilty of any of the above, you choose faith—the kind of faith that may denounce some of your privileges, but advocates for your oppressed brethren.
To my minority brethren, choose faith. As difficult as it is, choose faith—the kind of faith that we know without works is dead. The faith that raises awareness, educates the community, advocates, cares for the widows and feeds the orphans. Choose the faith that is compelled to action, but not controlled my anger. The kind of faith that refuses to be baited into foolish arguments, and chooses not to spew hateful and divisive rhetoric. My prayer is that we choose a faith that remembers that action without faith is self-reliance and sinful, and with that knowledge, we remember to wage war where it really matters—before the throne of grace.
Andrena Sawyer is the President of P.E.R.K. Consulting, and the Founder of MCWEN. In addition to her work with nonprofits and small businesses, she is the author of several books, including The Misadventures of a New Entrepreneur: 5 Things They Won't Teach You in Business School.
Follow her on twitter or Instagram @Andrena_Sawyer