Working in the technology industry, I have to constantly keep up with — or be ahead of — the latest technological trends and innovations. It’s not just an optional activity when my schedule allows, it’s absolutely vital in order to stay competitive as a company and for me, to stay employable as a worker. Those who check out do so at their own risk. They become irrelevant and lose their edge.
What makes this hard is how quickly technology changes. There’s so much information out there, as well as differing perspectives. It’s easier to be comfortable with what I already know, and just hope to God it’s enough for the next x years. But things hardly ever stay constant in tech.
Things hardly stay constant when dealing with racial justice. Writing about the intersection of faith, work and ethnicity has forced me to go deeper on topics. I research, ponder, write, and so the process goes. Writing is allowing others to read what’s on my mind, so I have to spend quite a bit of time thinking before I write.
There are folks who speak and write on faith and work, but largely ignore ethnicity, there are folks who speak and write on faith and/or ethnicity, but rarely touch on work. Intersectionality1 makes it a lot more complicated, because I have to constantly be learning, and listening to, many different voices and interpreting things for myself.
An L.A. Story
I went to Los Angeles recently. Los Angeles has a larger immigrant population than where I live. Being there, it hit me how real the fears were from the immigrant community, especially for families with undocumented members. I learned about efforts to counsel and support this community through local churches and parishes. Not living in LA anymore, this wasn’t something I was as close to, and I came out of the time asking God what he would have me do.
As I think about this new year, I realize the number of marginalized groups, their narratives, stories of oppression and challenges will increase and it will be very hard to keep up, stay engaged and figure out what God is doing, what to do/not do. I will be tempted to check out because it’s too hard and tiring. I have my own burden to bear. Besides, what if I appear stupid or ignorant to someone else who’s a subject matter expert because of their lived experience?
Losing our Edge
Two years ago, I spoke at a conference track for college seniors and alumni on life after college. I talked about a book I read called Following Jesus in the “’Real World”: Discipleship for the Post-College Years, by Richard Lamb. He talks about how as Christians, one of the faces of disobedience is compromise, or what I like to call, “losing our edge.” He writes:
Not outright repudiation.
Not a rejection of the tenets of the faith.
Not a denial of the deity of Jesus or of the authority of Scripture.
Just a whittling away, an erosion over time of convictions gained about God and our practical obedience to him. 2
The last few years, I’ve talked to quite a few people my age about racial justice. The common themes from people who said they “cared” was they didn’t have relationships anymore with people of other ethnicities that would challenge them to deal with issues, or what they knew about racial justice was from 20 years ago. They didn’t intentionally pursue it, and therefore, like muscles we don’t use that atrophy, they stopped growing in this area after college.
If we don’t intentionally make racial justice a priority, we will lose our edge.
Not Losing my Edge
I don’t want to lose my edge. Here’s what I will do this year to not lose my edge.
- Renew my covenant with God, that he will be my God, and I will be his daughter. Repeat this whenever I feel anxious, or want to be in control or disobedient
- Ask others who are “edgy” to keep me accountable. Be influenced by the pointy folks who are following Jesus, not the ones who are soft
- Be intentional. Have a learning plan and strategy
- Practice spiritual disciplines like Sabbath-keeping, Centering and Listening Prayer, Examen
I do not want my racial justice convictions to erode over time. I need help – from God, from others. As Scott Hall writes, “Just because we may have been affirmed by ‘getting it’ in the past—whether that means 20 years ago or 20 minutes ago—doesn’t mean we ‘get it’ today. 3”
In 2017, I do not want to lose my edge.
1 Teaching Tolerance (May 18, 2016), “Intersectionality 101”, Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6dnj2IyYjE
2 Lamb, R. (1995), Following Jesus in the “Real World”: Discipleship for the Post-College Years, Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press
3 Hall, S. (September 20, 2016), “When Will I Arrive”, Retrieved from http://beingwhite.org/when-will-i-arrive/