Overwhelmed


Over the years, I have been made weary by being the only or one of the few racial/ethnic "minorities" in the room. And because of this placement, I sensed an expectation that I "teach" the unmerited, privileged domineering culture about racism. It has only been in the recent past (5 years or so), that I began to realize how tired/overwhelmed and vulnerable I have been in this role. However, as I interacted with colleagues and classmates, I felt that progress was being made - that the communication gap was narrowing; that those I had encountered could feel free to ask questions they had previously guarded, not wanting to be misunderstood or appear ignorant, so that they could learn more about who they were in conversations/positions on race. Although my spiritual armor was growing heavy, I was holding up well, I thought, until the day after the last presidential election. The word, disappointed, doesn't begin to describe my feelings. The word, fear, didn't either.

I felt that I had been betrayed by my feelings of optimism and hopefulness. I felt that the progress I thought had been made since Selma was only wishful thinking nurtured by my "goody-two-shoes" naiveté. And I couldn't leave my apartment because everything/everyone I would encounter outside my front door was white. That's the county I live in. That's the place where I work. And I refused to be bombarded by well-meaning people who maybe for the first time in their lives really had to face impending explosions (or even implosions) of "isms" fueled by domineering culture feelings of entitlement, greed and hatred. I didn't want to navigate any possible inner conflict I would have between choosing compassion and/or "well, it's about damn time you got it." I didn't want anybody to say the wrong thing to me. And I didn't want to have to contemplate, one more time, forgiveness for their decades of privilege dwelling. I just didn't have enough spiritual energy to share my very tender personal space with the newly un-blinded.

So today, I am still observing well-meaning people be confused, dismayed and angry because somehow the events of last weekend point to the end of the world. Before I go on, I want to STRESS that I am not taking lightly what happened or anyone's reactions to it. But I am saying that these things have always gone on somewhere in the United States but folks weren't listening, weren't seeing, weren't willing to acknowledge that "the land of the free and the home of the brave" doesn't include everybody equally. And something happened back in November that said it was ok to be nasty and offensive and openly spew hatred out loud - anywhere to anyone at anytime. UGH!!!

Believe it or not, I actually wanted to share a tidbit on resiliency. I am overwhelmed. I can't imagine anyone around me who has paid attention to any of the current events would not be. And if that's true, it must be so for the people around them. Sometimes, we really need to unplug ourselves from our devices. This doesn't mean that one shouldn't protest, speak up and/or respond to what's going on. But our bodies and our spirits aren't meant to be bombarded 24/7/365. We must have times of Sabbath in order to continue to be relevant - to make the best decisions for ourselves and our families/communities. Our society doesn't seem to encourage our need to decompress or to un-pack the stresses of our existence in helpful ways. I have chosen to make self-care a thing, which includes caring for my spirit. I have taken days at a time to not hear those outside voices - no news, no social media. And this was key for me - I asked a very trusted friend to support me during those days by letting me know if something earthshattering or catastrophic happened. I realize we still have to be aware of our places in our contexts. So knowing that he would do that for me was a divine gift. I could exhale and relax - take some time to check in with me. Ask myself how was I doing or what did I need. And guess what? After those few days had passed, the world outside had not changed much but I was better.

These are difficult times. These difficult times may last for awhile. But we have to be gentle with our fragile selves without using any spiritual practice or discipline as permission to remain silent in the face of injustice. Take time for you so that you can be the resilient awesome you that God made you to be.


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