“You need to use your platform. To say something about all that’s going on right now.” Standing there in my mama’s kitchen, Songbird’s voice shook with emotion, perhaps because we’d done nothing but talk about all that.
But I don’t have a platform, I thought, my heart quaking even more than her voice. All I have is a cross.
How do I do this, carry a cross that seems to get bloodier and heavier and more splintered every day? Sometimes it’s so unwieldy I can’t work a hand free to point to Christ, the same sinless Christ who bore our burden once for all, the victims and the victimizers; the sinners and the saints; defenders and accusers; the innocent and the guilty; the birdwatchers and the dog walkers; the lawmakers, -breakers, takers, and fakers; those holding the gun and those in its line of sight; curly, kinky, straight, pressed, frizzy; the greatest of us and the least of us.
When I do manage to aim heavenward and manage a hoarse, “Trust Him. Love God. Love others. Pray. Forgive…” three accusatory fingers point back at me, whispering, “That’s not what you want to do. Weren’t you just fussing instead of praying? Speak up. Take a stand.”
But I will only take up my cross. Even if I have to crawl instead of run with it, kneel instead of stand, and beseech and exhort until I am slam out of breath.
Because if I stand on a platform, I won’t be able to mourn the loss of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor…and Eric Garner, Botham Jean, Atatiana Jefferson, and …
And fix my eyes on Who I’ve gained—Christ.
Yet, I can only do both, for my heart seems wired that way. I was designed to multitask, to split my attention, to rub my head while patting my stomach, to smile through my tears, to praise Him on the mountaintop and seek Him in the valley.
Up there on that platform, I can’t tremble or waver or move. In that place, I’ll hold onto bitter thoughts of my Daddy having to step off the sidewalk, getting fired when his ability to read and write threatened management, and the theft of his family’s land.
I’ll take the keys from Crusader, Think Tank, and Hubby so they can’t drive on country roads, especially at night and days that end in ‘y.’ I’ll shave all the mustaches and twists and curls on my menfolk so they blend in.
I’ll shush Songbird’s strident voice that cries out for justice and sings of peace, that searches for harmony while marching to her singular beat in high-top Chuck Taylors.
I’ll stop writing stories of people who look, sound, cook, and believe like my people. Your people. Our people. I’ll try to become more inspirational, less evangelical.
I’ll stop teaching my little people life lessons, showing them that it’s natural to feel angry and frustrated. I’ll allow the world to snatch away their joy, dreams, and testimony by not encouraging them to think on things of good report.
I’ll forget that the true enemy of my life and peace is the great destroyer, the master of lies, not the man who refuses to wear a mask to Home Depot.
I’ll swallow the God-breathed words of Solomon, the prophets, and the apostles, instead of speaking them. In moments of grief and sorrow I won’t remind myself that
“Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all sins.” (Proverbs 10:12)
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior…” (Isaiah 43:1-3)
“But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands.” (Jonah 3:8)
“The Lord is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him.” (Nahum 1:7)
“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
“For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.” (Romans 6:10)
“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
“…with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace….And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:2-3, 32)
“See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.” (1 Thessalonians 5:15)
“If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.” (1 John 4:20-21)
So, I won’t. stand. on. a. platform. It can only lift me—and me alone—so high.
But I will carry my cross because I know He carries us all, every day on this Earth and all the way to heaven.