Estoy Cansada: Reflections on my own Reconciliation Blues
Posted on March 14, 2013
“I’m tired of walking on egg shells with ethnic minorities. I don’t ever do anything right.”
“As a majority culture person, I never feel like I’m enough in ethnic minority ministry.”
“Im tired of talking about racial reconciliation, justice, and power. Can’t we all just love one another and that be enough?”
“I’m tired of being viewed as the angry ethnic minority.”
“Working at relationships with majority culture ministers is just too hard. I’m done trying.”
“Bringing up pain in my cross cultural relationships typically gets me labeled as ‘the problem’. I don’t want to be the problem anymore.”
As majority culture or ethnic minority ministers, have you ever said any of these things or felt these things in your cross cultural relationships? I’ve been in many conversations over the last couple of years as the ministry I serve with has tried to navigate these dynamics. Truth be told? I’m tired. And I think many of you probably are too.
I read a book called Reconciliation Blues last week. It talked about different people in our history that have fought for change and reconciled relationships over the years. It shared about people like Martin Luther King and John Perkins, people whose stories inspire me and make me so grateful for those that have sacrificed so much and have walked some excruciatingly hard roads.
But the book also shared many stories of ordinary people, ethnic minorities who day in and day out have experienced hard realities too. The author would often change the names of the people in order to protect them and their ministries, but you could have replaced their names with any number of ethnic minorities I know and love and the experience would have rung true. They are all such terribly common stories.
Once I finished reading it, the dominant emotion most present on my heart could be summed up in this one word: exhaustion. Many of the stories tapped into my own feelings of tiredness and pain. At the end of this season of trying to minister alongside my majority culture relationships, my soul has emphatically said, “I am tired.”
I’m tired of constantly having to build up the courage in my cross cultural friendships to bring up the hard stuff–the places where I’ve been hurt. It’s so vulnerable to have to communicate, but I know it’s the only way to live in relationship with any level of integrity. I could stay silent but that would be a false peace. And I want real peace. Peace with depth to it. Peace that reflects the Kingdom of God we are all wanting to see come “on earth as it is in heaven”.
I’m tired of contexts too where I am perceived as the problem rather than a person that loves. If I didn’t care about my relationships with my majority culture brothers and sisters, the easier option would be to just keep quiet. I always risk rejection when I take that step towards entering into genuine dialogue. Ultimately I just want to belong. Don’t we all? I recently read a prayer by Walter Brueggemann where he tells God that we as believers more often than not act as “agents of steady equilibrium” rather than agents of his truth. It is so much easier to do the former rather than the latter! I’m tired of doing the latter. Steady equilibrium always invites less pain.
At the end of this season of trying to minister alongside my majority culture relationships, my soul has emphatically said, “I am tired.”
I’m also tired of the loss I experience when majority culture people get tired of trying too — when they utter the statements above and just decide to tap out of the relationship. Sometimes it’s explicit. Sometimes it is subtle. Both times it is painful to me. I want to keep trying. But I get tired too.
So how do I deal with my own fatigue in this? I think one way is to just pray and name the exhaustion out loud. We would be following in the footsteps of many others who have fought longer and harder than us, but have ached for the same end.
So let’s cry out to God and ask him:
Will you meet us all, Father, in the tired places of this struggle? Will you help us all not give up trying? Will you help us all to be agents of reconciliation and not “agents of steady equilibrium? Because at the core of us we do want the image in Isaiah of the wolf dwelling with the lamb. We do want the image of Revelation of all tribes and tongues worshiping you together. We long for unity with integrity, Lord. We long for a healthy body in reconciled relationship with you, each other, and the world. We want the wrong things to be made right. So, Jesus give us courage and strength. We need you.
Because many of us are just so very tired.
photo courtesy: spitefully