I’ve written thousands of words in my career, but never have I used them to open up quite like this about my interracial family. I don’t normally draw attention to our different colors of skin in the written word because we are, first and foremost, an imperfect family comprised of a father, mother, daughter, and son. Call us the Berenstain Bears, if you like. Many of our struggles and triumphs have nothing to do with our ethnicities (take nap time, dishes, or the budget, for instance. Sound familiar? Yep, we got ‘em, too.).
Of course we have differences. Yes, people stare as we walk down the street, a blend of four continents coursing through our veins. We aren’t colorblind; I happen to think our colors are beautiful. That doesn’t mean I want to draw attention to this one aspect of our family…unless I have something to say.
Today, as I watch our nation bleed in Louisiana, Minnesota, Dallas, and so many other places, I have something to say.
I spoke these words first to my heavenly Father in a night of brokenness and tears at my church’s prayer vigil after the Dallas shooting. It’s about fear. It’s about selfishness. It’s about courage. It’s about surrender.
From one imperfect, frightened mom to another, I’d like to share my prayer with you.
You are no color. You are no race. You are the great equalizer; the sovereign God who has every right to demand your people follow your ways. And yet, you gave us the freedom to choose how we wish to live, what we believe, and who we worship. You gave us the freedom to love and hate.
You painted our skin with the same artistry used to paint the stars and the autumn leaves that glow each October. Yes, our skin was another gift from you. Due to our free will, some of the world saw how differently we all look and chose hate. People are dying because of this hate.
My family, God. I come to you about my family. I feel it’s in danger. We’re just so different. This divided nation sees our interracial unity every time we leave the house. It’s like a banner waving above the crowds. It’s like symbols crashing around our ears to announce our presence to the world.
Dontae and I are just two people who laugh at the same Brian Regan jokes and enjoy ska music and who happened to fall in love. Our skin and our families and our cultures and our backgrounds have no volume control, no pause button. It’s just a loud situation in a nation divided so strongly by prejudice right now.
There is absolutely nothing I would change about marrying my husband and starting a family with him, but will the world continue to accept us so willingly? What will it do to my children if things continue to escalate? They have no choice but to be different than their peers. God, I love my country, but I don’t know if I trust it right now with my children’s future. Especially when it’s pushing you so far out of schools, holidays, major league baseball games, and everything in between.
Let’s back up a second. I need to confess something about all this talk of “trust.” I caught myself praying something pretty dangerous in front of the kids, recently. It’s more like what I wasn’t praying. Meals and bedtimes went a lot like this:
“God, thank you for this day. Thank you for your protection. Please watch over the children as they sleep. Keep them from harm. Keep their daddy safe as he drives home from work. Amen.”
I finally realized I’ve been so paralyzed by fear as I’ve watched each new horror unfold in the news that I’ve begun teaching my children to fear through my prayers. Basically, I’ve been asking you to never let anything happen to us.
I was Marlin in Finding Nemo refusing to let go of control of his son until Dora says, “Well, you can’t never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him.”
Me: Just don’t let stuff happen to us. Amen.
When did I become so selfish?
God, I have a new prayer for you today. A broken prayer. An incomplete offering that scares me so much more than wallowing in my own selfishness. I don’t know what this country will endure before you send your son, Jesus, to take us home, but I do know that the first lessons about love, acceptance, and unity should begin in the home. So, for the sake of my young, beautiful children who make my heart so full that my chest aches, I am ready to pray a new prayer with them.
God, I pray for bravery – that I would stop cowering in fear over the unknown. I pray for wisdom – that you could help me be the best mom I could be for my kids. I pray for a chance to shine a light in this darkness. I pray that our family would send the world a message of peace that glorifies you by our example of unified diversity. No, we can’t hide, but God I do pray that you would protect us from Satan’s evil in this world. May we not be afraid to open our door to our neighbors and break bread together, just as Jesus did during his time on earth.
The most difficult thing I need to say to you, God, is that I’m letting go of the reins. I’m re-committing my children’s futures back to you. I’ll be honest. I don’t like it right now, but I know in my soul that it’s the best gift I could offer my kids.
You knit them together in my womb. Psalm 139:13
You know the number of hairs on their heads. Luke 12:7
You have big plans for them…plans filled with hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
Just when I thought all this fear was built on my fierce love for my children, the kind that means I’d lay down my life for them, a new realization dawned on me.
You already died for them.
Therefore, your love is unquestionable. May we never forget your brave love. May we remember that you truly are the only one strong enough to overcome the evils of this world. May we be brave parents who do what we must to protect our children, but who continually teach acceptance, unity, and the beauty of our own diversity.
God, I’m going to need serious help with all this.
In Jesus’ name I pray,