Transforming hope for equality into action

Rev. Deb Patterson - Your Pastor Speaks

It seems that every year I find it more difficult to maintain my weight. I have blossomed from a svelte weight of 105 pounds as a young adult to well … I’d rather not say. What use to be something I never had to worry about has become a nagging voice in my head that says, “You know you really ought to drop at least 20.”

My response is “I know, I know. It’s just hard to get in the groove. It’s hard to give up some things and start to live my life differently.”

I have for as long as I can remember had a passion for kindness. Kindness is at the root of many good things. Kindness and understanding are the foundation for good relationships. Kindness is welcoming, inclusive and respectful.

Truth be told though, there are some people I have difficulty feeling kind toward. The folks I struggle with tend to be ornery, negative, difficult, opinionated, and some are downright hateful. Their personalities are very different than mine.

Don’t get me wrong, I have ornery, negative and difficult days, but I can never remember feeling hateful. For those I have struggled being kind to, I have since made a conscience choice.

I choose to lift them up in a prayer of blessing and to do this daily for as long as it takes. This conscious action has allowed me to lose weight, the weight of anger and frustration. By doing this I have seen change, not necessarily in the other person, but in me and my ability to be more understanding and kind. It has reminded me that you cannot judge someone until you have walked in their shoes.

The weight of racial injustice has been on my heart for decades. As a white child of the ‘60s, I couldn’t really understand what was going on. Why was their so much anger and frustration? Why were blacks protesting, and why were whites angry? No one seemed to be listening. My family never talked about it. They turned off the TV which was rarely on anyway and kept us kids in the dark. It was unpleasant my mom would later tell me.

The weight of racial injustice is very heavy. Not one person, not one group of people can lift it up for removal. It takes all people to step up and say enough is enough. It takes all of us to practice walking in the shoes of another. It calls each of us to make changes within ourselves.

I have been looking deep within myself and searching for seeds of racism that are unfortunately deep within me. I have been slowly doing an inventory of where I first learned about racial differences. I landed on the age of 4. That early education was grounded in my mother’s fear of the unknown. It had been taught to her by her mother. I gasped with horror. What had I passed on unknowingly to my children?

In the midst of this pandemic, the reopening of our cities and states, God has reached in and ripped off the Band-Aid that we as a society keep applying over the issue of racial injustice. I am a firm believer that God can and will wrench good out of difficult situations and my friends, God has been busy trying to get our attention as we have been quarantined.

We have been forced to slow down. We can’t just walk by the difficulties our nation is dealing with. We can’t close our eyes anymore in hopes that it will all blow over. We are the change. Our hopes for equality need to be transformed into action. We need to lose the weight that racial injustice has placed on our brown and black brothers and sisters.

Like a good diet, we need to be willing to try new things. We need to let go of those things that aren’t working. We need to get out and exercise our voice of love and inclusion.

We need to build relationships across our city, our state and our nation. We need to be the voice for hope and change. The world can’t do it without all of us. Won’t you join me?

Rev. Deb Patterson

Your Pastor Speaks

Rev. Deb Patterson is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Delaware.

Rev. Deb Patterson is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Delaware.