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Until last year, I had what is best described as a strained relationship with conflict.
Conflict meant fighting. Fighting meant hurt feelings. Hurt feelings meant losing connections with people I love.
My mind only perceived conflict as an escalating disagreement, so in the name of peace and harmony, I didn’t rock the boat.
But, as often happens, a storm came, and the boat rocked anyway.
For months, I tried to set my own agenda for spiritual breakthrough and healing that involved walking away, not responding, immersing myself in positive activities and surrounding myself with positive people. All good things.
This is what we teach our children. This is what we call maturity. This is how we walk into the next phase of our lives while singing Disney songs about letting it all go.
But we can’t walk away from the things God calls us to address. Sometimes, we are called to boldly disagree and disrupt our own comfort and the comfort of others.
As I’ve aligned myself more with God’s purpose for my life, this has been one of the harder concepts for me to process. God may be calling us to set things on fire that people do not want burned. And rarely does that equate to popularity.
Paul writes in his letter to the Ephesians that we are to speak “the truth in love, (that we) may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.” With love, with compassion, with grace, with mercy, but also with power and authority, we are commanded to speak.
Jesus spoke to storms, and the storms ceased. I am reminded that He called us to do greater works as we operate in the realm of the Holy Spirit. We can call the rain, and we can calm the storms. We can cry freedom and loosen the bonds of the captives.
We have to get comfortable with conflict, with crushing eggshells under our feet and sweeping them away for good. We have to get comfortable with loving people enough to speak truth to unfair and unjust institutions. We must learn to speak up to create a better world for generations of our families that we will never know.
Audre Lorde said it best: “Your silence will not protect you.”
Practice love. Practice grace. Then, use your words.
LaMonique Hamilton is a Wilson resident and former Wilson Times reporter and copy editor. She is the national deputy director of communications for Repairers of the Breach and the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival and blogs about arts and culture at iamlamonique.com.