In many ways, it feels as though we’ve already moved on. I mean, since the events of Charlottesville several weeks ago, a natural disaster crippled a major portion of Texas, Christians have continued to go at one another’s throats (again), and even more politically charged disagreements have engulfed our country. With so many disturbing events slapping us in the face on a daily basis, it’s easy to let the disturbing realities of Charlottesville, or any of the other things, simply disappear until they undoubtedly come back around.
And I assure you, they will come back around.Racism is an infection that must be treated with constant attention and steadfast treatment. Click To Tweet
I struggle with depression, which I’ve openly talked about in other blog posts, and I’ll never forget when I finally started taking medication. I had known for quite some time that something was wrong within me. Despite that understanding, I avoided dealing with it at all costs. To my surprise (but nobody else’s), my aversion to the problem didn’t make it go away. In fact, it allowed my issues room to continue growing and deepening.
I finally got to the point where I knew I couldn’t go on like that any longer so I started taking some medication. That first pill was incredibly difficult. My doctor had warned me that it could potentially make me feel off because my body had to adjust to balance the chemicals within me. He told me that the only way for the pills to truly affect anything was to continue taking them. I didn’t listen. I wanted a one time fix. Soon, I realized the problem was just as prevalent as ever. So I buckled down and actually took the doctor’s advice. I started taking my pills regularly and found that through time my depression began to shift. Did the pills make my depression disappear? Nope, but they were a pathway forward in my overall healing and wholeness. In fact, it opened me up to finally seeking out deeper change by going to therapy.
Talking about Charlottesville the week it happened wasn’t enough to put an end to the problem. Truth be told, talking non-stop about Charlottesville also won’t eliminate the problem either. However, creating space to talk sparks discussion which ignites movement. You cannot expect prolonged change or movement from simply talking about an issue one time. The problems we are facing today are ones that should be on the forefront of our messages, small groups, one-on-ones, etc. As youth leaders, we have a responsibility to keep these conversations going so that our students can continue to be empowered to bring Christ to the very heart of these problems. Like my depression, things like racism may unfortunately always exist, but by keeping them directly in front of us we are committing to doing our best to focus on the things Jesus believed were important.
When Jesus interacted with people from all over, he often repeated himself. For example, how much did he talk about food and water? Over and over and over again, he talked about things like being hungry and thirsty. Why would he continually bring these things up? Because human beings always need reminders. We cannot be over communicated to. It’s so simple for us to become distracted and forget what’s important. I’m certainly not saying that things like what happened in Houston this week aren’t important. They very much are. We need to be talking about that, as well. What I’m saying is that as we organize and think through the things we are helping our students process, keeping all of this brokenness directly in front of our eyes and hearts can create movement. If we ignore those things, we allow them to feed off the silence.
I believe God’s heart was broken over what happened in Charlottesville. I don’t believe racism is over either. It’s very much alive, and it cannot be ignored. We cannot talk about something so evil once, pray about it, and expect it to go away. We must continue talking about it in order to help empower and spark something within our students to keep doing something about it and not letting it just slip back into a state of complacency.
If we want to see change in this world, we have to keep talking.
RYAN SCHMALL is the Student Ministries Pastor at Redding First Church of the Nazarene in Northern California. He is married to his wife Jeanette, and together they have three amazing girls. Ryan is passionate about creating experiences and environments for people to encounter God in new and unique ways. You can follow him on TWITTER or read his blog over at IAMRYANSCHMALL.TUMBLR.COM.