After another morning out in the never ending drizzle that is apparently the new norm for North Carolina and one trip to the library with two children who feel like the only books in the entire library that speak to them have either SpongeBob Squarepants or Blue’s Clues in the title, I found myself seated at a table between two women who are just like me and nothing like me at all.
We made polite small talk about our families and our jobs. We talked CCDA and Dr. John Perkins and shame. We talked generational sin and strongholds and need. We talked about blank pages and freedom and launching new works with nothing but a gut feeling that the Holy Spirit is inviting you to something bigger than yourself. And then we went there.
It was unavoidable, really.
We were sharing a table, sharing the same heart about a mom’s ministry and trying to share a building and in all the sharing, I felt like we were talking a big circle around the elephant in the room.
So I went there and said something like this:
We have to create space for moms to come together and feel safe saying hard things. We have to cultivate a culture of love for one another where we’re willing to go the distance with one another, even if toes are stepped on and feelings get hurt. We have to share the table in each others’ homes. We have to hear different perspectives, from different walks of life. And we have to be diverse. In all ways. We. Have. To. Be. Diverse. I just don’t know how we do it and do it well.
As I shared my heart, the women leaned into the table and went there with me. They asked hard questions and pressed into things I’d not considered. We discussed our target audience and curriculum and empowerment. We discussed team dynamics and how to add diversity to the team and somewhere in this part of the conversation, I started confessing all my fears about intentionally crossing racial bounds in our city.
I confessed my fears of getting things wrong and sticking my foot in my mouth. I confessed my fear of doing the messy work of racial reconciliation while doing the messy work of launching a brand new work at the same time, the success of both things contingent on all of us continuing to believe that Jesus is bigger than the mess we’re committed to muddle through. I confessed my fear of being ill-equipped and being uncertain of how far Jesus was going to stretch me or the team He was building. I confessed my fear of knowing that this ministry would likely be the hardest thing any of us had ever been invited to and I confessed my fear of failing.
I also confessed that I had told Jesus yes to City Moms Fellowship before I had read the whole invitation, completely missing the fine print at the bottom that read: Racial reconciliation is the main thing here. City Moms Fellowship is simply the means by which I am going to do this work.
It was the truth I’d been dancing around. The one thing I’d not wanted to admit to anyone, not even myself.
I’d wanted racial reconciliation to be a component of City Moms Fellowship, not the main thing.
But all afternoon, as I’ve been wringing my hands and sighing all sorts of heavy sighs, I’ve had to entertain the idea that City Moms Fellowship is absolutely a ministry of reconciliation. It’s all about reconciling women to God and to one another.
When I read our mission statement through the lens of reconciliation, I see it.
When I read our core values through the lens of reconciliation, I see it.
But when I put the word racial in front of reconciliation, I start getting heart palpitations. Things get all conflicted and angsty. Things get the realest kind of real.
And I get scared.
I just do.
The word racial adds a whole other dimension to this reconciliation business. It means we’re going to be serious about going there. It means we’re going to say words like White and Black and be scared in the process. (Don’t laugh. It’s hard in the south, y’all.) It means we’re going to have hard conversations. It means we’re going to have to pray continually for a spirit of humility and of courage. It means we’re going to have to continually posture ourselves to listen more than we speak. It means we’re going to have to bring to light the prejudices hidden in our hearts. It means we’re going to have to let the words of John 17 do their work in our souls so that our little place in the world sees a beautiful picture of the bride of Christ.
Racial reconciliation means that we are committed to being active participants in bringing healing and restoration in our city so that Jesus is glorified and the Church is a credible witness to the world.
Our pursuit of diversity is good and right. Noble, even.
But diversity for diversity’s sake is not the chief end.
Glorifying Jesus and presenting the Church to the world as as whole, healthy, reconciled body is.
And that, my friends, is enough weighty truth to strike a healthy dose of holy fear right up in this mama.
It’s also enough to light a fire in my belly to get to work.