• Laura Alyssa Platé

A Lot Can Happen In A Year

Updated: Jun 30

June 29, 2020


A little known fact about me is that my favorite app and the first thing I do in the morning is check TimeHop. It often brings a smile to my face to see the little moments brought back to life in 140 character or less tweets from several years ago, or even ground me on days when I have simple worries and I look back and remember the big hard stuff that I have been through and am now on the other side of. I've never been one to keep streaks on Snapchat, or check Facebook or Twitter every day. In fact there will be weeks or even months at a time I forget I even have an Instagram, much too many people in my generations dismay, but I am 23 days away from having a 3 year streak on TimeHop.


In the past 109 days since Piedmont (College) made the decision to move completely online, it has been humbling, frustrating, and many other emotions I still don't have the words for to see the little dinosaur gleefully remind me of the spontaneous trips I made with friends, pictures taken at the Cross on Easter Sunday, and even of the mild to moderate complaints of trying to study with friends before finals. If only that had been an option this year. Now that we have moved into the summer, my TimeHop memories are being flooded with pictures, posts, and tweets from my time serving with Student.Go. One year ago, my biggest worry was deciding on which of the many delicious options on Frankfort Ave I would have for lunch. My days were filled with hugs, laughter, trips with silly kids in busses behind slow Indiana drivers, and a true sense of belonging.


Now the world has turned upside down. Aside from my mom, I've risked 1 hug since March 13 (and for someone who's love language is physical touch, that's a very sad statement.) I've logged more hours on Zoom than in my car, and it has been easy to lose that sense of purpose and mission. Of course children and teenagers still need the same support spiritually, mentally, and emotionally they did a year ago, but it looks a lot different now. We have all had to test ourselves and our willingness to adapt to change, and create change, at a moments notice in the last four months. As a church we don't have the luxury of sitting back and watching other people go first, crash and burn, and work out the kinks. We had to jump right in along with the first responders and the educators, because people turn to God and their spiritual centers during times of crisis. Not only are we learning how to be a connected body of faith virtually because of Coronavirus, but we are also being tasked with reaching into our communities and showing love and support that in many cases is long, long over due.


A year ago last week, I was confronted with the most personal affront to my values that I, as a white woman raised in the South, had ever had to deal with. I talked about it here. Because I grew up privileged simply because of the color of my skin in a community that was diverse by nature of the school district boundaries, I never had to be actively anti-racist. I'm not proud of it, but I chose not to see the issues in front of me because I didn't have too. This summer, that is not the case. My eyes were opened last summer, albeit embarrassingly late, when my kiddos were threatened, and since then my awareness of the micro aggressions that take place in my own community has been more acute. I don't say that to make myself into another white savior because the last thing America needs right now is a self-entitled white girl that thinks they hold they key to ending racism in her crystal ball of love and forgiveness. I say that because it has taken reeducation, questioning, learning, and a lot of listening.


We have to be uncomfortable to make changes in our communities. I find that most often being a good ally has nothing to do with leading the way we think we should proceed and everything to do with listening and holding other people who look like us to do the same. Our job as ally is to learn and educate, not get in the way and take on 400 years of slavery and 200 years of systematic racism as though it effects us the same way it does our black sisters and brothers. However, just like we teach our children from early ages about school yard bullying, there is no such thing as an innocent bystander. To be silent is to be complicit, and too many of us, especially as a church, have been silent for far too long, conveniently forgetting at times that Jesus was not a western king with light skin but an eastern revolutionary with dark skin.


At Passport, we sing a lot of the same songs every summer. Week after week, kids and youth across the country half yell, half sing, "do you wanna a Revolution?" followed by whooping and hollering. A whole generation of students has been excited about changing the world for the better in Jesus name, and though we may all be stuck indoors for the foreseeable future, we have a real opportunity here to do just that if we listen. Jesus turned the world upside down, and here we are again. We have a choice to make. White Christians need to use our privilege now more than ever before to prove that we won't stand for police brutality, and racism, and the human rights violations still happening on our boarder any longer. We have a voice and it is time to use it. The "silent majority" is no better than the vocal minority if the majority continues to let others suffer in silence.


There are churches that try to stay out of politics for fear of losing members, but Jesus was political and I see him in the children in ICE Custody, and Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. I see Jesus in the COVID-19 Units, and I see him wearing a mask in the hot, humid, Atlanta summer sun, even when it's uncomfortable for the sake of other people. I see Jesus in the school teacher's who are, instead of taking a much needed vacation after the chaos of the spring, preparing their classrooms for every if, maybe, and possibly in the book so their students will have as much normalcy as can be expected come the fall. I hope very much that this summer, despite the setbacks of being online, the church as a while is doing everything possible to support these people, even when it's hard.


While I miss the connection I get from being physically present with people, as I know we all do, there is a beauty in ministering to people no matter where we all are in life. We are all burnt out and jealous of the time we didn't savor doing absolutely nothin in particular together, but being willing to continue to grow together as a faith community is special. I'd be lying if I said that it doesn't hurt knowing that as I close out this final summer as a Smoke Rise Baptist Church Intern before I head off to grad school next year I probably won't get the hugs and laying on of hands that I have watched those that have come before me receive, but what I do have is the knowledge that in the most unthinkable of circumstances, I still get to be there for my kiddos that I have been blessed to watch grow up over the last three years (and long before that), even if it is through facemarks, socially distanced lemonade stands, and zoom call after zoom call. I have no doubt my TimeHop will look much different next summer and the summer after that, but hopefully when this stage of our lives is a distant memory, I will be proud of how we as a church came together (virtually) and changed the narrative for the next 400 years. I hope in 20 years when my children ask about 2020, I can tell them honestly that it was the beginning of something beautifully chaotic.


-LA


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