You Can’t Move from Exclusion to Belonging in One Step

mist rising off of a lake with grasses in the foreground and autumn trees and a morning sky in the backgroundWhen it comes to the work of undoing systemic injustice in America, many of us want to skip to the end of the story, from exclusion to belonging. 

We would like to skip ahead to the ideal vision of Dr. King’s dream. We’d like to live into the Coca-Cola commercial of 1971 in which the world is all singing in perfect harmony.

We’d like to have thick, deep relationships and truly diverse communities. We’d like to inhabit spaces where people from different racial and socio-economic backgrounds belong together.

But we cannot skip from exclusion to belonging.

Belonging is the end result of what will almost certainly be slow, messy, local, intentional work. 

That work of moving from exclusion to belonging will include:

  • acknowledging pain and harm and wrongdoing, both in its micro and macro forms
  • lamenting the brokenness
  • confessing the wrongs
  • asking for help (from God, from others) from a posture of humility

Acknowledging pain, asking for help—these are hard and humbling and absolutely necessary steps. They are also steps we take on a pathway towards joy and hope and love. They are steps that get us ready for healing.


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