Everyone wants a quick fix. Can we agree on that? No one wants to put in the work when there is an easier option out there. The problem is that often the “easy way” falls short of the desired result; this is no different when it comes to injustice and racism in our country. We want sweeping social change. We want change to our justice system. We want fair and equal treatment. We want the whole story to be told. We want, we want, we want… but do we want to do what we need to do to have it?
I am not saying that changes from the leaders of our country are not important, but I am saying that is not where we begin. If we truly want to see reconciliation, and I am talking about reconciliation on both sides, white and black, we need to bring the issues to a smaller level. We begin at our dinner table with our spouse and children, around the coffee pot at our jobs and really with every interaction we have throughout our days. Person to person, home to home and community to community-- this is the formula and it starts small.
It’s easy to hold up our picket signs and point our fingers at the big wigs telling them what they need to do and how they aren’t doing it, but now the heat is on us. So where does one begin? I submit that we begin with one simple concept: Grace. Before you let out a sigh of relief at such a seemingly simple task, I would like to expand on what exactly “grace” is.
She is often mistaken for her cousin, “Lack of Concern” or even her aunt, “Acquiescent.” You will easily find one or both together at just about any social gathering. While they may bear some resemblance, they don't own the same gravitas she does when she enters a room. When Grace is invited, she cannot go unnoticed; she is the type to “light up a room” when she walks in. You know she has arrived, without a doubt, when the atmosphere gets lighter when conversation gets deeper. If the topics become more sensitive, she is the one to lift judgement from the table and make space for second helpings of understanding. Whenever hurt and disdain have tried to crash an event, she is the one to escort them to the door and repair with unmerited favor whatever they attempted to destroy. While other guests may try to sneak in the back door uninvited, Grace will not show up unless her presence has been requested. This is what I believe is the very first step: inviting Grace in.
In order for us to truly see mindsets change, it must start with the concept of never-ending grace entering our hearts. Only then will the mindsets of others around us change. We must be the ones to offer grace first. This is painful at times and it will not happen quickly. It is kind of like they say in the movies before the bad guy begins the torture scene, “this will be slow and painful.” I am not saying having grace is torture, but it will inflict lethal injury to our pride. Grace means absorbing it when someone offends you and loving them through it. This is not Aunt Acquiescent who by definition accepts without protest; this is Grace who doesn’t just accept and leave the room. She loves and doesn’t shut down. She forgives and continues working through the issues.
What about when someone offends me on purpose? Grace. What if they don’t want to listen to me? Grace. What if they don’t understand how wrong they are and they don’t see it from my perspective? Grace. What if, what if, what if? Well, if you found yourself in the beginning chanting “we want, we want, we want” and you still “want,” you must begin here no matter what they say about you and no matter how hard it is. They will call you weak and they will not understand. Grace.