My heart is heavy. For over two weeks, I’ve tried to write on the confusing murder of Jordan Davis, a black Florida teen shot for playing his music too loud. I read “Worthy“ by Austin Channing Brown then tried to write my own lament for the devaluation of black boys’ lives sanctioned by archaic laws. Unfortunately, those cries for deliverance rise too easily from my spirit. I am the daughter of a black Senior, the sister of a black twenty-something, the mama of two black boys, and the future pastor of black teens who look too much like Jordan Davis and Trayvon Martin. Fear of this happening to someone I know surrounds me.
I wanted to write my thoughts, but my lamentations were too raw, too hoarse, entirely too much for my blog, so I pulled into myself and cried for days over Jordan, Trayvon, Jonathan Farrell, and Renisha McBride. The more I cried, the more aware I was of the pain-stricken words patiently waiting for their moment.
Shortly after, I watched, Javon Johnson’s slam poetry about raising black boys in America, “Cuz He’s Black” for the eleventy billionth time, and I wanted to write y’all a poem of raising a black boy. I wanted to share how I’m constantly questioning my tween’s safety, worrying about preserving his innocence in this violent world, and my fears of depositing anxiety in his little heart when I talk about the very real obstacles he’ll face as a young black man. Even with a black president, even here in bleeding heart liberal Massachusetts, even within in the Christian community, even with his bi-racial heritage, my son has a long road ahead of him. By having a black mama, he’s inherited the yoke of chattel slavery that grips the African-American community even though our hands are no longer shackle-bound.
Honestly, I’m so sick and tired of living with this fear. I’m acutely aware of its presence. Her wings stretch over me blocking the light of hope. Her claws grip my heart crushing life and infecting my blood stream with despair. Cries for deliverance rose up again and I pulled back from their ferocious need to be spoken, written, released.
I remembered an article shared with me by my good friend, Courtney titled, “Black History Month Isn’t Making Life Better for Black Americans”. I couldn’t help but agree with Theodore R. Brown—why spend an entire month celebrating our past when our future looks so bleak?
Those keening cries of sorrow, fear, need, and for comfort were too much so, I wrote this Facebook message.
The next day, I sat down to write a prayer for all those affected by the racial tension caused by the “Stand Your Ground” laws in states like Florida. I quieted my heart to reach towards God’s and sensed this one direction, “call My people to pray”.
When I exhaled the waiting words, the broken lamentations to God, he breathed new hope into my heart. I know why those words waited; they were powerful words of prayer. They wanted to be my chosen weapon in this waging war charged by race and ignorance. We wrestle not against flesh and blood but powers and principalities in heavenly places. We wield not guns in shaky, terrified hands but the doubled-edged Sword the Spirit.
We’re going stand our ground…in prayer.
For the rest of the week, I’ve invited a few of my blogging friends to submit prayers as guest posts. We’re observing the rest of Black History Month, not with flowery praises of African-American heroes of the past, angry indictments of racism, or arguments of philosophy, but with sincere prayers to our good Abba who hears the cries of his children. We’re going to rise up like the people of the Cross that we claim to be. The cross is the great equalizer where all sinners, brown, black and white can find reconciliation both to God and then to one another. Each day will have two prayers one from a black woman and one from a white. We want to model praying together, in unity, for reconciliation. This is our jam Kingdom people, let’s sing it loud and in harmony!
For the rest of the week, we’re taking our sorrow to the foot of the cross and asking Jesus to speak resurrection power into these dark days. Let these precious lives be redeemed, Lord through our prayers and promises to never forget.
Today, I’m honored to start the series with my good friend, Jessica Kelley.
She is a wise and beautiful writer, but more importantly, she is a sweet and dear friend to me. She loves Jesus and she reveals him to me in poignant ways. I hope you find hopeful direction in her prayer.
On my face, I come.
I lay at your feet, my prayers offered in body-rocking sobs.
I lay broken by evil.
Broken by violence.
Broken by death.
Broken by birthday candles that will never meet breath. By graduation celebrations with empty chairs. By marriage vows
never to be exchanged. By grandchildren never to be celebrated. By parents who will die without their child at their side.
I lay before you, broken.
Rising to my knees, I come.
I come in kneeled repentance, hands clasped, eyes beginning to open. I see systems of oppression. Systems that have
benefited me. I see mothers on the losing end of these systems who are mourning. I’ve never seen them quite so clearly.
I’ve never heard their cries so loudly. I come in repentance.
I come pleading for comfort. When my son laughed the sun burned brighter. When my son died, that bright star fell,
leaving bitter darkness and unspeakable cold. I plead comfort for Jordan Davis’ mother, Lucia. I plead comfort for
Trayvon Martin’s mother, Sybrina. I come pleading for the families and friends of these precious boys. I come pleading
for every soul wounded by every trauma and every death. I come pleading for comfort.
I come praying for perspective. Open my eyes wider, Abba. Open the eyes around me. Take us all back to our first
breaths, to the moments our mothers birthed us. We were cast into the world in shells unchosen. Every color stunning in your sight, every hue reflecting you. Sear into our awareness that beneath our differences run identical currents of love, playfulness, ache, trepidation, and hope. I come praying for perspective.
Climbing to my feet, I come.
I receive your outstretched hand, Abba, and rise to obey. I rise to use the voice you’ve given me. Though it quivers, I use it to speak your hope.
I speak your supernatural peace over the Martin family, the Davis family, and every aching soul.
I speak freedom from the fear that permeates humanity. I speak your transforming love over hard hearts and closed minds. I speak the power of your restoration into racial divides.
I speak light into darkness. I speak life over death.
I rise, Abba, and I speak Jesus.
Jessica Kelley has a BS in Psychology from Virginia Tech and a MS in Counseling and Human Development from Radford University. Since the tragic loss of her 4-year-old son, Henry, she has been writing and speaking about God’s role in suffering. Jessica processes her faith-journey at JessicaKelley.com and is also active on Twitter and Facebook.
COMMENT POLICY THIS WEEK:
Ok. Y’all know I’m all for healthy dialogue, but here’s the deal: I’m a Third Way Woman, so Ima be honey badger mama protective with the comments in this series. Please save your push back on racism or gun laws for another time. You can email me privately at Osheta at gmail dot com, if you just need to process this issue. I’ll try to engage you, but this is not the space for that. So many of my white blogger friends are terrified to share these prayers. Race is one of those topics we forget ourselves and get all types of nasty with each other. Not here. Not on my watch! We’d love it if you’d offer an “AMEN” or if you’re so inclined, write your own prayer. Jess or I will comment, “Amen” to let you know that we’ve got your back. But, seriously y’all, let’s not act a fool this week. ‘k?
Standing for Shalom,