“Reconciliation means working together to correct the legacy of past injustice.” Nelson Mandela
If you are reading this as a parent, you have an earnest and sincere desire to leave a lasting legacy in your family line that will improve the trajectory of diversity in the world. But if you are also like many parents that do not have diversity in your current ancestry, the glaring question is, “Where do I begin?” Let me start by asking you some questions to ponder.
- What attitudes did the members of your family and your friends in school have toward people with a different nationality?
This may be a very sensitive topic, but I pose this question because you will need to dig deep to figure out what bias you are bringing into the picture. If the answers to this question are difficult to hear, do not lose heart. The amazing thing about what God does in the individual heart is that the attitudes of your family and friends are not necessarily yours. While it is true that these beliefs were influential because they came from family and friends whose opinions we valued, these attitudes were often the result of misinformation, possibly based on some bad experiences with other people. You have recognized that this is not what you want to instill and engrain in your children. Now, you have an opportunity to take what you have learned and seen and be a blessing, a light to those who still carry negative views, while at the same time teaching your precious little ones to embrace people who are different.
If, on the other hand, those aspects of family and friends were positive, take the time to explore what mindset or family attitude led to that approach. It could be a good model to replicate with your family.
- What role are you playing in widening the racial divide in America? Are you passing along generalities and stereotypes that further this division? Are you judging a whole group of people based on the words or actions of a few? Have you remained silent when you could have spoken up to stop divisive talk?
You may have heard it said, “Do what I say don’t do what you see me doing?” Yeah, that sounds good, but the most impactful sermon you preach to your children is the one they watch you modeling daily. You can speak all the flowery language you want, but if your actions don’t match your words, you are wasting your time and theirs. They will follow your walk far more closely than your words.
Here is a very practical exercise for you and your family. Identify one person of a different ethnicity, national background, skin color or that you would typically struggle to love and begin building or improving an existing relationship. Add the person to your family’s daily prayer list, and ask God to open your eyes to opportunities and give you the wisdom to build a relationship with that person.
Make a list of ways you can reach out to this neighbor. Look for areas of common interest, ground on which you can stand with this neighbor.
It is my heartfelt belief that many people have good intentions, that they care about the racial divisions in our country. I also believe many have no idea how to help and where to start. And deep down, many think the racial division has reached a point that it is too far gone to save. I hope that is not true. If we give up, the outcomes are bleak.
Parents, you have a tremendous opportunity to share the hope we Christians have in Christ, the Light of the World, with your children as we create a foundation for future generations who embrace the beauty of diversity. Help your offspring become that vessel that shines brightly in the lives of all God’s people. The forces speaking against unity and reconciliation resist the light of Christianity because it is a threat to their way of life. It is a threat to the darkness of sin. So, the world will hate Christians just as it hated Jesus. But remember Jesus, who rose victoriously from the grave. The expectant joy of the resurrection is a source of comfort for Christians. Jesus is saying, “Look to the clouds; your Savior will return.” Keep your ears open to the voice of the Bridegroom and drown out the voices in the world. “The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore, this joy of mine is now complete” (John 3:29).