God, Kingdom, My Story

When We See Each Other Face-to-Face Again

Seeing People Again…

When we see each other again face-to-face, how will it be? I think many of us dream of the time when we will run into each other’s arms and embrace for many minutes as we just linger and make up for lost face-to-face time. And others of us are excited to be in a group where we can feel the energy of people meeting openly together again. We anticipate the positive buzz of the crowd that will energize and re-engage so many of us. Ah, it will be good to see you again! 

As I think about what it will be like to come back together in my different social circles, I usually feel a pretty warm and happy feeling, but just recently God ‘tapped me on the shoulder’ and gave me another perspective. I should take a moment to note that if you aren’t one to struggle with judging people or being offended then this different perspective might not be as poignant for you, but if you’re like me, I think this will be really helpful. Regardless of how it hits you personally, I’m pretty sure there will be some people in your life who might be struggling in this way and I hope this post will help you understand them better too.

So, I had this realization that with all the comments and posts flying around social media lately, our reunion might not be as joyous as we anticipate. There have been a lot of strong statements, emotional statements, pointed statements, well-meaning statements, and ‘advice-giving’ statements. I’d be willing to bet that none of us have felt like we agree 100% with everything we’ve read in the last 3 months. But that’s not abnormal. We often read things that we might not agree with and can easily brush it off. Or, we might question what was really going on beneath the surface of a friend’s comment, but when we see that person again, we talk it out or even just remember how much we love these people and the tension levels off.

But what about now? We’ve had months of reading things without having the ability to ‘bump into each other’ in public. So, many comments that might have been brushed off are actually getting pushed to the bottom of a pile of many comments that are building up higher and higher. Oh man, stop me if I’m wrong, but is someone (or multiple people) coming to your mind who has ruffled your feathers a bit lately? Do you feel a bit of stony-heartedness towards them? Have you thought about what it will be like when you see them again? Perhaps they won’t even know that you feel at odds with them – perhaps they will. What will we do when we see these people again? Will we ignore them and hope no one notices? Will we pretend like nothing’s happened and sweep our feelings under the rug? Will we stone-wall a person and expect them to just ‘know what we’re thinking and feeling’? 

I found this comic through an internet search for ‘giving the cold shoulder’. This illustrates well what it could be like (although outside of the home) for friends/acquaintances to see each other face-to-face again after having been hurt or offended through social media posts and comments without actually talking things out together.

Guys! The thought of all this is a bit scary to me. I mean, we left our normal societal lives to isolate and as the months have gone by so many things have happened and so many words have been spoken that I’m a little anxious about how we’ll re-acclimate to each other! Have you thought about this? I feel like it’s blowing my mind a bit. It feels heavy with the weight of God’s conviction for me. Yup, I said it. I’m guilty. I have judged, been offended, been hurt, been confused, been angry, been sad, been vindicated, and the list goes on. But you know what? I don’t want to live like this. I don’t want to stay like this. What’s the next step?

Search Me O God…

God search my heart and share with me the areas I need to purify. You know my thoughts. Please, lead me in Your ways. Amen

I want God to tell me where I’ve gone off the path of love, righteousness, mercy, and grace. I want God to guide me back to His thoughts, His ways, and to His heart. As I’ve pondered this, the word that keeps coming back to me over and over again is forgiveness. Will I forgive those who have offended me, hurt me, confused me, and even scared me through their posts on social media. Am I willing to do the hard work of forgiveness when no one will see it and might never know about it? Will I extend mercy and love before I head back into face-to-face relationship with people who I feel less than positive towards?

Ugh… that feels hard. It seems like it’ll be a lot of introspection, prayer and work with myself and with God. My heart is already weary and this just seems like it’ll add to that weight. It might. It might make things worse. I might feel even more tension for a while. I might even want to hide all the feelings in a closet and pretend they’re not there after all.

But maybe, all those tough feelings will be momentary. Maybe it won’t be as hard and grueling as I imagine. Actually, I truly believe that putting in this type of hard work will free me and lighten my load. My husband, who’s a pastor, says that often times the feeling of lightening only comes AFTER forgiveness has been extended. So, I expect to find a quickening in my heart and mind to forgive and keep forgiving and even let it spread to other parts of my life. I hope this will be the start of a radical change in me that I can grow in and build on! I know that I will experience JOY and FULLNESS as I partner with God to soften my heart once again. He will come alongside me to help me be free of the shackles of unforgiveness, judgement, and even condemnation. He hasn’t made me for these things. He’s made me to rejoice, love, and give to those around me.

So, yes. I will put in the hard work. When I feel offended, confused, or any other tense feeling, I’ll put it before God. I’ll ask Him what to do with it. I’ll confess any sin or wrongdoing on my own part and ask for forgiveness. And most of all, I’ll choose to forgive others with my own initiative. I expect it’ll be hard and I’ll want to reject it at times. But in the end, it’ll be so good; so much better than I can even imagine because God’s way is best. Yes, people are worth it. God is worth it. My face-to-face relationships are worth it. I’m a people person and I want to stay that way. So, God, search me and know my thoughts…and lead me in the way everlasting. Amen.

God, I invite your searching gaze into my heart. Examine me through and through; find out everything that may be hidden within me. Put me to the test and sift through all my anxious cares. See if there is any path of pain I’m walking on, and lead me back to your glorious, everlasting ways.

Psalm 139: 23-24 (TPT)
Adoption, God, My Story, Voice

A Letter to my Future Child(ren) of Color

My Dear Little One,

You’ve been on my mind a lot recently. Over the past year I have been preparing for you to join our family, but I could not have foreseen how much of that preparation I’d be using before you came. You see, our country is in the middle of some great turmoil and unrest. This year has been a year of ‘Chaos!’ – That’s the word that God gave to your daddy for this year. We didn’t know that it would be so true and so turbulent.

The things that seemed like chaos in January and February have faded to the background as the more recent chaotic events of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic and the untimely and unjust deaths of African-Americans, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd at the hands of white people/police officers. These deaths sparked a lot of non-violent, peaceful protests as well as violent rioting and looting. I have never seen this in my time. I’ve heard about these types of things from history, but I never actually think that history will repeat itself. What’s done in the past, stays in the past, right? Well, not always, and certainly not in these cases. True, they are not exact replicas of past physical diseases and racial clashes, but they certainly carry some of the same elements with them.

My heart is feeling so many things right now. I feel angry, scared, confused, misunderstood, sad, worried, uncertain, and other feelings too. I also have so many other voices and opinions going through my head. I have the media, the Church, my black friends, my white friends, my not black/white friends, the voices of ‘leaders’ – both in the Christian sector and not, and so many more. When I’ve felt tugged to choose between these voices, it’s created a lot of chaos within me. It seems so easy to just make a social media post that echoes what others are saying, but God is showing me MY voice as He teaches me. He’s been showing me how I can be true to the voice that He’s given me.

God has been teaching me to wait. As I wait for you, I’ve learned patience and listening. Now in this current chaotic season, I am using this skill of waiting to check my heart, mind, and spirit before I speak. It’s something I highly recommend, little one. A big part of what God has been teaching me even before the waiting was how to respond instead of reacting. It’s so easy to get filled with strong emotions and want to fire out a rapid reaction to a social media post or something I’ve heard on the news or even a video from someone I trust. But, I’ve already been cultivating how to feel when my emotions are taking over and then I stop and take a break. This really empowers me to feel secure in what I say publicly and not have regret a hurried retort.

To create a true response, I’ve found I must wait. I must hear the voices around me. Then, I must listen for God’s voice and allow my own voice to come out. The waiting might seem like a lack of action, but God is working on something within me. If I wait, then when I respond, it will be in love and not from pain. 

Oh child, I so hope you only know love in your life, but I know the reality of humanity. There will be pain too. I’m so sorry. I realize that because of the color of your skin, history predicts that you will be mistreated, misrepresented, undervalued, disrespected, and more. I wish I could protect you from all the pain. I wish it would be as easy as kissing your boo-boo and then having you run back out to play. I wish I could fix it for you, but I won’t be able to. I will be with you though. I will be on your side. I will keep loving you no matter what. I’m sorry it’s like this. It makes me sad for you and for so many of our friends ‘like you’. I’d like to see injustice and disease wiped off this earth!  But, I wait. 

You know what God’s been doing in me as I wait? I hope it’ll help you too, little one, as you grow and learn and wait and respond. God has shown me that I can enter in more fully to someone’s pain by speaking with them directly – whether face-to-face, on the phone, or in a direct message. The back and forth of a conversation is so much more meaningful and helpful in working through my thoughts and feelings on tough topics and events. I’ve allowed God to lead me to speak with those He puts on my heart and mind. It’s been fruitful and I’m so thankful for my many brothers and sisters of all colors who have been willing to enter into personal dialogue with me.

In doing this we have been able to share what’s helping and hurting us through these situations. We can show love and understanding to one another. We can humbly ask for forgiveness for where we’ve been wrong and we can courageously give forgiveness to those who have hurt us. I’ve had to do both! And I can say, it’s been so freeing to my heart. I only wish our society could truly understand that power of asking for and receiving forgiveness. There’s a reason why God calls us to do this. It’s another piece in freedom and justice for all!

As for a public response, God has shown me that the best way I can respond publicly is through music. Would you believe it? I didn’t know about this until a very sweet cousin of mine lost her husband to death and all I could do was sing for her! Now, in the moments of disease and death, I have found that singing helps to calm and clear my mind. I found that as God led me to practice and sing songs, I actually entered more fully into the emotions of the moment. I wouldn’t call myself an activist, but I am a person who will journey with someone (or even a group of people) through pain and joy. God wrote a song in my heart and I had the honor to create this video with my friend Amber.

‘As I Am’ written and sung by Brittany Putman and performed by Amber Kaufman
There’s a growing unrest in our souls
It’s crying see me, hear me
Touch me, I’m real
Don’t you see me, hear me
Feel me? I’m real
I’m crying out! But no one hears me
I’m torn apart! But no one sees
My voice in anger, anguish lifted
But who will see me, as I am?

Sweet child, your journey is your own! It won’t be mine, it won’t be Daddy’s, it won’t be your brothers’ or sisters’. You will discover your own journey and while you’re making that discovery, I will be with you. I will be in the pain, grief, joy and excitement. I will cheer with you and cry with you. I will help you find your voice and together we will grow into all that God made us to be.

I have so much hope for you and your future. Even in the painful, chaotic times that you might be born into, I choose you! You have been my dream since I was a child, and I wait with hopeful expectation for you. I love you with a deep love that words cannot express, but I’m so excited for when I get to SHOW you that love!

So, while we wait to meet… I love you.

Your Momma