I turn 37. It’s such a weird number.
Although, as of writing this, I’m 36 and about 361 days.

I’m at one of my favorite coffeeshops in Houston (Throughgood Coffee), taking in some caffeine through one of my favorite drinks (cappuccino), and reflecting on the year that was and the years that may be.

36 started off on a rough note.

My birthday lunch was interrupted by my wife’s SPRC chair crashing it.

We got a first hand experience of a church confusing tokenism with diversity and the fall out of *gasp* a person of color having an opinion and *double gasp* it being different from the white majority. Many churches that want to be diverse really are searching for tokensim: they want persons of color to be part of their community but they don’t want those PoC to have opinions that differ from the majority. Show up. Be silent. Buy into the culture.
“Look like us without looking like us.”

And it surprises me just how shocked they are to learn that we sometimes don’t have the same experience as them; don’t have the same outlook as them; and not all of us have the same opinions as them— which should be more than okay; which should be desirable; which makes community messy yet so beautiful.

But there are times when you’re confronted with white fragility and they don’t know what else to do but to take out all their anger on you for simply being different; for not being brainwashed by that culture.

And more often than not, the message of Jesus makes the majority uncomfortable and makes room for the minority. Basically, Jesus was rarely the well-liked amongst the popular kids. But he was loved by those who were oppressed.

That’s the thing about the prophetic voice. It veers from the majority (or popular) opinion/narrative because the prophetic voice is standing with the oppressed; the marginalized; the broken; the downtrodden; the poor; the voiceless; the minority. Moses stood up against Pharaoh on behalf of the slaves. However, we find ourselves wanting to stand with Pharaoh than risk our lives for the slaves.

And when we do speak up on behalf of the slaves against Pharaoh (or Caesar) and their empire — well, the outcome’s never pretty for the prophet. We love our empires. We love our pharaohs and caesars. Don’t be mistaken, we love power and might more than we do servanthood and sacrificial love. Even if we call ourselves “church.” And we don’t like folks reminding us that power and might are for the pharaohs and the caesars and empires of the world and servanthood and sacrificial love are for the disciples of Christ.

Those who utilize the prophetic voice are often ousted from their community. And the thought of speaking up and speaking out becomes more and more difficult to do; you start second guessing the words that are burning a fire within your soul and bones… because we hesitate going through the verbal stoning and putting our loved ones through the fallout once more…

But the thing about the Lee-Yoo clan — we’re crazy. We’re resilient. And we won’t be silent nor will we be silenced.

And since it didn’t kill us, it only made us stronger and only strengthened our resolve even more.

I should also point out there were very good and loving people that were involved in this mess.

It’s a shame that the toxic people tend to be the loudest, and therefore the most heard in a community (being heard and listened to are different things…)

This is why good/healthy people need to speak up.

Silence only empowers the oppressors, not the oppressed.

All that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good people do nothing.

So that was how 36 started. It was a tense season that we navigated through.

Thankfully 37 hasn’t been that dramatic. (Well, I still have 4 days left… so hopefully nothing will happen in the next 4 days…)

I’m curious to see what the year of my 37th rotation around the sun will hold.

I expect some things to change; I expect some things to remain the same; seasons to end; new seasons to begin; roads to new beginnings; roads coming to end… I’m running out of clichés.

Through it all, I pray that I be faithful to God’s calling on my life; that I’d be quick to love; that I refuse to be silent in the matters of justice and love — job and reputation be damned; that I’d be quick to love and filled with patience; that I’ll embody grace; simply put that I act justly, love mercy, and to walk humbly with God.

Here’s to 37.

May friendship, like wine, improve as time advances.
And may we always have old wine, old friends, and young cares.

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