If situations or people have ever left you feeling offended, weighed down by baggage or invisible to God, this post is for you. I’m thrilled to have Deidra Riggs share her wisdom with you. For the month of October, she’s been hosting a candid and eye-opening series on race relations that has left me in awe (and searching for tissues). I encourage you to check it out.
Growing up, my parents never gave me the impression there was something I couldn’t do. As far as I was concerned, the sky was the limit. The way I saw it, there were nothing but open doors, smooth roads, and throngs of approving humanity in my future. I knew there were people who didn’t like brown skin, but I figured that was their problem. Not mine.
I made it quite a long way through life before I bumped up against my first little bit of resistance. Part of the reason it took so long may have been the communities in which I had been living in until then. My neighborhood was multicultural. My school was, too. And even though my church was made up of white people, and my family and I were the only people there with brown skin, there were people in that church who loved us deeply and without condition. It was a uniquely safe place to be.
When my parents moved me from public school to a private, Christian school, I was halfway through tenth grade. Suddenly, I was one of only three people with brown skin in my small class of seventy-eight people. And, while my experience in the all-white church had convinced me I was loved just for me, my experience at the private, Christian school threw me for a loop. Maybe it’s just because it was high school, which — we can all agree, right? — has enough challenges of its own.
Whatever the reason, the fact that I was in an entirely different world was obvious to me from Day One. If I’m being honest about it, I didn’t have the tools to deal with the craziness when I was in tenth grade. My confidence in the throngs of approving humanity quickly faded, and I became skeptical. Distrustful, even. And I thought the problem was mine. Not theirs.
That’s where I got it wrong.
It took a long time for me to get it right again. A very long time. I blamed me for way too long, and I took on what belonged to someone else. I thought for sure God didn’t see me. Couldn’t hear me. Wouldn’t love me.
One night, long after I’d graduated from that high school, graduated college, married the man of my dreams, and after I tucked in my first born child, I realized I was carrying the stuff I’d been handed way back in tenth grade. It was a realization that made me cry, all those many years later.
I guess the crying opened up a door in my heart and I could finally hear what God had probably been whispering all along. It’s what I’d known way back when and had forgotten along the way. That night, the words came rushing back, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” Everlasting. No beginning. No end. Always. No matter what. No matter who.
Maybe you’ve gotten something wrong along the way? Perhaps you’ve taken the responsibility for someone else’s wrong behavior? Have you wondered if you’ve got what it takes to get God’s attention in the midst of it all?
Nothing could be further from the truth. Not for any of us.
Deidra is an East Coast girl living in an empty nest under a great expanse of sky in the American Midwest. She will forever be stunned and amazed by grace. She knows what it’s like to wonder, “Will this marriage survive?” and “Have I totally messed up my kids?” She has a deep appreciation for words in flesh and is passionate about the Word made flesh. She believes in the hopes and dreams of women, and – whether speaking or writing – seeks to use her words to encourage and lift and inspire hope. Deidra is a contributing editor for TheHighCalling.org and writes at Jumping Tandem. She’s also the big dreamer behind Jumping Tandem: The Retreat.