Cultivating Resilience in Pursuing Racial Justice
I’ve been reflecting on the need for spiritual resilience recently. Resilience is our ability to recover from difficulties. To “spring back into shape” emotionally and spiritually after a hardship.
Of course, the pandemic has been one long hardship for all of us (but especially for young people, minorities, the poor, and frontline workers), and a lot could be said about that. But I’m also finding that in conversations and action on racial justice that I feel a lack of resilience.
This shows up mostly as a temptation to “tune it out” when I start to feel uncomfortable or when it gets to be “too much”. Instead of tuning out, then, I’m trying to make the best use of time right now and cultivate some resilience in my life and leadership.
Instead of reacting, just breathe
One example of how I’m learning to do this with my church: Last weekend at The Table we began a Lenten focus on Racism & Repentance, and three times during the sermon I preached from Matthew 23:23-37 (“Woe to you!”), I encouraged our church to do the simple practice of taking slow, deep breaths to ground ourselves in our bodies, especially if they were feeling uncomfortable of agitated.
Just noticing our feelings and breathing through them instead of reacting to them is a vital and necessary first step in building resilience and establishing a foundation for healing and justice. (For more on this, I recommend Resmaa Manakem’s excellent book My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies.)
Receive what you need from God
One last thing: This week has been particularly stressful for me for a number of reasons, and as I was practicing slow, deep breathing during prayer this morning, I wrote a prayer out of my desire to cultivate a stronger resilience in this season. I hope it helps you do the same.
A Collect for Non-Anxious Presence
Empower me, O Lord, to be a node of compassion and connection today, a place where others feel safe and free to connect to their deepest feelings and desires, so we can together meet with you and repent and trust that you are holding all of us and everything together in your love, and working in all things for our good, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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