The other morning at breakfast Ellison looked over at Asher, gasped and then said “Asher you’re getting darker.” Ian chuckled and then replied, “Yes, just like you and Jude, Ellie.” After thinking for a minute she said “Daddy, don’t worry you’re lucky…….
For a moment there, after Ellison said Ian was lucky, I held my breath. I breathed a big sigh of relief when she gave us her explanation….because you are the king of whiteness.” The innocence in her reply reassured me that she doesn’t see race in the way that I do. Sometimes the fact that we’re a different family can be a big elephant in the room-for me. In our home we often skirt around issues of race. We generally try to talk about people in terms of other qualities before mentioning skin color.
When Ian and I met, we weren’t concerned about each other’s races at all. We just knew that we liked what we saw(…ahemm-and still do in fact :-)). The only concerns were about what other people would say and think. And after a while even those fears subsided. As our relationship progressed and we started to talk about marriage, we never really considered how our marriage would always affect the way that people look at us.
You see, when people see us I suspect that most of them aren’t thinking that we’re Christians. Ouch….I know. Mainly because you don’t find a ton of interracial couples attending churches in the south- at least that’s what we’ve observed. Even now, when we visit some churches we notice the double takes and the ohhh you two are married looks. Don’t get me wrong, nobody has been blatently rude, mainly just taken aback for a second or two or three. Automatically, they see us and they see something different.
When we lived overseas, I think that people saw something different too. It was surprising to find that our marriage opened a door to connect with people in new ways. Although we talked about Jesus and had conservative views, people still invited us back into their homes. Many times they had questions about what it was like to be black or what it was like to be married interracially. I’ve even been asked if I could sing a time or two and there have been some very disappointed Europeans whose hopes of me striking up a tune were very quickly dashed.
As I think back to my childhood, teen years and college days, there’s always been something a little bit different about me. I have always loved the BeeGees been enthralled with the Sound of Music and ran with crowds where I was clearly the minority. I could never fit into a mold, it just wasn’t me. And for a long time that bothered me. I felt unaccepted.
Now I can finally say that I’m truly thankful for the things that make me different. Those things are the mark of my Creator. Marks of his unique design on me to get me to here.
So here’s to being different and letting God do his thing with that. Because, if Ian and I weren’t willing to be different, we would never have had our first date, gotten married or be heading to the mission field.
I hope that as we take this journey overseas- a journey that will create a number of different experiences for Ellison, Jude and Asher- that they will realize the mark of their Creator writing a story drafted just for them.