Lucy Blog · Uncategorized

Not Knowing What to Say

The other day I texted one of my friends, who happens to be black, just to say “hi” and check in.  She’s one of my closest friends and we communicate multiple times a week, with seldom a week going by where we don’t see each other at least once.  She said she was “OK” and asked if my husband and I had been talking much about the current events.  So, we chatted a bit via text and she told me how disheartening it was that she wasn’t hearing much from her white Christian friends.  I’m a little slow at times, so I didn’t immediately put myself in that naughty category.  I mean, we’ve been in contact this whole time!

But as she continued sharing her heart, I realized that my lack of conversation about the current events had hurt her too.  So, I told her that I didn’t really know what to say, except that the blatant racism boggles my mind and whatnot.  I went on to say some more well-meaning stuff about sin nature and how we could all do a better job of not labeling people and instead looking at their hearts. 

Her response crushed me.  A weeping emoji, followed by, “So much I want to say in response to that”.  But then, she didn’t say anything in response to that!  Immediately I wondered where I stood with her.  Does she think I was creating some sort of equal comparison between my examples and racism?  Did she think I was down-playing the issue by remarking that everyone sins?  Did I disappoint her expectations of me as a friend???

I was literally on the verge of tears for hours, even though it was irrational.  I mean, she was at work, she has 3 kids, there are many reasons why she could have cut the conversation short—none of which had to do with me.  And yet, the thought of hurting and disappointing my dear friend upset me beyond words.  It was as though her silence caused me more pain than if she had just outright said I sounded like an idiot.

Hmmm…so maybe this was what she was talking about: the turmoil created in silence.  The questions left unasked and therefore unanswered.  The pain of not knowing where you stand with someone, or more importantly, if they are standing with you. 

Ouch!  All of my excuses for not talking to my friends about the racial tensions don’t justify the pain I’ve caused those friends through my silence.  I don’t need to have the answers—but I do need to tell my friends how much I care about them and their experiences.

We can’t please everyone: it’s just not possible.  However, we can work to strengthen relationships and have tough conversations.  We can tell our friends that we love them.  We can ask them about their opinions and experiences.  We can pray with them, asking God for healing in this country.  We can tell them that we see their pain, and we acknowledge their struggles. 

Potential awkwardness is better than painful silence.  

There are many prayers we can be uttering right now.  Right now I especially pray that these lyrics by Jars of Clay, inspired by John 13:35, will become reality:

We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
And we pray that our unity will one day be restored
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
Yeah they’ll know we are Christians by our love

We will work with each other, we will work side by side
We will work with each other, we will work side by side
And we’ll guard each man’s dignity and save each man’s pride
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
Yeah, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

2 thoughts on “Not Knowing What to Say

  1. Hello! Fellow white person here…I understand where you are coming from and am very familiar with the sting of challenging conversations and silence. 😣Perhaps you are already familiar with these, but a couple books that really helped me learn more about how to think through these challenges are Waking Up White by Debbie Irving and White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo. Just sharing in case you or your readers might be interested!


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