When History Makes You Sick

“I was oblivious to what I didn’t even know. I was blind, but I didn’t know I was blind. And that’s the most dangerous blindness of all.”
– Daniel Hill, White Awake

A Phone Conversation and a Stomachache

My stomach is rumbling. Not in a good way.

Is it the donuts I ate for breakfast? My regular homemade biscuit and Golden Eagle syrup weren’t available on our trip. So when we left the hotel and the “Hot Now” sign was on at Krispy Kreme on route to the museum, we stopped to get ours.

But now, a few hours later, something is not settling right. I’m feeling worse and worse.

So I hang up the phone.

I’ve been “talking” with Anthony Ray Hinton in prison. He lived on death row for over 30 years for two murders he didn’t commit. 

Hinton looks me in the eye. He asks me questions like this:

  • What would you do if you were sentenced to almost 30 years on death row for a crime you didn’t commit?
  • How would you survive?
  • Who would you be?

I had read Hinton’s life story a few months earlier. (Read his incredible autobiography, The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row.)

His book gutted me then. His questions here gut me now.

Our “conversation” today is in a prison visitation booth. I’m in Montgomery, Alabama, at The Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration. Hinton’s exhibit is one of the many personal stories I’ve been invited into today, seeing him on a screen, waiting for me to pick up the phone.

I know it’s only a recording, played for every visitor.

But it doesn’t matter. It’s still truth.

My stomach hurts worst.

Don’t Just Read About History

Earlier that morning, when we first entered the museum, I felt fine.

We’d anticipated this museum visit for months. Jeff and I are both big fans of Bryan Stevenson’s work at the Equal Justice Initiative.

legacy-museum

But the more we walk through the museum, reading the words of formerly enslaved people, staring at photos of lynchings, watching hologram reenactments of mothers searching for their stolen children, it weighs heavier and heavier on me.

I’ve seen movies about slavery, about the battles for Civil Rights, about the ongoing quest for social justice today. I’ve read lots of books too. They’re hard to take.

But here at this museum, I don’t just see and read.

I am feeling history.

And it doesn’t feel good.

The_Legacy_Museum_Lobby_at_The_Legacy_Museum_-_From_Enslavement_to_Mass_Incarceration

by Soniakapadia – The_Legacy_Museum_Lobby_at_The_Legacy_Museum

But *I* Didn’t Do It!

Perhaps this is why some people are opposed to critical race theory. And to the 1619 Project. It hurts to learn about the terrible atrocities that humans inflicted on other humans in our country.

Perhaps pain avoidance is also one reason many white people say:

It wasn’t me that had slaves! I never participated in a lynching! I never insisted on separate water fountains!

So why do we have to talk about it so much?

Because we’re still living in it.

Racism may have changed forms, but it still exists. 

Just ask African-Americans. Ask other minorities. Ask anyone that looks or talks differently than white-skinned Americans.

They’re the ones with eyes to see it, ears to hear it, skin to feel it.

True, this generation of white people didn’t start racism, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t benefited from it, consciously or otherwise.

And just because we didn’t start it doesn’t relieve us of our responsibility to help end it.

I admit I don’t understand critical race theory. It’s complicated. (Read more about critical race theory here from Education Week.) But CRT has been around since the 1970s. It’s not new. Only the attention to it is new.

And the uncertainty of it.

But there’s value in uncertainty, if we wield it wisely.

Uncertainty can prompt us to think more openly about an issue, not close our minds tighter. To look into it, not away from it.

When Uncertainty Is Good

I want to use uncertainty to my advantage. I want uncertainty to propel me to dig deeper for the truth.

Question a little more. Change a little more. Take one step closer to understanding the narrative of racial difference.

The opposite of uncertainty is thinking I know all the answers already. That kind of certainty hinders me from finding better answers.

blank

As I continued walking through the museum in Montgomery that spring morning, I ask a security guard: Where’s the closest bathroom? 

I walk into a bathroom stall. I close the door. I bend over the toilet.

And I throw up.

  • I throw up the indignities that Blacks endured from the hands of whites for hundreds of years.
  • I throw up the shame of complicity in the continuation of racism, even if unconsciously.
  • I throw up our arrogance of wanting to erase history instead of repenting of it and moving forward together.

Sometimes we have to throw up our white trauma before we can get better. Racism is a sickness. It hurts everyone.

The ones who started it are dead.

But the ones who can stop it are very much alive.

I don’t want to be afraid of history. Even when it’s heavy. Even when it’s ugly. 

Even when it makes me sick.


Who are the voices you respect on this topic? Two voices I listen to frequently are Jemar Tisby and Bryan Stevenson.

Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Click here for a list of books I recommend.

blank

Read More Posts:


Surrender to the Moment: 5 Little Things to Give Up

Are You Ready to Surrender?

We dream that in a moment of dramatic testing, we’d be the one to take the bullet. To make the sacrifice. To surrender ourselves to save others.

Yet we get angry if someone squeezes in front of us in traffic?

Sometimes the small tugs of war are the important ones. It’s the little things that more often test our resolve to die to self and live for Christ.

How did Jesus do it? How did he turn himself inside out, lay aside all the privileges of royalty, and live in our kind of skin instead (Philippians 2:6-7)?

Jesus surrendered to the Father in the moment. Each moment.

But that was Jesus. We’re not like him. How can we ordinary people exercise the discipline of surrender in our ordinary, daily moments of life?

This is how: Because even though we’re not God, we’re made in his image. And we’re filled with his Spirit. That’s a strong identity. That’s a lot of power.

By taking one moment at a time, we too can learn the art of surrender.

Our grand moment of surrender is always this one.

surrender-to-the-moment-5-little-things-to-give-up

5 Little Things to Give Up in the Moment

Here are 5 little things we can practice giving up, anytime, anywhere, to gain the gifts of surrendering to the moment.

1. GIVE UP THE LAST WORD

In that discussion with your partner, eliminate a few of your own words and listen to more of theirs. Surrendering the desire to be understood and to get in the last word can make a joyful difference in the climate of your home. Marvel at the self-control Jesus used to keep quiet when necessary (Mark 15:3-5).

2. GIVE UP YOUR PLACE IN LINE

That harried mom with the whiny toddler? Let her cut in line at the grocery store. Or make room for that speeding maniac to merge in front of you in traffic. By surrendering your place in line—literally and figuratively—you practice putting others before yourself. Releasing the need to be first is an act of freedom (Galatians 5:13).

3. GIVE UP THE CLEAR ANSWER

Sometimes we hesitate and wait for overwhelming confirmation before we’ll step out in faith. But rarely will you have total clarity in the moment. Peter didn’t have time to analyze the water temperature and buoyancy levels before he walked on the water to Jesus (Matthew 14:29). Surrender your desire for perfect vision and trust God’s grace in the moment.

4. GIVE UP DOING IT ALONE

Winning the prize for “Miss Independent” isn’t a trophy you want. Practice humility by accepting help from others. Exercise selflessness by giving help to others. Even Jesus did nothing by Himself (John 5:19). Moments with others are valuable for joy.

5. GIVE UP A SPECIFIC OUTCOME

It’s easier to surrender to the moment if you can let go of the future. Instead of insisting on a specific outcome, be open to the uncertainty of the future. You can’t control it anyway. Remember that God will still be with you once you arrive in the future, too. Staying present in this moment is enough for now (Matthew 6:34).

Little Moments Are Big Moments

Maybe the little things are big things after all.

When we surrender to the moment, being aware of Jesus with us right now, we gain peace in the process. That’s huge.

Maybe these little moments, even this very moment, really are the biggest moments of all.


What “little things” are hard for you to surrender on a daily basis? What helps you give them up?

Share in the comments.

Read more:

revised from the archives

sharing with Jen, Jeanne


I Don’t Want to Remember. But I Can’t Forget.
—Grace & Truth Linkup

i-dont-want-to-remember-but-i-cant-forget

When It Only Takes Once

Every morning I walk around the house and open my blinds. I like light. I like seeing the trees and the birds and the lake outside my windows.

And every evening, I walk around the house and close the same blinds.

On this night, I’m reaching in to close the blinds in the dining room, when OUCH!!!

I immediately jerk my hand back. Did a spider bite me? What just happened? This hurts!

I look at the bright red spot on my now on-fire hand, then gingerly pull back the curtain to look at the blinds.

That’s when I see it.

It’s a wasp. It’s still sitting on the inside edge of the curtain. Exactly where I had reached in a minute earlier to close the blinds.

My hand hurt for awhile, but not bad enough to prevent me from killing the wasp with a wad of paper towels. I got over it.

But I didn’t forget about it.

Even now, months later, when I reach in to close the blinds at night, I remember the wasp. I look for it. I’m aware that if it was there once, it might be there again.

It hasn’t returned.

But the memory has. The memory of the sting returns again and again.

Some things only take once.

Featured Post: Dealing with Criticism

When I read Ashley’s post on dealing with criticism, I thought of my wasp sting. A critical comment is also something we’re slow to forget. 

Words sting. 

And even when we forgive the speaker, we often still remember the words. 

We all receive criticism at some point. Sometimes warranted; sometimes not. But always noticed. 

Here’s Ashley’s 7th tip:

#7 – CRITICISM HAS NO EFFECT ON YOUR VALUE.

I am not stupid. I am not less than because of any criticism.

What’s true of me before it is true after: As a child of God, I am always enough.

Read all of Ashley’s post here at His Sparrow Blog to better deal with criticism when you receive it.

Dealing with Criticism: 7 Truths to Remember

Then link up your own posts below.

When’s the last time you’ve been stung by an insect? By a word? Which hurt worst? How do you keep God’s love as a strong memory?

Share in the comments.


blank

1. Share 1 or 2 of your most recent CHRISTIAN LIVING posts. (No DIY, crafts, recipes, or inappropriate articles.) All links are randomly sorted.

2. Comment on 1 or 2 other links. Grace & Truth linkup encourages community.   

3. Every host features one entry from the previous week. To be featured, include this button or link back here on your post (mandatory to be featured, but not to participate).

blank

Grace and Truth_Meet Hosts

We encourage you to follow our hosts on their blogs or social media.

MAREE DEE – Embracing the Unexpected
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

HEATHER HART & VALERIE RIESE – Candidly Christian
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

LAUREN SPARKS
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

LISA BURGESS – Lisa notes
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

Now Let’s Link Up!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

sharing with April, Debbie


Can Women Pray with Men?
+ Book Review, "The Making of Biblical Womanhood"

can-women-pray-with-men

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

The countdown has begun.

In twenty minutes my doorbell will ring. Then it will be too late. I grab my husband and ask if we can pray together. Now.

In a moment of holy irony, I pray with a man—right before the visitor at the door will ask me not to.

I struggled as a woman in a very conservative church for a long time. Should I stay and work for change? Or escape and enjoy freedom elsewhere?

For years I was determined to stay.

Before the newest crisis about to erupt at my door, my friend Kay and I had started a new Sunday class for teen girls. We focused on how Jesus touched the lives of women in the Bible. And how he continues to touch ours.

The day before our first class, Kay and I were pulled aside by a godly woman a few years our senior. She asked to see our classroom. Then holding us both by the hand, she bowed her head and prayed for us there. We felt the power God gives through prayer.

The following day, early Sunday morning, a peer entered our room, again to pray, asking Jesus to transform us, including the teen girls, into his image.

It suited our goals for the class: To raise up a new generation of women who will not stay silent, who are not afraid to pray out loud, like I was afraid to for much of my life.

Talking things over with each other and with God matures us in many ways.

Men and Women Praying Together?

But what about women praying with men?

Community calls for a blending of all who are made in God’s image. At my physical family gatherings, both males and females talked to my dad together.

At our spiritual family gatherings, can’t both sons and daughters there also talk to our Father together?

In our Sunday night small group, we prayed in mixed company for years. It grew us closer to God. Closer to each other.

But no longer?

The visitor at my door, now on my couch, is confirming the decision: No. Not for now.

The leaders are asking all women—both young and old, in large or small church gatherings—to refrain from verbalizing our prayers in front of a man until they complete yet another long study of women’s roles in the church.

A brother had come to the leaders a few weeks earlier, complaining his conscience was offended by hearing women talk to God in his presence. He believed a woman should not verbalize a prayer if a man is in the room.

I was one of those women who had prayed in front of this man in group settings. I had no idea it bothered him.

So now what?

What happens if it’s a problem to him if we do, but a problem to us if we don’t?

Follow God’s Spirit

How do we create spiritual breathing room for us both to follow our consciences? To find grace in the tension? To maintain unity in honoring God?

It took the church leaders a very, very long time to conclude their study on women’s roles.

After awhile I gave up waiting on their answer to come. And I followed God’s Spirit leading me elsewhere instead.

I believed God would not put limitations on who I prayed with. He would rather I pray than run away from opportunities to talk to him with others.

Conversations in God’s presence aren’t biased concerning gender. He invites us all to talk.

Together.

I remain friends with the church leader who sat on my couch that night a few years ago. I understand he had a job to do, and he was trying his best to do it.

But I had a job to do, too. My responsibility was to grow deeper in my relationship with God. It wasn’t about girl-power versus boy-power, but about God-power.

God empowers us all with voice. All the men. And all the women.

Let’s keep praying together.

Beth Allison Barr on Biblical Womanhood

I just finished a most interesting book on how the church and culture have viewed women’s roles through the ages. I highly recommend Beth Allison Barr’s new book, The Making of Biblical Womanhood: How the Subjugation of Women Became Gospel Truth.

making-of-biblical-womanhood

Dr. Barr, a history professor at Baylor University, writes from both a historical perspective and a Christian perspective. She tells us that,

“Christians are, historically speaking, pretty late to the patriarchy game. We may claim that the gendered patterns of our lives are different from those assumed in mainstream culture, but history tells a different tale.”

She says that Christian patriarchy has long mimicked the patriarchy of the non-Christian world.

And she asks that if Christians are called to be different from the world, shouldn’t we treat women differently, too? This is the world’s way:

“From the ancient world through the modern world, history told a continuous story of patriarchy—of women suppressed, oppressed, devalued, and silenced.”

But in Christ there is no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female, but all are one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28).

“This is what is radical. This is what makes Christianity so different from the rest of human history.”

As I reflect back on my own past in the church, I look ahead to a brighter future. Barr suggests we all should.

“Historically, one of the greatest problems for women is that we do not remember our past and we do not work together to change our future. We do not stand together. But what if we did?”

What if we all did?

Share your thoughts in the comments.

Read more:

My thanks to NetGalley, Baker Academic
& Brazos Press for the review copy of this book

sharing with Patsy, Anita, Grace & Truth


A Jewelry Box, a Button Jar, and a Writing Change

A Jewelry Box

She plops down on the carpet, awaiting me to break out the promised treasures in my bedroom. I sit down on the floor beside her.

I open up the bottom drawer of my jewelry box I had placed beside us.

One by one, my 3-year-old granddaughter pulls a bracelet out of the jewelry box. She oohs and ahs. This one has a heart! That one is pink! This one is my favorite!

She can’t believe it.

i-cant-believe-bracelet-video

A Button Jar

I remember back to when I was a young girl. It wasn’t a jewelry box that I looked through.

It was my mother’s jar of buttons.

I’m not sure how my mother had collected so many buttons. Some were huge; some were tiny. Every color was represented. The large, clear, mason jar even contained odd-shaped buttons different than the traditional circle.

I’m not sure why the buttons fascinated me so. I would play with them for hours.

But now that I’m grown, I don’t have my own button jar.

I don’t need one. While some of my clothes do still have buttons, others have snaps, velcro, elastic, or zippers.

Times have changed. Options have multiplied.

A Writing Change

For ten years I have been a contributing writer at Do Not Depart, a blog dedicated to equipping women (and men) in their walk with Christ. I’ve enjoyed the camaraderie with other writers and with our readers. We’ve had great dialogues in the comments and in emails.

But times have changed and my options have multiplied.

As of last month, I finished writing for Do Not Depart so I could turn my attention to other areas in this season of life.

Both my daughters now have children and I love being available to them. I’m also returning to pre-covid volunteer opportunities. And I want to be available for new options the Lord may offer. 

Sometimes saying no to an old assignment means we’re available to say yes to a new one.

So I say thank you to my fellow contributors at Do Not Depart and to our readers who were so gracious to entertain my writings there for 10 years.

It was a blessing to lead the scripture memory groups there as well. It’s uncertain how the memory challenges will evolve in the coming months, but I look forward to seeing what comes next. (In the meantime, you can download multiple free memory resources here at Do Not Depart for 21 different chapters of the Bible.)

I Will Remember

My granddaughter continues playing with my bracelets for awhile longer, choosing which ones fit her and which ones she insists I wear. We jingle and jangle and enjoy the moment.

The morning together is priceless. I wonder, when she becomes an adult, if she’ll remember these mornings looking at treasures with Granna.

I know I will.


How has your life changed since the beginning of the pandemic until now? Have you had to release older things to grab on to newer things, too?

Share your thoughts in the comments.

sharing with Grace & Truth


Is It Time to Read His Final Words?
—Grace & Truth Linkup

blank

I suppose most little girls think their dad is the smartest in the world.

I thought that. My dad was a mechanical engineer who worked for NASA his whole career. But he was also a Bible teacher at our church.

And because of that, my dad was also a Bible student.

He spent many, many hours of his adult life studying the Bible, preparing to teach a Sunday school class or just exploring it for his own knowledge. As I was growing up, I’d often see Daddy sitting at the kitchen table with his Bible spread open, a pad of paper and pens nearby, poring over the scriptures, highlighting a verse and making notes as he read.

When he became abnormally tired and thin in late 2009, he had been working on a massive Bible project: writing his own commentary of sorts on the New Testament book of Romans.

Romans was his final big study.

Early in January 2010 my dad received a diagnosis that explained the changes in his body: lung cancer.

Time spent in Romans was exchanged for time spent in doctors’ offices.

But somehow, through it all, he brought his Romans’ project to completion, enough anyway to save as a digital file and to email to a few readers for input.

After my dad died on Valentine’s Day in 2010, we had to sort through all his papers. He had file cabinets full of sermon notes, Bible study notes, and all manner of words that he’d written through the years.

The Romans project? We got it off his computer and put it on a thumb drive.

I began reading it shortly after he died. But then I stopped. I wanted to save it.

I wanted to keep something out there yet unread from my dad.

I still haven’t finished reading it.

It’s comforting to me to know I still have some of his words ahead of me, something new I’ve never heard from him, something fresh to look forward to from my dad.

But how long will I wait?

I think I shouldn’t wait any longer. It’s been 11 years already. It feels ridiculous even saying that large number, that he’s been away from us for 11 years already when he is still such a strong presence in our lives.

Perhaps this summer I’ll dig up Daddy’s document on Romans. And start reading it again. Hear his voice again. Learn something new about him. About God.

And maybe learn something new about me, too.

Featured Post

Lois linked up a post at last week’s linkup that reminded me I still hadn’t finished reading my dad’s work on Romans. She shares insights in the post about her own dad’s death, about his collection of writings, and about life in general.

Read all of Lois’s post here at her blog, then link up your own blog posts below.

Share Four Somethings—May 2021

What things have you saved from a loved one who has passed?

Share your thoughts in the comments.


blank

1. Share 1 or 2 of your most recent CHRISTIAN LIVING posts. (No DIY, crafts, recipes, or inappropriate articles.) All links are randomly sorted.

2. Comment on 1 or 2 other links. Grace & Truth linkup encourages community.   

3. Every host features one entry from the previous week. To be featured, include this button or link back here on your post (mandatory to be featured, but not to participate).

blank

Grace and Truth_Meet Hosts

We encourage you to follow our hosts on their blogs or social media.

MAREE DEE – Embracing the Unexpected
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

HEATHER HART & VALERIE RIESE – Candidly Christian
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

LAUREN SPARKS
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

LISA BURGESS – Lisa notes
Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

Now Let’s Link Up!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter