El Camino – The Walk
God placed me on a journey/walk since July, it started with me seeing men and women being shot and killed by some police officers and the silence or justification I noticed after their death. I cried, I mourned, I lost my apetite to eat and I grew cold towards police officers. Through a difficult conversation with my family about police brutality, then a talk with a friend I realized I lacked compassion, love and respect for those in law enforcement. I no longer cared if they got hurt on the job because they didn’t seem to care if we got hurt/killed, they did what they had to because they felt threatened. I confessed it to my Lead Pastor and asked for his help in finding good sources so I have my own view and opinion of things, because as someone who claims to follow Christ, I no longer want to hate my brother or sister – no matter what profession, race, religion, whether they’re “good” or “bad”. My Pastor arranged for me to meet with an officer who attends our church and through meeting with him on several occasions and having conversations with him – God is already healing me from this hate and fear I had towards officers. He’s doing so much work in me that I now pray for them when I hear a siren/see their vehicles, this week was different though. This week two men were shot and killed by officers, I watched one video but refuse to watch the other. I am hurt, confused and conflicted, I feel torn because I’m no longer one sided – now I see both sides and I’m still hurting. I’m hurting because I think I need to pick a side and whichever side I choose I’ll be betraying the other side, especially my race. Whole lot o pressure to put on one lil person isn’t it? Last week I attended an event called “Coffee with the cops“. I had discussions with detectives, a sergeant, chief, lieutenant and other police officers. I got there and saw a room FILLED with men and women in uniform, chatting with civilians and I was scared! I prayed to God and I was like okay God you want me here so make a way. Immidiately I thought of the detective I’ve been talking to and that he told me to introduce myself to the chief; who’s a female, so I thought I’d start there. I saw someone who I thought was the chief, she wasn’t, but she pointed me to her and told me to introduce myself to her. I later on realized that God used this person I first talked to, to get me to open up to others – she was mixed race, a female and not wearing a uniform, so I felt safe in approaching her. I’m an introvert so I hate to mingle, I hate small talk and I hate large crowds – 4 people is too much for me to sit and talk to, let alone a room filled with people. God gave me conversation starters though, I noticed different titles on the badges and so I’d just go up to someone, for instance the lieutenant and ask him about his role. I’d see a weapon on a guy and ask him about it, this weapon was a taser and so he talked about how it works and all that. I met someone from my church who came up to me and introduced himself and we got to talking. I was able to, by the grace of God, say with a sincere heart to an officer “thank you for what you do” and because I told him I’m a Care Giver he said the same thing to me and that I’m making a difference. I left that coffee house feeling so blessed and free, all that weight of being so hateful, distrusting, resentful was lifted off my shoulder. Later on that night a cop car pulled up next to the car I was driving in and normally I’d feel scared and judgemental but this time I felt safe and at peace. I know they’re good people in every profession and every race, I just want to play my role in the solution of fixing the bridge and taking away that division that’s been here from years and years ago. The way I can be a part of the solution is to keep having tough discussions, continue to go out and meet police officers – sharing my heart with them and writing about it. Writing about my pain, confusion and hopes and dreams for the future – so if God willing I have kids of my own I can have them go out on the streets and be without fear that they may or may not be killed or roughed up by an officer. My lack of fear will have nothing to do with the society we’ll live in but instead it’ll be because my hope and trust will truly be in God. I can also grieve for both sides – those shot and killed and the officer, I don’t have to pick a side! God doesn’t choose sides, he’s for justice and justice will prevail, here on earth or when Jesus returns. I’m not here to decide who gets to face justice, I’m here to love and that’s not always easy but I’m trying. I remember before all this started when all I felt was pain and confusion. I was in tears and I asked a friend who am I to talk about this? Who am I to talk about injustice or racism especially in church where it’s like taboo at times. She looked at me and said “because of your race, your experience qualifies you to talk about this”. A young friend of mine once told me that my voice is my gift and so I will try to use it whenever I can. Because of that I’m excited to attend more of these open discussions because that’s what we need. Ignoring the problem, pretending it’s not happening and blaming one side or the other isn’t fixing anything and it’s just creating more of a rift between us and I hate that. Being silent and passive isn’t working anymore and quite frankly it’s never worked.
I captured the image for this post on my walk back from Coffee with the cops, I loved the flowers and wanted a picture. Later on that night God pointed me to the name of the street sign and had me find out what it means in English. There are no coincidences – The Walk…One Way…Jesus!