It started with Ahmaud Aubery.   He was about my son’s age. (In fact, my son has a habit of running in his neighborhood.)  Then Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and others in an avalanche of news stories and commentaries.  Memories began to seep out of a secret compartment I had long kept locked in my heart.  I would open the compartment every now and then to quickly stuff another heartbreaking memory inside.  The door to the compartment was marked “Forgive and Forget”.   But I had done neither.   

Whenever the very academic, benign term “systemic racism” was discussed anywhere, my heart hurt. Literally.  I think I was squeezing my heart tight to keep the memories from spilling out of my heart into my mouth and out from my lips.

I mentioned in my previous post, I had recently been diagnosed with Graves’ disease before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in 2020.   This very public revealing of the deep, historical, undercurrent of American racism was untimely.  I didn’t feel at ease or safe.  I felt exposed and vulnerable and unwell.

In retrospect, I was feeling exposed and vulnerable because my personal circumstances and the circumstances of current events were revealing what I had been holding inside.  Holding it close. Too close. 

Silently,  I asked God, “why did you choose for me to be born into a black, female body? And now I have to deal with all this mess with a hyperactive thyroid while looking around every corner for COVID-19.”  I listened for an answer.  

Now before you think I have slipped down a slippery slope of despair, I haven’t.  I have decided to let my feelings, memories, and questions for God out of that compartment.  I have been taking out each one.  Examining each one closely.  Slowly.  Without judgment. Giving compassion to myself and compassion for each person represented in my memories and the circumstances we found ourselves in.  The context. The time. The culture. 

Every day, I’m making more room in my heart for me.  I’m making more room for peace.  It’s a process. It’s a daily practice. In place of the secret compartment, I have placed an imaginary, plush armchair with a fluffy blanket. 

“I leave the gift of peace with you—my peace. Not the kind of fragile peace given by the world, but my perfect peace. Don’t yield to fear or be troubled in your hearts—instead, be courageous!”‭‭ ~ John‬ ‭14:27‬ ‭TPT

(photo credit: Michele Lozano, North Carolina, November 2020)

About Linda Freeman

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Linda Pulley Freeman combines her specialized training in environmental and chemical engineering with her deep ministerial commitment as she serves mission fields at home and abroad.

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  • I love your writing, Linda, and I appreciate what you have shared. I will pray for you.

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