Wounded

Wounded

It’s been a couple of weeks now and I’m still working out how I feel. I’m not simply angry, although anger is there. I’m tired too, but that’s not the feeling causing me the most distress. In my last post I wrote that I’m hurt, but even that now feels insufficeint. The news and and social media is exacerbating the problem, but like a train wreck, I can’t turn away. I’m drawn to the discussions, the posts and the news. I’m drawn to it because it’s happening and it’s happening all around me; it’s happening to me. I’m searching for something in it all that I can make sense of. And turning off, or blaming the media, either network or social, makes me feel like the child talking loud chibberish with his fingers in his ears, trying not to hear what he already knows. It’s also disingenuous. It’s escapism. There is an urgency in all of this that cannot be ignored. It demands my attention. It calls to me within.

While I was loading the dishwasher, and turning the thoughts over in my head, some things began to fall into place. I’m an emotional mess, so this may change in a week. But for now this makes sense to me. What I feel is wounded. There is a deep and painful wound there. It’s an old wound, opened in me, even before me. It was opened during the middle passage; opened on the auction blocks; opened by the master’s whip and the hangman’s noose. It was infected by the southern pastor’s sermons. It was kept open at whites only fountains and restrooms; in the basement of a Birmingham church; in Medgar Evers’ driveway. It was opened as bombs fell on Tulsa and as Rosewood burned. Bull Connor turn hoses and dogs on the wounded, and the wound festered on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel. The infection spread in the redlined slums of the inner city, when just across the tracks wealth was flowering.

I could go on, but the reasonable get the picture. While none of the things I’ve mentioned are my own personal wounds, because they happened just because of skin color, they are mine by blood, because I share the color. I feel them just the same. So when I witness George Floyd’s murder, the wound is opened. And while its clever and catchy to say that this is about sin and not about skin, this sin is the experience of our particular skin. To deny the particular skin of this sin is to miss the utter sinfulness of the sin.

As sad as it sounds, I had learned to live with the wound. Yet I find myself in pursuit of something nonetheless. And while I know I have reason to hope, there is still something I want. Something I have not been able to put my finger on. I know I want justice and I want reform and I’m willing, even now, to let the judicial process happen as it ought. But what I want seems more deeply personal than that, and in the most profound way, more important.

What I want is a for my white brothers and sisters in Christ to acknowledge the wounds that this nation has and continues to inflict on people of color. My expectations for those who know the Christ are so high that my wound is touched by the finger of my brother’s deflection and denial. My wound is touch when I see their posts or comments about the rioting and looting, and I visit their page and find no mention of Arbery, Cooper, or even Floyd. I feel a sharp pain, when my sister shares the now viral video of Candice Owens, as if they don’t know Floyd’s death was not a martyrdom but a catalyst. And I am crushed when my pulpit peers preach those sermons, covered with the scent of the old south, that declare the only answer is to wait until men’s hearts are changed by the Gospel, when they know their members don’t share the Gospel.

I am wounded and so are so many other people of color. I have felt the pain and have seen it in the eyes of others like me; I hear it in their tone; it’s beneath their anger. What do I want? I want my brothers and sisters to step into our pain; to join us there. I want you to weep with us as we weep, so that one day we can laugh together again. I want you to take your finger off my wound.

17 thoughts

  1. Very powerful, my brother . . . you brought me into the confusing place where your long lingering pain longs to *experience* hope where the hopelessness of a broken world keeps ambushing your heart and mind. I do not pretend to understand it all, how could I truly understand it all? But I am willing to sit and grieve and mourn with you . . . as your brother.

    In the belligerence and violence of our cultural divide — everything becomes a battle cry. We have long forgotten how to lament and humbly cry out for God’s mercy – for it is His mercy that we need most. So that His will might be done . . . and not the imposed will of political agendas that thrive on division and hatred.

    Let us instead hold one another up to the light, far above the darkness that would seduce our passions, and trust that He who calls us to be one in Him, is faithful — even in times like these, when the brokenness of the world becomes a crucible of our faith . . . that we might hold fast, and allow the love of God to direct our hearts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Greg. In all that’s gone on I failed to respond to your kind reply. Your kindness stands out among much criticism direct my way since then. I’m so very grateful to know my brother stands with me. Blessings.

      Like

  2. I read you. I am listening. Will read again, and pray on this.

    I hope to join in discussion on it, but I sense I need to be quiet a moment first and absorb the words here.

    God bless

    X

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have spent all day re-reading, thinking, praying, talking and caring about your post here. I feel the gravity of it, and I fear my reaction will not be worthy. I see the “issues” of our time in an eternal lens and it is greater than I can see.

    There are so many things I want to say, so many discussions I want in on, so many questions I want to ask. Yet we SEEM to have a moment in history given to us where grand efforts to move past vain talk and empty gestures struggle to catch the breath George Floyd could not. Am I convinced things actually will change? No. I am not, but I am hopeful. Something is different this time. Something. Question is: Can it be EVERYTHING?

    Well, my first aim is to listen. Just listen. Absorb. Hear. And, as your post instructs… ACKNOWLEDGE.

    After reading it through a few times, and after following the link AND the previous post too, I find this sentence to be the centerpiece of many other important sentences. This is the one I most focus on through the lens of the others. You said:

    What I want is a for my white brothers and sisters in Christ to acknowledge the wounds that this nation has and continues to inflict on people of color.

    I, as your white, brother in Christ do acknowledge the wounds that have been afflicted in the past and continue to be inflicted now on people of color in this nation. I am sorry for the part I and my family do and have played in it. I am sorry for not working harder to stop it. I want you to feel at least as free and equal and WELL as I do – even more, actually.

    Whatever else I say or do, I want that much said here now, and I hope none of what follows from me betrays it even one inch.

    Thank you for writing this. And I hope we talk more. But I don’t want to just talk. I want to change what ever bits of this world I can influence, starting with my own heart and attitude, so that you sense the LOVE of God from every corner of his creation.

    God bless us all

    Liked by 1 person

    1. X, thank you brother. I heartily accept your apology without reservation, with the caveat that I of course don’t speak for all people of color. We will work harder together to stop it.

      I am summoning the courage to comment on a blog post entitled, Do You Really Know What Killed George Floyd? In the post the blogger said George Floyd was killed by addiction. Particularly, it was Meth and fentanyl that got him killed because addiction always leads to death or prison.

      It started to become clear that that wasn’t her only proposition, because she went on to describe Floyd’s unseemly past, which she attributed to his addiction. Suggesting that he was already on his way to either death or prison.

      She also pointed out that he was no for the black community to look up to; we should not look at him as a martyr.

      The voices in the comments have haunted me all night and throughout the day. I have not yet found the courage to respond. And oh yeah, she’s a Christian.

      Like

      1. I have some familiarity.

        Terribly sorry that is out there. When I saw it, I knew what it was and realized it’s a hardening party of in-group/out-group boundaries. I don’t think you are likely to argue her out of that. It’s not about “making sense” in the end, but about reacting to fear.

        I have a lot of thoughts there, but its speculations, really. Still, I think it will be a miracle if you actually win the argument.

        But keep in mind, this is Agent X who has laid out a rather simple case of Christ’s LOVE for the homeless to church leadership in Lubbock, Texas for the last decade all to absolutely no avail. Maybe I am just that terrible of a minister.

        I am listening. I care. Talk to me. Tell me about the wound. I care about that. Anyone watching Floyd die with the smug cop so casually choking him out and blaming Floyd for it DOES NOT CARE. Not about the wound you speak of.

        I will pray that changes, but I really don’t think making a case on the blog is going to get that change.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. A part of living with the wound is not dwelling too much on it. Survival required a short memory, or better yet a suppressed one.

        I remember my very first interaction with a police officer. I was a senior in high school. I was driving a couple of friends to a senior bowling party. This was the spring of 85. It was in Bellaire, TX, a predominately white city within the city of Houston. 51 on a 45 mph exit ramp of the freeway. I was scared but I got off east with a speeding ticket. We were all having a good laugh about it at the bowling alley, when someone noticed in the box for race, the officer had the letter N. We tried to laugh it off too, but it was clear we had been affect. In some way. Just put the ticket away and we tried to enjoy our night. I still have the ticket after 35 years. I put it my memory book and the book is in a box in the garage.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Well X, I replied to IB. I had to. Or so it felt like I had to. Somewhere inside I believe you’re right. I will not win, but I’m not sure winning was my goal. I really think I just wanted to let her know that I see her. I’m hoping my eyes will haunt her; reach her at a place she may never admit but can’t shake. Or maybe I’m just being a vengeful fool. Right now I can’t be sure.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I have begun writing vignettes from my personal history that I believe impinge on race relations/justice and so forth. I am looking for feedback from all quarters. I am exploring possible learning experiences in the process.

        Many years ago there was a popular book dealing with men and women and the differences between us and the way we communicate (or not). I did not actually READ the book, not the whole thing, and I didn’t take it super serious at the time, but the title was priceless and spoke volumes whether the thesis was worthwhile or not.

        It was called Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.

        I remember studying “the communication model” in Speech 101 as a Freshman in college. One chapter in one book in one class I did not major in at all, but that little lesson has always stayed with me. The messenger SENDS a message to a receiver, and it must pass through STATIC and other interference which can be all manner of things. By the time the idea of communicating a complete, coherent, worthwhile message got across, I was believing in miracles. It is a miracle every time I get a successful message across to you and you to me. And that is just at the basics.

        When you through in obstacles WITHIN the sender and WITHIN the receiver, amid all the static of the outside world too, it begins to look absolutely incredible.

        When I speak to my wife as her feet hurt at the end of a long day, while the baby is crying and the TV is blaring. And while she worries about a patient at work with COVID and I am angry because of a bill I got, the odds are good our communication is going to suffer.

        When we don’t speak the same language, it is a killer.

        So when White people and people of color try to talk, especially about something dealing with discomforts we might have caused each other and/or about some political agenda, and all manner of unresolved issues and feelings that go with them, it will be a miracle if the message successfully gets through.

        Now add it various levels of fear, pain, guilt, and this little light of mine, well I’m gonna let it shine, but the darkness of the world sure wants to overcome it.

        I am getting all technical with this notion, trying to appeal to some common understandings just so I can demonstrate both the potential pitfalls AND my diligence at working to overcome the static. Whatever else I say, I want the message I CARE to get through. I want to celebrate other cultures – really celebrate them – to learn about them, enjoy them, and share mine with them. My culture, my race even, offers things in music, food, language, style, and other artifacts that are important and exciting. So do all the others. However, my culture and race have done more to dominate, to overpower and control, other races and cultures than any of the others, and probably all of the other combined. I am capable of insensitivities TO SAY THE LEAST. And yet somehow, to the extent that my message gets through and to the extent yours gets through, I see that as miraculous.

        We really MUST find LOVE in this. LOVE is patient, love is kind, love bears all things…

        I need forgiveness for stuff I don’t even know. And I KNOW plenty. I have questions that I fear will make me seem stupid or weak. I have ideas that may or may not be accepted for both good and bad reasons.

        This stuff is not terribly new for me.

        But

        BUT

        But in recent weeks it has come home to roost that the Rodney King video, which seemed so powerful, did not bring about the CHANGE which had seemed inevitable. I was young in those days. Trying to get married. I lived in a different state which was neither California nor Texas. I did not work in law enforcement. I did not work in education. I was a test driver of cars shortly after that. What could I have done? What should I have done? What difference could I have made?

        No doubt my part would likely have been small, but coasting sure did NOTHING to bring about change.

        I am posting a new series on my blog about this kind of stuff. I have yet to tell the story about how I got behind closed doors with a group of white people at my job who suddenly began using openly racist language – mostly with jokes and personal stories, but going beyond inappropriate.

        I was stunned. I could see we were in a protected pocket of privacy where we could “get away with this” poor behavior, but I was particularly shocked because the majority of the people involved were YOUNG AND from our local Christian college where even I had taken some grad courses! These were church people!

        Well, my story on that is complicated with OTHER matters too, BUT I did speak up about this, and in so doing, I lost my job there. I was fired. I believe this bit was one important part of that.

        And though I spoke up, I not only failed to make a difference (was a seed planted? Does someone else water it? Will God yet give the increase???) I lost my job there AND it is a terrible blight on my resume to this day and has inhibited me from finding OTHER work. I could have tried harder to be a team player there, and I might have advanced in THAT job. As it is, I know this terrible secret about important white people from MY OWN tribe (my school, my church) that no one wants to know and no one cares about. AND I am a loser myself for having tried.

        I am terribly sorry about the above mentioned blogger and the words put out there, BUT I hope real change is gathering some REAL steam these days. And I think that the kind of sentiments you find there are a sign of FEAR about that change among people like me. That actually I partly what gives me hope that change is real this time.

        You won’t with that battle.

        But those words are in the permanent record now where in a future day they will need to be confronted anew, and THEN there will be a click in the attitude, the heart, and hopefully repenting to follow.

        Like

      5. Brother Calhoun, a Black sister here thinking of my Black son. Your words hit the nail on the head, Unfortunately, many of our white brothers and sisters of the faith will say all of the right catch and popular language, but not agree that the sin responds to our skin and their desire to control, then push away the reality and complicity in the sin. My heart is deeply grieved by the eloquence and lofty-sounding words of those that won’t acknowledge our wounds and pain. All so “spiritual”- sounding. I’m fighting disillusionment in the face of of it all. That is not how God made me. IT is how I find I must protect my heart from further infliction. Thank you for your post.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. You’re welcome Janet. I’m fighting the disillusionment too. But we can’t harden our hearts to protect ourselves. It feels like the only thing we can do now, but if we do, we will find a diminished capacity to love later. No, we must go on with a heart of flesh, vulnerable to further injury and trust our hearts to the Lord’s care. I pray he blesses you richly that you may endure. Blessings.

        Like

  4. (Repeating myself here, but I cleaned up some devastating typos… Sorry.)

    I have begun writing vignettes from my personal history that I believe impinge on race relations/justice and so forth. I am looking for feedback from all quarters. I am exploring possible learning experiences in the process.

    Many years ago there was a popular book dealing with men and women and the differences between us and the way we communicate (or not). I did not actually READ the book, not the whole thing, and I didn’t take it super serious at the time, but the title was priceless and spoke volumes whether the thesis was worthwhile or not.

    It was called Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.

    I remember studying “the communication model” in Speech 101 as a Freshman in college. One chapter in one book in one class I did not major in at all, but that little lesson has always stayed with me. The messenger SENDS a message to a receiver, and it must pass through STATIC and other interference which can be all manner of things. By the time the idea of communicating a complete, coherent, worthwhile message got across, I was believing in miracles. It is a miracle every time I get a successful message across to you and you to me. And that is just at the basics.

    When you throw in obstacles WITHIN the sender and WITHIN the receiver, amid all the static of the outside world too, it begins to look absolutely incredible.

    When I speak to my wife as her feet hurt at the end of a long day, while the baby is crying and the TV is blaring. And while she worries about a patient at work with COVID and I am angry because of a bill I got, the odds are good our communication is going to suffer.

    When we don’t speak the same language, it is a killer.

    So when White people and people of color try to talk, especially about something dealing with discomforts we might have caused each other and/or about some political agenda, and all manner of unresolved issues and feelings that go with them, it will be a miracle if the message successfully gets through.

    Now add it various levels of fear, pain, guilt, and this little light of mine, well I’m gonna let it shine, but the darkness of the world sure wants to overcome it.

    I am getting all technical with this notion, trying to appeal to some common understandings just so I can demonstrate both the potential pitfalls AND my diligence at working to overcome the static. Whatever else I say, I want the message I CARE to get through. I want to celebrate other cultures – really celebrate them – to learn about them, enjoy them, and share mine with them. My culture, my race even, offers things in music, food, language, style, and other artifacts that are important and exciting. So do all the others. However, my culture and race have done more to dominate, to overpower and control, other races and cultures than any of the others, and probably all of the other combined. I am capable of insensitivities TO SAY THE LEAST. And yet somehow, to the extent that my message gets through and to the extent yours gets through, I see that as miraculous.

    We really MUST find LOVE in this. LOVE is patient, love is kind, love bears all things…

    I need forgiveness for stuff I don’t even know. And I KNOW plenty. I have questions that I fear will make me seem stupid or weak. I have ideas that may or may not be accepted for both good and bad reasons.

    This stuff is not terribly new for me.

    But

    BUT

    But in recent weeks it has come home to roost that the Rodney King video, which seemed so powerful, did not bring about the CHANGE which had seemed inevitable. I was young in those days. Trying to get married. I lived in a different state which was neither California nor Texas. I did not work in law enforcement. I did not work in education. I was a test driver of cars shortly after that. What could I have done? What should I have done? What difference could I have made?
    No doubt my part would likely have been small, but coasting sure did NOTHING to bring about change.

    I am posting a new series on my blog about this kind of stuff. I have yet to tell the story about how I got behind closed doors with a group of white people at my job who suddenly began using openly racist language – mostly with jokes and personal stories, but going beyond inappropriate.

    I was stunned. I could see we were in a protected pocket of privacy where we could “get away with this” poor behavior, but I was particularly shocked because the majority of the people involved were YOUNG AND from our local Christian college where even I had taken some grad courses! These were church people!

    Well, my story on that is complicated with OTHER matters too, BUT I did speak up about this, and in so doing, I lost my job there. I was fired. I believe this bit was one important part of that.

    And though I spoke up, I not only failed to make a difference (was a seed planted? Does someone else water it? Will God yet give the increase???) I lost my job there AND it is a terrible blight on my resume to this day and has inhibited me from finding OTHER work. I could have tried harder to be a team player there, and I might have advanced in THAT job. As it is, I know this terrible secret about important white people from MY OWN tribe (my school, my church) that no one wants to know and no one cares about. AND I am a loser myself for having tried.

    I am terribly sorry about the above mentioned blogger and the words put out there, BUT I hope real change is gathering some REAL steam these days. And I think that the kind of sentiments you find there are a sign of FEAR about that change among people like me. That actually I partly what gives me hope that change is real this time.

    You won’t win that battle.

    But those words are in the permanent record now where in a future day they will need to be confronted anew, and THEN there will be a click in the attitude, the heart, and hopefully repenting to follow.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m well and my family is well too. WE are well. Had been feeling punch drunk, with my dukes up all the time. I had to pull back and guard my heart. Now the words have been hard to find. I have been working on something that should be ready to post soon.

      I appreciate you checking on me.

      Blessings.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I am not actually sure just how well this applies, but I think about you and this blog from time to time, and I don’t hear much from you anymore. But here is one thing I think of sometimes, and let’s see if it clicks…

    Deconstructionists – at least the “pure” kind – never actually land on any firm ground, but they argue til you are blue in the face destroying every good point. It is part of the nature of the position.

    There are problems with it which are hard to see but profound all the same.

    For one thing, it actually is the positionless position. Like a parasite, it needs your position in order to exist. Once the host is dead, so is the deconstructionist.

    On the other hand, deconstruction is helpful and necessary to a point. We all need to rethink things. Not endlessly and without any confidence ever, but sure. We need to re-evaluate our worldview a lot. Deconstructionists ride that wave very well.

    In our day, they seem to carry the ball. It is an illusion, and not real, but they seem to alright. For a nonposition, it sure affords a LOT of talk. But left to itself, it vaporizes.

    Keep that in mind.

    It might be a factor in a lot of angst. One not always easy to see.

    Liked by 1 person

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