Can you just sit with it? Brenkee@pixabay
Our Sunday School class is now meeting on Monday nights via Zoom. New pandemic name! Monday School! Don’t you dare steal my “Monday School” idea. I’m trademarking it. I’ll keep you posted when the royalties flow in.
Anyhoo – our Monday School topic is “Educating Ourselves on Race and Racism.” We’re starting with six sessions but we know it will be a lifetime of unlearning and re-learning.
For week two, we watched a video produced by the UMC’s General Commission on Race and Religion, “Deconstructing White Privilege with Dr. Robin DiAngelo.” The video was released just prior to DiAngelo’s 2018 best-selling book, White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism.
(Fun fact: White Fragility is #2 on the New York Time’s best sellers paperback non-fiction list and every book that’s in the top fourteen is about race. The time to get educated was, preferably, yesterday. But it’s never too late to catch up.)
As you can imagine, DiAngelo’s talk was challenging and enlightening. DiAngelo’s forte is two-fold: 1. helping white people learn how to listen and 2. assisting them to work through their defensiveness when someone calls them out on racist or problematic behavior. When she says something particularly direct or challenging, she’ll often say, “I want you to just sit with it.”
Just. Sit. With. It. It doesn’t make the words any less difficult to hear, but I find myself far less quickly reacting to them. Sitting with an admonition, even for a moment, gives me an opportunity to take a breath and think through the meaning and validity of those words.
“Just sit with it” has certainly been helpful as I come to grips with my own racism. As DiAngelo says, “I didn’t choose [racism], it isn’t my fault, I’m not wracked with guilt about it, but I am responsible for changing it.”
Unlearning racism is a life-long process. And the words “just sit with it” will be my mantra as I do that hard and uncomfortable work.
“Just sit with it” might also be a helpful phrase as you talk to people about money. It’s no surprise that some people get defensive and bristle when the topic of stewardship, money, or wealth gets brought up.
“Not again.” “All you ever do is talk about money.” “I’m giving all I can.” “Don’t make me feel guilty.” These words are meant to shut down conversation and relieve the discomfort of the person saying the inevitable phrase. However, do whatever you can not to react. This is their internal struggle, not yours.
Talking about money (just like talking about race) is not wrong. It’s necessary. Instead of reacting, “just sit with it” might be a good rejoinder. Here’s one possible response: “I’m going to ask you to just sit with [the response they have just given you]. Sometimes – not all the time – when you feel uncomfortable, the Holy Spirit is trying to speak. What might God be trying to say to you?”
Maybe you’ll get the stink eye but, then again, you might be encouraging them to have a light bulb moment. Maybe they’ll consider rather than react.
Friends – we have so much work to do. After grappling with race and racism, talking about money should be a breeze. So, go ahead…do your homework, “just sit with it,” and then head on out to change the world.