Wednesday, March 5, 2008

God's Pumice Stone

I subscribe to a weekly newsletter from Valerie Burton. This week she wrote that if you keep receiving the same message over and over, maybe God is trying to tell you something. Lysa Terkeurst told a beautiful story on her blog on Tuesday about God using her to speak to someone that she did not know. Their words opened my heart this week to listen for God to speak to me.

I have thought about writing a book about motherhood to include questions I receive, usually from strangers, about having a bi-racial child. I had begun to doubt the validity of the concept for the book. I was not sure how to delve deeper into the topic. I prayed for God to direct my writing.

Yesterday, a woman flagged me down on the street to give me a "tip" about caring for my daughter's hair. After what could be described as a pleasant exchange, she asked, "I wasn't too abrasive, was I?" I said no. Abrasive seemed too harsh a word to describe her actions.

More importantly, I did not want to continue a conversation I viewed as potentially harmful to my daughter. As she gets older, I worry about how she will interpret these interactions. I do not want her to think something is wrong with her or her beautiful curly hair.

When I told my husband about the encounter, it struck him as a little funny that the woman saw a "white" woman with a "black" child and wanted to help her out in caring for her hair. I said, "What's funny about that?" He said, "At least it is someone trying to be helpful instead of hateful." I replied, "Don't you think it is a little offensive that she thinks I do not know how to care for my child's hair." He had not looked at it that way but could not fully understand why it was upsetting to me. He suggested venting about it in my book. (Maybe God is trying to tell me something.)

One of the definitions for abrasive is "tending to annoy or cause ill will." If I was the same race as the woman on the street, I do not think she would have felt the need to enlighten me. Her assumption that I do not know how to care for my daughter's hair because we are not the same race definitely irritated me.

If I see these types of encounters strictly in terms of race, I cannot preserve my daughter's childhood innocence that does not see a race conscious world. She will be more influenced by my reaction than by the encounter. Ultimately, it is not about me. (Maybe God is trying to tell me something.)

Another definition for abrasive is "a substance used for smoothing or polishing." Yes, the woman was abrasive. God used her to smooth the callous that was forming on my heart. He used her to polish my perspective and my writing.

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