On Loving Out Loud

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. - 1 Corinthians 13:6 

(Author’s Note – This is my official “LONG READ” alert. This has been a long time coming, and I’m still processing much of what I’ve chosen to share in this post. Like some of my other posts, some of this content is touchy, emotional, offensive, and just plain uncomfortable. But I’m slowly finding this to be true of most things worth discussing. As always, if you ever have questions, prayer requests, or want to discuss something further, you have my ears! Feel free to message me through the Contact page. Sending my love; enjoy!)

A few weeks ago, as I stood surrounded by spilled packing peanuts and numerous U-Haul boxes, I made an executive decision to take a break from unpacking and explore my new neighborhood  in my favorite fashion- on two wheels. There’s something about rolling through sloping streets flanked by prairies of technicolored wildflowers that makes me feel extra alive. Cycling has gifted me the opportunity to spend quality time with my dad, see the country through a lens I wouldn’t have in a car, and burn some extra #comfortfoodofCOVID19 calories along the way. 

After a few miles and an almost-tragic interaction with a scurrying bunny, I headed back to my apartment, feeling satisfied at an exhilarating ride. Lost in Rihanna lyrics pulsing through my ears, I almost didn’t notice a lady about my age who had exited her apartment and entered my path. I expected her to look up from the small bag of trash she carried to see a speeding, big-eyed biker headed her way, but as I rolled further and further down the sidewalk, it became apparent that she didn’t see me. Here I insert a confession: I hate having to yell “on your left” or ring a bell when biking, and I can count on one hand the number of times I have honked my horn while driving. As I sped towards this innocent woman taking out her trash, however, I realized that if I didn’t speak up, if I didn’t make my voice and my presence known, one or both of us could be seriously injured. So I cleared my throat, offered a hearty “Heads up!”, and returned her smile as we gave one another space and went on our way safely. 

Unfortunately, my approach towards conversations regarding racial injustice in our country has too often mirrored my sentiments towards ringing a bell on a bike ride. Fear of rejection, misunderstanding, and being othered has led me to bite my tongue in response to hurtful, ignorant, and misinformed statements about who I am and my identity as a Black female in America.

“Why is your hair oily? Don’t you ever wash it?”

“You’re the smartest Black person I’ve met.”

“Why do you talk so White?”

“Don’t get offended, but can I tell you a Black joke?”

“Shouldn’t you be really fast and good at basketball though?”

“It’s not fair, you have a Black girl booty.”

“Are you going to Rice to play sports?”

“Most of your college is paid for because you’re Black, right?”

“Why don’t you date that guy? You’re both Black.”

“I see your scrubs. Are you a nurse?”

“Did you mean dental assistant?”

“So you’re the doctor?”

“Why don’t you know this song? It’s a rap song.” 

“So… is your period blood still um, red?”

“Why do you have to make everything  about  race?”

I wish I were exaggerating, but I can’t make this stuff up. As cringeworthy as it is to share now, my response to most of these questions and comments during my upbringing was silence. It hurt more and more every time, but I continued to bite my tongue. I wanted to correct and educate, but I didn’t want to lose the few “friends” I had. I wanted justice, but I didn’t want the additional title of “Angry Black Woman” stamped onto my list of pre-existing stereotype labels. I wanted to stand up for myself, but I didn’t want to cause a scene. As we all know, however, when we bite our tongue too many times, it hurts, it scars, and in extreme cases, one can bite the tongue so hard that a piece of it is lost. Hear me clearly – I am not comparing the grievances and microaggressions I have experienced to the thievery of innocent Black lives at the hand of police officers. I have witnessed and been in the car during some unsettling and downright terrifying interactions between my dad and cops, and I’ve listened to countless similar anecdotes by my boyfriend, other friends, and other Black men and women in my life; put simply, however, I am still alive. The protests following the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many more unarmed Black people by police officers lead me to think I’m not the only one tired of biting my tongue when it comes to racial injustice. In response to Black squares flooding my Instagram and brands formerly known for their cultural exclusivity suddenly boasting the Black Lives Matter hashtag in seemingly trendy solidarity, I’ve been forced to acknowledge that though I am not solely at fault for the fragmented state of our country as it pertains to race relations, my chronic silence has not ameliorated the issue, nor glorified the God I serve. When I was newer to the Christian faith, I thought that suffering silently and practicing patience was ALL that was required of me. After all, Jesus dealt with a lot of nonsense quietly and without protest. For me, it was instinctively easier (albeit extremely cowardly and selfish) to avoid confrontation by pretending I didn’t hear certain comments or didn’t take offense at things, even if it hurt more in the long run. It’s all too easy to forget, however, that Jesus never had an issue correcting the Pharisees, disciples, or others when they distorted the law into something toxic and dangerous. Upon ugly reflection, I have had to ask the hard questions: Have I remained too quiet? How do I discern when to turn the other cheek and when to flip tables for righteousness? Has my approach been more damaging (to myself and others) than productive? More importantly, has it been unloving?

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy. - Proverbs 31:8-9 

The Bible makes it clear that love is anything but quiet.  Only after years of trimming my friend list and reaffirming my identity in Christ have I realized that love is not only patient and kind, but love does not delight in evil, and furthermore it rejoices with truth. To borrow a silly but sincere reference from Lizzo, sometimes the truth hurts. We see this scattered throughout scripture. I think about the famous Jews Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who in Daniel 3 were ordered to fall down and worship a gold statue set up by King Nebuchadnezzar. It was made crystal clear that anyone who refused would be bound up and tossed into a furnace of blazing fire. Ouch. Sometimes I wonder if those three men ever considered staying quiet. Surely no one would be watching for their unmoving lips in the crowd as the masses worshipped that golden statue. Reading on, we learn that Daniel, Meshach, and Abednego were so dedicated to truth that they were willing to die for it. They did speak up, they were indeed thrown in the fire, and they were straight up delivered in a way that no one but God could have orchestrated (Daniel 3:29). Until recent years, I had been choosing to keep my mouth shut when I saw injustice because I felt too overwhelmed with opposition, and quite frankly I was scared to be thrown into the metaphorical furnace of fire, be it through social media slandering, physical threats, or who knows what else. What I’m learning, however, is that some things, like justice, are worth burning up and speaking up for. 

Jesus cared about justice, and He wasn’t shy about speaking up against wrongdoing. In Matthew 11, He publicly denounced towns he described collectively as an “unresponsive generation” for the lack of accountability, abundance of apathy, and failure to do what is right. Growing up, I thought the best thing I could do when I saw or experienced injustice was just to ignore it so as not to give it any more attention or allowance to hurt me. As the text  and so many protest signs remind us, however, neglect is dangerous and silence is violence. Later in the gospel when the Pharisees ask him which command in the law is the greatest, Jesus responds, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the law and the prophets depend on these two commands.’” (Matthew 22:37-40). Fastforward and Jesus spends the entirety of the next chapter speaking up against the hypocritical and oppressive acts of a powerful group feared by many. He did so passionately but respectfully, and did it in love. His words were not mixed or diluted, and they served the purpose to expose evil and inspire a change of heart. To not speak up against the unloving behavior of the ones He would ultimately die for (in love) would have been downright unloving. 

Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of Him who is the head, that is, Christ. -Ephesians 4:14-15

I’m not necessarily advocating for a 4 page blog post every time someone commits a grievance. Nor am I suggesting that enough emboldened conversations will serve as a sufficient substitute for radical policy change needed to correct the systemic racism in this country. We didn’t suddenly wake up one day to a world where access to healthcare and education disparities are predestined, and where innocent men and women and children are killed in their own homes because of the color of their skin. It was built with each decision in history to decide whose lives hold value, each decision to make lethal assumptions instead of ask, and each decision to predict the outcome of an interaction instead of pursue a relationship. For me, it was each decision to swallow an injustice instead of speaking the truth in love. I may not have all the answers, but I have anecdotes and perspective, and I am done biting my tongue. In Micah 6:8, we are told that “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). Part of obedience to this call, in my opinion, is speaking up for justice and truth, regardless of how uncomfortable it may feel to myself or others. Sometimes this requires excessive explanations and multiple examples, and the thought of it is exhausting. Then I remember a friend who loved us so much that he carried a humongous cross up a hill, his vision blurred with blood rolling down his face from a crown of thorns, to be nailed to the same cross in debt to our sin.

 Without looking at x-rays and having the patient verbalize their symptoms, it becomes much more challenging to localize pain and heal a tooth. Without a bell or horn, it’s challenging to warn a pedestrian to get out of the way as you’re barreling by on your bicycle. Similarly, without patient ears, a heart for justice, and a willingness to speak up even when it’s painfully uncomfortable, it’s extremely challenging to love a neighbor. I hope this article encourages someone who has carried burdens of oppression, microaggressions, or outright violent injustice as a result of racism or another evil to speak up in love and truth and with hope, knowing that in many situations, it is the most loving thing you can do for yourself and others. 

Who then will harm you if you are devoted to what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear or be intimidated, but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. Yet do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that when you are accused, those who disparage your good conduct in Christ will be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. -1 Peter 3:13-17.

2 thoughts on “On Loving Out Loud

  1. Wow. What a good read. Thank you for sharing, friend. As a white sister, my heart hurts for the things you have experienced. I’m so sorry. I’m thankful you are willing to bring light to them for the purpose of educating, fighting injustice, and, I pray, healing.

    Love you friend. When you feel settled enough, I’d love to come visit your new home…I can bring my bike and we can go exploring!

    ♥️ A

    On Sun, Jul 12, 2020, 9:00 PM Peanut Butter Faith wrote:

    > Raven-Deneice posted: ” Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with > the truth. – 1 Corinthians 13:6 (Author’s Note – This is my official “LONG > READ” alert. This has been a long time coming, and I’m still processing > much of what I’ve chosen to share in this post. Li” >


  2. Yes!! This is so good. I would say I am also a hesitant bell-ringer so to speak and it is so good to be reminded that Jesus spoke up for justice, as should we! Even (especially) when it’s hard in this unjust age.

    Let me also say God has gifted you with writing ability, so I’m especially glad to read this. Thank you! I love you friend!



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