AKA: George Floyd is not the one on trial.
Yesterday I prayed for Derek Chauvin. I wasn’t expecting to do so. I didn’t want to do so. But I did.
I tuned into the opening arguments for the trial of the man who murdered George Floyd on Monday morning, March 29th. As I tuned in, I wasn’t planning on even saying Derek Chauvin’s name. Did his name deserve to be said? Instead, shouldn’t we focus on saying George Floyd’s name and uplifting his family? That was certainly my mindset during the first few minutes of the opening arguments.
But I could only watch the first few minutes. As the video aired of George Floyd’s murder, I turned off the video. I know how it ends. My psyche can’t handle watching a person die. As I turned off the video, I recalled that it was my turn to pray at church later that day.
Why did I offer to pray today?
In that moment, I was filled with righteous anger. I was definitely going to bring up George Floyd’s family when we got to prayer requests. And since I was praying, I would lift up the Floyd family. I quickly started writing the prayer, starting with Holy Week/remembering Jesus’ passion and death. I then wrote asking God to help us all go deeper with God as we prepare for Easter Sunday. Then the prayer shifted to praying for and mourning with the Floyd family.
As I sat in the stillness and in my righteous indignation, my gut/God/a little voice inside my head asked, “What about Derek Chauvin?” Really? My first thought was to not say his name. Let’s focus on the persons who are hurting during this time, I told myself. Then the voice inside my head asked, “Don’t you think some of Derek Chauvin’s friends, family, co-workers and others in the Minneapolis community are hurting?” Ugh.
My heart was growing heavier, even heavier than it felt when the video of George Floyd’s death began. But I knew what I needed to do. Maybe it was due to all the times we pray for our enemies at church. Perhaps it was because as a worship leader, I share how our church extends God’s love and grace to all persons. Maybe it’s because I was alone and actually had a few moments to sit in the stillness, in the silence.
I included Derek Chauvin in the prayer.
But friend, I had to practice saying the prayer aloud. The righteous anger didn’t leave just because I wrote the words. The righteous indignation didn’t leave just because I said the words aloud. But it did begin to transform. My heart began to soften. Why couldn’t I pray for both the Floyd family and Derek Chauvin? Why wouldn’t I do so?
Sometimes we need to empty ourselves, even when we’re dedicated to social justice and racial equity. Sometimes we need to empty ourselves in order to pray for our enemies. And sometimes we need to empty ourselves in order to go deeper with God.
In all I do, I advocate for love. In all I do, love is the why. I want people to know the incredible love of Jesus Christ.
So yes, I prayed for Derek Chauvin, his friends and family, and the Minneapolis police department yesterday. But George Floyd’s family and friends and those in marginalized communities were prayed for first. May we all remember that God’s love and grace is extended to all persons.
In May 2017, Chris and I became parents to our three daughters. We are forever learning how to best support our three black daughters as we navigate life as a transracial family through adoption.
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