I have struggled with what to write here on the blog this week. Not because I don't have anything to say. If you know me, you know I pretty much always have something to say. I've struggled because maybe I have too much to say, but mostly because I don't want to say the wrong thing and contribute to the problem. That's just not my heart.
I want to tell you, whatever side you fall on, that you are loved. You are seen. You are heard. I want to tell you if you find yourself in a fight because you happen to have a different color of skin than I do...that I'm standing with you. I want to tell you that I don't really know your struggle, but I want to understand and be there to carry you when you're tired.
I've spent this week leaning into conversations with my team at work about how they are feeling. I've carried those feelings home and have prayed over their young, heavy hearts as they continue to show up and put on a smile for the customers who visit us. But it's hard for us all in ways that are difficult to articulate. Somehow “business as usual” didn’t feel like we were doing enough.
Yesterday a local sheriff came by the store. He politely asked me if he needed to wear a mask inside and I told him that while we don't require it, my team definitely appreciates the gesture. He immediately pulled a mask from his pocket and put it on then came inside. Waiting for him beyond the doors was one of our regular customers who handed the sheriff a gift card to cover his purchase. He was so grateful. While he waited for his drinks the team chatted and laughed with him, and a few minutes later he was headed on his way.
I didn't think much of it. We do our best to treat every customer who chooses our store that way. It's more than a job at a coffee shop. It's a culture all it's own and we want our customers to feel like they belong there. And on this day, it wasn't really a sheriff that we saw in our cafe... we only saw one of us, a human being. That's all the qualification one needs to be treated with dignity inside our store walls.
A couple of hours later the phone rang. I answered and the woman on the other end of the line asked for the manager. I confirmed that I was the manager and was preparing myself to answer the question we get on the phone most right now..."Do you have any of those color changing cups in stock?" But what she said instead was a gift.
She told me that her husband was a sheriff and he had been in our store that morning. She went on to tell me that he had spent the better part of the week working the riots in a big city a few hours away. She told me that his experience working had been more than difficult and he had come home feeling defeated. But then she said that he came home from our store that morning and told her that we had made him feel valued and appreciated. She thanked me, I thanked her for sharing, and welcomed them back anytime. It made my heart happy to know we helped him feel seen.
It struck me later that night, that there are people on all sides of this that are being treated like they are not of value. I was also so aware of how little effort it takes, one human being to another, to change that.
It starts with you.
It starts with me.
The color of your skin or the uniform you wear is not the whole of who you are, but I also recognize that it changes how people treat you.
I want you to know that I'm sorry it does.
I'm sorry we have not done a good job of being good to you.
I wonder how often we have ignored the issues in our world for the sake of self preservation, or because of our ignorance, or because we are just too lazy to really open our eyes and walk a mile in someone else's shoes.
I wonder if we ask ourselves how a good God can allow our world to suffer in these ways.
But what I really wonder is if He is asking us the same thing.
How have we been party to or allowed the world to suffer in these ways?
I hope, when the chaos calms and we come out from the rubble we find that goodness is springing up from the ground in brand new places. Goodness in the hearts of men, one to another. Goodness overflowing. Goodness given and goodness received. Goodness everywhere we look.
You may feel like you don't have much to offer in this battle, or maybe you've jumped into the fight full steam ahead. Whatever side you find yourself on, for goodness sake, be kind. It might just make all the difference.