What makes sense to a child, is the fact that when they open their Crayola box, their crayons are all separated by color. The child rolls his pudgy little finger over the tips of all of these segregated artistic instruments, and as their creativity towards their coming masterpiece grows, so does the needs to stay in the lines, color appropriate images certain colors, and complete the picture of an isolated rainbow of discovery.
If made to clean up the mess they've made, each child has one thing in mind. Get the crayons in the box as quickly as possible. Their mothers, however, have a different aim in mind and so they help their child accomplish the laborious task of separating the array of molded wax into very specific segments. Individual color boxes. There they remain until the next attempt to be Rembrandt takes over the child's ever changing will . . . then the colors will be blended over paper again and strewn around the room in an artistic frenzy.
I am reminded of a baby-sitting position I held for a short time as an early teen. I arrived at the house as the parents were headed hurriedly out the door and I was instructed to let the baby, only maybe 2 or 3 at the time, to color for as long as she wanted. I moved into the room with the kids to find the sweet angel looking dazed and confused at the paper she was attempting to make shapes on . . . there were no lines, no parameters just a blank canvas for her mind. I remember asking her older brothers where the coloring books were because this picture in front of me looked a little sad and daunting, in all of its' blank space. They responded ever so casually, "Mom doesn't allow us to use coloring books because she says that the lines limit the creativity of our minds and shape our future in a way that will make our minds continue to feel boxed in and not at liberty to be our full potential." Did I mention he was 7?
Although I will most likely allow any future kids I might have to indeed color on a lined book, I do understand more than ever the need to let children be free thinkers in many regards. Not in any cliche' labeled versions of that term but in the way that God intended. I will be their mother, not the Holy Spirit, and although God's Spirit may call me to place safe parameters around the hearts and minds of the children He entrusts me with, I never want to limit their thinking to my points of view. If they are to believe in anything or anyone, I want it to be because of the life-change they wish to experience and the love they want to embrace. I want to support them as they grow, yes, and even as they mess up. I believe in God. I believe that He loves to clean up messes. Often, my messiest days are the very days that I turn to Him with the most surrender and belief in Who He is and what He can accomplish in and through me. I think I'll let my kids come to that revelation with only encouragement from me.
Anyway, you may be wondering what in the world this has to do with my Race???? Well, speaking of the world . . .
I have seen over 10 countries thus far of people manipulating ideals and even people themselves to believe what they (whomever "they" might be: Political/Religious/Educational authorities?) desire them to believe or even be subject to. Points of view, beliefs, ideals, instead of positive life-change, love, and acceptance. I'm honestly sick of it. I know I will never be able to get away from it though. Wow, depressing right? Nope! It's just a call to live different. I thought that America was in rough shape with its' shady politicians and scandals on Capital Hill but my limited time abroad has brought about a comparatively objective point of view of my own, the world, in all of its' beauty, is a sketchy place! Yikes, wish I could say differently but the honest truth is that anywhere you travel around the world, there will be crooks, negativity, and manipulation of what's right.
This is why I choose to stand on what I believe, not as a platform of Religion but as a strong foundation to my activist form of unconditional love. I want to love the world the way that my Father in heaven, Creator of both heaven AND earth does. I get mad. Yes. I don't appreciate the hypocrisy of the Christian church. No. I hate being singled out AROUND THE WORLD simply because of my light colored skin. Yes. I can't stand the discrimination I feel daily in many of the countries I have visited because I am a woman with my forearms showing and my ankles unveiled. I don't like that at all. But God . . . did not create me to live as a person of hate but of love. I'll get to the details of that love in a coming blog post but for now just know that it is not my hope to live frustrated with the world in my future. But instead, to be a light in any dark place.
All of this started to grow into a blog post in my heart because of the prejudice we face every day this month in Malaysia. There are 3 groups of people here and even when we are teaching English (Technically a non-religious activity because of the fundamental Islamic location we live in), we are told before each class, "You have 3 of this ethnicity, 2 of this ethnicity, and 4 of this ethnicity in your next class." For what reason? Well, mainly because they won't sit together. They won't talk with one-another. They definitely won't go to get a bubble-tea together after class. So we, as their teachers trying to help them with a common goal to learn English, have to know how to adjust our behavior to include them all in the learning process. It all works out in the end.
The other reason my heart beats so loudly on this topic this month (Okay, more than normal!), comes from a place of distaste on my tongue for the gruesome stairs, gross gestures, and even more demeaning clicks and kisses from the mouths of the men standing on the side of every. single. sidewalk. The team I am with this month has really had to pray into this matter. Our safety, yes, and mainly our forgiveness and again, unconditional love, for these ignorant men. They are unaware or uncaring, as of now, what detriment they can cause by their intentional and yet careless behavior. What makes this okay? The idea that 1 crayon is better than another. The idea that the box of crayons is supposed to be separated by color or some other distinction, gender in this case.
What I love and cling to each day I am here is the truth that Jesus loves each of us, and not just in spite of our differences, but because of them. My Father created me light skinned and female and He loves me as I am. Then again, He created those same men I mentioned and He sees their heart. Do I have to roll over to the idiosyncrasies of this fallen world? Not at all but I can choose to live with a love that makes us the same in worth instead of different because of race, gender, and/or birth place.
God's working on my heart, as you can tell. Softening it towards the broken of His world, all the while willing it to be stronger in the area of justice. What a balancing act it can be if held to task only by me. So, I've given my heart to Him again. He's going to work out all the details. Today though, He gave me the imagery of the lesson He has asked me to pass on to you, my sweet blog readers . . . He loves you where you are, as you are, and He wants you to give away that same love and acceptance towards anyone you connect with (Or wish you hadn't!).
We may have been taught as children to designate spaces for each different crayon to dwell but may we grow from that unnecessary segregation into a people group who cares enough to tear down the walls of our man-made boxes and set free those who have been trapped by such divisive ideas around the world.
I vote for new Crayola box, filled with the diversity we see in the colors of the world. Equal and free.