My whole life I have lived as a white middle-class white female. It has been my reality for over 23 years. It is how the world views me, and it’s more than skin deep. It has shaped how I view the world, cultures, employment, and others. More than living as a white middle-class white female, I am the only one who has ever lived my life. There never has been and never will be another Caitlin Snyder who has lived the same life as me. The life I’ve lived has influenced and continues to influence my perspective and my decisions. Harper Lee, in her book, To Kill a Mockingbird, speaks of this concept. Atticus Finch says to his daughter Scout, “You never really understand a person until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” Yes. Thank you Atticus Finch, you may be a fictional character, but that statement packs a punch to the gut. This is commentary on race, but it’s more than that, it’s a comment on our own experiences; they are that – our own experiences. I once told my high school English teacher that I wanted to sit down and ask a person of each race questions about how they viewed their race, discrimination and their experience. She kindly reminded me that even if that was possible, we could not generalize one person of the race’s experience to every one. Experiences differ not just based on race, but on the person’s own view points, identity, upbringing, education, and the infinitely other factors that influence us.
My family sat around on Wednesday night and talked about the Michael Brown case. My mind has not been able to stop thinking about it. I do not know what it is like to be a cop, nor do I know what is like to be a young adult black male. More specifically, I haven’t had the opportunity to walk about Michael Brown’s skin, nor Darren Wilson’s skin. I’m deeply troubled. My heart breaks for the community of Ferguson, for the Wilson and Brown families. My heart breaks for the losses that families experience everyday, due to race, class and gender violence, and communities that are plagued with injustice. Truly, my heart breaks.
But today we celebrate the beginning of advent. The season when Christians look back and reflect on God coming to the earth as a tiny baby who would save us from our sins. This is the season that celebrates “the word [becoming] flesh and [making] his dwelling among us” (John 1). Jesus left a perfect throne and put on human skin, entering into our experience. Our messy, imperfect, fallen experience. He injected hope, via Himself, into our human experience.
He didn’t fix the experience by giving us more money, providing political stability or curing cancer, but what he gave us was so much more. Peace, hope, grace, joy, and the ability to look towards a perfect end. A heavenly end, without heartbreak, hurt or pain. Weeks like these I long for that end, when the suffering is no more. I cry out to the Lord asking Him to come back and restore things to the way they should be, not the way they are.
I wait in eager expectation for my Savior to save me once and for all. And so during Advent, I will choose to focus on Christ. My peace. My hope. My rescuer. Over two thousand years ago, He was born as a baby in a manger, he lived as a man; he died a brutal death on the cross and rose again. He will come again, to save us once and for all, from the death, destruction, pain, suffering and sin. Until then, I remember the limitations of my own experience, I pray for justice, I seek the Lord for guidance and understanding, and I look forward in anticipation of the coming of Christ.