“To err is human, to forgive is divine.”
Can we be human?
I’ve been trying to write about the Charleston massacre. I really have been trying. However, there was one major problem: I didn’t have anything to say. What could I say of value, that I haven’t said before? Can we go just ONE week without having to defend our melanin? Can we be normal just for one week? Can we have one week free from police brutality? Seriously, just one week? It’s tiring. In the words of Desiree Bowie from Madame Noire, “Black Fatigue Is Real”.
Since I flew out to Blogging While Brown in Austin Thursday night, I knew it would be awhile before I had a chance to write about Charleston. From flights to cabs, Thursday was a bit of a whirlwind. I eventually made it to my hotel room, unpacked, talked to my husband, put on my pajama’s, got in bed, and then it happened. My mind began to process the horrific magnitude of what happened to my brothers & sisters, and slowly tears began to form in my eyes. I couldn’t stop thinking about the innocence of the Charleston victims. They were in Bible study for crying out loud. It doesn’t get purer or more innocent than that. They didn’t deserve to have their lives snatched away by the ugly head of racism that has been making a plethora of appearances this year. And while some media sites are referring to Dylann Roof as “deranged” or “mentally unstable”, please just stop it already. He knew EXACTLY what he was doing.
There is one good thing that came from my tears: It confirmed my humanity. After months of struggling with my heart beginning to numb from the weekly racist injustices that we’ve had to endure. Yes. My heart went from broken to slightly numb.
Challenge: In the future when something disheartening occurs, can we vow to take a moment to truly process what happened? Social media has conditioned us to quickly share tragic news, causing us to sometimes miss the heartbreaking magnitude of WHAT happened. It’s becoming more clear to me why some cultures observe silence while they grieve. In a world where companies, bloggers, and news outlets are scrambling to quickly post SOMETHING in an effort to gain hits, I hope all of us haven’t lost our divine ability to empathize.
Can we be divine?
One of the saddest things I’ve ever witnessed was people criticize members of the victims families for choosing to forgive Dylann Roof. Their divine choice is causing them to be ridiculed doing their time of bereavement. I’ve been scrolling through Twitter & Facebook, reading statuses of individuals who said they could never forgive Dylann Roof. To be honest, I agree. In our human nature it’s hard and dang near impossible to forgive, especially murder. I can’t imagine forgiving an individual who intentionally kills someone I love. Especially if they show no sign of remorse.
4 years ago my cousin Toya, who was more like my cousin, who was more like my sister, passed away suddenly. Before she passed I spent a good 5 days at her side, praying for her recovery. My current job at the time was well aware of what was happening, and being a Christian organization, offered their prayers and support. After my cousin passed, I figured I’d take a week or so off work to get things together, seeing her and I were roommates. That never happened, because I used all of my days in the hospital with Toya, while she fought for her life. My job had the audacity to inform me that since she wasn’t my “blood sister”, I couldn’t have extra time to grieve. They ignored the fact that we grew up taking baths together. I guess the fact that she was indeed my “blood” cousin didn’t hold any value either. And they definitely weren’t moved by the fact that she & I were roommates at the time. I attended her funeral on Friday and was back to work on Monday. I was never able to go back to our home. My mother and sister had to move my things out while I tried to figure out life. Meanwhile, it was business as usual back at my job, who claimed to be a Christian organization. They did offer to pay for my counseling though.
It took me MONTHS to forgive them. Do you hear me? MONTHS. And to be honest, as I type this right now, I have to pray to ensure that bitterness still isn’t lurking in the crevices of my heart. I totally get it. This is why forgiveness is divine. I believe it is an act of God. Period. In our human nature, we can’t forgive. It is only God’s spirit that enables us to do the following:
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13
As a Christian, it didn’t fully surprise me that certain family members of the Charleston victims said they forgave Dylann Roof. However, I did think it was a bit early for them to proclaim forgiveness. I’m sure they are well aware if true forgiveness has occurred or not. We can only pray for their hearts, as well as ours.
“Forgiveness doesn’t mean you don’t seek justice.” -Joseph Butler-
Let’s be VERY clear about that.
Also, if you’ve been wondering how to help Mother Emanuel, you can donate by clicking here.
Lastly, may all the victims of the Charleston shooting rest in heavenly peace. #SayTheirNames:
Rev. Clementa Pinckney
Rev. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton
Rev. Dr. Daniel L. Simmons , Sr.
Rev. Depayne V. Middleton-Doctor
Sister Myra Thompson
Brother Tywanza Sanders
Sister Ethel Lance
Sister Susie Jackson
Sister Cynthia Graham Hurd