What is Be the Bridge? What is the point? Why? How do we continue running this group with grace and help it to grow? How do we create a community movement where we all have different views yet come together without divisiveness and just love each other freely? How can we create awareness and understanding without people feeling like we are ganging up on them?
These are questions I have been asked and that have been going through my head. Especially lately with all of the hard things happening in our nation. I wanted to share my heart about Be the Bridge in order to maybe make it a little more clear what this is all about. Why I started it. What it means to me. And what my hopes for this beautiful little group are.
I have written a bit about this in a previous blog post and so some of my words may be on repeat, however I just feel like I need to take this subject a bit deeper.
Be the Bridge is a racial reconciliation group based on Latasha Morrison’s racial reconciliation guide. It is just a series of questions designed to foster conversation about race and justice. The guide is intended to cause awareness and understanding among a group of people. The hope is that if we start small and can break down misconceptions for even one person, we are making progress. And this progress in communities across the U.S. creates an explosion of unity as prejudices leave and love takes over.
I was at the IF:Gathering when I heard Latasha speak about Be the Bridge. I felt God saying very clearly that I needed to start a group like this in Charles City. He had been tugging on my heart for a long time around this issue and I felt he was saying, go for it. That he was asking me for obedience, to just go and do it even if it didn’t make sense. So often he asks me to do things that don’t make sense. I am usually obedient because those things that don’t make sense usually turn out to be the most amazing gifts I could ever experience.
My heart for Be the Bridge is that we would come together to address some hard topics. That we would create awareness around the issue of race. We are so blessed to live in a community where we are fairly open to all of the things. We don’t always see overt racism, but sometimes it’s just the little things. The N word that is said to a child in school or to my husband in a store. The way that some black kids just want to be white because that’s what they see as being “the best.” The cultural narrative in our city and in our nation is that white is the best. If you are white, you have privilege. You’ve never experienced slavery or segregation or had to name your children a certain way so that businesses couldn’t tell they were black by their resume. It’s just a different way of life. And in my heart I think it’s important to be aware of the difference. To acknowledge it, to lament. And then to do what you can as a white person to change the narrative.
I want it to be clear that my heart for racial reconciliation work is not about making white people feel bad because they have privilege. This work is not about being divided between lives that matter. African American lives matter, White lives matter, Hispanic lives matter, Police lives matter, Asian lives matter, Muslim lives matter, LGBT lives matter. We are created in God’s image. Imago dei. Every one of is special and unique and amazing. And we should be able to come together to discuss issues without our own agendas getting in the way. This is hard though. Really hard. I have to constantly remind myself of what I’m fighting for and that I can’t get upset because other people don’t share my view point.
Some lives haven’t been equal in our society along the way. Some lives have been oppressed. Some lives have been treated differently. Racial reconciliation work seeks to just change that narrative. We all have prejudices, misconceptions. We all think a certain way when we see a certain person. It’s just human nature. But man, when you can get into relationship with others and hear the story, your heart is changed. You can’t know what you don’t know. So when I sit down with people from other cultures and hear their stories, a whole new world has opened up in my life. I long for this for my family, for my kids, to leave this kind of a legacy. A legacy that says we long for eyes wide open to all situations. We need to hear the stories from the police point of view, from the Muslim parent, from the African American, from the kid who is growing up gay in a small town. Engaging in the stories, the relationship allows us to have a broader perspective of life. We don’t shut ourselves up in a box, we climb out, eager to learn new things and be different people.
What if our community focused on a different curriculum in the schools that was more multicultural? What if our community focused on hiring teachers of all different ethnicities? What if our community focused on having multicultural workplaces? What if our community had churches that were multicultural? For the love. The church. It should be the first place that works on diversity and sadly it’s the most segregated day of the week. I just see huge change if we are all together as one, instead of split up at the lunch table. I just think we have a small bit of work to do in rural Iowa. In our city. In our nation. There are some definite injustices happening. And we can choose not to see them or we can engage and do the hard work.
We have to work through all of this with grace and love. And it’s hard. We have some craziness going on in politics and it’s just creating too much division. What if we all just came together and had a conversation and we disagreed but at the end of the day could say, I LOVE YOU. Because love wins. That’s what Be the Bridge is all about. Come even if you don’t agree. Come if you don’t think you will fit in. Come if you don’t understand. What if we just united together as a community for the common cause of love. I mean goodness, I think the world needs that right now.
Jesus didn’t say follow me and then stay in your own group. He didn’t create us to be separate but to be united. He came and showed us an upside down kingdom. One where the least are the greatest. And maybe that’s what Be the Bridge is really about. Making the least the greatest. Empowering people groups. Empowering black men and women. Supporting police because their job is the hardest ever. Creating home ownership and jobs and power for those least likely to ever have these things. Telling a young kid that he is black and that he matters. That he is exceptional and amazing and he will do great things.
I want it to be clear, that if you don’t agree with all of this bridge building stuff, I love you. That if you need to ask some hard questions, I want them to be asked. That if you need to get something off your chest, it needs to be said. We have got to RUN after the hard. We are better together. We have to hear each other from all sides. And we have to allow it to be heard. My stance is that black lives do matter and this is a people group who has been oppressed and I need to use my white voice to stand up for them. Because I love them dearly. Because they are MY SONS!! My heart is not for that heart cry to cause divisiveness but instead for it to create a meaningful conversation where we can work through all the issues. We are all powerful. So damn powerful. A breath away from victory. But only if we work together, love together, do life together.
Join our local Be the Bridge Facebook Group. Come to a meeting. Or start your own group. Can you even imagine what our city and our nation would look like if we are so unified and FOR each other? It would be heaven on earth. Holy ground. It’s happening. Slowly but surely. God’s spirit poured out. Let’s do this thing!!
“Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.” –Ephesians 5:1-2 MSG