“Who the Son sets free
Oh is free indeed
I’m a child of God
Yes I am
In my Father’s arms
There’s a place for me
I’m a child of God
Yes I am” – Who You Say I Am by Hillsong Worship
I completely misheard this verse last Saturday in Franklin, Tennessee during the cooldown of the Rev On The Road workout. But I didn’t really mishear it. I heard it loud and clear exactly the way my Daddy wanted me to hear it.
Every summer God seems to make me keenly aware of the injustice in this broken world, especially where race is concerned. I just noticed His timing this summer. I think God opened my eyes to the fact that He’s been pricking my heart for the past several summers so I would let go and let Him move freely.
If the question of race or race relations makes you uncomfortable, go ahead and stop reading now. If someone sharing their pain – whether over their personal experiences or the experiences of others – makes you want to check out, please do so now. But if you choose to continue reading, I ask that you do so with an open mind and a softened heart.
I have avoided posting about race for years now. Be it my own experience, or my response to instances of systematic racism – namely the killing of unarmed men of color. All because of fear. Fear that I wouldn’t share my feelings well. That my doing so would make people uncomfortable. That when God told me to open my mouth via my keyboard that my brokenness and unaddressed hurts would muddy His message. So, as I sit here typing these words I keep praying to Him, between tears, that He will heal my hurts as I type so my hurt doesn’t turn to anger. Because while people can relate to anger, they can’t always hear past it.
I know that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Made on purpose with a purpose. I walk in this truth daily. But being a woman of color who presents as white has been a very lonely experience at times. I’ve endured passive aggressive and overt racism only to hear that I wasn’t “really Hispanic” or “really Black” or “not like that” implying that the hurtful words didn’t apply to me because I wasn’t really a member of the minority group being referenced. And I’d wonder – even sometimes ask out loud – well, if those words didn’t apply to me, did they apply to my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins? And on the flipside, I’ve gone out of my way to prove myself as a woman of color – that I belonged with the other brown women. Sometimes it’s all been in my head and other times I’ve been asked certain questions to see if my membership was legit or if it was going to be rejected.
And that’s what it comes down to, doesn’t it? Whether the question rests on race or some other means of identification, it all comes down to belonging or being rejected. And when I heard these lyrics God let me hear “In my Father’s arms there’s a place for me” I desperately needed to be held and didn’t even know it. In my life I have experienced more rejection – real or imagined – than I would have liked to. I’ve never felt like there was any particular place for me. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t feel like this all the time. But it’s always like music playing in the background of my everyday life. I’m not acutely aware of it until I am.
I honestly thought I had let go of all of this belonging and identity stuff years ago. I was walking across the local dam and God told me that I didn’t need to be brown enough, or Latina enough, because I was His. It was the first time in my adult life I felt lies about my identity break off of me. It was cathartic but painful enough for me to want that to be the end of the healing process. Today, I accept that this is truly a process. And as long as I’m breathing He will take me deeper into the hard places to bring me more freedom, healing, and peace.
God met me on that mat last Saturday and allowed me to feel His presence in such a tangible, loving way. I did not like the feelings He stirred up inside of me, namely the deep sense of vulnerability, but it was so very worth it. I don’t remember everything He declared over me because our time together was cut short due to me needing to fulfill my duties as a volunteer at the event. But I did promise Him to get still long enough to go back with Him to that space of surrender.
I’m not really sure why God wouldn’t let me go to sleep until I wrote this. It may just be for my benefit – obedience does feel so much better than the alternative – but I pray that it isn’t. If He’s been calling you deeper, go. It may seem scary and there may be tears, but I promise you the encounter will be worth it. He always is.