When is the last time you were uncomfortable? And why?
Yesterday was a day of being uncomfortable.
It started by listening to a podcast recommended by Rev. Amy Burton, who attended Wake Forest University as an undergrad. She knew Wendell Taylor, a football player, and a law student. He ultimately went on to become a very successful lawyer as a managing partner at a law firm in Washington, D.C.
Wendell published a podcast, “Our Pain,” about the current unrest around the death of George Floyd. In it, he said, “If you have resisted watching the 9-minute video of George Floyd being slowly murdered, I suggest you watch it. It was difficult to watch, it was gut-wrenching, but seeing the recording helps foster the empathy needed in these times.”
I have not seen the entirety of the video of Mr. Floyd’s death.
I watched a few seconds of the knee on his neck, and because I knew the outcome, I couldn’t bear to watch anymore. I was uncomfortable.
I was fortunate enough to be born in a town with significant diversity, and my parents raised me to see no difference in human worth because of skin color. My “upbringing” was one that stressed equality.
However, the second half of my formative years spent in a town that had almost no diversity. My graduating class of 350 people had three people of color, and the university I attended was predominantly white. My profession is sadly segregated (I’ve always served white churches other than nine months with St. Paul 2019-2020). I consider myself to be a person of empathy and appreciation of all people. However, I share with you that after an hour on a Zoom call with a colleague yesterday who lives a life I’ll never understand, being a black man in America, I’ve realized that I carry an ignorance toward the plight of people of color. And I need to be made uncomfortable.
There’s something about being uncomfortable that we don’t like.
It challenges our status quo.
We desire things to be predictable.
We want to control things that we do not like or understand.
As a person of faith, I’d just like to remind us that rarely, if ever, was Jesus “comfortable.”
He spent his ministry pushing boundaries pushing people to see in new ways because he cared about those that were marginalized, left out, looked down on, scorned, and forgotten.
His purpose was to offer the Kingdom of Heaven to all people . . . and if that meant he made the religious people uncomfortable (aka – angry) because he reminded them to look and see things differently, he was willing to do it.
It led him to his death . . . but he showed that death to ego/pride ultimately results in the resurrection of eternal love/life.
I realized about 3 minutes into my interview with Ellis yesterday that I sounded absolutely foolish, pretending that I understood his life and the pain of African American people. I began regretting doing the interview and the idea for Sunday but, then I thought, “Suck it up, white girl. It’s time you are uncomfortable.”
Maybe we can all be willing to be uncomfortable today.
If you have a few more minutes, I’d invite you to listen to Wendell Taylor’s podcast:
Grace and Peace,