When dead isn't good enough
I haven’t known what to say about the George Zimmerman case. It’s hard, like looking into a fish tank that isn’t clean and trying to figure out what’s there. A lot of murk and dirt. I haven’t known what to say about Trayvon Martin, and about the resounding in my ears of the implications of this for young black men.
There are a few things that are clear – we don’t get the luxury of passing judgement, or of ignoring some greater lessons that can be learned.
I’ve had a few times in my life where I have made myself the minority. I have never felt relief like I did in coming home after being abroad for 6 months in places where pale skin, blonde hair, and blue eyes made you stand out. I remember the relief that I was no longer gawked at, no longer approached for no reason, that I could slip into anonymity. I remember applying for jobs over and over again with my current employer, being told I was an excellent candidate, and all but being told I was going to be passed over because I was a white girl. I don’t complain about it, because I still have a place of privilege. I’m aware that really, I have nothing to complain about.
Trayvon Martin’s story is sad, it’s heart breaking. But so are the other lives I’ve seen lost over misunderstanding, judgment and bias – whether for racial reasons or others. I’ve seen people all but witch hunted by the church to the point of total desperation. I’ve seen 3 lost that we are never getting back, because, like Trayvon, they’re dead.
My husband has what I call a True North. His sense of black and white (not in a racial way, mind you) and right and wrong are buried deep within him. His appreciation of life is simple and very content. It’s something I am often jealous of, to be perfectly honest. He doesn’t lay awake at night, plagued by the gray. He hears facts or ideas and responds logically – I cry at the heartbreak. He often has strong answers, I often have nothing but more questions.
This is my challenge to us, especially those of us in the church, we have to accept that finding an answer really isn’t enough. Finding a Scripture verse isn’t enough, I mean, Satan found Scripture verses to make a case, it’s not exactly some deeply pious act.
I hope this case has made you wrestle with your response to many difficult issues. What makes you uncomfortable? What gets a rise out of you? What do you hate? What do you neatly push under the rug?
How do you find love? All those verses we quote, and ideas we find, Jesus told us that none of them matter if we do not love. That’s a startling thought. My well-backed, Bible-based, foundation of a Law is totally meaningless if it isn’t summarized in grace and love. The other thing we learn is that our ideas are completely meaningless - the word James uses is “dead”- without some works to act it out. I’ve come to believe that dead isn’t good enough for me. If dead were good enough, Jesus could have stayed in the tomb.
Every day, I am glad Jesus didn’t stay in that tomb. But every day, I face a new challenge to be brave and strong in ways I don't think I have in me, to struggle with issues I can't make sense of, and to choose the harder path. Every day, I face a new heart break and a new hope.