Morning thoughts and reflection on racism and Jesus

Today is my first day off in a long time. I mean, really off. No preschool work, no ministry work (it’s there, but I’m taking a day off), no meetings, engagements, emergency errands to run, etc. So, on the way to taking Jenny to school in the morning, I was thinking of how utterly excited I am. Part of my head is yelling, “Don’t you dare waste this day doing nothing!” while the other part is yelling, “Waste this day doing nothing!”

Instead of choosing, I am hoping for some sort of balance between the two, but mostly…I hope to be completely imbalanced by the leading of the Spirit throughout my day.

“Spirit, undo me and imbalance me, so I can be more tuned in to You.”

This is my tiny prayer.

As I whisper this, I see a picture of a small child, reaching for the unreachable, but trying ever so hard!

And, as I think of that, I think of myself as a little girl. I think of how my world drastically changed around the age of 7 and how racism lifted the veil of innocence from my heart. Sometimes, I still wince when I think about it, my inner child’s pain still poignant. But, it’s just a momentary wince- a little pinch, shocking me back into the past and back into reality at the same time.

As a little girl, I begin to expect racism from almost everyone. I saw that the power seemed to belong to white people, so they were more overt and careless with their racism. I saw that the black people around me were hurt by it, and because of the pattern of the past, they too became racist as a way of self-protection. And I, the only non-white/non-black person in my grade, lived in the middle, never quite fitting in and never quite accepted.

In my home, it was a whole different world. My parents didn’t teach me to NOT see color. Instead, they tried their best to teach me that diversity is the creation of a loving, kind, and creative God. My mom (Czech and Filipino) and my dad (Mexican) did not fail when it came to exposing us to cultural diversity And really, how could they? My home life was a mixture of three corners of the world!

I think my parents did their best, using the raw materials and background they had, to help me through this painful part of my childhood. Still, and if you understand culturally what I had to work with (and my family history), then you would know that there was this wall that my parents could never quite climb. And because of this, I stayed on the other side. Incredibly confused, I felt as if I had 2 worlds to navigate. I felt like in my home I had help and support, but that it was not relevant in my world at school.

So, I did what bullied kids do at school. I went. I tried my best despite being distracted. I learned how to be quiet in hopes that people would forget about me (this technique was incredibly helpful in basic training). And, I was incredibly thankful for 2 special little girls that became my friends and defended me from the circle of kids who surrounded me almost everyday.

Spiritually, we went to church whenever there was service, so we went more than once a week.  Church was fun because the kids that went were nice, and I was allowed to express myself without being made fun of.

However, as much as I would like to say that church was my safe haven, it really wasn’t. As much as I would like to say that knowing Jesus carried me through those elementary years, it didn’t. And as much as I would love to say that I loved Jesus so much, I didn’t.

In fact, I just couldn’t connect.

  • Maybe it was because in every depiction I saw of Jesus, he was white, and my own little heart was being challenged by my maltreatment.
  • Maybe it was because Jesus was made into this modern day man, who loved me like a human father, and in my home (as a little girl) my dad was scary to me.
  • Maybe it was because if God was love and love was of God and little brown girls weren’t allowed to be baton twirlers because of their race, I just didn’t want to play with this God.
  • Maybe I didn’t feel anything towards God because I was so busy protecting myself from my feelings and filing them away to the dark recesses of my heart.

Maybe it was a lot of different, ridiculous things – I don’t know. All I know is as a child, I didn’t have a desire for the God I was being told about. The God who was ok with separate swimming pools and definitely NOT ok with mixed race dating and friendships (just a tiny slice of it folks).

That was then. Today is not. And I will say that today, I still don’t know the why’s. But I do know that:

Today, we are ok with making Jesus into whoever we want. It’s true. And maybe when I heard Gungor’s song, “God is not a white man,” it catapulted me back into my childhood, all the messed up theology I received, and brought me to the realization that this isn’t some new thing. We have ALL made Jesus into someone He is not.

And by the way, I am not against white people, angry at white people, or even hurt by any one specific group of people. I am not 7 years old anymore. I am 34 and have grown up, healed, joined the military, traveled around the world, and through it all….

I somehow came to see Jesus for the man He was as He walked this earth, fell in love with Him, am filled with His Spirit…

And I understand that He isn’t this modern-day Western man, a old man with a beard on a cloud ready to squash me, a feeling that I feel when worship music is playing or a set rules that I follow with no grace for mess-ups.  (The rules/grace thing I struggle with from time to time).

We have all struggled with making Jesus into someone He isn’t and I’m not exempt.  At times, I’ve turned Him into a road filled with legalities, rules and guilt. When, the truth is that Jesus is SO not just “a road.”

No, please,

  • Let us not make Jesus a road.
  • Let us not step all over Him and ignore the beatings of our feet over Him.
  • Let us not use Him but forget to be thankful for Him.
  • Let us not take advantage of the work He did at the cross, knowing it is there, but putting ourselves above it all.

Think about it.

Let us not make Jesus a road to nowhere, constantly winding our way on top of Him with no destiny in sight.

NO.

Instead, let us see Jesus as “The Door,” by which we step away from our past and into life overflowing. 

I pray that we:

wipe the dust of our past from our feet and reach out to the The Door, the only Door to salvation (John 10:7), and that we

become transparent, completely vulnerable and undone… completely imbalanced by the work of the Spirit in our lives.

May we rest in knowing that all those things, all that past, all that hurt, all that destruction, all that was stolen, will be taken up in the arms of The Door (Jesus) and:

  • broken,
  • re-purposed,
  • re-shaped,
  • turned around,
  • restored,
  • and caused to work for the beauty of God displayed. (Romans 8:28)

Hallelujah indeed.

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