I’m a mother of two boys. One of my boys is a beautiful bi-racial boy and one of my boys is a beautiful white boy. One has spiral afro curls and dark brown eyes. One has fluffy white blond hair and pale blue eyes. They are my twins. We adopted our oldest son as a baby and when he was just seven months old, I found out I was pregnant. Life has been a roller coaster of crazy with two children 13 months apart, but the joy I have gotten in watching these two boys become brothers is unmatched to anything I have ever experienced in my life.
They love each other. They kiss each other and laugh and giggle. They wrestle and hug and say “I yuv you brudder.” Well, the oldest says things, the youngest mostly giggles and yells. They sleep together every night and at nap time. They spend all their time together. Their faces light up when the other one comes into the room. They adore each other. They are “best fwends” my oldest proclaims. They are brothers.
This week, two black men were murdered by police officers and a man with a sniper killed five police officers. Earlier this summer, 49 innocent people at a gay club were killed by a gunman. All in just a few weeks. There have been way too many black men shot and killed by police, way too many shootings of innocents in just this summer alone. And as I receive these news stories, my boys play wildly in the living room. In just their diapers they are giggling and dancing with rainbow scarves to the song Mesa Mariposa by the Brent Barry Band. They live uninhibited and free.
I look at them and I think, “What will I tell them about our world?” I want to hide them from it and pretend like the world is as color-blind, sexual-orientation and gender-blind as they are now, innocently tackling and playing with each other. But I can’t do that, because it’s not true.
I’m constantly asking myself what I can do to help stop the pain I see happening in the world around me. I often sit in anguish and anxiety with how to solve the problems I see springing up in our communities. Then, I look at my children. I see how real they are, how fresh and honest they are, and I think the only thing I can do is to be just as real and honest.
I have to be honest with myself. I have to be honest about my privilege and bias. I have to be open and honest to learning from those different than myself. I have to be honest about my fear. I have to be honest about what I don’t know or understand. I have to be humbly honest because, if I’m being honest, sometimes I will screw up. I have to be honest about what’s happening in the world and not go into hiding from it or try to be the white savior.
I have to tell my kids the truth about the world, as much as it pains me to show them the ugly underbelly of our society. I have to model honesty and ask them to be honest in who they are and what they witness in the world around them.
If we were being honest as a community, we’d see our racism, sexism, and close-mindedness. Our society needs help, and the first step to getting help is admitting you have a problem. When you admit there is a problem, when you are honest about the bad, you can begin to heal and move towards the Good. So I will teach my children to be honest. I will teach them to tell the truth about who they are and what they see.
If we can foster honesty in ourselves and future generations, then perhaps these festering wounds we have tried to cover up with the dishonest bandages of “Racism used to be problem”, (or whatever lies have been telling ourselves as a culture) will actually begin to heal. When we can face the bad and ugly and lean into it honestly, we can begin to grow again.
The problems we face in this world deserve our honesty if we are ever going to redeem the broken-ness of our condition. Jesus didn’t go to the happy places of society where everyone sat happy and comfortable. God didn’t send Jesus to live a long and happy life. Jesus went to the broken places. God sent Jesus to die at the hands of men. Jesus faced all of the darkness honestly. Jesus faced his death, knowing that when he leaned into this pain honestly, all might be healed, saved, redeemed.
Much of our work as faithful Christians is to serve as Jesus served, but in order to follow Jesus we must be willing to venture honestly into the broken-ness of ourselves and the world around us. If we know anything about our God it’s this: if we are willing to do this work and go into the darkness and pain, as Jesus did, God promises there will be new life on the other side.