Why Reconciliation is Worth It

Jennie Allen
August 14, 2019

Jennie Allen

Bible teacher, founder of IF:Gathering
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I can't wait for you to meet my friend Tasha! This is a unique episode because you're going to see inside a friendship that isn't always easy and yet has been one of the most fruitful relationships. Tasha and I have put a lot of intentional work into our friendship and we have had a lot of hard conversations about race and differences, and I am so incredibly grateful for her. Her organization Be the Bridge is changing the world!

Let me just tell you how Tasha and I met. She wanted to bring some friends who had attended IF:Gathering in Austin and had some ideas on how we could pursue greater reconciliation. So we went to tacos and she brought three of her friends who were very brave and honest about how they felt. It was a little terrifying. But, it was also the biggest answer to prayer.

The second time we met was when she came to my gym and brought me a bag the size of Texas with African American products for my adopted son Cooper. I will never forget that. After that moment, I was sealed to Tasha. I would fight to stay her friend. She has continued to feed my life in such a rich way. 

THE BEGINNING 

From there we decided to start to meet regularly. We formed something that at the time was non-existent. It was a racial reconciliation circle of ten of our friends and it was intense. Tasha talked a little bit about how she felt moving from Atlanta to Austin:

"I was in Austin which was a totally different culture from Atlanta. No family, no friends... The things I started seeing pertaining to the racial divide, not just in our country, but within the church, that was ablazen for me. There was an unrest, an unsettling, a holy discontent that I had about it...We just started having difficult conversations with people and those conversations were needed for me to understand these different lived experiences and perspectives. We started right where we were with people we weren't familiar with, just having this dialogue."

That group changed everything. The grace Tasha and the other women of color extended us as we fumbled over these issues was unbelievable. We listened and they gave us grace. 

BRAVE SPACES

"We created what we call a brave space, because there will be discomfort. What's safe for you may not be safe for me. What's safe for me may not be safe for you. We come with different definitions of what safe is, so that can create a barrier. We show up brave in these spaces where everyone will be uncomfortable, but just because that discomfort is there doesn't mean it's wrong. I think at times there was discomfort, but everyone kept showing up and listening. That's what I appreciated. I didn't know what everyone's role was. I didn't know the people in that room, but I do know that everyone was showing up and that was important."

One of the best things about this group was that it wasn't just meeting together once a week. We did happy hours, birthday parties, funerals, country dancing, Easter lunch. We were in each other's lives. Tasha and I are incredibly different, but we realized we have more in common than we thought. Our differences push me to be better. She helps me see the world differently than I ever could have without her perspective. It has shaped everything about me. 

THE GOAL OF FRIENDSHIP

Friendship over time should cause change. This friendship hasn't been easy, it takes work, but that's exactly what makes it worth it. 

"Friendships also challenge us to be our best selves. I don't want someone who I'm always comfortable around. I want friends who are going to challenge and strengthen me and stretch me and push me to step out of my comfort zone...It's good for me to have friends around me that affirm, push, challenge, and dig deep. You have friends that serve different purposes."

THE PURSUIT OF DIFFERENT FRIENDS

So, how do we pursue friendships with people that are different than us? Be the Bridge has created an incredible framework for people to begin having these conversations. Here are a few steps Tasha suggested:

  1. Pray and invite God in on this work

  2. Seek out friendships that have different lived experiences and differences

  3. Do some work on the front end. Educate yourself on their culture, beliefs, profession, etc. 

To make this change, we have to do things differently than we've done them. 

"There's people who have never had dinner in a person of a different ethnicity's home. How do you change that? You change it by doing things differently than you've always done it. You have to be willing to take a risk and step out. You can change where you go workout or where you go get coffee or where you go to the grocery store or doing events that aren't typically what you would do...Your neighbor may not come over and introduce themselves to you, but would you go introduce yourself to them? Be willing to go into another space as a guest...This is not a movement. This is a lifestyle that you live until Jesus comes, because this is the right thing to do... For those that are part of the majority culture, it's key to listen, learn, and leverage your privilege. We don't arrive at this. We're all constantly learning and growing."

Tasha is an example of living it and taking risk for the benefit of others. It's changing trajectories and people's stories and the world. We get to be a part of this story. I can assure you it has been one of the best parts of my life.

Jennie Allen

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