Struggling through race and identity

Been thinking a lot about race and identity and how to bridge the two without wounding. My children are bi-racial, I found out a couple years ago that I was bi-racial even though all of my life, as I have shared in my story, I have always felt “different” and am asked on a regular basis, “what are you” “where are you from?” Now to help my children grapple with this question in an information based, competitive society is another feat indeed. As I watch my children struggle through their experience, I am reminded of something God says in Psalm 34: “he will deliver us from all our troubles,” in the original text this isn’t exactly as us English speaking folk suspect. Rather, “deliver” in Hebrew means to prepare, equip or strengthens. When I reread the verse with that in mind, here is how it reads with the preceding verse:

“The poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him and prepares, strengthens and equips them.” (italics mine)

This changes everything because in a society that is self-entitled, avoids pain at all costs, I mean come on…we have a drug for everything, a label for issues, we are impatient, we throw major temper tantrums and…leave the marriage, leave the church, leave the job, leave the friendship, the list goes on and on, we look for anyway to be “delivered” from the situation. Clearly, this isn’t how God operates.

I find this truth to be hard when I am personally facing troubles but also extremely hard when I think of my children and their troubles which is why I am always blown away that we are called God’s children. When our children are struggling we only taste a small sliver of his pain he feels when we are troubled. If only I could make everything right when they are struggling especially when their troubles are a trace of my past sin, or when they have no control over the situation – like the color of their skin. Then there are the adult children…they sure know how to remind you of how jacked up of a parent you were and are. The struggle is real for sure with them but let us not forget the cute little stubborn, strong willed children who insist on their way.

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The Psalmist goes on to say, “those who seek the Lord will lack no good thing.” At first glance, we think wow, I seek the Lord, and surely there are good things in my life but what I am going through right now is NOT good and it says, “we will lack NO good thing.” Digging a little deeper, this is about the result of seeking the Lord, not our circumstances, possessions or our narcissistic selves feeling good. When we seek the Lord, we will only find good, there will be no lack of good as we are seeking the Lord in the struggle.

Yeah, I know it stinks that it doesn’t mean what we thought, right! But check this out, this Psalm may have been written over some time (not exactly sure of time frame), and I am not a theologian but think about it, we know that David suffered many injustices, but we also know he suffered at the hand of his own choices. When you get to v. 19 the tone changes.

He declares, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” This is a major declaration the Psalmist makes, yet, if only it really meant that we could avoid pain and suffering but again, deliverance here is – stay in the struggle and I will prepare you, strengthen you and/or equip you. This fits right in line with other scriptures that tell us about suffering – you are going to suffer, but this does not change who God is and how our struggles fit into the story of God that we play a part in.

But hold on, be encouraged, there is actual deliverance in the way we prefer – look at v. 4, “I sought the Lord and he heard me and delivered me from all my fears.” This deliverance means: snatch away, save, take out! How beautiful, remember perfect love casts out all fear and that God is love, and fear brings torment, torment is not what God uses to shape and conform us, rather troubles, suffering, hardship. I would say they really are different.

This looks completely different from the “troubles” that come when you love the unlovable, choose forgiveness for someone who has hurt you deeply, or in humility speak gently to the teenager who regularly rolls her eyes in rebellion. Surely, I want to be “delivered” (snatched up) from that child, or should I say, I want to snatch up that child, but these are the things that the Lord prepares, strengthens and equips us for, they can move us to seek him, and when we do, we lack no good thing!

As I work these truths, I am digging dipper into what this looks like for my “bi-racial” children and how the Lord intends to prepare them for their place in history (His story). Or maybe deeper how can we as a generation reconcile the racial constraints put on another and often by the hands of those that are the “same color” as us. Meanwhile, I will stick to what I do have control over and grapple with my children in the day to day questions they now get to answer for themselves, and hopefully in light of Gods truths and not the worlds.

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Dear White People, Before You Post Dr. King Quotes To Make Yourself Feel Good…

No need to say a thing!

WriteSomeShit

Monday, January 15, 2018, marks the birthdate and a day that many in the nation will observe Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the dedication and sacrifices he made as a civil rights activist. I will not use this blog to detail the important and honorable aspects of Dr. King’s life as countless details are readily available in books, online articles, magazines, videos, documentaries, and museums. I recall as a young girl being taught about Martin Luther King Jr. marching, preaching, and pushing a nation towards freedom. Dr. King is often cast as docile, peaceful and in contrast to a what some considered a more radical activist during his time, Malcolm X.

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Menopause, make up and public school

I hate makeup on my face. I haven’t really been one to wear much of it and only started “covering” my face with a concealer because things have shown up that I would like to “conceal”. Menopause sucks in so many ways, in more ways than I anticipated or thought. And public school has been a gift from God!

For the last four years, I have struggled to get my body back in balance. My last child was born 10 years ago and really that was when it all started but the last few years particularly have been hard. I found out last week that I am officially in menopause. That day, I sent a few friends a text message expressing my mixed emotions.

Since this discovery, I have felt some relief because now I know why certain things are happening or not happening, if you know what I mean, but I also feel grief. I am remembering when I had three children under three and a middle-schooler and recall a day when a friend was sharing her discovery of menopause with me while I was pulling my hair out and couldn’t possibly imagine feeling grief over no more babies, while she was mourning her new reality. Now I know…

Between bouts of a need to cry and for what seems to be no apparent reason,  spending money on quality make up to conceal “things”, remembering post-partum blues I experienced after each birth, flashes of my new season of life and then forgetting what I went to the kitchen for, I go back to what I know is true and doesn’t change – God – and for that I weep tears of humility and great love for my King.

Interestingly, according to medical professionals, the fluctuation in hormones during post-partum is the same in menopause – I guess we really do go full circle.

But there are reasons to cry and grieve.

Several things come to mind: first, how I placed my identity in my children or (motherhood), that I came to a point recently when I really wasn’t sure who I was anymore, and that my beauty was more about having babies and being a mom than being Michelle. Indeed being a co-laborer in God’s plan to procreate is something that sets us apart as women but it’s not what makes me beautiful, rather I have an irreplaceable role on this earth and bearing children according to Gods plan was only one part of that role. The second thing that comes to mind is: it’s almost as if the last 22 years of my life (the age range of my children) is sitting in a box in front of me and I have an aerial view of it all! Not that I have an “empty nest” but with younger children still at home, and one grown married child I feel strange sometimes.

I see many mothers around me that seem so worn thin and weary. They are in the box of motherhood and can hardly see above. Which takes me back to the last four years and brings to me to today and a recent turn of events that seems to fit nicely with everything that is changing – we made the decision to send our children to public school and what feels like subjecting my children to Satan yet I see very clearly now that this was straight from the hand of God, that’s right, that’s what I just said, I AM A CHRISTIAN AND USED TO HOME SCHOOL AND I SENT MY CHILDREN TO PUBLIC SCHOOL…

You probably don’t want to mess with me on this because I am menopausal!

But I had to ask myself: what type of atmosphere have we created in the Church that I feel the need to be defensive about putting my children in public school, where does all this come from? (I am leaving these as rhetorical questions) I love my children and care very much about their spiritual state and perhaps God asks some of us to entrust our children to him and let them go sooner and in different ways like Hannah who promised God that she would give her only son Samuel to the priest hood where he would be surrounded by Eli’s evil sons!

Obviously I am not saying that one turn of events caused the other but God is using menopause, make up and public school to show me that there are seasons to everything and the only thing that doesn’t change is him!

As I walk through this process and grieve what I have “lost”, I am encouraged to know there are also things to celebrate, like my desire to want to wear makeup. All the while, I am holding onto the hem of His robe!

 

Rejection

I am reading a book on rejection. I think this author is effective. She is a counselor and has written a series on the common areas people struggle. Our writing styles and her approach to counseling are similar in that there are core issues behind the behavior and behind the behavior are patterns of familiar yet unhealthy thinking deep rooted in the heart. She doesn’t go on some religious lecture quoting all these theological complex thoughts, it’s just real life, real situations, clearly and concisely written without compromising the truth!

I have felt conviction and experienced freedom in the area of rejection. About 10 years ago, the Lord showed me wounds deep down. I had responded to those wounds with judgments, that at that time, I prayed through with a mentor and received healing and freedom. Since then whenever situations trigger rejection I have to work through the layers to identify what I am thinking or feeling when it happens.  Recently, the Spirit showed me through what seemed to be unlikely situations in my marriage but demanded certain responses (behavior resulting from what I was thinking) were not really a result of the current situation necessarily rather rooted seeds of rejection that needed uprooting which brings me to the crux of this post.

In striving for affirmation and acceptance we soon discover the futility of looking to temporal things. Clearly, Jesus understood this because we read in John 2 that He “did not commit Himself to them (the many that believed in His Name when they saw the signs which He did) because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man,  for He knew what was in man.” (v. 24-25) Ouch, but thank you Jesus, this is so freeing, even Jesus was tempted to look to his friends for applause.

For me, feeling seen, or should I say not feeling seen has been a real wounding place. Lately, over and over the connection between rejection, value and feeling unseen keeps popping up. Not that I just now am seeing (pun intended) where I have been rejected but more so how I have responded to that rejection.

All through Scripture is the usage of God’s eyes:

The eyes of the Lord is on those who fear him; “the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,” “the eyes of the Lord are in every place;” let these alone sink into your soul! There’s more though:

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We are the apple of His eye (Deut 32:10, Zec 2:8);

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to him. (2 Chron 16:9a)

This list is not exclusive, and we don’t find many other anatomical parts of God in Scripture except a few places like: His “arm” is outstretched and not too short to save for example; his “ear” and hearing our prayers and maybe somewhere there is implication that he is using his feet, but His eye is used over 88 times in Scripture.

The eyes being the pathway to the soul are powerful. Rejection is seen in the eyes. We feel valued in being seen, which is why so often we look to man to see us, to feel accepted and affirmed making rejection the most powerful emotion I believe.

June Hunt, in her book: Rejection: Healing a Wounded Heart says:

“Nothing cuts to the core as deeply as rejection. Even death, while heartbreaking doesn’t leave such lasting wounds!”

Another area I think is prevalent among Christians but appears as humility is looking to ministry to find value. Each week, my husband and I lead (whatever we call it as we are not officially leaders) and host, a community group. Even in this, God has used this to show me where true leadership comes from. When we see Jesus over and over again not making a point to inflate or even tell who he is and yet he had all the influence, He is God for crying out loud! But as I grow in influence, because of who I am in Christ, Christ in me, I continue to be reminded that we live in a performance based society. We crave affirmation from man. Being performance based driven isn’t a new societal issue rather it began in the Garden. We want to be seen, noticed and rewarded. We like to hear how great we are. But in God’s kingdom that isn’t really what fills our spiritual beings.

I believe the only way to be healed of rejection and truly feel seen is by seeing God!

Christianity isn’t what “I do” for God. We don’t read our Bible for the sake of reading, we read the Bible to see God! Ironically though, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

In the times that I receive accolades for sharing a word of wisdom, or answered prayers as a result of interceding or helping in a time of need, I remember how frail man is. I remember that one day they may be thanking me and the next I could fail them in some way and they reject me. Grace is free but grace is messy! Love is messy!

I pray we are healed from the wounds of rejection. And that we are set free from the patterns of thinking that lead to more rejection. Lastly, I pray that we see God every time we open our Bibles and press in until we do; that the Holy Spirit would enlighten the eyes of our heart and we would be sanctified and made whole and complete until the day of Christ Jesus because we know we are accepted by God, Amen! (Ephesians 1)