Not long ago, I go to sit down with Erin from 2 Elephants in the Room to discuss process. We talked about how I completely fell apart in 2015, the extra-marital assualt that catalyzed my young divorce, and how writing allowed me the massive permission I needed to heal and breathe. You can listen to the episode below.
black meditation podcast
One of the most softening things I've learned this year was that it's okay for me to feel mad about some things. It's okay for me to feel anger, especially in the face of injustice. Anger is an appropriate response to injustice, and I have the permission to feel it.
I've had so many conversations where my anger has felt invalidated. It wasn't loving enough, gentle enough, or hidden enough. I remember one friend asked me about gentrification. We also talked about the cradle to prison pipeline and the war on drugs. I feel angry whenever I talk through these topics because the lives of people of color (MY people) are still being subjected to these gross systems of injustice. She came back to me crying because she felt as if my rhetoric wasn't filled with the “Holy Spirit” enough. She felt like my anger was unjustified because I needed to be loving the white supremacists who flooded Charlottesville, VA, the president and his carelessness, and the unruly police officers who've murdered black bodies with no repercussion. Her response was just like other white people who've listened to black people talking about racial injustice: offended by my anger. Others have responded similarly:
Does racism really still exist?
Who gets to be mad when everyone else is in pain, too?
Okay, but what's the solution?
Successful people don't spend energy worrying about things they can't change.
Rape victims need to get over it.
Black people are oversensitive.
Maybe immigrants do need to be deported. Deported? Did I say that. I did. Deported.
The president is God's servant, we need to honor him.
These "me too" stories are too much. They need to forgive.
If only the women's march had a little more tact, they might get somewhere.
We need to look at the positive.
So many of us glaze over one glaring, beautiful fact: anger is an appropriate response to injustice. Also, anger is not antonymous to love. It may not be the solution to issues. It may not be a viable one-stop strategy for healing pain, but anger can teach us so much about how to move forward. If we give ourselves permission to listen to the things we feel angry about, we'll find out what's important to us.
I grew up soft-spoken. I've always struggled with sharing my feelings in any place outside of a notebook. I was always a careful black girl, too afraid to make waves and take up too much space. Now, I wish that little girl had known that it was okay to feel mad about somethings. That it was okay to want my father to come home. It was okay for me to feel angry about the porn my cousin made me watch when I was too young to understand it. It was okay for me to feel mad that my brother was getting picked on.
The problem with anger is that we aren't taught how to deal with it. We aren't taught how to manage our extreme emotions in healthy ways. We're taught that if our emotions take up too much space, then we need to suppress them. We're taught that crying in public is embarrassing. We're taught that we need to be tough little black girls in order to survive. Perhaps, there is some validity in this. Our culture has been through so much, we have required a healthy amount of resilence to see us through. Sometimes, the mental space of self-protection can also fit us with a numb heart if we aren't told how to process pain accordingly.
It’s okay for us to feel anger.. We need to feel anger so we don’t stay agry—so we don't go around carrying large boulders of unforgiveness inside of our chests. Anger is a process and it is not antonymous to love. It may not be the ultimate solution to healing pain, but it is absolutely an educator. If we can listen deeply to ourselves and the things we feel angry about, our anger will teach us what is important to our hearts, which will, in turn, show us how to move forward.
YHWH is the sound we make when we’re breathing.
breathe in through your mouth. breathe out through your mouth, deeply.
The Hebrews have transliterated this expression of the body--the inhale and the exhale--into letter form. It may be understood in English as YHWH, the name that God spoke to Moses on the mountain as he was instructing Moses to champion the freedom of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt (Exodus 3:15, see below). We have added vowels to make sense of this expression of the name of God in language, YAHWEH. Yet, in its purest form, his name is YHWH: the very breath.
We are literally always expressing his name. Think about it. If the very purpose of our matter is to worship him, then how could we ever depart from it unless we cease to breathe? He is the God who meets us in our deaths, conquers them inside of the safety of his love, and then presses life back into our lungs. We will never cease to worship him as long as we live.
life is the extravagant phenomena of breathing.
This is the beauty of the gospel: there is no longer any disconnection from God because he has reconciled us back to his life (Romans 5:8-11). Even death (the ceasing of the breath) has been overcome by Jesus. He has proven, by the cross and the empty grave, that we will never be disconnected from Him in whom we find our being (Acts 17:27-28). Therefore, we will always worship God, whether we accept the joy of knowing it or not. We will always, in all of our humanness, come back to the very breath, YHWH.
There is no disconnection from God.
Even in our worst, most blind, crazed,
grief-struck, wordless, and lonely moments,
He is the inhale. He is the exhale. He is YHWH.
And we will never cease to worship him.
We will never cease to say his name.
Today, leave all of your strivings in the silence,
And just breathe. Breathe Him in.