Posts tagged lament
Cant Use Another Sorry

It is almost inevitable, the apologies. They come after moving talks or convicting presentations. They fall out of the mouths of those struggling with guilt and shame. The memories of jokes and offense, of discrimination and hate, of turning a blind eye or hiding behind silence are too much to bear. The sorries are wrapped up in family histories, tied in a bow of secrets. 

The sorries rarely involve the two people present. She is sorry for the way someone else treated me- that time 15 years ago someone called me a n******. Or he is sorry for a joke told at his company's picnic. The subject and the one treated as an object never occupy the same space in these apologies. Like lead, they hit the ground. 

But I cant use another sorry. They are of no use to me. 

They are too flimsy to form a foundation of love, trust, or friendship. They are too shallow to offer comfort in the midst of pain, rejection or isolation. They are too weak to provide defense from the next offense. And I sure cant use them to pay my student loans or put a down payment on a home. 

The truth is, they act as calamine lotion, alleviating the itching and discomfort of your own wounds. 

They dont serve me. 

Rather than handing out empty sorries, turn toward confession, lament, repentance. 

If you have hurt someone, it is good and right to confess that sin to her, that you both may be healed. If this is not possible, you can still confess your sin to Christ- those ugly thoughts, those awful jokes, your participation, your silence, your enjoyment, your fear. God is faithful to forgive and cleanse. 

Lament. Lament feels deeply. Far from a quick fix, lament requires staying power. Mourning over the wrongs committed. Deep sorrow over the pain caused. Lament sits in the pain for awhile, recognizing the depth of the brokenness. Often lament comes to the conclusion that things are so awful, so broken, so messed up that the only hope of rescue we have is God. it displaces our ability to fix and walk away; lament demands that we recognize that only the healing of God can makes us whole.  

Repentance is of far greater value than a truckload of sorries. I'm sorry isn't the same as, "I won't do that again." I speak only for myself here, but you need not ever apologize to me again, if instead you will repent, turn from these wicked ways and live in peace with fellow man. Repentance requires far more of us. Repentance requires commitment. 

Keep your sorries. I cant do nothin with them.


~My forever and always thankfulness for the work of the brilliant Ntozake Shange for her moving work For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is Enuf from which the line "I cant use another sorry" comes and on which this post is structured.~    

Skittles and Iced Tea

I have purposely waited to write my thoughts on the verdict of the George Zimmerman trial. It was tempting to jump into the fray of emotions I felt, and proclaim from social media everything I was feeling moment to moment. Instead I made a decision to sit in the emotion for a few hours. Just sit, and allow myself to really contemplate how I feel and what I think.  

As much as I want to write a post that is theologically deep or gives a great spin on the case that no one else has thought of, or analyzes the legal implications of the verdict, I am afraid I only have simple thoughts. These are thoughts that I own as an individual.  This is not an attempt to speak on behalf of anyone other than myself. If you find something here that resonates, I will be grateful for our shared connection, but today I write mostly for me. 

As hard as I tried, I just couldn't get myself to see Trayvon Martin's death in isolation. In my mind I can see slave ships unloading black bodies like cattle. I see families torn from one another on the auction block. I see the terrified faces of black men desperately trying to out run a lynch mob. I see burned bodies floating above dying campfires. I see the hatred of students screaming at Ruby Bridges, and I hear the shot that killed Medgar Evers in his driveway. The image of Emmett Till and Trayvon Martin bleed into one face, one story. And as if these pictures of history aren't overwhelming enough, the faces of the men I love loom before me. If I could quantify the history of injustice in my own family, I wonder if the scales of justice would fall over. How many beatings? How many lynchings? How much police brutality? How many false accusations? How often has the fear of America overtaken justice in my own lineage? How many times did injustice crush the hearts and minds of the men who produced me? I probably don't want to know. But I wonder. 

Though my heart is heavy, I am not oblivious to the fact that Trayvon is far from being the only little black boy to die at the hands of another over the last 18 months. I live in the city of Chicago, and here the murders of brown boys and girls are told on the news like baseball scores or box office numbers-- how high will it be this weekend? This acknowledgement offers me no comfort. I keep coming back to the question, "where am I supposed to raise a black boy?" If I cannot raise him in a community that looks like him, and if he cannot walk to the corner store in the "safe" neighborhood... where am I supposed to go? Where is the place in America where the dirt doesn't cry out for the blood of my future son? Perhaps this is one reason why I have not yet started to have children; my hope of a "safe neighborhood" continues to fade. 

I tried really hard to use "Christianese" to relieve myself of these thoughts, "Surely God will protect MY son." "Well, I cant put my trust in the justice system; I can only put my trust in God." Or how about, "God will judge in the end." But none of these thoughts bring much in the way of peace. And why should it? After all, Trayvon's family is far from the first to lose a child. So where do I place my hope? It is only in believing that God doesn't just touch, but that He has felt and intimately understands the hurt of Trayvon's family and their deep sense of injustice. This sense of finding God, hearing God, reaching out to God and God reaching back happens in my lament, not in a hope for eternal retribution- I personally can't wait that long for healing. 

So, to all those who are lamenting, you are not alone. I pray that God will indeed make Himself known to you and your family as you lament. May your sons purchase skittles and iced tea in the rain, and still come home. Amen.