My posting of my daughter Victoria’s latest challenging encounter with classmates has provided a great opportunity to receive encouragement from friends and to consider the many ways people process racially charged confrontations and encounters. The nature of our ministry has given us many opportunities to build bridges between people and has exposed us to some of the best and most disappointing aspects of human nature.
Anytime one posts one’s thoughts on issues with racial implications, one realizes chances are being taken. There is the vulnerability of exposing one’s less appealing emotions and the risk of being seen as one who complains. There is a risk of appearing petty and making much ado of a problem normative to the human experience and not handling one’s business well.
Because of such considerations, for many years, especially my years through early adulthood, I said very little about these types of experiences. I absorbed the harshness, and I rolled with the punches time after time until, paraphrasing the Isley Brothers, I got knocked on the ground by untruths and misstatements that were too ridiculous to ignore. I realized that others were suffering similarly and because of my “strong, silent approach” their experiences were being discounted by our mutual friends because, “Look at Sam. He’s never complained about this. It must not be a big deal.” I further realized that while I still needed to be strong, civil, positive and to seek healing in every encounter, righteousness also demanded that I tell a more complete story and take time to acknowledge the emotional impact of such encounters to help others who find themselves in similar situations.
Why am I posting such a clarification? First, to assure all who know me that as agitated as Mongo may become, he will never be released from his cage – but, the anger is real! As Scripture says, feel your anger, but don’t sin. Luz and I also understand very well that we cannot shield our little ones from all of life’s confrontations. Remember she is not our first puppy, but the fourth who has had to navigate the challenging world of being part of the multicultural family and sorting through one’s own identity and the processing of others regarding what that means in a broader community context. We are confident that she will navigate the challenges of adolescence and cultural flexibility with character, resolve and faith, sometimes making great choices and sometimes learning from mistakes. We will advocate for her always and assist her as appropriate. We won’t be helicopter parents but are aware that some of the players involved have parents on social media too, who when subtly informed, just might read a pertinent post and help the healing process along with their input for their children too.
So, all is well with us and our puppies. Mongo is securely confined to his cage, comforted by oldies music and goofy comedies. Luz and I plug ahead by faith, taking one day at time, living in the light of God’s love as we go, trying to share that love as much as we can with everyone we meet until our time comes. In the meantime, we press on!