I have not written in my journal for three weeks. Even though engaging my journal daily has been a ritual of mine for about 20 years, I have not been able to scratch out a sentence since my mom’s unexpected death three weeks ago. This has been a difficult road.
The day before my mom died, I was eager to start a week of vacation. I was exhausted and spent; I needed to get away and experience healing and restoration. Even though I am fortunate to have work, COVID-19 was taking a toll on my life and energy. I was teleworking and living a new normal that I was not sure I had the gifts to endure. I have always been a person who likes to be present with others. Instead of emailing a colleague, I’ll get on the elevator to go visit her office space. And I loved in-person conferences, meetings, coaching and training events. Everything changed. And I found myself on Zoom calls responding to the needs of church leaders. And I was working closely (well, as close as one can on Zoom) with an outstanding team to respond to church leaders needing assistance in this new normal of COVID-19. I was working hard to make ministry adjustments in a new, uncertain context.
The very next day, I received the call that turned everything in my life upside down. My mom died unexpectedly. All I knew is that I had to get in the car and drive to Florida to help my brother, Garland, who lived with my mom and deals with schizophrenia. I also knew I was facing countless decisions and details. As I was making my way through the grief and details around Mom’s death, I watched the senseless death of George Floyd happen on the television screen. Eight minutes and 46 seconds! This was yet another reminder of the evil of racial injustice that is baked into the systems of our nation.
I am exhausted and still in need of rest. God has provided for my brother. We found him a place to live and are trying to get him back into the mental health system that can care for him. And I know that God will give me the strength to do my part in battling structural racism. My family has made a pact that we will deal with our white privilege and join others who are working to dismantle white supremacy.
My grief is raw. I continue to grieve the loss of my mom, my brother’s situation, and the injustice in our systems and structures. Since I have faith in Jesus, I know there is hope beyond lament. There is the wiping of tears beyond the tears. And there is a possibility of a new world without racism beyond injustice.
I know we are grieving much loss in this moment. But we are a gospel people. Black Lives Matter. White supremacy is destructive. Jesus made a way for us to die to the old and be raised up into new life (Romans 6:4). Thanks for being on this beautiful and terrifying journey with me.
Director of Theology, Formation & Evangelism