Once again, I have to admit something.
These last days and now weeks have left me bewildered, afraid, confused, and, simply, frozen. I had no idea what to do or say. I was scared to move or attempt any kind of response. That’s what happens when you are afraid. That’s what happens when you are scared. God wired us to respond to fear. He gave us protective instincts. There is either flight or fight, and some add freeze.
What is your response? Flight? Fight? Or, Freeze?
At first, I wanted to run and hide and ignore the issue of injustice in our world. The pandemic that already had me concerned and a hundred other issues raging in the world these days compounded my fear. In my head, I was trying to rationalize that if I did not turn the television on or check social media, it would go away.
Isn’t that what we like to do? Ignore it long enough, and it will go away. But it will not go away.
As God’s people, we cannot ignore injustice and hurting people.
But I don’t want to fight. I am non-confrontational by nature, so I would never choose the fight response to fear. Being one that avoids conflict, this post is not my style either. It’s a step outside my comfort zone. I usually write about safe topics where you are more likely to “like” it than lash out or criticize.
We tend to stay in our safe zones.
In my fear, I froze, unable to utter words to express what was going on in my head. I felt the sting of conviction, the pain of discipline, and the bite of rebuke. God was working in my heart as I watched the passion that people had poured out unheard for too long.
He asks, “what are you going to do differently? How will you respond?”
And that’s where I froze. Afraid to say or do anything for fear of doing the wrong thing. Fear keeps me from speaking out. Fear of getting it wrong nails my feet to the floor.
When I realized this, well, I felt convicted. According to 2 Timothy 1:7, God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
God’s people do not sit on the sidelines and say nothing.
God’s people do not keep quiet about injustice.
Forgive me, God, for not trusting in you. Help my unbelief.
Then, I thought, what do I say? What if I offend? I do not want to hurt or injure anyone further with my words, and I do not want my words being misunderstood. Could saying the wrong thing be worse than staying quiet? I do not think so.
I think we have to try.
We have to look to Jesus for words and strength.
I want to let go of the fear and try.
I may get it wrong and if I do, forgive me, I’m learning. Remember getting it wrong leads to an education. Then, with God’s grace, I will try again and maybe the second or third or fourth time get it right. At some point, I will say the right words that heal and mend. Make connections and friendships. I will make a difference in God’s kingdom.
If I keep trying, then, eventually, I’ll get it right.
So, if you are reading this and I said something wrong, forgive me. I’m trying. If you are like me and your feet will not move, and your lips are silent, let us try, try to find the right words, the best response, a compassionate heart.
From here, I made a list of action steps I hope will eventually make a difference, if not in the world, in me–and the people who see me. If you do not know what to do, perhaps you would like to join me in trying to shift our thinking.
Examine the heart.
Self-examination is always the toughest step. What is really in our hearts? Is there any inking of prejudice in our hearts? Out of our hearts come actions and words. If there is any speck of bias or prejudice, then let us lift our hearts and ask God to create in us a clean heart.
Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10 NLT)
Listen to others.
If we are unsure what to say or do, let us listen. Philosopher Martin Buber describes listening as “something we do with our full selves by sensing and feeling what another is trying to convey so that together we can remove the barrier between us.” Listen in a way to remove barriers. I believe James, the half-brother of Jesus, says it clearly,
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. (James 1:19 NLT)
The word “love” appears 310 times in the King James Bible, 348 times in the New American Standard Bible, 551 times in the New International Version, and 538 times in the New Revised Standard Version. Clearly, love is essential to God. It is the foundation of the gospel. Without love, we are a clanging cymbal. Loving others means acceptance, forgiveness, compassion, grace—it means giving everything Jesus gave us.
Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. (Romans 12:9 NLT)
When someone makes a sideways comment that disparages anyone or acts with injustice, I want to have the courage to speak up. To say, no, that is not appropriate, not acceptable, and will not be tolerated. Proverbs tells us to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, crush injustice. I feel like the worst thing to do is nothing. Let us try to speak up without fear.
The Lord is my light and my salvation—so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble? (Psalm 27:1 NLT)
We hear this phrase a lot lately–we are in unprecedented times. Every week brings a new societal and personal challenge. As God’s children, I hope that invigorates us. Today is the time for God’s people to shine. Let us examine our hearts, be quick to listen, love others deeply, and speak up without fear. Let us be the light in the darkness in these unprecedented days.
Don’t be afraid. Don’t run, or fight, or freeze. Let us allow God to help us try.
During these days of protests, anger and frustration, God has shifted my thinking, even pricked my heart a little and exposed some places that need grace. I was scared at first to say or do anything. What about you?
Have you been afraid to speak or move during these tumultuous days?
Has anything shifted in your thinking? Are you seeing injustice in a new light?
Please leave a comment below. Let’s start the conversation.
Photo by M.T ElGassier on Unsplash