I haven’t written in a while. It’s not because I’m having writers block it’s just because there is so much going on in the world I’m overwhelmed with topics that I could touch on. From terror attacks to black lives matter all the way to politics, it seems like the world is out of control. In my life I’ve never seen a world so divided, and it hurts, it hurts because the struggle is real but the answer is clear. We can be clear in one thing, when the storm is raging, Jesus will be the calm.
Instead of going deep I thought I would share a story.
When I was 16 years old I met my wife. She was so beautiful, funny and caring. Our eyes met one day during art class and that was it, I was in love at first sight. I asked her out, or rather she asked me to ask her out, and I knew we were going to be together for eternity. I needed to also ask my parents for the car for the evening and I wanted to let them know I was taking a young lady out on a date. I remember going into my parents room and asking permission and explaining things to them. “Hey, I’m going on a date and I need the car tomorrow night”, my dad or mom replied “sure, no problem.” I then added something I thought they should know. “The girl I’m taking out is not like me and you.” puzzled my father replied “Is she Catholic?” That was true but not my point. “I’m not sure, but she is black.” It only took a couple of seconds of awkward silence when I heard “Okay”.
Just some back story real fast. I grew up in a small town that had a black population of 1. I heard my grandfather, who I loved and admired, say the “N” word on a regular basis. I never confronted him about it, but before he died I think he saw race in a different light through his great grand child. He held my daughter with such love, I will never forget it. I also grew up in a part of the country were the KKK was still predominant. We lived less than 15 miles from Marion Indiana, home of one of the worst lynching in history. The backdrop to the poem “Strange Fruit” written by Abel Meeropol and later inspired the Billy Holiday song with the same name. I had no black friends, and for as much as I can remember I had never even talked to a black person until I met my boy hood hero, Andre Dawson, when I was 13.
The first date we went on was to McDonald’s, of all places. We ordered and sat down close to the counter area. We were having a great conversation when a group of white guys, a little older than me at the time, came in. I could hear them talking to each other, saying things about us, saying hateful things. I turned to get up and confront them, then my date, my future wife said to me “Don’t, you’ll never see them again in your life, don’t let them have that kind of power over you.” I will never forget that. So simple “Don’t let them have that kind of power over you.”
We had been dating awhile and went for a romantic dinner and then a walk after down by the channel in Tampa. As we walked we had passed a group of young black kids. When they saw us together, holding hands, they started yelling insults at both of us. First at me and then they were attacking my date with verbal, racist words that I know were hurting her. We both kept our heads down and didn’t engage them at all. I went back to what she had told me almost a year before. This time I was in a very uncomfortable spot though, I learned to handle racism from my own race but I had not encountered such hate from another race. She looked at me and said “I love you”, she explained to me that she was use to that too and she had taken a lot of heat for dating a white guy, but it didn’t matter, the heart knows what the heart wants.
I think God had a plan for putting us together. I think he knew that some day we would raise two biracial children in a racial claimant that was teetering on chaos. I think God recognized the strength my wife and I have to lead our children and to teach them that Jesus died for all people regardless of their skin color.
After being together for the past 24 years we still encounter racism directly and indirectly. I think the answer is not to simply accept each other but to accept each other and to accept Jesus Christ. We will not move forward as a nation or as a planet unless we all come to God and know that he created all of us.
I support anyone and any organization that is trying to bring people together. This is not the time to divide and hate. Doctor Martin Luther King Junior gave the “I Have a Dream Speech” and in there he said “We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.” This is so true today and we cannot forget such wise words. He also said “one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.” I feel that my children are the culmination of that dream and that some day they will live in a world united under God.
I will hold with me what my wife told me all those years ago. “Don’t let them have that kind of power over you.” May we pray for this and know that God is the ultimate power. He is the power that can heal this world. He has already given us the ultimate life that matters, Jesus. If we can see him as our light and not see the differences that separate us then we shall overcome.