Race and Reconciliation

Why are we still talking about race?

A few years ago, a question like that would have sent me spiraling in anger.

I remember the night that marked a shift in my thinking. I was attending a lecture at a church about race and reconciliation. I should preface this by saying that I am a light-skinned Native American woman who was raised in a Mexican-Native American home. I have had many conversations about race with my friends, swapping stories of prejudice and mistreatment. But I have never had an experience quite like that night.

Because, you see, I was the only non-white person in that room. And the lecture was meant as a discussion, meaning the audience could ask questions.

Now, I don’t remember specific questions but I remember that all the questions fell under the same umbrella.

Why are we still talking about race? Isn’t racism over? Aren’t you perpetuating the problem by talking about it? Can’t we just ignore race and just accept people as all the same? Aren’t minorities just overly sensitive? Why can’t we just move on?

And I remember going home and bawling my eyes out. It was as if their lack of awareness revealed every wound I had been carrying around since I was a little girl. I remember writing a blog post (in my old blog) about how I felt as a light-skinned Native American woman and how I felt in a predominantly white environment.

Because I look white so people think it’s okay to saw certain things around me that they might not say otherwise. I still remember driving home with my college roommates and they were discussing how “those Mexicans” should die, spouting hurtful words as they jabbered on. And remember, I was raised in a Mexican home. I moved out of that apartment not long after.

So I have long questioned if I had my sister’s dark skin and brown eyes, if the people in that church would have been so quick to say what they said.

Because asking why we still need to talk about race is like asking why we need to fight poverty. We live in one of the richest countries in the world, the land of opportunity! Why do we need to fight poverty? Can’t people just rise above their circumstances and get rid of their poverty?

I don’t know about you but I didn’t get out of my poverty without the help of others.

The thing is that we need to talk about the hard stuff because it’s not going anywhere. Especially as Christians, we should know better. We know we live in a fallen world and that God is still in the process of redeeming and restoring us. Ignoring the problem doesn’t make it go away and on some level, we may get close but it won’t go away completely until Christ returns.

Yes, there was a shift that happened that night. For a long time, I hated that I look white because I was the safe space for a white person to unload all of their issues about race onto. It was a heavy burden. They would say things and ask questions that they would never say or ask of another minority person. But that night, I realized how powerful a position God had placed me in by creating me the way He had. It means that I have an opportunity to speak truth from a peer perspective, even though I’m not truly a peer.

So I didn’t get angry when my friend asked that question but I walked away acknowledging that I had a responsibility to educate and to be compassionate. To do the best I can.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Growing up

I’m not very good at meeting people. I get tongue-tied and quiet. I’ve been wanting to meet more people, mainly because I’m trying to form meaningful relationships but I really connect more with people when we are doing something together. The first time I fell in love was with a guy who I connected with through serving our community. Give me a food bank and some trusty helpers and I will become your new friend.

Getting drinks, having dinner, etc. are not my idea of a good time. It’s probably why I don’t like dating very much. Give me a man who serves and I will swoon.

I was talking to my dad last week about a guy (I think) I like when I made a point of saying the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. The point I was trying to make was that I have always done the same thing when it comes to guys. I fall head over heels, irrationally, think about him constantly and get to a point where I profess my affection for him directly.

I don’t flirt because to me, that’s more scary than just being frank about my feelings.

My first thought is not to show up at parties he’ll be at or make sure I sit next to him.

I got to a place where I had settled into a routine. I wasn’t interested in anyone, no one attainable anyway. I was fine, just God and me. After the last few years I’ve had, the idea of trying again is just so difficult. And the worst part is I made a promise to my friends that I would not make the first move again. Because it always results in a disaster.

I’ve been arguing with God the last few weeks over this guy. I don’t have time to have feelings for someone. I have no more patience for nonsense. I’m not willing to compromise my relationship with God, my self-worth or my priorities for a guy.

I think I like him. Some days, I’m able to talk myself out of it. This is so different than anything I have ever experienced. I don’t have chaotic feelings for him. I don’t think about him constantly. I’m not convinced we’ll end up together. I don’t read into the things he says or does. It’s the healthiest I have ever been about a guy. I have talked to exactly two people about this and both of them have commented on how different I am in this.

When I have been my most lonely, I have found myself daydreaming of the guy I had wanted for seven years but the same day I decided to be a foster parent was the day I walked away from him. I even deleted him from my social media accounts, which was incredibly hard but I am grateful I did it.

Here’s the thing: You can’t let love in until you’re willing to step outside of your comfort zone. At some point, you have to trust that God is for you. That means growing up, taking responsibility for why your life is the way it is. It means going out and meeting people when you don’t want to. It means creating opportunities for a guy to get to know you when you’d rather just hide in your bubble and Netflix and chill by yourself.

It means trying, really trying, even when you feel like you are fumbling through the darkness because everything you do feels like uncharted territory. It means trusting God has your back and won’t allow anything to happen to you that’s not for your ultimate good.

I’m trying to change and I’m scared and frustrated and argumentative and totally at peace all at the same time. For the right guy, I hope he’s patient with me. I don’t know if this is the right guy. I really don’t know. He might end up being a bookmark I tell my daughter about one day. All I know is that what I am learning though this is significant and that’s encouraging.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Breathe

I’m about to bring a child into my home. In a few months, I will be a foster parent.

I was doing really well until I had my interview with the foster care agency. In the days leading up to it, I practiced answering all the questions I thought they would ask me. I was ready.

They didn’t ask me any of the questions I thought up. They asked me questions about my childhood and my family. Usually, I’m a master at saying the right thing. But I couldn’t put forth my best. Each question became more invasive and I struggled to answer them.

I have this wall that comes up with people. I put up a big front. I’m always positive. When I do talk about painful things, I turn them optimistic every time. I don’t let people in. For example, I have been in a community group for over a year and I think I have had maybe two vulnerable moments. Realizing that this week has been a huge conviction in my heart.

Because when you have your guard up, you cheat yourself and others out of an authentic relationship with you.

In my last post, I talked about my first love. He was the first person I ever let my guard down with. I remember how afraid I was of him. I avoided him in public settings and pushed away any feelings I had for him. But when we were alone, I told him my deepest secrets and hidden dreams. I fell in love with him. I was never the same after that. Once you have a taste of emotional intimacy, you won’t settle for anything else. I went from dating around to wanting commitment.

He changed the direction my life was headed in and for that, I will always be grateful.

I’ve been having flashbacks to that time in my life. There’s a guy in my life that scares the crap out of me. I feel unsettled when we’re talking. I can feel the wall come up when I’m around him. Everything I’m feeling right now is reminiscent of that time in my life with that other guy. I was sitting in my car, waiting to go into a meeting when it hit me:

Fear is the proof we’re on to something important.

Here’s the thing: I don’t think that I’ll end up with this guy. For as much as my guard is up, so is his. Seriously, talking to him feels like we’re bumping matching walls into each other. It’s like I’m having a conversation with him and I hit the wall. But the same thing happens when he talks to me.

No, I don’t think the fear is pointing me to him. I think it’s pointing me to something much deeper. I’m about to welcome a child into my life. This whole “guardedness” has got to stop. Whether I love this child for five days or two years, they need all of me. A whole parent, especially because I’m doing this alone.

So I’m going to try this new thing where I let people in. We’ll see what happens.

A Week of Stretching

 

I should preface this post by saying that lately, I have gotten into the habit of bottling myself up. I’m one of those people who tends to put up a front. I put my best foot forward, rarely discussing what I’m really going through or how I’m feeling. But I got convicted by that this week so today, I am going to write a super awkward post about probably one of the most ridiculous weeks I’ve had in a long time.

It all started with an Instagram post from this social media influencer I follow (I know, I know. Very millennial of me. I don’t care. Her posts are awesome.)  Anyway, she shared this post about this five day prayer challenge for praying for your future spouse.

Here’s the thing: I don’t pray for my future spouse consistently. I keep meaning to but I always find an excuse not to. It’s just so uncomfortable. I pray when I’m moved by the spirit. I have, however, spent much of my time praying for the men I have fallen for. An act, I would learn later this week is actually super unhealthy. But we’ll get there.

So I felt like this was a good opportunity to grow. I’m all about growing. I signed up for the challenge. I received the first email on Monday.

Day 1: Pray their house isn’t built on sand

Basically, it was about praying that your future spouse loves Jesus fiercely. I spent the morning trying not to pray for the guy I had been pining for the last eight years. I had reached this point a few weeks ago where I decided I was going to move on from him. It was right around the time I decided to be a foster parent.

Day 2: Pray they are breaking ties with every ex-lover

This was actually super convicting for me. On the one hand, they were talking about “lovers” as in idols, so that could be anything that separates your future spouse from God and honestly, loving you. So I was on board with that. The convicting part for me was this little secret I’ve been carrying for over a year.

I still follow my first love on Instagram.

I actually get a lot of enjoyment from knowing what’s going on in his life, because he uses it on a regular basis. It’s not like I still want to be with him or anything. He was just such an important part of my life that I take comfort in knowing he’s okay. But I realized it’s a load of crap and I should probably unfollow him. Actually, I should definitely unfollow him.

Day 3: Pray for “Godly Chemistry”

This one was interesting. It wasn’t talking about chemistry in the traditional sense but rather that “Godly chemistry” has to do with matching purposes. I used to equate this with compatible jobs. For example, I first fell in love with my first love over our shared passions for nonprofit work. I mean, I saw our whole freaking future together. And man, did I argue with God over it. I told God repeatedly why we made sense, what impact we would have if we were together.

The hardest lesson to learn for my little pragmatic heart was that matching purposes between spouses has more to do with how you’re both wired. Elizabeth Elliot describes it in The Mark of a Man by that a man will know his wife because “she comes from your rib bone.” She meant that a man’s wife is a reflection of who he is. Still doesn’t totally make sense to me but I tell my guy friends this all the time.

Day 4: Pray they don’t eat the apple

So I literally prayed this over a month ago, in the spirit. This was about stopping with dating other people. Amen.

Day 5: Pray they are “hiding & seeking”

A very well-known trait of mine is that I like to take the lead in relationships. I have asked out every guy I have ever dated or liked. About three years ago, I realized how sinful my behavior was. Don’t get me wrong – I love a strong, confident woman who knows what she wants and goes for it. But I wasn’t doing it for that reason.

I didn’t want to be found. I didn’t want to be pursued by a man. I didn’t want to be wanted. Being “found” meant opening myself up to being loved. Weirdly, I preferred rejection by my own hands than intimacy with another person.

The devotional said to pray that your future husband will “find” you and you are in a position to be “found.” I was really confused about what it meant to place yourself in a position to be found so I asked a friend to explain it to me.

She explained that while it’s the man’s job to find, it’s the woman’s job to be found. She does this by basically ignoring other men by pursuing Christ so deeply that she doesn’t notice the men around her.

It hit me that I think  I have reached that point. I really do. So my week was crazy emotional and now I really don’t know what to do with myself.

Probably unfollow that guy on Instagram.