This week I have been fragile and raw. I cannot count the number of times I found myself staring blankly at a screen or tuning out on a conference call. I am working to understand the events of the last week and struggling. If you asked me a couple of weeks ago if I think we have a race problem in the US I would have said yes, but events of the past weeks have demonstrated more clearly to me how deeply we are wounded by it. Like most people in our country, I was horrified by the video of a police officer slowly murdering George Floyd while other officers watched indifferently. I felt helpless in the face of a system that has allowed this type of thing to happen repeatedly. If I am honest, I also was grateful that my family has never had to endure this, but upon deeper reflection I know that turning a blind eye to this deep injustice harms all of us.
I am not sure why it took this final straw to open me up to this overwhelmingly raw feeling. Maybe because I saw the events leading to Floyd’s death more clearly this time. There was always some room for denial without this clear evidence, and my denial makes me angry at myself. In addition, his cry for his mother deeply spoke to me and broke my heart. Floyd’s call summoned the mother in all of us and pulls us towards that love we feel for our children, which is the closest thing to unconditional love that most of us know. I would like to believe that our love for our children is close to how God loves us, but I honestly do not know. I am human so my love is not perfectly unconditional, but this is how God has asked us to love one another, so I try.
As a small consolation in this heartbreaking tragedy, it may be that Floyd’s call summoned a part of all of us that is trying to love others more unreservedly and completely. I mourn for all the families who have similar stories to Floyd’s family, and there are many of them. When I think about George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Manuel Ellis, or the multitude of others who lost their lives because of the color of their skin, I remember their mothers and the families that loved them and the God that loves them unconditionally. Floyd’s desperate call to his mother is calling for her love, and for our love.
This brings me to my last point. I am a person of action, so I want to do something concrete. I like to talk to God when I am out walking when I am troubled and what came to me during my walk yesterday was not very satisfactory, because it was not oriented towards concrete action. Right now, I need to feel the discomfort and move through my sorrow with prayer and reflection. Action will come, but now I must grieve, for Floyd, others like him, and for black Americans that have endured tragedy, pain and injustice. Working through this looks different for all of us and we must support our black brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, and each other as we all struggle to be transformed by these events. Jesus commands us to love one another as He has loved us, so maybe my first action, after working through my discomfort and grief, is to work on loving everyone more like God loves us.