I engaged in a conversation last week that made me think. I was at our mall enjoying my frozen yogurt when a young mom and her three children sat down across from me. I smiled at the baby, and we exchanged pleasantries. Then I felt compelled to tell her, “You have a beautiful family.” She said thank you, and I went back to my yogurt. A few minutes later, she came and sat down beside me. “You saying I have a beautiful family, that meant a lot to me,” she said. “I’m white, and my husband’s black, and our baby is mixed, and his kids are dark. You would surprised how many dirty looks and tacky comments I get.”
She began to tear up, at which point I began to tear up. “It hurts me to hear that,” I said. She and I exchanged a hug. I invited her to our church where we work hard to be an accepting, safe place for people. Maybe she will come. Whether she does or not, I believe we had church right there outside the yogurt shop. Yogurt was our bread and wine and “God so loves the world” from John 3:16 was our truth to proclaim.
I hope that knowing racism still rears its ugly head to bite young mothers just trying to make their way in our community will make me more intentionally and boldly kind. My friends who study racial relations in the United States tell me that racism in our country has not gone away; it just changed forms. I of course don’t notice this because I’m a white woman living the easiest life available to any human being on this planet. But occasionally God opens my eyes to the challenges people living in different skin colors face. Are your eyes open? Are you willing to defeat the evil of racism with the power of love? I’ll be looking for opportunities alongside you, kindness warrior!
I know a compassionate word here and a hug there seem to be pretty small gestures in the challenges we face. But the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke all tell Jesus’ story of the power of the mustard seed. Jesus says that this tiny seed, when it is sown, creates a tree where birds can find refuge. Our love for our neighbors, expressed in the smallest ways, creates a home for us all. From this tiny seed, the peaceful kingdom of God grows.