When we attempt to muzzle people’s pain we widen their wounds. Without honest communication there is no intimacy. Without intimacy it’s difficult to touch a heart, the seedbed of where true, lasting, and positive change can take place.
So, thank you to authors Lori Stanley Roeleveld and Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith for participating in this interview. I’m grateful for your courage to start this conversation and for showing us how to do likewise with your amazing book, Colorful Connections: 12 Questions About Race That Open Healthy Conversations. What an honor it is to host you.
*We originally hosted this interview below on #HealthyFaithChat on Twitter. HealthyFaithChat is a Bible based Q & A style chat. Occasionally we host interviews with authors about their Christian books. (The @ followed by a name is the person’s Twitter handle and links to their profile.) And yes, we know there is only one race, the human race.
Lori Stanley Roeleveld: I’ve followed Jesus since I was 4 and saw a televised #BillyGraham crusade. I responded to the altar call, going forward in front of our TV. I wrote yearly letters to our deacons asking to be baptized before age 12. They relented when I was 11. #HealthyFaithChat
Jesus-follower. Writer, Christian coach, speaker, and disturber of hobbits. Degrees in psychology/biblical studies. Wife, mom, grandmom, and life-long Rhode Islander. Worked for years with families in crisis. This is my fifth traditionally published book. #HealthyFaithChat
Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith: I’m a physician in Alabama who accepted Jesus in my teens. Medical school pulled me away from my faith for a season but thankfully I found my way back to Truth.
Q. Rachael M. Colby: When did you first start writing? Did either of you ever envision writing a book on race relations? What inspired this? — And why now? [Colorful Connections: 12 Questions About Race That Open Healthy Conversations.]
Lori Stanley Roeleveld @lorisroeleveld: First published at 13. I’ve always written about the application of biblical truth to current life/culture. 1st book published at 53. I never planned to write about race because, as an older white woman, I felt it was my time to listen to other voices. #HealthyFaithChat
Summer 2020, a reader asked me to blog about having conversations around racial tensions. I had written #TheArtofHardConversations, so it made sense. That post became the outline for this book. My editor suggested, though, that I couldn’t write it alone. #HealthyFaithChat
Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith @DrDaltonSmith: Thank you for the warm welcome! I started writing in 2005 as a songwriter. My first book was published in 2011. I never envisioned writing a book on race relations. My focus in writing is to bring healing, but it has always been around physical, spiritual, and emotional healing.
#ColorfulConnections was inspired by the racial tension of 2020. When @lorisroeleveld suggested this project, my reluctance to enter the conversation was the proof I needed to confirm why a book on the topic of how to have these conversations was needed
Q. Rachael M. Colby: Lori, you are also the author of The Art of Hard Conversations: Biblical Tools for the Tough Talks that Matter. But what made you choose Dr. Saundra as co-author for Colorful Connections: 12 Questions About Race That Open Healthy Conversations
Lori Stanley Roeleveld: We knew of each other. We shared literary agents and sat together at a conference. I was impressed with [Dr. Saundra’s book, Sacred Rest: Recover Your Life, Renew Your Energy, Restore Your Sanity] #SacredRest and respected her writing but that’s all I knew about her when I sent an email inviting her into this project. I had no idea what she’d say. #HealthyFaithChat
I was surprised, scared, and excited when Saundra said yes. I sure knew I didn’t have the courage to write this book without Jesus. It was perfect that we got to know one another through these questions and this process as we encourage others to do. #HealthyFaithChat.
Q. Rachael M. Colby: Why did you bring people of ethnicities other than Black and White into the conversation on #racerelations in your book Colorful Connections: 12 Questions About Race That Open Healthy Conversations?
What do they bring to the table?
Lori Stanley Roeleveld: God created a variety of skin colors. White and black don’t own this conversation. We value all voices from all ethnicities and invited as many as would come to be included in this book. We’re richer for the contribution of other colors and perspectives. #HealthyFaithChat
Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith @DrDaltonSmith: This topic is not about just White and Black. It’s about cultural and ethnic sensitivity. It was important to add conversations from people who had different experiences than ours as the authors. Listening to different voices is part of the healing process.
Q. Rachael M. Colby: In your book Colorful Connections: 12 Questions About Race That Open Healthy Conversations you state “Am I a racist?” is a flawed question. Explain.
What are examples of the “better questions” you say we need to ask?
Lori Stanley Roeleveld: Am I a racist leads to dead ends and accusations. It’s an incendiary question. Plus, it’s likely only sensitive people are asking it and engaging in endless cycles of reflection whereas haters aren’t reflecting at all. Better questions engage true dialog. #HealthyFaithCha
Why have a conversation about race? What do we gain by listening to one another? What can we do to slow our anger and hard to offend? How can I love you better? What legacy do we want to leave to the next generation regarding racial reconciliation? #HealthyFaithChat
Authentic, compassionate questions open dialog. They don’t induce guilt, suggest an accusation or imply “right” answers. This is a heart issue because “out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Our hearts must be seeking true unity in Christ. #HealthyFaithChat
Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith: It’s a bad question because most of us would immediately answer no and check this conversation off our to-do list. Better questions include How can I show love to others better? Am I listening to understand or to be understood? How can I be slow to get offended?
Q. Rachael M. Colby: How will readers benefit from your book? Who is this book for and how do you suggest it is used? #ColorfulConnections
Lori Stanley Roeleveld: Readers will see us model an open conversation filled with honesty and grace, as well as responses from men and women of other ethnicities. Each chapter has scriptures, thought questions, and suggested steps every reader can take. #HealthyFaithChat
CC is for everyone wanting to be part of the solution. We transform culture person to person. Each of us has the power to dialog with family, friends, or acquaintances and create change. We must recover our belief that in Christ, we can have an impact. #HealthyFaithChat
There are tips here for leaders facilitating large group conversations but we believe the greatest impact will be individuals using it to talk with one another. Start with someone who looks like you, then invite others in. We have every reason to hope. #HealthyFaithChat
Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith: #ColorfulConnections is for the person who has been hesitant to enter these conversations because they fear they will say the wrong thing or the leader who desires to open dialogue but is concerned it will only lead to more strife. It provides guidance for a #HealthyFaithChat.
Q. Rachael M. Colby: How has your Christianity influenced your handling of this book project?
Lori Stanley Roeleveld: My entire hope for change is in Christ. It’s in the church I’ve seen people of varying skin colors find peace and unity. We need that to continue to emerge from within the church and impact communities. Like Nehemiah, each working on their “section of wall.” #HealthyFaithChat
Q. Rachael M Colby: How has writing your book changed you?
Lori Stanley Roeleveld: It’s been my on-ramp to resume this work. I had pulled off the narrow road on this topic and was only spectating. Now, I see the path again and am walking it, learning. I realize racial reconciliation is not an “elective.” It’s the gospel. It’s kingdom work.
Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith @DrDaltonSmith: Writing #ColorfulConnections pulled me out of my comfortable bubble. It’s easier to avoid hard topics and stay quiet. This book stretches my faith. Calls me to prayer. Refuses to allow me to profess the love of God without putting action t
QUESTIONS FROM THE #HealthyFaithchat AUDIENCE ON TWITTER:
QUESTION: Pastor Kevin Obermeyer @KevinObie1: Q. What kind of pushback have you received with this book, if any?
Lori Stanley Roeleveld: I’ve certainly seen people concerned this book is about furthering guilt and shame but once they crack it open, they find it’s about hope and shared work. #HealthyFaithChat
Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith @DrDaltonSmith: There has been some pushback. We cover hot topics like cancel culture in the book which can be triggering for some but try to keep the focus on having a biblical response to difficult topics and not getting pulled away from the goal of the book – healing.
Q. Christian Quotes, Scripture & Hilarious Humor @CSLCHSnMore How did the two of you connect to write this—friends before writing?
Lori Stanley Roeleveld: We knew of each other. We shared literary agents and sat together at a conference. I was impressed with #SacredRest and respected her writing but that’s all I knew about her when I sent an email inviting her into this project. I had no idea what she’d say.
Lori Stanley Roeleveld: Freedom. People saying they are finding freedom to engage in conversations and finally seeing the “on-ramp” to participate in the healing again.
Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith @DrDaltonSmith: We are leading a team through the book now and it has been wonderful to see them move from being fearful to open to sharing their experiences. Most didn’t know there was healing needed in this area until they experienced it. #HealthyFaithChat
Q. We Need an Ark @WeNeedAnArk Hi Saundra, Lori. This is such a tough area. Everything is so polarized, from those on one side who say that historical oppression is irrelevant, to others who insist on white guilt in perpetuity. How do you break through this impasse? Can the two be reconciled?
Lori Stanley Roeleveld: Great observation, but we do it by taking our conversation “off grid.” Jesus came to help us escape the devil’s matrix so we step off. We refuse to polarize. We do the work. We keep talking.
Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith @DrDaltonSmith: Great question. We discuss both in the book. One way to reconcile the two is to shift focus to addressing the hurting person presently in front of you rather than getting sidetracked by the past. How do you love that person well now? #HealthyFaithChat
Q. Mrs. Telannia Norfar, NBCT @thnorfar Ohh, 1 more question: will there be a follow up book?
Lori Stanley Roeleveld: Ha! That’s like asking a woman who just gave birth if there will be more babies! We’re focused on spreading the word and work of this book right now!
Q. Kevin Obermeyer @KevinObie1: #HealthyFaithChat @lorisroeleveld and @DrDaltonSmith Is there a specific target audience intended for this book, either to read the book or to reach by reading the book?
Lori Stanley Roeleveld: It’s for every Christian trying to be part of the solution.
Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith @DrDaltonSmith The target audience is Christians who want to be a part of seeing a healthy change in the area of race relations. It’s the person who realizes this starts with better 1-1 relationships with others inside and outside of their ethnic groups. #HealthyFaithChat
Q. Virginia Garrett @virginia_garret: @lorisroeleveld and @khutch0767 What do you say to those who say, “I am not a racist”?
Lori Stanley Roeleveld: I believe them and move on to more productive questions.
Q. We Need an Ark @WeNeedAnArk: @lorisroeleveld It is so unfortunate that the most polarising voices are those who are amplified in the media. Was your intended audience people in the Church, or those outside it? Many on the political side of things believe Christianity is part of the problem. #HealthyFaithChat
Lori Stanley Roeleveld: We are focused on Jesus-followers. It’s important to address the discouragement that has impacted the church. We need to be careful not to lose heart so we can continue the work. #HealthyFaithChat
Q. Pastor Kevin Obermeyer @KevinObie1: #HealthyFaithChat @lorisroeleveld and @DrDaltonSmith Does your book address dealing with people who only want to win? Is there a way to “win” them back to a productive discussion?
Lori Stanley Roeleveld: I cover a lot about those kind of conversations in my previous book The Art of Hard Conversations. I believe that if we persist with love and keep inviting people back in, that’s our stance for this topic. Love and gentle but hard truth.
Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith @DrDaltonSmith I discuss some of the psychology of this “win” in the book as it relates to in-groups and out-groups. The shift that has to occur to shift to a productive discussion is helping to deconstruct these groups. We all belong to many in-out groups. #HealthyFaithChat
Q. Agnes Mina,CLS,MT,MD @agnesisaiah4110: @lorisroeleveld Christians are called to a different way of life, and that will only happen if we pattern our thinking after the Word of God. Did you include Bible verses in your book? How did the book of the Gospel minister to your readers?
Lori Stanley Roeleveld: Our book is loaded with scripture in both our dialog and in the follow up to each chapter. Really, racial reconciliation isn’t an elective topic – it IS the gospel!Tweet
We absolutely agree. #ColorfulConnections is infused with the Word of God. The Bible is the reference to which we return throughout the book.
Q. Mrs. Telannia Norfar, NBCT @thnorfar: @JasonWalker_ and @adi_teryima This is more of my own personal experience. I start with the present and biggest issue at hand for the person. We move to the past more naturally that way. I also understand that not everyone has ears to hear.
Lori Stanley Roeleveld: Love this. Take each conversation as an individual exploration rather than a chance to forward an agenda.
Q. Jason SkyWalker @JasonWalker_ Replying to @JasonWalker_ @GVCinc and 47 others Question for #HealthyFaithChat how do you address the victim of racism without addressing the past? How do you address of a person who has an illness without looking at past factors?
Lori Stanley Roeleveld: Treat them as an individual. Show genuine compassion and listen. We do have to listen to stories from the past and care even if we can’t change what occurred or aren’t responsible for it.
Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith: You can acknowledge the past without allowing it to become the focus of the conversation. I acknowledge that a diabetic has glucose intolerance but my conversation would be focused on the next healing steps, not recounting every error of the past.
Q. Jason SkyWalker: @KevinObie1 and @DrDaltonSmith True, but no way can you deal with the needed solutions for the diabetes without looking at the past and the effects of the past. I was only responding to what was said in #HealthyFaithChat about not looking at the past. Understanding the past allows us to understand the present.
Lori Stanley Roeleveld: It’s not that we don’t look at the past. Of course, we must. We can listen. We can care. #HealthyFaithChat We discuss it in context and respect the individuals in the conversation.
Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith: I see your point with this question now as it states without addressing the past.
You can’t move forward without the history. Reviewing the past is part of any healing journey. It helps guide next steps. Exactly, know the history but don’t get stuck in it.Tweet
Thank you, Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith and Lori Stanley Roeleveld for sharing with us about your book Colorful Connections: 12 Questions That Open healthy Conversations. But as you know, I have more questions and look forward to future conversations with you and sharing them with my audience. Thank you also to all participants for your questions during this #HealthyFaithChat interview on Twitter and for allowing me to include them in this post. God bless you. (And make sure you check out the great resources and gift suggestions below.:)
Can we talk without being canceled?Tweet
Can we listen and love each other?
He giveth to all life and breath and all things, and hath made of one blood all mankind (Acts 17:25-26 1599 Geneva Bible GNV)
For our full #HealthyFaithchat schedule on Twitter and a list of upcoming topics please visit our website: HealthyFaithChat.com
MY REVIEW: Colorful Connections: 12 Questions About Race That Open Healthy Conversations, Lori Roeleveld and Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith Powerful, revelatory, instructive, inspiring. I wish every high school, post-secondary school, and religious institution would carry this book in their libraries. With bared hearts the authors demonstrate through their dialogue how to conduct honest, healthy, productive conversation to help bring understanding, healing, and build relationships across ethnicities. Prepare to do some soul searching and shed some tears as you read these personal accounts. Regardless of your religious or political persuasion, your ethnicity, experience or lack thereof in the realm of race relations, this book empowers readers to bring reconciliation to their communities. The principles and exercises in Colorful Connections: 12 Questions About Race That Open Healthy Conversations not only have the potential to help bridge the racial divide, but can prove beneficial to any relationship. #ColorfulConnections
Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith is a board-certified internal medicine physician, work-life integration researcher, speaker, and host of I Choose My Best Life Podcast where she shares biblical ways to help you live fully, love boldly, and rest intentionally. Her previous books include Sacred Rest, Set Free to Live Free and Come Empty. #SacredRest #ColorfulConnections You can connect with #author Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith here: Blog: iChooseMyBestLife.com Find Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith’s books on Amazon HERE. Facebook Twitter @DrDaltonSmith
Lori Stanley Roeleveld is a Christian coach, author, and speaker with degrees in psychology and biblical studies. Lori's previous books include: The Art of Hard Conversations: Biblical Tools for the Tough Talks That Matter Jesus and the Beanstalk, Running from a Crazy Man (and Other Adventures Traveling with Jesus). #TheArtofHardConversations #ColorfulConnections You can connect with #author Lori Roeleveld here: Blog: LoriRoeleveld.com Find Lori Stanley Roeleveld’s books on Amazon HERE. Facebook Twitter @lorisroeleveld
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For our full #HealthyFaithchat schedule on Twitter and a list of upcoming topics please visit our website: HealthyFaithChat.com
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