i have a light, so i will shine it.

this week has been horrible.

every night, i've laid awake, praying and crying and mourning the losses of lives taken so brutally.

every morning, i've woken up to more headlines shouting more bad news.

alton sterling.

philando castile.

now dallas cops and civilians i don't yet know the names of.

how much more can i take?

i feel small.

i feel helpless.

i feel discouraged.

i've wanted to retreat, to turn off all social media, to run away from it all and find some safe bubble somewhere.

but what good would that do?

it would be an illusion.

it would be false.

the pain is real.

i can't outrun it.

the horrors, the headlines, the bloodied bodies, the chaos, it's all real.

i can't run from it.

i can't hide.

for some reason, i can't get the "this little light of mine" song out of my head.

i am still alive. i therefore have a light. and i'm going to let it shine.

i will not hide it under a bushel.

i will not let satan blow it out.

i'm going to let it shine.

alton sterling is now dead. philando castile is now dead. cops are now dead. they can no longer speak, so i will use my voice on behalf of them, and so many, many others who have been murdered unjustly.

i will speak about what i am seeing.

i will bear witness.

i will lament, grieve, weep, mourn, and pray.

i will use my words, my platform, every channel i've been given, and i will speak truth.

i will pray endlessly, relentlessly, desperately that god ends this evil, that the spirit brings his peace, that jesus is real and near and present in this mess.

it feels surreal, when tragedies like this happen, when the headlines are screaming at us, when families are in mourning, when the pain is so deep and so real... and we all still go to work. we all still cook our meals, text our friends, go to the gym, run errands, do laundry, paint our nails, hug our kids, take a shower....

life goes on. it does, we can't stop it, and it just feel so surreal. i look at people around me, i hear people laughing with their friends and sharing recipes on facebook and part of me wants to scream at them: DON'T YOU KNOW WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THE WORLD? why are you not angry like me?! how can you laugh at a time like this?! how can you pretend like everything is fine when people are being MURDERED because their skin is dark?! HOW ARE YOU OKAY RIGHT NOW?

and then i stop, because that's crazy, and i breathe deep, and i slow down, and i realize, yes, life will go on. and i don't want to forget about this, i don't want to move on and pretend this never happened, but i also cannot (should not, will not) dwell on the pain of this forever. that solves nothing, helps no one, only pulls my life down into a dark and depressing place.

i can move forward in fear, or i can move forward in faith.

i can laugh with my friends while still deeply grieving the brokenness in our world.

i can celebrate the good while still fighting against the bad.

i can write about other things while still praying for black lives everywhere.

there have been tragedies before, there (sadly) will be tragedies again.

what will we do?

how will we respond?

how will we act?

will we learn from these tragedies and be better next time?

better yet, will we learn from these tragedies and prevent another next time?

will we come together, all of us, instead of dividing even more?

i am small.

on my own, i can only do so much.

but my voice combined with yours?

our voices combined with the voices of those around us?

all of our voices joining together across cities and states and countries and borders?

all of us choosing peaceful protest? shouting for freedom? all of us demanding justice? all of us celebrating what is still good? all of us declaring unity, proclaiming love, fighting for change?

i get chills at the thought.

there's nothing small about that.

i can't do this alone.

i am one person.

i am in this fight, but i need you with me.

use your voice. use your networks. use your platforms. use your prayer. use your hands. use your money. use your time. use your love. use your talents. use your art. use your community.

a few ideas i've seen/done/will be doing in the coming days: volunteer in your town. reach out to your local police force to ask about their anti-bias training, their non-lethal interventions, etc. thank your local police men and women for their service and their sacrifices-- encourage them in a time when their profession is being attacked and criticized harshly. check in with your black friends, family, neighbors. let them know you are for them and with them in this, and ask what more you can do.

i left work yesterday evening feeling heavy.

then, i saw a black woman crossing the street with an indian woman. i saw them laughing together, and i couldn't help but smile. i saw a black man hold the door open for the indian woman, who held it open for the black woman, who held it open for me, a white woman, and i held it open for the white man behind me.

it was so simple.

but so powerful.

wherever you are today, hold the door open for someone coming behind you. 

take it literally, or take it as a metaphor.

we are all in this life together.

you are breathing the same air i breathe.

our bodies are both pumping blood through our veins.

our hearts are beating and we are grieving and we are dreaming and we are persevering, all the same.

there is a door in front of us now, one we can choose to walk through into more freedom, more equality, more opportunity, more safety, more abundance of life... or we can slam it shut and stay stuck in this hell we are in.

i am holding my door open today.

i am moving forward toward a better world and beckoning you to come with me.

let's come together.

let's fight for good.

let's make this next week beautiful.