I shared these thoughts on Insta stories last week and several people wanted to be able to easily share the content with loved ones so here it is as a post with a little more added.
If you feel tuned out to this topic of race issues that have exploded this week, I totally get it and pray you’ll hear out my journey.
Hebrews 12:14-15 popped into my head as I listened and watched comments from two sides of the conversation and felt my own defenses surface.
“Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.”
This verse gets me every time. I don’t want to live taking an offense. I don’t want to let a root of bitterness spring up in me. I know there are people struggling with feeling defensive when they hear about white privilege if their lives have been hard or they feel like they worked hard to achieve it. You might be seeing the looting and want to get distracted by it from the real issues. You might see extremists or organizations that seem to go against biblical truth and want to let that justify inaction.
I’m not here to tell you everything that’s happening is right. I’m here to share that if we’re waiting for everyone else to respond correctly first, it’s happening at the cost of our relationship with the Lord.
I’ve been reading two books by Evelyn Christenson, What Happens When Women Pray and What God Does When Women Pray. She talks a lot about confession.
She started a prayer group and they spent 5 or 6 weeks confessing before even touching prayer requests because there was so much to confess. I should say this was a pastor’s wife and her two friends, not serial killers. They were digging deep and doing the work to root out sin because they knew it affected their prayers.
Christenson even shared 4 pages with Scripture of sins to reflect on and help guide readers through confession. If you want to check it out, it’s in What God Does When Women Pray.
I wanted to look through the list but before I reflected on any mentioned, I knew I needed to confess some prejudices. I have a lot of prejudices and it’s not all related to what’s happening these past few weeks, but even small assumptions I make without knowing someone. I sat on my porch for 30 minutes confessing and even then wasn’t ready to call it done.
I want to be like Evelyn and her group and recognize the things I sweep under the rug and have come to accept as normal.
I’ll ask you the same question I had to ask myself:
Is taking offense or getting defensive worth what it’s doing to my heart? Is it worth the unconfessed sin and unforgiveness that dulls my prayers?
I’m a perfectionist, justice seeker, and Enneagram one (which is typically known for their love of making sure everyone knows what’s right). The Enneagram Institute literally says Enneagram 1 types, “want to be right, to strive higher and improve everything, to be consistent with their ideals, to justify themselves, to be beyond criticism so as not to be condemned by anyone.”
So yep. I struggle with taking an offense. I confess it’s been hard to see some dear friends whose hearts I know personally come humbly to this conversation and see the comments from people who feel it isn’t done the right way. In my heart, I want to get defensive and say, “We’re trying! We’re trying to educate ourselves!”, but we ABSOLUTELY CANNOT get defensive and let those things take priority over love, kindness, and forgiveness.
Fighting to be right, isn’t worth the cost.
I don’t think we realize the damage we’re doing to our personal relationship with the Lord when we want to hold to the idea that “white privilege doesn’t exist” or “the looting is way worse”. Guys, let’s seriously have this conversation with the Lord before we listen to voices (I know I’m talking to you about it now and apologize for the oxymoron-ness).
When I shared this in stories the morning after my porch prayer time, I shared that I was still reflecting and searching my heart for unconfessed sin 12 hours later because I wanted to root out every bit of offense. I wasn’t going to make requests until I did because I didn’t want to pray prayers that the Lord wouldn’t hear because I was holding on to unforgiveness and offense.
That might sound crazy to hear, but the Bible tells us over and over again how sin and unforgiveness affect our prayers.
Isaiah 59:2 says, “but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.”
Psalm 66:18 says, “If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.”
I picture it this way. If God gives us this clear instruction manual (The Bible) with how He’s commanding us to live (primarily to love God and love people) taking offenses and not confessing them is essentially like us approaching Him in prayer saying, “Yea, yea, yea, I get that you said this but can you just heal my aunt real quick? Could you just help me find my passion? My spouse? Or help me get pregnant?”
That doesn’t feel like a relationship. That doesn’t feel like a heart of reverence for my master and Lord. Unconfessed sin damages our intimacy with the Lord.
And I understand it’s way deeper than that, but doesn’t it sound crazy to think that we could know clearly what He’s calling us to do, only to completely ignore it and then start making requests?
When you decide to obey God and love, you aren’t excusing every evil thing that’s happening on either side. You’re acknowledging that God didn’t ask you to be the judge and jury of someone else’s heart and instead called you to love one another FIRST.
I always think of being a kid and my mom fussing at me for something that happened with my sister. Inevitably, I’d tune her out and ask why she wasn’t fussing at my sister. She’d always say, you don’t worry about her. You worry about your part in this. And then she’d have the same convo with my sister.
And can I just say it again? If we are waiting for everyone else to respond correctly before we obey God, our intimacy with the Lord is doomed. Your closeness with the Lord cannot depend on the actions of others. You can’t wait to love until the looting stops, until your favorite organization takes a stance you agree with, until someone shows they deserve to be forgiven.
From personal experience, I’m already seeing God soften my heart as I put real time and energy into this. I’m trying to focus on love and not thinking that one person who criticizes the way I handle this speaks for everybody. When we do that, we are LOOKING to take an offense.
If you feel defensive, you’re not alone. I’ve talked in DM’s to police wives, white women who never understood white privilege and black women who are confessing their own prejudices. I’m feeling so hopeful. We’re looking at a world of defenses right now in a conversation that has no hope if we don’t have heart change. And God is starting with you and me, right now.
This month, I wrote out Proverbs 4:20-27 in my prayer journal and I’m just now realizing how fitting it is:
My son, be attentive to my words;
incline your ear to my sayings.
Let them not escape from your sight;
keep them within your heart.
For they are life to those who find them,
and healing to all their flesh.
Keep your heart with all vigilance,
for from it flow the springs of life.
Put away from you crooked speech,
and put devious talk far from you.
Let your eyes look directly forward,
and your gaze be straight before you.
Ponder the path of your feet;
then all your ways will be sure.
Do not swerve to the right or to the left;
turn your foot away from evil.
Here’s a prayer I shared in my stories.
Father God, I just thank you so much for this conversation becoming big right now Father. We don’t like how it happened but we’re prayerful that this would be tide-turning and would unify us as best as we can be here on earth. I pray right now for myself and my white brothers and sisters that you would open our hearts. That you would search our hearts and see if there are any prejudices, hangups, defenses or taking of offenses that we’re holding onto right now that is hindering our relationship with you and others. God, we come to you confessing the things that have weighed in our hearts that we hold to Father. We pray you would help us to release them. We pray that you would help us become aware of the things we need to confess and we would take this command seriously to confess our sins, Lord. In Jesus’ name, Amen.