Five years ago, I had a dream. There was a tall golden tower. It was beautiful and gleamed in the sunlight. I went into the tower, up the elevator to one of the highest floors. There were several ballrooms on this floor. They were full of people worshiping. There were speakers preaching. It was a conference with every session full to overflowing. Each room I walked past was full of activity. There were people milling about in the area outside these ballrooms. There was an air of excitement. I could not help but be caught up in it.
The discussions among the people were about how glorious it was to be in the tower, to be included and invited to worship there. As I made my way around different floors of the tower, the discussions were all the same. I stepped into a few of the ballrooms to listen for a time. I sang worship songs. I listened to sermons. I continued wandering around to see all that was happening.
I was compelled to look out the window to take in the view from up so high. However, as I looked out I was stunned at what I saw. As far as my eye could see there was destruction. There were fires everywhere and the landscape looked like a war zone. Buildings leveled. The image was overwhelming. There was a shadow over the land all the way to the horizon. People were starving. People were dying. I was stunned. I ran to tell those in the ballrooms about what I saw, the war outside, but it was as if I were invisible. I told them we needed to go outside and help. No one listened. They kept worshiping. They kept preaching. They kept saying it was finally time for us to be in the tower. I cried out without success. Exhausted, I sat down. Distraught, I put my head in my hands and wept.
Being a dreamer, I know to wait on significant dreams like this one. I do not rush to understand them. When I wake with a pounding heart and a disturbed spirit, I take some deep breaths to get oriented. I slip to my computer and write them down, along with any first impressions I get. I pray diligently for God to show me what he wants me to see. Sometimes, I understand immediately. Others, take years, like this one.
Initially, I thought the tower represented the church because it stood tall and there were so many believers inside. However, when Donald Trump decided to run for president the following year, I made the connection to Trump Tower. I watched as church leaders flocked to him like the pied piper. I became uneasy. I felt a caution in my spirit. Yet, most of the Christian leaders I respect and admire were on the Trump train, so I discounted my red flag…which I have learned is never a good thing.
I felt the Lord telling me to watch and listen. To pay attention. So, I did. All during the election, and afterwards for these past 4 years. I have been watching and listening. It seemed to me a golden calf was being created. An idol, to which many were bowing down. When I have brought up my discomfort to friends, I have been put down, deemed invisible, or accused of being deceived…just like I was in my dream. My discomfort continued to grow.
The pandemic started. Three more black people were killed in short succession for no reason. My heart was broken. My spirit heightened and on alert. When the streets of America literally went up in flames, it was as if I was watching my dream come to pass before my eyes. The beginnings of the destruction I had seen in the night were clearly evident. Plague on Passover. Fire at Pentecost. I was grieved. I cried out to God about all of the parallels. He told me to get down on my face. To be still and to listen only to his voice. When I grumbled about the people in the tower and their refusal to look outside at what was happening, he quietly said, “You were in the tower, too.” Conviction pierced my soul. My eyes were suddenly opened to see the state of my own heart. It was not pretty.
Since that moment, I have been wrestling with all that he has shown me. I have learned that I am a racist. Not the shake-your-fist-name-calling-white-sheeted kind, but the more subtle and dangerous kind who do not know they are racists. Who deny their part in the problem by arguing away any attempt to open their eyes. Who feel they have to defend themselves. God has dismantled my self-defense mode. He asked me, “Why does this upset you so? Why do you feel the need to defend ‘self’ when I have asked only that you lay it down?”
He has stopped me in my tracks with his questions. He has dug deep into my thoughts and spotlighted the sin that is lodged there. He has held my tongue when I wanted to use my tried and true excuses. I was one who would have been in the All Lives Matter crowd. One who would have said, “Slavery was so long ago it’s time to get over it.” Or, “I didn’t own slaves; therefore, I don’t have any responsibility for what my great grandparents did.” Or, “I am a good person, not a racist. I don’t have a racist bone in my body.” “I know and work with many people of color all around the world. I can’t be racist.” These were my statements and I believed every one of them.
Yet, when I have gotten on a bus or plane I have moved away from the black men because they could be dangerous. Yet, when a black man was elected to office, I was afraid because I thought he might take revenge for the way black people have been treated for centuries. Yet, when someone brought up race as an issue, I recoiled and thought of it as race baiting. These thoughts of mine were subconscious, until God pointed them out by showing me my place in the tower. High up. Looking down.
Then I found a group of others, who like me, suddenly found themselves to be racists. Who like me, were raised with the idea that white people have the God given mandate to be ‘above’, to help, to rescue, to be in charge, to rule. Who like me, were fish swimming in the water of white supremacy. Breathing it in and out without knowledge that we were even in it at all. Believing we held the moral high ground. All equally horrified at our ignorance, we began reading and studying.
We are like a racist recovery group. Detoxing from the news and social media and the poison found there. Entering into treatment has been difficult. My mind is so saturated with thoughts that I had no idea were residing in there. I am learning to take each one captive and to examine it for what it is. It is not an easy process to ask God to reveal your motives and to wait for him to show you the truth about yourself. Seeing cracks in your foundational belief system is an ugly process. It is humbling. I am taking shaky baby steps, trying to find my way out of the diseased thoughts of my past. I am in a fragile portion of this recovery. Not quite strong enough to fully explain what my heart is going through. Trying to learn the difference between being an ally and a white savior. Trying to figure out what is the best way to engage in healthy dialogue. It is hard because I am unaware of how my own heart has deceived me into believing so much untruth.
In my recovery group I have some new friends of color. They are gracious and patient with me. They read the books and discuss them with the group. They tell stories of their life experiences and it is important for me to hear them. To see firsthand the discrepancies between the world I have lived in and theirs. The scales have been removed from my eyes, and my color blindness is being healed slowly. It will take me a long time to recover. It is a process, just like an alcoholic has to go through: see the problem, remove the toxins, learn to cope without them, retrain yourself to function in healthy ways.
It takes a higher power. I certainly would have never seen this without God’s gentle correction. He disciplines those he loves. I have been disciplined and restored to his heart for me. He has taken my desire for transformation seriously. He is faithful to bring the light into the darkness of my heart and mind. My surrender is his prayer for me.
I am still grieved, saddened, outraged at the behavior of many Christians during this time in history. I do not defend myself any longer. I am guilty. Now, I defend Christ. Not that he needs my defense. I say to those watching, what you are seeing from some Christian leaders is not the heart of God. Bowing to a human king wasn’t ever God’s plan for us. Creating a god in man’s image has never ended well. Storming the Capitol in the name of Jesus is not an act of faith, but of fear. Refusing to accept the vote is not an act of trust, but of trepidation. I have never believed a political system could save us. There is no party that can. Nor will there ever be. I am not putting my eggs in either basket. I give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s…my vote and my taxes. I give unto God what is God’s…my trust, my hope, and my belief in his sovereignty.
I have come down from the tower. I have walked out into the streets, where the Christ I know and love is needed. Where he resides among ALL the people. I am taking baby steps in my recovery from racism and I am leaning, not on my own strength, but on the strength of him who loves me despite my flaws. He gives me grace and that fact always amazes me.
I am aware this post will likely offend many of my readers. Friends and family members will not understand my shift. It has been heavy on my heart for months that there would come a time to speak about all this. It has taken all the courage I have to hit the publish button. I know it might anger or disappoint you. It is a risk I can no longer avoid. As a writer, if I am not true to my convictions, I lose my authenticity. Vulnerability is what connects me to you. Without it, I would just be another voice among the multitudes. If nothing else, I write from the heart and to deny this part of my journey would be to cut my heart out. Please know, I have not left the faith. I have not abandoned God or his people. I have not gone to the “other” side, whatever you think that means. I am on my knees, listening to the still small voice and trying to be obedient even in the muck of my own shortcomings.
I still believe God wants freedom for all his children. Including me. To be free from a superior mindset. To be free from my fears and misconceptions. To be free from the darkness in my heart. It is important for me to follow him on this path he has opened for me to walk. Redemption is never neat and tidy. It is messy. It is painful. But in the end, it is transformative and if it brings me closer to him and seeing through his eyes of love, all the ugly is worth it.