Battle. I don't need to convince anyone that life is just that, a battle. Being multi-ethnic is no different. It is a constant battle. But don't be mistaken, there is a strength in the struggle.
Biracial. It's a simple concept: of more than one race. However, life is complicated. Although I've come to realize there is power in my ethnicity, it hasn't come without struggle.
People have called me half-breed, the dog from Garfield, "not really black" and plenty of other things to announce their view on my reality. Growing up it felt like I had to pledge my allegiance to white people or black people. There was no in-between. I constantly felt uneasy. It seemed like every action would be viewed from a white or black lens. I felt trapped. So I assimilated. I tried my best to blend in, but in all the wrong ways. If I'm honest, I just wanted people to like me. I became divided, segmented and compartmentalized.
Then at 15, I was introduced to Jesus. But it wasn’t for quite some time that I realized Jesus wanted to speak into every part of my identity.
Romans 15:6 "that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."
But I wasn't brought up with one voice. I was toeing the fence culturally as I saw fit.
I dealt with the hurt of feeling and being ostracized. Self-hatred, resentment and mistrust built up and carried over into ministry, work and relationships.
One of the worst feelings we experience is when we know, deep down in our souls, that we belong and are treated as an outsider. I imagine Jesus experienced this just as Jacob did with his brothers.
Where and what do we belong to?
I needed Jesus to speak into my identity and mend broken, tattered pieces. We all do.
For so long, my ethnicity felt like a weight and a liability, not an asset. But it is an asset. I have the power to empower the Kingdom of God in a profound way. I want to create an elaborate metaphor to explain the reason biracial people are so important in God’s kingdom but it’s actually really simple. Multi-ethnic people work as bridges. They can heal broken relations because their very existence represents hope for healing. It has taken me a long time to really let that settle in.
The story of the Good Samaritan is so powerful because of who the Samaritan’s were. Others looked them down upon them because they were not fully Jewish ethnically. In other words, they were treated like many biracial people are today.
50 shades of pain.
Where can I go where someone understands and knows my true name? You see, these names I was called never really called out to me. They drew me into myself. I didn't feel like I could consult with anyone about the things I experienced. I struggled with hating being white. I've struggled with the pain of being black. Yet, there is more. There is more to my identity than ethnic makeup. But my identity is not LESS than it. This is critical. God has created us all perfectly and beautifully, different.
Jesus did the opposite of everyone I ever knew. He didn’t speak to just any woman at the well, He spoke to the Samaritan woman. This ancient, yet fresh, voice called out to me too. He beckoned me. He knew me more than I knew myself.
I was no longer a half-breed. I was fully His son. I know that needs to sink in for some of us. It still overwhelms me. I'm fully known by Jesus. He understands me and loves me.
And Jesus is the only one who could really know me after all. Unfortunately, that wasn't enough for me. I wanted more. In reality I wanted less. I wanted the acceptance of people more than I wanted my identity to be in God and that’s a constant struggle.
Will I seek belonging/identity from people or Jesus? Saul (later, Paul)sought and gained belonging with radical, hateful people. He found life in Jesus. Samson ran after Delilah and lost what God gave him. He found redemption in submission to God.
Will I be a German, Jewish, Abanaki, and African American man? Or will I be, will we be, children rejoicing in our Father's presence? I, we, must be both. There is no line to be drawn. We are called to live fully in the ways our maker has made us, to do otherwise is to go against God’s will for our life.
2 Timothy 1:7 “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”