LifestyleMoment Of Clarity

Leaning on Faith: Using Spirituality to Preserve My Sanity

We can no longer say the revolution will not be televised because through social media and live video footage, the world now has accessibility to see just what being Black really means.

Our vulnerability has become more publicly exposed than ever as the world watches us shed tears on and off camera, mourning in solidarity the shootings of our unarmed Black men, women and children.

Being an African-American woman and a Christian, societal pressures and the weight of my own spiritual accountability slowly started to expose itself in my way of being. I was becoming more defensive due to the daily reminder that I’m Black, have no White privileges and the realization that the color of my skin can inevitably put me just moments away from my own death. Spiritually, I question how to spread the gospel and encourage not only others, but myself.

How do I read and believe in scriptures like Psalm 23:4 that say, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me,” when I fear for my life and the lives of those I love, including the life of my step-brother who is also a police officer?

For this reason, religion and politics are no longer separate conversations. Within political disputes, I feel an obligatory need to trust as well as defend the gospel when it’s being attacked with questions like, “Where is your God in the midst of this recurring phenomena of injustice?” How as a Christian do you even respond to such a question? It’s tough, but in a continuous effort to try and unpack the weight of the world, it’s becoming very stressful to say the least. Which is why I wasn’t surprised that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health found that adult African-Americans are “twenty percent more likely to report serious psychological distress than adult Whites.”

In an effort to not overexert myself, I came to the conclusion that I must take time out for self care and most importantly, to be kind to myself. Mental and spiritual burnout is real! I began the process of changing my defensive mindset by taking a step back and regrouping in order to re-enter political conversations with a fresh mind and a clean heart. This has been very impactful, as it has allowed me to do a spiritual self-assessment and make sure that the words I speak are pure, loving and kind to those who view today’s racial climate differently than me.

Dr. Shauna Moore Reynolds, Ed.D., LCPC-S and Owner/Executive Director of SMR Counseling Services, has seen an increase in individuals diagnosed with anxiety.

“With each news report on a new police shooting, anxiety increases,” Dr. Moore Reynolds said. “It is comparable to when the threat alerts occurred after 9/11.  Whenever an alert went out, the public’s anxiety rose.”

Dr. Moore Reynolds advises that we disconnect from the media to ground ourselves.

“Take a break from the continuous coverage of police shootings and find something positive to do such as  pray, meditate, yoga, get in an exercise class, walking, pamper yourself.  Most of all spend positive time with friends and family.  Do not live your life focused on the ‘What ifs.’ You do not know what tomorrow will bring, so live each day to its fullest and enjoy every moment with your family and friends.”

Personally, I chose to continue to pray and stay in the practice of remembrance. To remember who God is and how He is a healer of all wounds.  I also choose to meditate on scriptures like Ephesians 6:10-20, 1 Timothy 2:1-4 and Isaiah 40:31 as it has led me to be in complete dependence on God for the change I seek in the world and not in mere man.

Even when having patience to see change in our judicial system seems redundant and I begin to feel overexerted, I am reminded to maintain perseverance.  Recently, I watched a sermon by Pastor Dharius Daniels of Kingdom Church in Ewing, New Jersey, and he says, “The test of faith is not just in the enormity of the obstacle; the test of faith is also in the length of the wait. It’s not how big can I believe, but can I keep on believing when it feels like believing isn’t working.”

When there is exposure of our vulnerabilities, it inadvertently exposes areas to heal, to love more, to pray more and to gain hope. So, as I continually walk in my spiritual journey, I am continuing to believe in the promises he has set for not only for me, but for this world.

Shenee Brown is a Christian Blogger and current grad student in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program at Loyola University Maryland. You can find her writings on the integration of mental health and spirituality on her blog Starving Christians and on Twitter and Instagram.