Originally published Thursday, 19 May 2016.
I’ve watched and heard the race issues in the world lately with a broken heart.
I’ve wanted to say something but I haven’t known what to say or how to say it. Then last week my husband put this on his facebook page:
What if I told you there is no such thing as race? In the same way money is just paper - and only has the value we place on it - people are just people.
I wanted to cheer when I read it because this whole race thing is close to me. And what he said began to give me a way to take the thoughts of my heart and shape them into words.
You see the man who I share life with, Xylon, is a different shade of melanin to me. These race wars tear me up because they could tear us up.
I don’t want race to divide the world or my country.
I don’t want it to divide my family.
When Xylon and I first started dating it divided my family. (You can read more of this story here)
I like to tuck this part of my family’s history away.
I remember well the way some members of my family didn’t think Xylon and I should be in a relationship because we had different skin tones. It hurt me so much then. It hurts me now that a person’s skin colour can mean they aren’t accepted for who they are but for a type of person they represent to someone else.
One of the arguments that I was initially given for why Xylon and I shouldn’t marry was that the Bible spoke against interracial and intercultural relationships.
I know, if you’re reading this, and thinking, “What?!”, that is exactly what I thought. This was 10 years ago. I knew, if what I was being told about God being against the mixed race marriage was true that my entire faith foundations would be shaken.
So I grabbed the Bible for myself and I read. I read the whole way through the Bible in the space of a few weeks and in the pages I didn’t find a God who wanted different races and cultures to be separate.
Instead, I found a God who time and again opened his arms to diversity and said, “Come, be part of my family.” I found Jesus going out of his way to invite people that were in minorities, looked down on, or excluded, into his kingdom.
In case you’re wondering this is what the Bible, in a nutshell, does say about humanity. The word “race” didn’t occur in the bible or any language until about the 16th Century so this is based on what the Bible says about the human race:
- 1. All human beings have a common origin (Acts 17:24,26)
- 2. All human beings were made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27)
- 3. Jesus died for all humans and wants us to all be with him in heaven (John 3:16, Matthew 28:19-20)
- 4. Those who believe in Jesus belong to one family, God’s family (Malachi 2:10)
- 5. God does not elevate one type of person above another (Galations 3:28, Ephesians 6:9)
The argument that was meant to separate Xylon and I was the one that made me more convinced that God is for people who don’t look like to be brought together.
I’m not colour blind. I often just stare at the intertwining of different skin colours when I hold Xylon’s hand. I don’t think that we’re meant to be colour blind. Part of the beauty in the world is the different colours, tones and shades that are found in all of nature.
I don’t know how to fix the broken thoughts, places and hearts when it comes to race, other than to just live and love.
I loved what Bethany Suckrow wrote over at SheLovesMagazine.com that because we love, we disrupt. I know in my family loving family brought them round from, “I will never attend your wedding if you marry him” to being at our wedding and being part of our every day lives now: our biggest supporters and cheerleaders.
Xylon and I had so many conversations about race during our dating and engagement. He is amazing, and never felt anger or bitterness towards those in my family that struggled. He had such grace for my family. He always reminded me that their experiences growing up, what they were taught was completely different to what we experienced.
This experience always reminds me that love fixes things we think cannot be repaired.
Love changes things.
Love changes people.
Even when I don’t love with a desire to change others, lives lived out of love can disrupt and give space for God to work.
I like to tuck this part of my family’s history away.
Every thing is good now in my family so I find myself asking often do we need to revisit it? Should I share this story?
Most of the time I'm happy with our story about race and God's grace shoved under the rug, but then race starts coming into the daily news, and I take that story out and look at it again. I allow myself to feel all the conflicting feelings: shame, regret, grace, anger, love for family.
My story also reminds me that we don’t have to stay where we are - stuck - people can change, and hard hearts can expand to welcome those of different races.
On days when news is coming at me from all directions, news of how white people hate black people and black people hurt white people (the news is very stereotypical, isn’t it?), then I hang onto this hope, I hang onto my story, that people can change. I have experienced it in my family.
I pull out my story and I find hope.
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