Sunday, November 8, 2020

Sharing Our Stories: Being "Woke"

The Hole in the Soul of America
A Guest post by Dr. Angelle M. Jones

“Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” 
–Psalm 82:3-4 (NIV)

I cannot remember exactly, but I believe I was a mere twenty-one years old when I voted for the first time. This year, I voted by absentee ballot; another first.

I was surprised because in my early years of ministry, I traveled and relocated from one city and state to another. I guess wherever I traveled, one way or another I always returned in time to cast my personal vote at the polls.

As always, I prayed, I did my research, and studied the candidates. It seemed to feel more daunting than ever before. It also seemed to take much longer than it should have. As strange as it may seem, it was not that it was difficult to know who I would vote for, instead I was challenged because for the first time in many years, I felt free to vote how I chose to vote. For the first time, I set myself free from the bondage of voting the way I was told I should vote.

During the most controversial election in my life time, along with my first absentee ballot, came the freedom to vote my own conscious. This election, not my Black family or friends, or my White church would tell me how to vote. This time, after forty years of voting, I showed up as an emotionally healthy, spiritually mature adult. No longer divided by race or religion. Free in the comfort of my own sacred space, called home. Free from the elements. Free from being harassed with sample ballots by last minute campaigners. Freed from the volunteers and onlooker’s stares holding me captive, if my ballot wasn’t found in the majority party’s book for my neighborhood. This time as I marked my ballot, it was as if I heard it shout loudly in return, “Free at last, free at last!” Thank God Almighty, she’s free at last!

In the midst of what political analysts are considering to be the most divisive election in my lifetime, I had the unmitigated gall to vote just how I wanted to. I realized as I toiled to fill in the empty white circles legibly, as they were colored black by the stroke of my pencil, I was finally returning to myself from a wilderness journey of personal deconstruction. The years of grief, loss, tears, and finally emotional and spiritual growth were all left on that road to my current state of being, which had now become my transformation of reconstruction.

I was woke for the first time in years, or possibly, the first time ever. I felt as though I could think clearly, more importantly, I could finally think for myself. No more did I have to follow whoever showed up as the leader of who I should vote for, which party, which candidate, or which issue. I would not allow my family, my race, nor my religion, continue to hold the reins on my way of doing life any longer, especially as it related to how I spent my time at the ballot box.

As it happens, I finally accepted the fact that from now on, I am free to be the leader of how I cast my ballot. I finally embraced the baton passed down from generations of my ancestors who showed up at the polls in years past, knowing it could cost them their life to even show up to vote. Those same dark melanin ancestors like Fannie Lou Hamer, marched to the polls anyway, prepared to vote her conscious, after being beaten days before, for trying to register to vote.

It takes a relationship with a liberator to liberate oneself from the bondages of sin and evil. The soul of America sadly, is an interconnection of both ills, the sin of racism and the evil of oppression. As my grandmother would probably say, this country is “Rotten to the core.”

To be fair, the most important lesson learned, is it takes a liberated mindset to free one from themselves. To be freed from oneself, is to be freed from allowing the oppressive attitudes and actions of individual or collective oppressors to control your life. What I finally learned from my own wilderness journey, was, no matter how oppressed you may feel, you can free yourself.

When your mind is free, no matter how tight the physical chains, as the Apostle Paul says in Galatians 5:1 (NIV), “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” I finally set myself free to vote as I chose, and although it may have been with good intentions, not how others instructed me to in the past.

Today we need leaders like the prophet Asaph, in Psalm 82. Bold prophets and leaders who are willing to call out the modern-day oppressors. These individuals need to be called out from hiding the darkness of voter suppression, and even the manipulation of bullying Christians who try to make their political opponents feel threatened because they don’t vote a certain way. Yes, to vote is to offer one aspect of your voice, however to defend the weak, and not only the aborted fetus, but also the fatherless children, should be the voice of today’s prophets. Where are those who God has called to speak in behalf of the weak and needy?

From now on, I will cherish the right of American citizens to vote as they please. Instead of stacking votes for their preferred party and political pundits, hopefully Christian leaders from all political parties will strive to uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.

This is my prayer: O Lord I pray, raise up the people of your Kingdom, who are willing to work as one, from the Conservative Right and the Liberal Left, to rescue the oppressed from their wicked oppressors.

Author Bio:

“Inspiring and Motivating With the Power of Words” 

Angelle M. Jones believes that the power of words inspires, and motivate to bring about transformative change individually and collectively.

Angelle originally hails from Cleveland, Ohio. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in African-American studies from the University of Cincinnati. Angelle has a master’s degree in Theological Studies from Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia and an earned Doctorate in Ministry on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, and his philosophy of The Beloved Community from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio.

Her ministry career began as a staff member of the Northeastern Ohio Billy Graham Crusade in 1994. For twenty years, as founder and director of In The Spirit Ministries, Inc. she led teams on mission outreaches throughout the world. From 2007-2012 Angelle served as Missions Director of New Salem Missionary Baptist Church in Columbus, Ohio where she currently resides. Angelle is founder and director of GlobaLife Coaching and Consulting serving as a Life and Transformation Coach and Church Consultant.

In 2016 Angelle authored and self-published her first book, Happily Never After. Along with sharing words of hope by sharing her writings on her social media platforms, she has been published in Vantage Magazine which is a literary source for faculty, students and alumni of Columbia Theological Seminary, and Ready which is a cutting-edge online magazine addressing current events and trending socially relevant topics for women.

Angelle is the mother of an adult daughter. She is a grandmother and great-grandmother.

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