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How Do You Practice Self-Care? We Asked Christians Engaged in Racial Reconciliation

selfcare

This article was published in Faithfully Magazine No. 3 (Summer 2018).

Ally Henny, seminary student and writer for The Armchair Commentary

I practice self-care by “tapping out.” I put tapping out in quotes because people of color can never truly tap out of this conversation and the work of reconciliation. What I can do is moderate what I allow to come into my space. If something happens (like a police shooting, court decision, or other race incident), I will delete certain social media apps

for a period of time and only interact with people who I know will edify me. I also practice what Auntie Maxine Waters calls “reclaiming my time,” which means that I no longer spend my time on people who are obtuse, argumentative, or abusive. Tapping out and reclaiming my time have saved me lots of headaches, and I wish I would’ve learned this sooner.

Selena Horton White, author of Burdens We Bear: Poems and Writings About My Experiences as a Woman of Color

It is not just important, but crucial to the emotional, spiritual, and physical health of the Black community that self-care is given the time and attention that its impact demands. I learned the hard way—after my family endured seasons of depression and bouts of compound- ed anger—that we needed to close our eyes and step away on a regular basis. I couldn’t continue to be connected around the clock to the stories and the hashtags. My heart couldn’t take living in a constant state of grief. I had to deliberately remember that my husband and I were alive and that our children were okay.

Turning off our phones and disconnecting from social media outlets allowed us the experience of moving past grief and a sense of hopelessness. This climate delivers us to dark places often. Developing a habit or system of self-care makes it possible to remain healthy as well as to continually engage in the work of reconciliation.

Kyle J. Howard, Christian counselor and theologian

Engaging in racial reconciliation in majority culture contexts is very taxing work. It can be emotionally and spiritually draining for people of color, but the work is worth it.

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Vy (my wife) and I do not have an elaborate means of self-care in the midst of reconciliation ministry. For us, having fun in marriage and parenthood is our means of self-care. My wife and I believe that God is sovereign over all things, and since it is the Spirit’s work to sanctify and change His people, our duty in reconciliation is limited. This is freeing. We are called to abound in love [and] truth and seek unity with- in the body of Christ. As we live our lives doing these things faithfully, we are emotionally and spiritually exhausted. But we have done our part, [and] God has promised in His word to do his. So self-care for us is intentionally delighting in one another in the midst of faithful exhaustion.

Eating ice cream with my wife on the couch as we talk about theology, life or our eternal hope is our self-care. Marital intimacy plays a huge role in our self-care as well. The reaffirming and receiving nature of marital intimacy is a tremendous gift that serves self-care, especially when much of the discouragement in reconciliation ministry is rooted in others making you feel inadequate or ‘other.’ Playing Legos with my son [and] “make-believe” with my daughter and tickling my baby girl are all means of self-care, as well.

When it comes to combating the challenges of racial reconciliation ministry, my wife and I prioritize our thoughts and actions to- wards enjoying family in the midst of the hard ministry. When we do so, we are reminding our- selves that God causes the growth, and we find peace and refreshment. For my wife and [me], our self-care is living actively and intentionally in the reality of the sovereignty of God and our freedom in Christ. We are free to rejoice even when our souls are sorrowful at the lack of compassion and empathy we often see in the church. Laughing also plays a huge role in our self-care, as humor is often a form of medicine. Personally, Vy bakes and I play video games or read comics in some of my down time.

Lucretia Carter Berry, co-creator and founder of Brownicity (brownicity. com)

I cling to the beauty that this work brings. I allow myself to deeply lament the brokenness that cries out for this work. It is out of the severity of brokenness and lament that I wrestle for the beauty of this work. I fix my sights on the beautiful world that I know we can create. I am convinced that, through the finished work of Christ, the more beautiful world that we are reaching for is possible.

Self-care, for my family and me, is immersing ourselves in CREATING—creating the beauty we have set our sights on. The more we CREATE, the more we can breathe. Although we have a long way to go in this work, we CELEBRATE the journey and each small accomplishment along the way. Celebrating is nourishing. When we have breath and nourishment, we feel cared for, and we can carry on.


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    Written by Lanie Anderson

    Lanie is a writer, student, and editor living in New Orleans. She is pursuing an M.A. in Christian apologetics, and is also assistant to the director of apologetics, at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Lanie blogs at lanieanderson.com.