So here’s the thing. We’re all afraid of something.
A pandemic is revealing. And whether you like it or not, I think our fears reveal a lot about ourselves.
Like, for instance, the fear of a virus. Or the fear of dying. The fear of isolation.
Naming our fear takes guts and humility.
More fears? The fear of acknowledging what makes us uncomfortable: racism, being a minority, being told what to do, having to listen to authority, losing our freedom.
I’ve probably lost some readers at this point.
My fear is being totally honest and what someone will think of me as a result. Saying what I mean and meaning it is terrifying. Chances are I’m going to lose someone. At least, that’s what it feels like in my gut. In reality, this fear never pans out. The last time I lost someone to being totally honest? It actually hasn’t happened. Yet the fear is like an overbearing, oppressive weed that takes over much of my mind.
I’m not really afraid of what’s happening right now with COVID-19. However, I don’t take it lightly, either. When hundreds of thousands of people die from a highly contagious disease, I’ll choose the wisdom to do what I can to prevent others from getting sick (note: highly contagious). One thing I read over the past few weeks that has stuck with me is this: Wearing a mask is a sign of humility. It means I’m willing to lay down my rights so others won’t get sick (and I keep my germs to myself). Did you know that’s actually biblical? Paul talks about laying down rights in 1 Corinthians 8 when he discusses sacrificing food to idols. Clearly, that’s not something we’re doing in our modern day. We are, however, made up of people who struggle with different things. For some, it is easier to navigate this life of faith. For others, it isn’t. For some, they are at a high risk of severe illness by contracting COVID. For others, they aren’t.
Here’s the kicker: we aren’t here to maintain our rights. We’re here to lay them down for others.
And on top of this pandemic, we’re stuck in our homes to ponder the other issues in our world. Like a black man named Ahmad Arbery being gunned down senselessly on a jog. Or a black woman named Breonna Taylor who was killed senselessly while laying in her bed.
Listen, this pandemic? I’m stuck at home with kids who run me ragged. Evan and I have spent quite a few hours in the past eight weeks talking about faith, life, and injustice and what we can do. It troubles us when white people are silent about racism. It troubles us when the biggest concern many have is being told what to do. I’ve had time to think and time to listen.
I’m listening to black men and women in our community because if anyone knows what it’s like to lay down their rights over and over, it’s them. And they’re tired. If you listen long enough, the weariness in their voices is palpable. Being an anti-racist means being against it. Saying nothing is a privilege I know far too many are willing to take.
There’s not much to do these days but decide to care. To listen. To hear what’s happening in the world. To maybe wear a mask and consider it a symbol of solidarity for the person who could become deathly ill otherwise. To maybe speak up for others. To care. It might not cost you a thing but your breath.
I’m willing to lay down my rights, you know? I am working on unsettling my fear of being heard and the impact my voice might have because the truth is, it is costly to be silent.