I was halfway through my run when I lost my breath.
I was sobbing so hard I couldn’t breathe.
I’ve never been much of a runner. My high school volleyball coach made us run sprints and my face would turn beet red, followed by shortness of breath hours after practice had ended. To this day I can’t breathe very well when running (probably just out of shape, tbh).
But I run anyway.
On February 23, 2020 A 25 year-old man named Ahmaud Arbery was shot to death while running in his neighborhood in Atlanta.
On February 23, 2020 a 23 year-old woman named India Orban was worshipping freely at the Jubilee Conference in Pittsburgh.
On March 13th, 2020 a young woman named Breonna Taylor was shot to death while sleeping in her own home; her boyfriend was right beside her.
On March 13th, 2020 a young woman named India Orban was dancing at a wedding reception while celebrating her own recent engagement; her fiancé was right beside her. On May 25th, 2020 a “person of peace” named George Floyd was choked to death on the concrete. On May 25th, 2020 a peaceful person named India Orban ate a home-cooked meal on the back patio. How different these days were for each of us.
Thoughts swirling in my head while I ran: each name, each death, their lives, my life, and how far sin has brought us. I could feel my emotion welling up in my chest—was this how Ahmaud felt? Is this how my friends of color feel every day? I let their names bounce in my brain: Rose, Freddy, Jazzy, Michael, Ricki, Drea…
What can I do? Am I part of the problem? Is this too big for change to really happen?
Chaz, Makayla, Angela, Alannah, Cay, Lem, Dawn…
Am I doing what Jesus would do? And what would Jesus do, anyway? How did He stand up against injustice?
Ahmaud, Breonna, George…
The rhythm of my stride continued. There were many reasons for the tears that erupted moments later, but the tipping point surprised me…
Up until this moment, Ian and I had been jogging into the wind. It was slowing down the run, making it even more difficult to breathe. Turning around at the halfway mark, the wind was no longer against us, but rather for us. We were sprinting into the calm, with a natural push forward. No more than 10 feet in before a gentle voice broke the silence: “We’re almost there. It’ll be easier now. I’m with you.”
Here they came. The tears—sobs, actually.
And they didn’t seem to stop.
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. / Micah 6:8
We are designed in the imago Dei: the image of God. Our response and desire for racial reconciliation matters. Why? Because their lives matter. In this moment in time we stand up for fellow image bearers at risk (something sadly, that has been ongoing for centuries). Black lives matter because black lives matter to God. It is not political, it is the Gospel.
And just as the heart of God aches over the mistreatment and murder of His children, so should ours.
When I search scripture, I find Jesus: drenched in love caring for the rejected standing up for the oppressed dying on the cross for those soaked in sin rising in victory carrying the promise of making all things new.
Walking (or running) with Christ is not always easy. It’s a cycle of grace and failure and grace and some more failure. It’s the process of painfully examining the sin in our own lives, acknowledging our need for a Savior, and living into our salvation—loving radically along the way—just as Jesus taught us. So as we mourn with those who mourn, as we work to actively fight against injustice and oppression, as we seek peace and pursue it, may we lift our eyes to our true Hope. And when the wind is picking up, when it feels like too much, may we take another step.
I can almost hear Jesus whispering in the wind: “We’re almost there. It’ll be easier now. I’m with you.”
In solidarity & humility,