Recently, I had a fight with my husband over something. It doesn’t matter what—in this case, I had been wronged. (There are lots of times when I have wronged him in our marriage as well. Obviously.) I woke up at 4:00 in the morning, steaming. Finally, I sat up in bed. My husband woke and asked if there was anything wrong. At first, I hesitated. Neither of us get much sleep these days—our youngest is only 5 months old. What if I came across as a complainer, selfish, and whiny? Eventually, though, I briefly outlined how I had been feeling for the past few days. By the time I finished speaking we both realized that I had a point.
After 10 years of marriage, I knew the next thing he would say was “I’m sorry.” But I didn’t want to hear it. I was tired, so instead of talking any more, I rolled over and went to sleep. I had had the luxury of being heard. After 10 years, I was relatively certain he was remorseful. And (sweet vindication), he was up now, pondering a new concept that had never occurred to him. As I slept, it was his turn to stay awake, think things over and sweat it out.
Our black sisters and brothers still do not have the comfort of knowing they have been heard. One of my black friends has been unable to sleep recently. Black families are taking their children to the protests, and when they go home at night life does not go “back to normal”.
When my husband stayed up to sweat things out, he was demonstrating repentance. The Greek word for repentance is metanoia and has been described as follows: “a transformative change of heart; especially: a spiritual conversion1 …Metanoia is more lasting than a momentary epiphany, more active than an intellectual revelation. Metanoia is a radical change of heart, forcing one to dig deeply.”2 True repentance means turning from the direction you were walking in and walking in the opposite direction. This requires humility and the searching of one’s soul.
Talk show host Jimmy Fallon recently hosted an episode of The Tonight Show that was serious instead of funny. He discussed his own complicity in the state of things, acknowledged that he had to take responsibility, and also admitted he didn’t know what to do. He was humble, and while commendable, he highlighted the fact that it’s very difficult to “move forward” because what Americans (and I would add: Canadians) want to do is publish hashtags on their newsfeeds and then get back to “normal” life.
Former President Barack Obama, on Medium a few days ago, outlined an answer as both “public policy and change.” Doubtless, there’s not much that I can offer in addition to the words of the former President. Except this: in addition to encouraging the public to vote (a problem in both the US and Canada), and in addition to demonstrations, which are crucial, we also need Biblical repentance.
Jesus came proclaiming a message of repentance:
Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. – Matthew 3:2
Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” – Luke 5: 31-32
Bear fruit in keeping with Repentance – Matthew 3:8
In Proverbs, wisdom calls for repentance:
Out in the open wisdom calls aloud,
she raises her voice in the public square;
on top of the wall she cries out,
at the city gate she makes her speech:
How long will you who are simple love your simple ways?
How long will mockers delight in mockery
and fools hate knowledge?
Repent at my rebuke!
Then I will pour out my thoughts to you,
I will make known to you my teachings – Proverbs 1:20-23
I write this post for this reason only: Black people have lost enough sleep. It is time for white people to lose sleep alongside our black sisters and brothers.
We should be up at night, searching our souls and sweating it out. No matter how long it takes, we should come to deeply understand this problem as best we can so that the victims of this injustice do not have to keep explaining it to us. This is repentance−metanoia−and any lesser reaction on our end is unbiblical.
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