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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What Color is My Heart?

I've been glued to the TV all day watching the inaugural festivities.  I've had an interesting time trying to explain to a six-year old why it's so important.  Not only that our country enjoys a peaceful transition of power when much of the world endures hostile takeovers in bulletproof suits, but of course that Mr. Obama is America's first black president.

It seems foreign to her, and I'm glad, that there was a time in our country when women and people who had any skin color other than white were considered inferior -- who were considered ignorant and unworthy of an opinion.

She just kept looking at me trying to understand, but not really getting it.  May it ever be so.

I remember a time when my grandfather had the most disgusted look on his face when he saw a mixed race couple together and he asked me what I would do if Sammie came home with "one of those."  I waited until I could look in his eyes and speak slowly and clearly, so he could understand what I was saying and understand a little more about what I believe.

Here's the gist of what I said:

In my sheltered life I've mostly been around white people.  And, some of them have been real jerks. Some have been treasures that I wanted to box up and take with me forever.  In high school and college, I met quite a few black people and some of them were real jerks.  And, some were so sweet, I wondered how they got through life without sticking to things as they walked by.  When I moved to Bloomington, I met Asians and Indians.  Some of them, you guessed it, were real jerks.  And some seemed to wake up with a smile on their face and made it their job to put one on mine.  

I shutter to add that my skin is white and sometimes I'm disgusted with how I act, the things I think and the things I say.  I know there are people who think I'm a real jerk. If only the color of our skin DID dictate our behavior in a way that helped us always do the right thing.

I told Grandaddy that in any friend that Samantha brings home, I hope I will look past the color of their skin and look at what's on the inside. How does he treat my daughter?  Is he kind? Does he smile a lot? Is he sweet in front of people and in private? Is he loving? Is he respectful of her?  How does he treat his own momma? Is he a man of integrity?  To whom does he turn for strength and endurance? Is he honest? A man of character?  Humble?

Skin color simply does not reveal what really matters.  Can this little girl also add that neither does hairstyle, jewelry, brand of clothes, job title nor height (thank goodness) reveal depth of character.  

"The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."  I Samuel 16:7

What color is your heart?


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