In April 2018 one of my greatest professional goals was realized: I was hired to shoot an original bible study series with Right Now Media, to accompany my book “The Struggle is Real.” It was everything I hoped it would be, especially getting to work with a world-class creative team to bring the documentary-style “day in the life” concept into existence. We had drones. We had three camera angles. We had a great script, a great setting, and a great team. It was everything I had hoped it would be, and one of my favorite projects to date. But…
2018 was a very different time than 2021. One of the most important things I wanted to do with the study was use the presence of Confederate Monuments in Richmond to draw attention to the fact that the same “monument” in life can mean two very different things to different people. At the time, our national collective knowledge as a community of the mere existence of Confederate monuments was zero to nil. Race and racial reconciliation was relegated to a few brave organizations (like this one) that were trying to draw attention to the reality of unjust structures and systems that our country has been built upon. On this frigid day in April, I had the chance to use the presence of those monuments to draw an analogy to the capital S struggle of sin and brokenness in ourselves and in our world.
But then….the conversation changed. All of us know that the last 12 months has brought enormous upheaval to the way we see the world. The conversation is layered and complicated, but what is clear is that our collective conversation around race, white supremacy, and injustice has (hopefully) forever been changed. The conversation around monuments of all kinds–like the one I stood in front of three years ago, and the invisible, formidable monuments that have blocked unity and justice for so long–is also, finally, changed.
What I didn’t realize was how much that change impacted the way this bible study session was received. My words that felt “woke” in 2018 were woefully inadequate. I was not clear enough about how the painful and oft-ignored narrative of people of color in our country was wrong. Some of you have spoken up to me, my team and Right Now Media about it. Last Friday, we had a team call about it. And five days later, the film crew was on the plane to Richmond, squeezing out one day to rewrite and shoot session 2.
Session 2, 2021: We tried so hard to re-create the same exact look–how crazy is it that was able to find the exact outfit again? (thank you, Athleta)
The new session will be replaced (and free on Youtube) in just a few weeks. I have to admit that when we first started the conversation, I felt frustrated and defeated. But then I realized that the entire teaching from The Struggle is Real is about lies we’ve believed and the work it takes to live into our new story in Christ. One of those lies I’ve believed for most of my life is that if I’m not perfect in my work, I won’t be loved. But thankfully, Jesus has worked in my history, and when I process this experience, I’m able to embrace the freedom that comes from being able to say: “it’s OK to have a do-over. It’s OK to admit that something that used to be good might not be good anymore. It’s OK to accept help and feedback and grow from it.”
And guess what? The day was amazing, even more fun than the first time. The opportunity to preach the gospel filled me with joy (as it always does). I love this team dearly and I love this work, and I love you guys. Thank you for continuing to trust me to bring you God’s Word. Thank you for providing feedback and correction. Thank you for trusting me with your small group or your ministry or your church. This is truly what I love to do, and I will keep doing this as long as God gives me words to share and air to breathe. The promise of easter is the hope we find in the risen Jesus Christ. He gives us victory over sin and shame, and sets us free to experience the grace of do-overs, in big and small ways throughout our lives. What amazing, incredible, GOOD news.