Before you read this…

I understand we may see things differently, and I like that. I understand you might not like how I see things, and that’s okay. I understand I may not see things the right way, please give me grace. I understand I may misspeak, please hear my heart. I understand I might say something I’m not supposed to, please remember my intent is not to hurt anyone. I understand I am not better than anybody and want to understand that even better every day God gives me breath. I also understand I don’t know everything.

Yesterday, on so many levels, was a great day. #BlackoutTuesday saw millions of people making a statement of solidarity on social media. I pray this first step warmed the hearts of many black men and women who have felt and been unseen, unheard, unappreciated, disrespected and disgraced, abused and abandoned, illegally searched, racially profiled, threatened, beaten and even murdered.

Here we are…the day after. What happens now? Was that it? Is social media solidarity enough? Well, I’d ask you to consider how social media looks on Valentine’s Day. In a sense, it felt a little like that yesterday. Please hear me, I am in no way, shape, or form opposed to #BlackoutTuesday. If you think I am, come walk with me for a week. But let me paint this picture using Valentine’s Day as the backdrop.

On Valentine’s Day, everybody gets on social media and declares the day. Many of us, in fact, declare the day more than we show our love. We put up pictures of red hearts and cupid, maybe even a picture of us and the one we love. Red is everywhere. Some even go so far as to profess publicly how much they love their significant other. You’ve probably seen this one too, where a couple blows up their IG with ooey gooey love on Valentine’s Day, everybody thinks they’re SO in love, and then several weeks later they shock everybody by getting a divorce. They sure sounded great for a day though. 

Please hear my heart. I am not in any way saying that anyone who participated yesterday with a blacked out screen is the moral equivalent of the divorced couple.

Solidarity is a necessity when someone is neglected, mistreated, forgotten, and abused. Those who are being hurt must NEVER stand alone. What I am saying is that love never settles for once a year declarations. In the same way the one you love deserves to hear it more than one or two days a year, so do the amazing black men and women in your life.  In fact, for many of us, what we say publicly on Valentine’s Day is .001% of what we end up saying and doing for the one we love by the end of that day. I know that’s how many will approach yesterday…at least I hope.

Now that #BlackoutTuesday has passed, here is what I am personally thinking about…where my life would be without black lives. Yes black lives matter. But why? In the same way I do for my wife or one of my kids, today, I celebrate how much different my life looks because of the incredible black men and women God has blessed me with in my life.

Without you, I wouldn’t have learned the work ethic and commitment it takes to be great at something.

Without you, I wouldn’t have learned how special it feels to be accepted and loved by someone who is so divinely different than me but so eerily similar to me.

Without you, I would never have gotten the nickname “Pretty Pres” nor would I have become so convinced of where I stand on east coast vs west coast from legendary locker room battles. If you know, you know. 😉

Without you, I wouldn’t have ever learned to shut my mouth because not everybody sees things the way I do.

Without you, I’m fairly sure I wouldn’t have worn Cross Color jeans on my first day of high school in Texas when Wranglers were their local jean of choice. (Cut me some slack…at an innocent 14 I had NO IDEA how much different Chicago and Dallas were;)

Without you, I would never have learned as a young boy how amazing it feels to have someone stand up for you.

Without you, I wouldn’t understand the power of the words, “Oh honey.”

Without you, I wouldn’t have fully believed I really did belong in the room.

Without you, I 1,000,000% would not understand the miraculous things God can do with a hug.

Without you, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I wouldn’t be comfortable in my own skin…not my white skin, my heart’s skin.

Without you, board meetings wouldn’t be nearly as fun. 🙂

Without you, I would have zero context for David and Jonathan.

Without you, I would’t have read NEARLY as many chapters of the Bible these past 14 years.

Without you, I wouldn’t have found that stories aren’t my thing…one-liners are.

Without you, I’ll have nobody to drink Arnold Palmers with on the porch when I’m in retirement.

Without you, I’m pretty sure I’d have to settle for less grandchildren.

Without you, I wouldn’t have become the man that I am.

Without you, the God of the universe knows I cannot and will not become the man I must become.

Without you, this earth just wouldn’t be all that it is and cannot become all that it must become on this side of heaven.

Without you, there would be gaps and holes in my life and all over this earth, because YOU are the only one who can fill them.

Today, I am grateful beyond words that I live in a world, where I don’t have to live without every one of you. You are a part of what makes me, me. I hope you hear my heart, I’m not trying to make today about me. I’m simply trying to lovingly acknowledge and celebrate the credit you deserve for the man I am becoming.

And to all of my white friends who posted black squares yesterday, way to go, but don’t stop there. Love never does. Don’t let the stand you take publicly be stronger than the appreciation, celebration, honor, submission, and love you share personally. Reach out to some of the amazing black men and women God has so richly blessed you with in this life. Render them speechless with what comes out of your heart…they deserve far more than a black box…Jesus sure thought so, I pray you do too.

– Preston

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