Yesterday, I read that a legislator demanded that the government apologize to the suburban moms who were afraid as a result of the riots last week.
He was talking about me. I was the scared suburban mom.
This past week many people have asked me how I felt about the events that have unfolded over the last few weeks. My response has been consistent – I have been very unimpressed with myself.
If you are a student of the Enneagram, I am an 8. Eights thrive when they can advocate for the underdog. When I picture my best self I imagine myself standing up on a podium, megaphone in hand, inspiring a crowd to rally against injustice.
But when the looting started and it started to get close to home, I didn’t grab my megaphone. Instead I took a nap. I felt scared and overwhelmed. I just wanted it to be all over.
You see, as much as I am an advocate, I also have a high felt need for safety. I didn’t feel safe at all.
I also felt angry. My 12 year old daughter struggles with anxiety. She is already struggling to navigate the challenges that have come with being in the middle of a pandemic. Now this? The first night our city had a curfew, she cried herself to sleep. She was sure that someone was going to come into our house, steal all of our stuff and shoot us. I tried my best to hide my feelings, but it was a struggle. Honestly, I wondered the same thing.
“Why did we have to suffer at the hands of someone else’s bad decisions?”, I found myself saying out loud (Please keep reading, I’m not saying these feelings are okay). Not that I demanded an apology, but I did wonder more than once why the government had let things get so out of control.
The morning after the curfew had been instituted we left to go out of town. The whole way up to Duluth I felt conflicted. Were we making a statement by leaving town? We had planned the trip earlier in the week before all of this happened, but all of a sudden taking a vacation felt like we were taking a stance. The whole time I felt like we should be pressing in, not running away. I struggled to stay focused throughout the weekend. My emotions felt confusing and conflicting.
Social media blew up with a slew of new experts on the issue of race. And for some reason I felt like each comment or suggestion was a direct attack on me. When I was trying to sit back and listen, I felt like assumptions were being made about me and my lack of engagement. I felt a deep need to explain myself. I wanted to prove to the world that I do care about racial reconciliation and I have for a long time. Yet I felt like I had nothing to add to the conversation.
After we returned from Duluth things had died down a bit. My dominant emotion was no longer fear, but confusion.
Where was my place in this fight? Do I have one? The battle had been won, but the war was not over. Crowds began to fill the streets to clean up the damage. While people hit the streets, I hid in my room and googled “What should I do?” I still felt paralyzed and I could not figure out why.
I pressed in. I prayed. Then I started to see.
I felt paralyzed because I had been waiting for my feelings to change.
I am an incredibly passionate person. I’m getting a bit more level-headed as I get older, but still a lot of my decisions are made from a place of passion.
So during the riots I kept waiting for the Clark Kent in me to become Superman. I was waiting for the advocate in me to emerge from underneath the rubble of anger and fear. I was waiting to feel that depth of passion that I rely on to propel me into action. I was waiting for my feelings to go from being conflicted to conviction and it wasn’t happening.
And as I waited for my feelings to change I became paralyzed by them.
You see by nature, I am a black and white thinker. I am either sad or happy. I believe that I have to be either convicted or complacent. I quickly conclude that I am either angry or accepting. And when I feel both happy and sad, convicted and complacent, or angry and accepting – I don’t know where to turn. I don’t do anything and I become paralyzed.
Over this last year I have started to learn that I don’t have to be one or the other. I can be happy and sad. I can feel convicted and complacent. I can even be angry and accepting. And I don’t have to wait for those emotions to change to do something.
I can still feel scared about the unknown, yet seek to understand.
I can feel angry about the world my kids are being forced to navigate, yet feel the same level of anger for injustice.
I can feel confused and curious all at the same time.
But I don’t get to be paralyzed.
I don’t get to be paralyzed because when I chose to walk with Jesus, I chose to walk. I chose to walk with Him as He confronts injustice. I chose to walk with Him as He extends mercy and grace. I chose to walk with Him as He breaks down evil strongholds and brings freedom to the captives.
I chose to walk with Him regardless of how I feel.
So that’s what I’m trying to do. I still feel a bit scared, angry and a bit confused. But as I continue to walk with Jesus on this journey, those feelings are starting to become smaller and smaller. I’m starting to feel my passion arise.
It’s time to bring out the mega phone.
Because there is more,