10 Things To Do After You Are Finished Praying
While at American Baptist College, in Nashville, TN, I was bothered about the purpose of prayer. I said something like, “If God already know my life, what is the use of me praying? It’s going to happen anyways!” So just like that, I stopped praying. I had a very bad definition of prayer at that time.
I assumed prayer to mean a person asking God for something and, Boom! It happened. If God didn’t make something happen, then it was not meant to happen. I thought I would expedite the process by saying, “God knows my heart and God is in control. There’s no use of me doing anything.” That was the conclusion I had about prayer. Prayer meant something would happen and I am supposed to realize there is no reason for me to do anything. That’s all prayer is, right? Just like the cliché? P.U.S.H. equals Pray until something happens. I wanted to eliminate steps and go on about my business…
…Until life became very crappy. I was having horrible nightmares. I couldn’t sleep at night. I was paranoid and panicky. I figured by sitting and allowing God to just handle things while at the same time, not having any intention or aim to what should be better in life, I became anxious. From that moment on, I prayed fervently.
However, my prayers transformed from looking at God as a “Genie in a bottle” who grants me wishes like the movie, Aladdin. I knew my prayers were not a way to control God. They were a way to communicate being thankful for what I have in life and a way to speak about what is wrong and see the opportunities in solving the problem. I do pray, but I don’t pray for the sake of God. I pray for the sake of humanity, myself, and the rest of creation. Prayer is how I understand my purpose in life to do what I believe it is God created me to do on earth. That’s why I am bothered with the 558th person being killed by the police this year and we are only in July.
Let me make a note here: I could careless about giving a disclaimer of my next remarks, but I will anyways. This is not a hate think piece to the police.
As a black male, I am afraid of cops, because I know I have nothing illegal on me or am doing anything illegal and have still been hit with batons to the ribcage, had guns held to my back, and knees against my neck. So yea, excuse me if I look nervous around them. But this post is still not about that. It’s about something else that I want to bring up based on the fear and terror that comes from making a title of a person more valuable than the life of people who still is apart of a family as well. This note is about letting go of a pacifying way of life that is authorized by using the name of God in vain. Let’s proceed…
I stopped making claims about race on social media this year because it became a distraction especially during this bloody election race. Personally, I’m bothered by both political parties and have been since 2004. But I really became mute about how race was being used to create a niche market of voters. Then, a person from the police department usually a white male was caught on video doing something violent to a black or brown body. It didn’t matter if they were male or female, it just seemed that the Animal Farm was happening in a U.S. context before all our eyes. I saw no reason to scream on social media. People who watched the videos saw what they wanted to see. I just wanted to see some actual work happen in the community. I would do behind the scenes work for campaigns. I did work for thing that were not necessarily politically dividing, but solved community problems. I thought this would help create collaboration in the most polarized communities. I worked with different groups who many figured wouldn’t sit with each other in the same room. Yet, progress happened. I was happy to witness it. But it did not help me fill a hole in my heart of seeing everyone else get a victory except for black people. Another cop would kill a black body. Then, a black person killed another black person. Then, black children in Nashville were found guilty for killing another black kid in Nashville. Next, the killing happened on my own street at 3PM in the afternoon. Last, friends of mine who were black killed themselves.
I kept trying to work as I felt the frustration turn to anger. The anger turned into depression. The depression had me crawling inside of myself feeling hopeless for my community as I helped out other communities. I kept praying. I wrote down my gratitude in my journal. I wrote about the problems. I hoped for a solution that I was not sure would come in my lifetime. Now two people are dead.
Did you hear me? Not a thug. Not a criminal. Not an animal is dead. Another person who is made of the same human flesh we are all made of is dead. That person has a family that will never get to see the husband, father, or sibling because Alton and Philando are dead.
I’m disgusted with someone telling our stories without our permission. I’m tired of picking sides because it’s easier to make media look at the past for blame instead to justify an idiot move done in our present in front of our presence. I guess at this sorrowful time there is nothing else to do but just pray, huh? Just grab another person’s hand as that preacher of your choice, screams in the air as the sound rings in ears to make people feel that heroine feeling of ecstasy as they go back into their lives becoming more numb to the next killing that will take place. Sounds like passivism to me. You know that thing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. discussed in, Letter From a Birmingham Jail, where he said something like, “I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta (or fill in your city) and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham (or fill in your city). Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” I also think about this one, “I am meeting young people everyday whose disappointment with the Church has risen to outright disgust.”
King’s context is he is a black Baptist pastor that was imprisoned after a nonviolent demonstration against segregation where he writes a letter to white religious leaders of the South. This is his response to unjust events happening in society. His answer was not to JUST pray. Reading books like Dr. Lewis Baldwin’s Never To Leave Us Alone: The Prayer Life of Martin Luther King, let us know that King was a great proponent of prayer. However, his prayer did not stop there. It was the beginning of action. His action pushed him to be apart of one of the most remembered times for human equality. It should not be any different now. This is not a call out to people who wear police uniforms and care about protecting their community. It is however a call to action to communities who allow F.O.P., Government officials who would rather cover up problems with Blue Lives Matter Laws than solves the issues of making their communities safe on behalf of residents. Hell no, I am not just going to pray! I’m going to build! With that said, here are my 10 things people can do after they are finished praying:
1. Find Out What is Making You Frustrated and Angry
I know, it’s common sense, but many times people sit with emotions not finding out the source of their emotions. What problem was brought up based on what made you feel a certain way? We have to be okay with finding out what is wrong with us to have a clear indication of why we need to act. Yes, violence might be the cause of your emotions, but did it tap into something deeper that has never been regarded? This gives us clear indication of our purpose to act.
2. Read Currents Events & Books to the Issues Bothering You
This does not always mean reading thinking pieces (like this one) and assuming it is all true. It means educating yourself on context, views, and activities already happening so that you can do your part to solving this problem in your context.
3. Find Others Who Are Just As Pissed Off As You
You are not going to be able to solve big problems by yourself. But you can be the catalyst for creating the idea the community needs to be behind. But this does not happen by you staying to yourself. It means you have to be in conversation and form relationships with people who might be unlikely allies. Stop assuming the views of another and go out and know others through a conversation. The conversation should not start with the intent of seeing if this person will be your friend or enemy. This conversation should allow you to see the humanity in another person and realize they are more than what meets the eye. Before you know it, a village is created from people who are unlikely partners. You could have missed this if you did not first allow them to see you, and vice versa.
4. Write a Plan to How You Solve the Problem
What keeps an idea, an idea? The answer: Not one having an intention to make it so. Be okay with writing down the plan to solve a problem. You cannot always keep it in your head. Otherwise, it might stay there. Make a plan that is written and ready for others to see so that they are able to build the vision with you. You cannot expect people to just tag along to your idea of action if it is not available. When plans are written down, it allows people to see the same picture you have and not assume a picture of the idea on their own. Give people the right to be involved in the plan for clarity and unity.
5. Create a Calendar & Timeline to Solve Your Problem
It is great you wrote a plan, but now you need to set time around executing the plan. Many plans are rushed and delayed because they are haphazardly done. Be able to know your plan is like GPS. Be able to let people know how long it will take, how far they have reached, and when they are able to arrive to the goal. It starts by having markers that give indication of what is next and what you have accomplished.
6. Stay In Your Damn Lane!
This is one of the most important rules. Everybody cannot do everything. Be honest with what it is you can and will do, and stop critiquing others on a role you would never take up and do. If you want to work on the goal in Policy, stay in your lane of Policy. If you want to write books about the history of how we got this far. Do That! However, get over the fact of telling someone else how to do a job that it causes a distraction from yourself and others of doing what is in their goal. If it is such a problem, be the solution to fix it or shut up! The moment you can splinter off groups inside your own camp because they are the closest thing to an enemy you can attack, you set yourself back. Which gets to number 7…
7. Know the Real Opponent
Because of our great education and use of new words, we are quick to spew violence and hate to the people who are on our side, yet are not in agreement with all of our ideas. In organizing, we are taught there are no permanent friends, and there are no permanent enemies. But we do know who are or should be our allies on this specific cause. Having a concern with a person about another matter should not stop the progression of the subject at hand. Many enemies against your cause are able to rest, because we do the job for them through our past issues of people on our side. Know the true antagonist at the time of the issue and don’t make an enemy out of a partner.
8. Realize Everyone is Not Against You
We can lose secondary helpers to help our primary cause by assuming that just because a person does not understand our purpose means they fighting against us. You might lose the opportunity of winning over another worker by starting off with the public bully method to people who do not deserve it. Everyone does not go on your side because you publicly shamed them. Some people may not know and it is our job to inform them, allow them to make their own decision and we might have a loyalist on our side. Do not allow your emotions to stop your momentum.
9. Keep Doing the Work Until Your Second Wind Comes
Burnout is real. And this work can be lonely. Do not assume you are the only one doing the work. Keep working until you see the inspiration of others who believe in you silently become vocal. We sometimes can stop one shovel swing away from finding the buried treasure. Keep working and know more energy is on the way.
10. Think About the Future
This work is not just for you. It’s for the next generation whose eyes may still be innocent to the pains of this world. Keep the goal in mind at all times. We have so many precious youngin’s who need inspired and cared for with our work.
I usually don’t do scriptures in my post, but this one is needed. Don’t just pray and think you did your part. Remember faith without works is dead. No one cares to hear your voice if they do not know you care through your actions. Keep praying, but keep working too.