Helping Your Teen Process Racial Injustice
The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others have shaken our world and lead to much unrest within our nation. Our own city, and particularly the black community, is giving voice to the systemic and personal injustice people of color face in our society.
During this time, two questions come to the mind as many of us consider our roles as parents or parental figures:
- How are our teenagers processing these tensions?
- How do we guide them during this time?
No matter your ethnicity or culture, these issues are difficult to work through. Here are three steps for leading your student to think in the way of Jesus.
1. Do Not Let Apathy Take Root
God calls us to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. Before talking about protesting, rioting, or politics, talk about the tears and trials people of color face. As Christ-followers, we must care. We must be able to look at the pain of our neighbors, and especially our brothers and sisters in Christ, and respond with compassion as Christ would.
2. Process What Is Happening
It is easy, especially for those in the majority culture, to ignore the tension in our nation right now. But in order to grow, we need to talk about these issues when they arise. Having these conversations exposes our hearts and allows the gospel to do its work. Talking with your child about these issues will help you better understand where they are at, bring up issues you may have been unaware of, and protect your student from dangerous voices that social media exposes them to.
3. Facilitate Diverse Friendships
One of the biggest hindrances to discussions on race is proximity. We can’t love, listen, lament, or learn from people we are never around. Our students need friends that have different experiences and backgrounds. Why? Because if not, they may come to think their way of life is not just normal but superior. By fostering diverse friendships, empathy for others, and understanding of differences will grow.
This is not all we can do, but it is a start. My prayer is that, in helping students take these small steps, they will later be a part of moving the needle on racism in our country.
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I believe there is an underlying narrative surrounding the value of women that threatens the influencing and flourishing of women in the local church. Beginning to grasp that reality was a painful and confusing process for me. Sometimes this narrative shows up in the most heartbreaking of ways in the local church—like in stories of the devaluing and abuse of women in the church. Sometimes the narrative is less extremely represented through the absence of women in ministry. And sometimes, like in my case, I didn’t think this narrative applied to me at all because of the good ministry situation I was in.
Growing up in the church, I thought of my pastors as Supermen. I saw them as having an unachievable level of skill and godliness. I remember the folks in our church context thought the pastor was perfect. He didn’t take days off. He visited the sick at the hospital every day, and he never seemed to sin, at least not publicly. So, when I felt the call to ministry, I was overwhelmed by this bar of perfection. I knew myself, and I knew my sin. I thought, “I can never be like that!” or at least, “The people I serve in ministry can never know I sin so much.”
My all-time favorite movie is Forrest Gump. I am convinced it is the GOAT of movies. It teaches history and was on the cutting edge of cinema with a great plot line and amazing actors. One of the best scenes in the movie is when Forrest and Bubba were in Vietnam and they were packing through a downpour of rain for several days. They stopped one night to rest, and it was extremely muddy. Bubba says to Forrest, “I’m gonna lean up against you and you lean right back up against me. That way we don’t have to sleep with our heads in the mud.”
Imagine what Adam and Eve felt when they found out about Abel’s death. Can you imagine the shame? They knew their son had died, in part, because they had eaten the fruit of the tree. Their son was dead when in fact they should have been dead instead.