I am thankful that I grew up in a home where racism was never tolerated. My parents always had people of color in their inner circle. And, truth be told, those relationships shaped my view of normal.
I can recall the time my Dad’s friend Billy took me aside one day to tell me the story of the time he had been traveling with my Dad and their course took them South. As it turns out, the hotels in the South at that time were happy to give my Dad a room but not Billy. Because Billy was black. Tears in his eyes, Billy told me how much it meant to him when my Dad told those clerks that he’d sleep in the car with Billy before he’d give them his money.
And there was the time my Mom “threw down” with the woman who was visiting our home and called Brazil nuts by their derogatory name. It wasn’t a trite thing to my Mom. Because she knew even the small things mattered. Now that I’m a mom, I know that she also knew that young eyes were watching and that such an utterance would shape our thinking.
I remember the stories from my Sunday school teacher, a black man from Alabama. He and his wife are longtime family friends. He grew up in Rosa Park’s neighborhood. He remembers when she kept her seat on the bus.
This is my heritage. I did nothing to earn it. It’s just how I was raised. So, I can’t really take any credit for it. But, it sure has saved me from the hard work of unlearning a lot of junk.
And, let’s be honest, there IS a lot of junk out there. A lot of messy thinking and deeply rooted prejudices.
Today is the 50th anniversary of 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing - a heinous moment in a string of other heinous moments in our nation’s history. I’m taking a moment right now to reflect and to pray that God would continue to move among His people. That the Church would be a place where unity around Jesus would bring us closer to each other. A place where racial reconciliation is lived out day in and day out. A place where the color of another’s skin is a thing to be celebrated not shunned. That He’d keep showing us where our assumptions are wrong. Because even with a heritage like mine, I know I have things to learn and listening to do.
Below, I’ve included a link to a beautiful story about the healing that CAN take place when Jesus grabs a hold of your heart. Do you know that a life submitted to Christ will do crazy things – counter-intuitive things – that leave us gaping at the wonder of it all? This is story from one of the girls who survived the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing… while her little sister did not. This is her story. It’s a story about how God makes beautiful things out of the dust. How He takes pieces from the rubble and makes them whole again.
May He never stop.
And may we never stop noticing when He does it, falling to our knees in wonder and worship of such a One.