Jean Lewis shares her story of becoming a bridge-builder at 66 years old, showing us that it is never too late to start your journey toward racial healing, equity and reconciliation.
My original interest in racial reconciliation was sparked while listening to the podcast Seeing White and participating in a small group study at my church of Daniel Hill’s book White Awake. I have been interested and excited about Be the Bridge since I first heard about it a few years ago. At first, I approached mainly with curiosity, wondering if this might be a place for me to belong or learn or grow. I didn’t know exactly what I was looking for, but bridge-building is so invitational I couldn’t look away.
What started as curiosity quickly grew into a hunger for deeper understanding and knowledge about the history of our nation and the heartbreaking truth of our inhumanity to man. I have lived a long time with concern for the way our white privilege and blatant racism have impacted Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), but I honestly didn’t have a clue about the vastness of the atrocities, the systems that put this all into place, the impact of white nationalism and the evangelical church’s complicity.
Obviously, I don’t have language that clearly states what my heart feels – and has felt – for many years. But the truth is I have always cared but done very little about changing things, short of the men and women I have voted for, both locally and nationally. Be the Bridge helped give me hope as I turned to a place where it wasn’t about me, but about how I could support my brothers and sisters who have truly suffered under the policies our government has perpetuated.
It’s strange to feel like a novice at age 66, yet my heart is hungry for healing and change.
Understanding that I can’t go back and fix what has been, I want to learn how to build bridges and make way for a change in the landscape. I love the charge that it is not up to my Black sisters to teach me what to do, but I do feel that it is my responsibility to listen to the hard, the ugly, the uncomfortable, the disturbing, the sickening and shameful experiences of BIPOC, for as long as a listening and compassionate heart is needed.
So, I’m on a journey. My church started a Be the Bridge group a few years ago, and that is one place where I will continue to grow and learn. The BTB Podcast is also a great way to learn, as are the numerous resources on the website or in the Facebook group. It’s strange to feel like a novice at age 66, yet my heart is hungry for healing and change. I’ve had younger people say to me, “Why do you care? You are old.” And I respond with: God’s image bearers matter, and the atrocious history of our nation needs to be reconciled. Plus I have children and grandchildren, and being a bridge into a new way of being with people who are “different” than me matters, and it is the way of Jesus.