Saturday, February 04, 2017

Free Shipping Fridays: Being Woke While Finding Rest

Dear Readers,

Lots of good conversations today on social media. Unsurprisingly, I had many opinions. Among the highlights were White Fragility (I've got it, even if only half of me; boy do I have a temper), Black History Month (Sucks that we need it; hate it when Black folk get whitewashed in folks' representations of them; there are so many good resources out there, if only we'll look for them), and the term "woke" (those thoughts below).

There were also, of course, discussions about funny kids and cute kittens and ridiculous politicians (on both sides), and prayer for folks with depression, arrogance (I struggle with both), cancer, and other ailments.

On the topic of being "woke," there's a lot to be said. Is it a legit term? Is it a legit term for white folks to use, or is that just more cultural appropriation? Is it merely divisive and alienating? Is it too either/or, meaning you're either completely aware of racial issues/you have arrived, or you're completely ignorant/hopelessly racist? Has it just become a catchphrase, a badge of honor, an easy way to even pretend to be an activist, without having to actually do anything active?

In addition to all these reasonable concerns, my two cents in the conversation was that I worry that it's 1) dismissive to folks who can't help but be aware of systemic racial injustices, because it's their reality, all-day, every-day (so being "woke" [as opposed to oblivious] is almost a privilege in and of itself), and 2) being woke can become the anti-gospel to finding our rest in the Lord. Because we forget that reconciliation is the business that God is in. We forget that racial reconciliation is God's battle, and that we partner with him in it. Because we get so wrapped up in ourselves and our fight that we forget that we not only can rest--even those in the direst of situations--but we must rest. We must rest in Jesus.

And yes, I do still use the term "woke."

Even in that statement about choosing to rest, I know my privilege is showing. But there are too many activists who have been so woke that they died--sometimes literally--not from systemic injustice and brutality, but from depression, hopelessness, and despair. There are too many folk who are so woke they drown in their own anger and despair. They end up, unwittingly, taking the nooses that society has placed around their necks and tightening them. And that shouldn't happen--especially with believers. We must not stay woke so long that we hallucinate. We must not stay woke so long that we pass out at the wheel and crash. We must not stay woke so long that we lash out at our family and friends.

Y'all know I love puns. And I have this metaphorical "Free Shipping" schtick. So I could throw in a... sleeping pill... or turkey/tryptophan... or even warm milk analogy, but this is too serious (and yes--I'm too tired) to broker in cheap, silly analogies. So here are some links for you, friends. Imma post this and then go to bed.

Rest well, my woke siblings.

Image-bearing men, women, and children--who endured the brutality of slavery--sang this, and we can join them in resting in the Lord:

My dear friend Karen Canevaro blogged about being truthfully gracious and graciously truthful, as a way to not burn ourselves and others out:

Practical, thoughtful, beautiful advice on engaging the world with safe boundaries--H/T Nicole Silva:

More amazing suggestions, from a sister on the front lines:

I want to get this tee soon. Such truth. H/T Cirilo Manego:

If you find this link to be TL;DR, then go with this statement about the importance of grounding our activism in our faith in Jesus, "When they go low, we go deep."
NOTE: in case you don't know, that's an homage to Michelle Obama's instructions to her daughters about dealing with bullies--"When they go low, we go high." I wish he'd directly credited Mrs. Obama, but that's a discussion for another time. Still, really good stuff. H/T Stephanie Holmer:

We all of us need the faith of a child to find our rest in Jesus. Perhaps the "easy burden" and the "light yoke" is not so much doing the good work of the Kingdom but in resting in Jesus while he works in us. Matthew chapter 11: