On Taking Sides Like Jesus…

August 17, 2017

Currently not able to think about anything else besides the video footage of those angry men chanting “Jews will not replace us.”

My social media feeds are filled with both friends and famous people taking the side of social justice, yet I’m struggling to find the words to describe how I’m feeling. It seems like nothing I can say will make a difference but at this point, but staying quiet is completely out of the question.

So I pray and I write, and then I try to figure out what it looked like when Jesus took sides.

In case you’re unfamiliar, here’s a quick rundown:

Jesus regularly took a stand for people who were being mistreated. He chose the marginalized, the spit upon, the outcast, the “unlovable.”

Since we’re on the topic of intentional decisions, let’s not forget that He also chose the cross. He endured the most unthinkable pain and persecution so that love could win, and here’s the spoiler: Love DID win, and regardless of what you believe (but especially if you believe) that means we are called to be vessels of that very same love.

It’s the same love that conquered death and it’s the same love that can overcome hate.

So, what does that look like for a 32 year old white woman living in a safe neighborhood in a progressive state in one of the most privileged regions of the country?

I’ve been fumbling around with that question for the past several days.

I’ve been feeling restless and hopeless and heartbroken and complacent because I haven’t come up with any real tangible ways to help. My default setting in these situations is to get on my knees and pray my guts out, but this week I’m just not sure that it’s enough.

Sure, I’m praying for the troubled leadership of our nation. Of course, and more grievously, I’m praying for the countless victims of racism and neo-nazism and elitism and any of the other ways that evil has played out in our country — this week and throughout it’s history.

Watching the news updates and refreshing my twitter feed makes my head spin, and when I stood up from my desk to end the workday on Tuesday — I recognized that the emotion stirring inside of me was red-hot anger, swelling up from my belly to my brim.

I’m angry for my Black friends, my Jewish friends, my Mexican friends, my Muslim friends, my Korean friends… The list goes on and on. I’m angry that our nation somehow elected a president without a spine, and angry that I have very little opportunity to make a difference in how the world operates at this very moment.

Here’s the thing about anger, though:

It’s a VERY strong emotion. We’ve seen this play out in humanity for thousands of years. Typically viewed as a negative feeling, we’re taught from a very early age to control it, suppress it and replace it with gentleness. (Perhaps especially as women.)

As I zoom out and see the full picture of my internal mind this week, I realize that I can’t feel anything BUT anger and I’m absolutely ok with that.

If you’re not angry, watch this.

If you’re still not angry, we cannot be friends. (And I don’t think I’ve ever publicly denounced a friend in my entire life.)

— — —

I saw this powerful quote/photo combo the other day and have not been able to stop thinking about it ever since:

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion…”

I happen to wholeheartedly agree, but it leaves me wondering: What happened to those torch-bearers and hate-mongers when they were tiny humans that has caused them to be filled with so much elitism and racism and vitriolic hate? They are clearly incredibly broken people, and the only thing I can think of it that they are trying to break other people as a way to recoup their pain.

The unfortunate reality is that when you take one broken side and add another broken side, all we get is a math equation that leaves us with a whole lot of brokenness.

So what the heck are we supposed to do as we watch the violence play out while it lights a fire in our bellies? What kind of impact can we make as Americans who want to put an end to these hate rallies? Is it possible to find a formula to prevent the dangerous mess of pepper spray + misplaced privilege + major political discourse?

Here is the only thing I can come up with at the moment…

As we see the bigots acting out from the depths of their brokenness, we are given an option — I’m imploring you to please choose responsibly. Take this opportunity to use your anger for good and make the choice to publicly and peaceably display the strength of character that is inside of you.

We know that peaceful resistance is more effective than violence or temper tantrums, but peaceful resistance does not mean passivity or neutrality or meekness. It is done by acknowledging your righteous indignation and using it to drive a cause forward with strategy and intention and control.

No throwing things. No hurting people. No useless name calling.

Go find a local event to attend or volunteer with. Ask your state representative how you can help in your hometown. Learn from the organizations that are doing work to fight for racial justice. Invite new friends for dinner so that you can empathize with what it feels like to be in their shoes. For goodness sakes, stand up for your beliefs by defending people who are being discriminated against or attacked.

Be smart. Be empathetic. Be very clear about your values and use EVERY chance that you get to love others, just the way that we are called to as children of the Most High God.

I believe that the current display of division makes God angry too, by the way. We were formed in the perfect image of our Creator, and when evil occurs — when we are separated from that original intent — I’m 100% sure that it breaks the heart of The One Who Made Us.

If we are going to stand up these guys, and let’s just stop there for a second: We need to stand up to these guys! We’re going to need a plan that is actually MORE threatening than a sea of tiki torches and hidden AK47s. Deeper than generational hate and stronger than throngs of supremacists…

Since you’ve made it this far I’m assuming you’re on board, so here is the plan:

Let’s acknowledge our outrage and use it as fuel for over-the-top acts of generosity and love.

Let’s use our aching hearts and prayerful hearts by pointing them toward the hope that our nation will find healing.

Let’s accept the invitation to take sides like Jesus did, and let’s be active and diligent as we try to bring glimpses of God’s kingdom to our very broken world.

 

*Image pinned from here

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17 Comments

  • Reply Carol Biniasz August 17, 2017 at 10:32 am

    This is so well written, dear Jessie. I’ve never lived in quite such a confusing time. So many Christian friends don’t seem to be on the same page as me and it’s been so frustrating and frankly, mind blowing! Thanks for not being quiet! I love you!

    • Reply Jessie Artigue August 17, 2017 at 2:39 pm

      Thanks for the encouragement, Carol — I love you, too! I’m so grateful for family and friends who are willing to dig in to these discussions, and your honest words are very appreciated. :) XO

  • Reply Kelsey August 17, 2017 at 2:58 pm

    Thank you for writing this. I agree wholeheartedly and it’s a nice reminder on how the channel the anger.

  • Reply richele August 17, 2017 at 4:08 pm

    Lovely words for an awful, awful situation and time for our country. I’ve felt, since January… the need to be extra kind, extra patient, extra “thank you so much” because the rest of it, of how the other side is acting and saying, doesn’t line up with who I am at all.

  • Reply Kathleen August 17, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    100% yes. This was so eloquently articulated and … just … I appreciate you.

  • Reply Dori Porterfield August 17, 2017 at 5:33 pm

    I hadn’t been able to bring myself to watch this, because honestly, from just the clips I had seen it made me sick to my stomach. I watched it and it has completely broken me, in places I didn’t know I could be broken for people who I don’t even know. My heart aches and just like you Jessie I choose to take a side. I choose to take the side of Jesus, the side of showing love to those who maybe were never shown love and to those who are hurt by these violent acts. It breaks my heart because I look around me and I am surrounded by kind people who love me and yet, look nothing like me. Thank you for posting this Jessie you expressed so many things I have been feeling from this. I know it seems like prayer isn’t doing enough but I also know that God heals and restores through prayer and it is SO powerful. That combined with acting out our call to be the hands and feet of Jesus, showing love to the unlovable, my hope is set on the fact that our amazing Father can fix this <3

  • Reply Brittany August 17, 2017 at 6:27 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this. I’m heartbroken and angry and feeling unsure and a little lost and you put into words what’s been on my heart but haven’t figure out how to say.

  • Reply Kate Bu August 17, 2017 at 8:02 pm

    Another person posting to say thank you for writing this. I don’t consider myself religious at all, but your post still spoke to me on a deeper level. The message of compassion and carefully directed anger rings very true. It is important that we don’t stay silent in times like this.

  • Reply Liz Handel August 18, 2017 at 3:51 am

    Jessie- thank you! This was very well written! I have been feeling a lot of the same things! I meet with a group of friends for dinner every other week. We spend some weeks talking about life and some about scripture. We’ve been meeting for almost 3 years. Since Our current president has been in the picture we have had so many conversations about race and white privilege. It has been life changing for me. It helped me recognize that those conversations NEED to be happening. White people NEED to say “Yikes. I’m privileged because of the color of my skin. This is real. So how can I use that to love/defend/support my friends/my neighbors/minorities?” Jesus changed the world by loving those who everyone thought were scum. We are called to love our neighbors as ourselves. Let’s get out there and act in Christ’s love! ❤️

  • Reply Mary Robertson August 18, 2017 at 10:28 am

    Thank you, Jessie, for linking to the Vice news segment. It really spells out what we are up against as a nation and a society.

  • Reply Dolly Brown Reece August 18, 2017 at 11:22 am

    Jessie, You’ve put so many of my thoughts, from the many weeks of rallies and chaotic news, into such eloquent words. I was battling with whether I had the courage to share this with some of my friends. I decided I need your permission to do so. Love to you my nephew and niece (by choice)! thank you again for sharing such wonderful and thought provoking blog!

  • Reply Kaye Cogdill August 18, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    Excellent words and thoughts in the midst of chaos! Thank-You for your wisdom, clarity, authentic love, and compassion. Stay strong and know you are not alone! Love you 💕

  • Reply DaAnne Smith August 21, 2017 at 8:59 am

    Thank you for courageously using your sphere of influence to speak on this important topic Jesse. . At the root of this conversation, Americans are exploring and resolving the question, “Who are we?” I highly recommend viewing Brene Brown’s FaceBook Live video on this important topic…it opened my eyes and expanded my heart. https://www.facebook.com/daanne.smith/posts/10213792634867879

  • Reply Karen M August 21, 2017 at 11:01 am

    Thank you for a beautiful piece of work. But mostly thank you for being one of the many white Americans to stand up for us minorities. I live in Cali where diversity is pretty much our middle name, I have friends from all races and love each one of them not for what I see on the outside but what God has put inside of them. There is a lot of hate going on in this country but I’ve also seen a lot of love and that brings hope for the future ❤️

  • Reply Deborah August 22, 2017 at 5:03 pm

    Thank you for your courage in sharing Jessie!
    Your post reminds me of why I am grateful for this Promise:
    “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (II Chronicles 7:14)

    Humility on both sides will be needed for our land to be healed!
    Hugs and Blessings!

  • Reply Suzy Taylor Oakley August 26, 2017 at 8:24 am

    I have no words that would add anything more eloquent and moving than what you’ve already said, but I wanted to go on record here and add my voice to the conversation.

    So, just … thank you.

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