God didn’t make a mistake…

Mom. God did something wrong. He messed up on me because he made me brown, he did not make me white. He needs to go back and fix it so I can be white.

A friend recently posted the quote above on her Facebook page…and my heart just broke right open. She went on to tell about how she responded and how she sought help from someone else within their circle to reinforce her words and help instill pride and understanding into her precious child.

I wanted to write about it then, but it just seemed a bit out of touch for a middle-aged white woman to address such a thing in her blog. I’ve continued to think about it though, and with all that has happened in the last week or so, I know for certain that I was wrong. It needs to be addressed by ALL of us. Not addressing such a thing has led us to where we are right now…and it is beyond unacceptable for us to be where we are. But, honestly, where to start? Where to start?!

I’m so grateful he talked to his mom and didn’t just keep this to himself. This precious child who is strong and smart and handsome knows he can trust his mom with what he thinks. That’s the mark of great parenting and I’m incredibly proud of his mom and the way she walks her walk in the difficult task of raising her boys.

Because she was open enough to share it, I’ve had to think about it. It hasn’t all been comfortable. I’ve had to deliberately think through what I was taught and what I “caught” as I grew up in Mississippi in the 1960s. For the record, that doesn’t always mean what people think it does. Some of the most educated, lovingly inclusive people I’ve ever known come from the same place I do. A person can never be truly known simply by the history, actions and attitudes present in the land of their birth. The same can be said of wherever you come from, too, I suspect, and that’s part of the point of this post. We can’t change the past, but we can certainly do something about today!

Children can often get things wrong simply because they aren’t old enough to understand or don’t hear/know the whole narrative. This child got it wrong because WE as adults haven’t understood the whole narrative, so what has been passed down over the generations has led us to this toxic reality that we share today . With that in mind, I’ll start like this:

  • Oh, sweet child (and adults and everyone in between!), God is never wrong. He is perfect.  “As for God, his way is perfect…” Psalm 18:30 (NIV) 
  • Because He is perfect, we can assume that we are not mistakes. He made us on purpose and He made us ALL different. There is no wrong color and no right color because God apparently likes them all or He would have already stopped making people of all different shades –and height and weight and every other physical characteristic you can name.
  • God made each of us on purpose. Psalm 139 is clear about that. He carefully created us and planned out our lives in order to bless us. That’s really great because it tells us that the things we can’t change about ourselves (our parents, the place we were born, and our genetics–including our skin color!) are things that God chose individually just for us. HE thinks that’s the best way for us to be. Yes, He could have created you differently, but God decided that YOU would best glorify Him by being just the way He made you–and He is never wrong.
  • The things we can change about ourselves (our thoughts, decisions, actions, and attitudes) are the things over which He gives us free will. These are OUR choices so it is up to us to make the most of them so that we can glorify Him and honor those around us as fellow creations of a loving and almighty God.
  • When God’s Word tell us something and the world around us acts like something else, you can take it to the bank:  it is the WORLD that is wrong. People are the problem, not God. That’s always the case whenever there is hate, discrimination, and bigotry–and a whole lot of other ugly words I wish you would never have to learn about first hand.
  • The decision to elevate one skin color (or any other physical trait!) over another is a sin. It isn’t a cultural issue. It isn’t a pride issue. It isn’t “the natural order of things” or any other phrase that’s used by those who practice it. It is sin.
  • The only cure for sin is Jesus. That’s why every single person on the planet needs Him.
  • The only way we can change our society is by accepting Christ and then acting like Him. We need to be “Jesus with skin on”–no matter what color our skin is!!– for everyone we meet. We will still mess up and we will occasionally be wrong in really big ways because we are human, but if we are consistently trying to be like God tells us to be in His Word, then we’ll be way ahead of where we are right now…and our world NEEDS us to be like He tells us to be. It is the only way some of them will ever hear about Him.

Hear me well, please. Wherever you are, whoever you are, or whatever you look like, God loves you! Be proud of who you are! He designed you on purpose for great things–the best of which is to be like His Son. You can only do that if you choose to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior and walk out the rest of your days according to His teachings in Scripture. It isn’t always easy, but it is definitely worth it.

Now. How will you choose to walk out and talk out today? Your choices matter…to all of us.

Grace & Peace!

Just like trying to eat an entire watermelon through a straw…

Due to recent events that have made the national news, I’ve been doing some thinking about racism.  I’ve stayed quiet about it because there has seemed to be no realistic way to address the issue and make a difference on a national scale—and if you can’t make a big difference, then why even try?  (Yes, I know.  I’ll come back to that one.)

I was having a conversation the other day with my sister who related a story about being in a local convenience store.  She was standing in line waiting to pay for her gas when another person nearby began to insist that she move up ahead of him…not simply out of good manners or in order to do a kind deed, but because he didn’t want her behind him.  He was open in his disdain for her…as a white person.  In fact, he openly stated that he “hated white people.”

That’s hard for the two of us to understand—for many reasons. One, because we were taught not to hate anyone.  Two, because the majority of the children my sister has taught over the years have not been of her race and she has loved on all of them.  Three, just the idea of hating an entire set of people—especially for any reason that is beyond their control!—seems more than a little unbalanced, to say the least.  The list goes on and on…

I’ve thought about that conversation a great deal this week.  Each time, I end up shaking my head and wondering how that young man came to that conclusion.  Who taught him that?  I’m aware that the Southern United States has had a reputation for racism…and my own state has been, perhaps, the one most singled out for this particular sin.  The idea, however, of lumping an entire group of people into a category for hatred—no matter which “side” you’re on…well, that just amazes me.  I’m happy to say that I just can’t fathom the idea of that as a rational choice at all.

Aside from the rational thought process, I have to say that racism is just about as productive as trying to eat an entire watermelon through a straw…although I’m sure it’s possible if you’re determined enough, you’ll look pretty silly in the attempt.  There are simply much better ways of dealing with the situation.  Thankfully, that particular situation doesn’t reflect the norm around here.  In fact, I’ve seen several other people (of all different nationalities and skin colors) go out of their way to be more polite and smile as they greeted each other this past week.  That tells me that I’m not alone in thinking that racism isn’t a viable option.

Scripture tells me that I am COMMANDED to love everyone.  That doesn’t mean that I will like every one I meet or that I will agree with all of their decisions/actions.  It means that I am to have an attitude of love toward the other people God has created regardless of any other factor and that love should come out in the way I interact with them.  I can really appreciate that John spells it all out pretty plainly here–he did not say, “love the ones who look like you”…in fact, he said:

“These things I command you, that you love one another.” John 15:17

“Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.  For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another…My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3: 10b, 11, 18

Then there’s the practical side of things.  Since I believe that God is deliberately involved in the lives of each of His creations, the idea that He just randomly assigned skin colors doesn’t make sense to me.  In fact, I think He was so deliberate in His creation of each of us that our skin colors are simply the result of a decision that might have gone something like this:  “Becky (or whatever your name is—insert it here!) can glorify me most by being born here, in this color, to these people, in this place, at this time.”  I mean, seriously, if He’s going to keep count of the number of hairs on our heads as it says in Matthew 10:33 and Luke 12:7, do you really think He just randomly assigned everything else about us?!  Get real.

What that means is that if you’re having a problem with someone (or a whole group of someones!) simply because of their skin color, then your real beef is with God.  Yes, God.  The same God that made you also made them!  He could just as easily chosen to create you just like them or put you in their circumstance.  Oh, yeah.  Think about THAT the next time you get mad at someone for something God chose to do! (grin)

As for not making a difference on the national level…well, yes, that was a silly statement, too.  As always, ideas, opinions, etc. don’t make it to the national level until they’ve been made the norm on the personal level.  What can we all do to affect this–or any other issue?  Pursue our personal relationship with God like it’s the only one that matters.  If we’re all doing that, our relationships with others can’t help but be a better reflection of the love and grace that is found only in Him.

But, if you’re going to waste your energy actually hating a whole group of people, go ahead an try that watermelon thing, too.  You’ll wear yourself out, be just as productive and look just as stupid, but at least you’ll have a slight chance to leave with a great taste in your mouth…and I don’t think racism/hatred will do even that for you.