Hands Up.

my dear friends often listen to my ongoing confession of the idol of physical safety.

i want to guarantee every aspect of my son’s safety at all costs.
and in my heart of hearts, i sometimes believe that it is completely in my hands to do so.
but that if I slip up for just.one.moment… fate might snatch him away from me.

the thing is,
in every other aspect of my life,
i don’t believe in fate.
i believe in Jesus Christ as Lord.

and i find myself on shaky ground with how much the very idea of the loss of physical safety threatens my confidence in God.
which is why the physical safety of my child has become an idol for me.
daily, i have the desire to wrap my son in bubble wrap, cover every inch of my house in foam, and hide him away from the outside world.

i don’t want him to feel or even be exposed to any pain.
much less death.
but even in this weakness – God called our family to inner city ministry
our door is always open
and the people who walk through it are a constant living reminder that i also Want my son to live in community
and i also want him to know the God of Israel that tells us Not to fear

but i find myself often motivated by fear in my parenting choices.
and what if’s…
and worst-case scenarios.
to the extent that i need/have loving people speaking into my life-
words that remind me of what i love in my husband and myself:
freedom. independence. choice. passion. faith.
i don’t want to stifle these traits within my child during my pursuit of perfect health and safety.
i want him to be equipped.

my two year old son – the size of a five year old – has no inhibitions.
so my internal struggle to control every circumstance around him is constant.
and exhausting.
and although sometimes very necessary, not always entirely healthy.

for either of us.

so i pray for the wisdom to pick my battles.
and the courage to apply my real faith to my real fears.

i tell myself that broken bones will heal.
and that the Lord is near to the brokenhearted.
and this time, i will let my son jump from the couch.
(into the pile of strategically placed pillows)

but.
Ferguson, MO.

eye witnesses say that Michael Brown did exactly what i would’ve told my son to do:

Put your hands up.
show that you surrender.
that you will cooperate.
that you want to live.

but Michael Brown is dead.

That may be the only fact we are ever really sure of in this case.
But as the mother of a black son, I don’t need any more details to already know how I feel.
Because this script feels all too familiar by now.

a Ferguson police officer shot him five times. and Michael was killed by the SIXTH shot.

when i think of my son’s future beyond jumping off couches…
to jumping into cars with his friends.
and driving while young and black.

i am scared.

when i think of ever sending my son alone to visit his extended family in their white suburban neighborhoods

i am scared.

when i think of my son as a young teenager, being mistaken for a grown man because he will be well over six feet tall, and being expected to de-escalate any situation for his own safety instead of responding with the typical attitude of a selfish and rebellious teenager.

i am scared.

because

racial profiling

IS

real. 

and Ferguson. Is. About. RACE.

racial-issue

and every single day i am growing more and more concerned about the actual possibility of THE POLICE killing my unarmed black child.
or his black friends.
or our black friends.
or our black neighbors.

or any unarmed black person anywhere.

One is too many.

so why are there SO MANY…

Ezell Ford 
John Crawford III
Eric Garner
Renisha McBride
Trayvon Martin
Oscar Grant
Aaron Campbell
Stephen Eugene Washington
Alonzo Ashley 
Wendell Allen
Ronald Madison and James Brisette
Jonathan Ferrell
Ramarley Graham 
TImothy Russell and Malissa Williams 
Kendrec McDade
Amadou Diallo 

and still, there are more.

researching this list –
talking with black friends and neighbors and hearing their personal stories of discrimination with the police-
i cling to my own white privileges
i struggle to let go of my pseudo-control.

still, i hope to apply my faith to the actual injustice around me.
to pray when i want to panic.

And to choose to believe that, even in Ferguson, He is making all things new.
someday, I hope to surrender this idol of my son’s physical safety.
someday, i hope to only put my hands up in praise – not protest.

someday, i hope my son will be free enough to do the same.

A scene from Newark, N.J., in July 1967, when National Guard members were sent in.CreditDon Hogan Charles/The New York Times

A scene from Newark, N.J., in July 1967, when National Guard members were sent in.Credit Don Hogan Charles/The New York Times

Photo By Scott Olson/Getty Images  FERGUSON, MO - AUGUST 11: Police force protestors from the business district into nearby neighborhoods on August 11, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri.   Photo By Scott Olson/Getty Images

Police force protestors from the business district into nearby neighborhoods on August 11, 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Photo By Scott Olson/Getty Images

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