God has been after me to share a perspective on things that involves really stripping myself naked before those who may visit this blog. It’s so scary to do, but just this moment I felt a pulling by God to step out in faith and be as transparent as I can be, so here I go.
I have a good heart. Never in my life have I ever intentionally wanted to hurt anyone or if I have and it was brought to my attention, somehow, I have always wanted to make it right. This I can say for sure. However, I have NOT been the nicest person sometimes and it was unintentionally.
I am one of 2 kids, born to a pastor and his wife. My dad also had his own dental practice. My brother and I grew up pretty “privileged” (I’m going somewhere with this, so watch out). Our parents loved on us tremendously. They tried to make sure we had everything we needed, right when we needed it and often whatever we wanted. They led us to the Lord young, faithfully discipled us, and over all made us the very center of their lives. It was quite clear that after God (I never failed to see them on their knees first thing of every morning of my 43 years of life) and their marriage (they were clear in telling us that we will never be more important than their union), that we were next in the line of priority. We were very much the center of their lives. This was a good thing….and sometimes a not so good thing.
Being raised up with 2 loving parents who had the ability to give us everything and to protect us from a lot, I do feel that my brother and I may have developed this blind spot that I feel that just only now, God is healing my blindness (and I still have a ways to go). There were times that I would innocently just say thing, do things, make decisions, relate to people in a way that revealed a lack of consideration for them, their perspective and their life experiences. I thought I was a kind and compassionate person, but I really missed the mark a lot of times.
As a result, I left a trail of hurt people or shall I say, people who I just rubbed the wrong way. I really did not realize this for a very long time…after damage was done. I had lots of friends however, and I can place them into 2 categories:
- The friends whose love for me was so unconditional, that even though I would do things that just were not cool, instead of holding me accountable, they would just shake their head, and sort of be like “Well that’s just Nika. But I love her anyway.”
- The friends who would see my failures, hear others talk really bad about me and then instead of holding me accountable, would form a very strong dislike for me as well. Never telling me why they stopped being a friend or anything…again never holding me accountable.
The first set of friends I will always hold dear, because I felt that they loved me in spite of myself, however, I really wish one of them would have sat me down and told me about myself. I made some pretty horrible mistakes due to this blindness. One of those mistakes connects to how I related to my brother and sister in law during the birth of their first child. A child they had prayed for after a lot of pain and loss. I like an idiot, scheduled my wedding close to his birth. At the time, I felt like “Hey! We are all family! We can celebrate his birth and my wedding at the same time!” That was crazy! Yet it has taken me almost 10 years to realize the mistake in doing that. It was a very bad decision. During that time there was a lot of whispering going on, but no one just faced me with the mistake. There were hints, as I look back now, and some may say, “She should have known better.” But I honestly just did not see the ramifications of doing that. Even still I hurt a great deal of people, especially my brother…most importantly my sister in law that I love dearly.
I share this very personal story because I want people to understand why it is important to educate, to talk, to hold people accountable when they are doing something wrong. I think of those white people who really and truly do not understand how their privilege has affected how they relate to black people, but because of their good hearts, if they are shared with in love they would probably make some changes in their life. I have gone back to my wedding day over and over and over, and thought through how I could have changed the date. It is a regret I live with daily. I take full responsibility for my insensitivity, yet there were a number of people around me then and over the course of my life of living with this blind spot who chose to be one of the above friends I have described.
God’s Word clearly says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” This means we are not to grow tired of holding others accountable for their actions. We should not be afraid to ruffle a few feathers if it makes them a better person. They may get upset with you at first, but in the end your words may help them to change for the better. It is not our responsibility to change their heart, but it is our responsibility to share and educate. As God told Ezekiel it is our responsibility to “warn” each other. This is what God says to Ezekiel:
Son of man, I have appointed you a watchman to the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from My mouth, warn them from Me. 18“When I say to the wicked, ‘You will surely die,’and you do not warn him or speak out to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. 19“Yet if you have warned the wicked and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered yourself.…
So realize that like myself, the white privileged people need to hear our story. They need to hear about their blind spots. My story may seem like a light thing, but I share it openly as an example of how a person can be a part of a community of people that did not hold her accountable. I also feel that I can sort of connect to the feeling of being “privileged” to the point of not being able to empathize or truly “see” others. I really feel that at that time, I could have used someone to sit me down and tell me about myself in love. At the same time I am thankful to God for showing me myself and I am working hard to change. Maybe if you keep talking and sharing about the African American experience and perspective, you can change a person’s heart to want to change as well.