As a relatively healthy, Caucasian woman, married to a relatively healthy, still employed, Caucasian man, 2020 might be assumed to have had few repercussions for our privileged family. We don’t fear for our health by sending our children to school, we don’t fear their hunger by keeping them home, and we also don’t fear police brutality against members of our immediate family for any reason.
However, the new responsibilities of managing our family without the in-person support of our former village (school, sports teams/coaches, camp, and church), while maintaining our jobs and all other former responsibilities, plus checking our biases daily and wanting to be a good ancestor by standing up for racial minorities, is still heavy.
One vulnerability I’ve found in myself — especially during times which are heavy and exhausting — is a tendency to wander. I don’t mean wandering in a healthy way; escaping for leisure can be nourishing to the soul. My weakness is in wasteful wandering, and in mis-prioritizing the responsibilities and callings God has given me. I’m prone to wandering away from all the beauty and challenges of my present, the now. I’m learning through this season that I need to keep my eyes on a compass.
Over the past 5 months (and past 2 months in particular), individuals, businesses, and other organizations have issued what feels like endless, well intentioned manifestos in the name of public health and/or supporting people of African descent. Media and news outlets, having little else to report on with our largely locked down sports and entertainment industries (and actually, the overall economy), have understandably latched to the stories and discussions of public health and race. And as for me, I’ve been reading and listening to these manifestos and stories.
After finishing the 28 day challenge of Me and White Supremacy, by Layla Saad, I paused on her charge for me to continue the work of dismantling white supremacy now that my challenge was “over.” While I agree that this work doesn’t end, I evaluated the state of my home and family and realized… something is out of balance here. In listening, reading, and “challenging” myself, I wandered a bit too far from my real life.
One of my kids was vomiting his supper after some evening gymnastics, and somebody had to clean up the mess. There were mountains of laundry. Termites were eating my fence. Paint was peeling from both interior and exterior places of my house. The older kids were screaming at each other. My fridge hadn’t been cleaned in God knows how many months, and I’ll let your imagination decide what that looked like. I won’t even mention all the other neglected chores, but suffice it to say that being home seemingly all the time does not mean the house is actually tidy and clean (we are outnumbered by children here, after all). I had just purchased two extensions for my professional life — one for my recertification as a doula and another for an online lactation course. A dog and a husband also longed for my attention.
It was obvious that I couldn’t keep up with the demands of my life and continue giving so much of my attention to the stories, manifestos, and “challenges” that I perceived (via Facebook posts) the rest of the world considered should be my top priorities. Besides, I reasoned, my children, other close family members and friends, and clients are the people on whom I have the greatest influence, and the people to whom I have the greatest responsibility. If the work of antiracism or health promotion and disease prevention is going to happen in my life, it will most likely be with these people who have regular, in-person contact with me — not with the huge number of acquaintances I have on facebook.
So why was I giving myself to Facebook anyway?
The answer was my wandering nature — my struggle to stay focused on the tasks before me. Facebook was a very convenient escape from my real life, and as my home life demonstrated, it was a dangerous escape, too.
Our warring children and unsanitary living conditions begged for change. I turned to my compass, the Bible, and found the Spirit speaking to me. Here’s what I read:
There was no doubt about it — I was hearing a lot. But what was I doing? I felt like I was sitting idle, paralyzed by the overwhelming cumulation of household/family work and fears and traumas reported by my acquaintances on Facebook. The lack of routine and social support, induced by coronavirus lockdowns, clearly facilitated this idleness and overwhelm, too.
There was also this lesson that Jesus shared about stumbling blocks — “Woe to the world because of stumbling blocks! Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to the one by whom the stumbling block comes!” (Matthew 18:7, NRSV). I pondered about the stumbling blocks in my life, and one in particular stood out — Facebook. I know it is a useful tool, one which is promoting some positive social change, but for me personally, it was more of a stumbling block at this point. Jesus continued with the following:
For me, the solution to my imbalances in life were staring at me in this verse. I had always read and heard this Matthew verse in the past without acting on it, but now, inspired by James 1:22, it was clear to me that I needed to pull Facebook out from my life and throw it away. If missing Facebook meant I was a bit more ignorant about some things happening in the world, and even if it meant I was missing from some conversations that could lead to some expecting families hiring me as their doula, that would be better than me being distracted from God.
So, here’s to exercising “one-eyed” vision for the rest of 2020! Without Facebook as a stumbling block, I feel I will better be able to focus on my God-givenpassions — loving my family, serving my clients through their childbearing cycles, working towards other long-term goals, and shining the light of my savior in all that I do.
As a take-home piece of inspiration, here’s some wisdom from doctor, author, and women’s activist Jean Shinoda Bolen:
I have faith that in nurturing my passions and my own inner love, and in nurturing those who are part of my in-person sphere of influence, that we will have more reserves to oppose racism when we witness it, and that we will also model for others how to live out our God-given callings. It doesn’t mean I’ll be perfect, and goodness knows I will have to be ignorant about some things along the way, but I expect I will both gain and share a great peace by surrendering my stumbling block and focusing on my passions.