I had a very real moment tonight that I’m not all that proud of. I was sitting in a church service with some fellow AMEs and a random Caucasian couple walked in and joined us for service. At first, I didn’t think much of it, but then real feelings started bubbling up in me. I had a flashback to the Charleston shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church. If I’m completely honest and dangerously real, I sat in tonight’s worship service thinking, “I need to keep my eye on this couple, they just randomly walked in with jeans and t-shirts, and I don’t know them…I don’t know why they’re here. If something happens, let me make sure I know my escape route.” My mind started racing thinking about us being a group of AMEs gathering for worship being visited by some strangers, and I felt my body getting tense. Despite these thoughts being real and honest, I was so ashamed of my response. This couple came in and were welcomed to join us in worship, they sat and listened to the sermon, and graciously joined in the altar prayer, they did nothing wrong, but they made me uneasy…shame on me! I’m a Christian…I’ve never been one to discriminate, I have friends of all races, genders, sexual orientations, and faith traditions…it’s not like me to push someone out because of outer appearance, that’s not me, and yet tonight…IT WAS ME!
After sitting in the service for a long time, I had to walk out for a minute. I just needed to breathe, I just needed to deal with the emotions that were stirred up inside of me. I was feeling overwhelmed. The truth is, I don’t know how I should feel about my response. Without a doubt, as believers, we are called to welcome all in, the friend and the stranger, but in today’s society, sometimes that’s not always easy. I recognize that my faith isn’t as strong as it needs to be all the time…sometimes I fail!
So, despite my response, I’ll just view it as an awakening and enlightening moment in my life! Next time, I pray I do better.