A City Broken Open

Baltimore. Another city in the trenches of heartache. A heartache that could no longer be contained in her chest. Another young man, dead at the hands of those who have sworn to serve and protect. Another reason to doubt the system. Another reason to look out for yourself.

But, what is right? What is wrong? And in this moment, is that even the question we should be asking?

I don’t think so.

No, I think we should be sitting down with humans who have experienced different lives than us. We should be meeting them out in the streets. We should be asking what life is like for them. What breaks their hearts? What makes them feel safe? Loved? Valued? What makes them afraid? Angry? Insecure? What have the ones, who are not like them, done to hurt them? And what can we do to help them…to help each other?

Because in truth, we are like them. We have different experiences, different cultures, different insecurities. But we all fear. We all bleed. We all want to know that our world values us. If you are like me, you have had plenty of chances to speak all of that into the world. “I’m here and I have something to offer.” But not everyone has had that chance. And some who have, have not be given the tools to seize it when it comes.

You and I are not better than. There is no us and them. At least, there shouldn’t be. But there is, right?

Jen Hatmaker posted this video on Facebook and as I watched, I wept. I wept in wonder at the men and women moved to action in brokenness for their city. I wept in wonder at the words spoken, admitting that the church has failed. I wept, wondering if I would have the courage to do the same should it be my city. Would I leave the safety of my pretty church walls to link arms with the angry, hurting, brokenhearted? Would I place myself between the “us” and “them” and be an ambassador of peace? Or, would I wonder if the wisest thing to do would be to move to someplace where everyone looks the same and the chances of us and them are slim?

This video is long, but I am pleading with you to find time to watch it in its entirety. It is important. It matters. Don’t turn away.

I live in the suburbs. Truth is, I can’t get much further from this reality. But my faith should move me toward the brokenhearted, not further from them.

To the clergy who gathered that day to be in the midst of the mess, you were most like Jesus on that day. You left the comfort of home and stepped into the middle of a battle that was yours only because you chose to make it yours. You were willing to walk alongside those who do not think as you do, who do not act as you would wish, and to say to them…no, to show them that you love them no matter the cost. Thank you for teaching us what it looks like to be present, to be The Church God intends, in the midst of a messy conversation about race and trust.

And to those of us who claim Christ as our Lord. We cannot call Him Lord if we are not willing to do what He asks. I cannot say it any better than Jen Hatmaker. Here is her heart for the church in the midst of this insanity. “Church, this is what we do. We come together like this, we SHOW UP. These spiritual leaders are not at home condemning the desperation and anger. They are walking the same wounded streets, hand in hand, mourning with those who mourn while demonstrating peace and unity. I am both moved and broken open by it.”

How will I show up? If I’m honest, I’m trying to figure that out. But I will not look away. And I will ask, when the opportunity arises, what it is like to be you. In fact, I want to know. Please share. Leave a comment…a novel even. What is it like to walk in your shoes?

And now, how about you? How will you show up?

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