Monday, August 18, 2008

If It's Not One Thing, It's Another. Seriously.

I cannot believe that it has been over a week since I wrote anything. Please forgive me. Somehow time has just slipped away, and one thing becomes another, and then important things have not gotten done. But stay with me. I’m getting back on track. I’ve got a lot of thoughts swirling tonight, so hang with me and hold on tight.

I want to start by thanking you for praying for my ear situation. I’ll tell you what; the hem of His garment has proven to be much stronger than any antibiotic out there. My ear is as good as new and I give all praise to Jesus for the healing.

But I’ll tell you that as soon as there was relief in the ear, there was pain elsewhere. I am inclined to think that there is one who doesn’t want me to believe God on this issue, or any other issue for that matter. But I am believing nonetheless, and learning more about God and His world in the process. Last week I had been battling a UTI (urinary tract infection), and I thought that I could just drink more water and flush it out. Dumb. Water is an issue here in Kenya, as in it is expensive and not as available as opening a tap in the states and filling a glass. All that to say that water is a bit hard to come by, so flushing out an infection by drinking lots of water here in Kenya is quite difficult. Needless to say, my plan did not work, and by Saturday morning, the infection had traveled my bladder and kidney.

That is some serious pain, y’all, so much so that I could not stand up straight. So my husband took me to a local hospital to get some treatment. That was an experience. Now, granted, there were no goats walking around the halls like the hospital that we visited in Ghana. Toria came down with malaria while we were in northern Ghana last year, and the hospital there was a HUGE step of faith for me, as I watched goats walk down the walkways. There were no goats at the one here in Kenya, just very interesting people.

I am seeing more and more as we travel that people are so incredibly interesting all over the world, and are in such desperate need of a renewal of the mind (Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Romans 12:2). You see, it seems that people everywhere have forgotten that we as human beings have more in common with each other than we do have that separates us.

Genesis 1:26-27 says, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

Did you catch that? God created man in his own image. First and foremost, we each as human beings bear the image of the Almighty Creator of the universe. We each bear the same image of the King of kings. Every single one of us, whether it is acknowledged or not, bears the same image of God. Then He created them male and female. So first He made us as image bearers, then He differentiated us.

So why is it that we first differentiate each other before we see what binds us together? Back to the hospital story, the lady who was tending to my painful situation began to ask my husband about our children, whether they were black children or white children. To be completely honest, it was by God’s grace alone that I was in so much pain, because otherwise my tongue would have caused me to sin greatly in that situation. My husband graciously replied that we do not use such stupid language. Our children are children. That’s enough. I swooned a bit as I fell more in love with him, even in my pathetic state at that point.

Let me add to that, though, for those who like to use the term “mixed babies.” I have heard it often, probably not mal-intended, but used none-the-less. There is nothing mixed about a child. Allow me to say that again. There is absolutely nothing mixed or half-breed anything about any child anywhere in the world. These children, as are all children, are wholly sanctified by their Maker, formed with all the creativity and beauty of an amazing God who enjoys painting brilliant sunsets across the evening sky and colorful rainbows in a fresh rain-filled atmosphere. I just need to put that out there. Please do not label what God has created whole as half-anything, as mixed anything.

Ok, back on target. So after running a test on my urine, they determined that I had a raging bladder and kidney infection, which is what I was trying to tell them the whole time we were there. So they decided to give me a dose of IV antibiotics first to get the treatment started quickly. As we were sitting in the treatment room receiving my dose, they brought a sick child into the same room to receive a treatment of some sort as well. We protested at having someone else in the room while I was being treated, which they quickly disregarded. Then the lady taking care of the child told the child not to cry because the white lady wasn’t crying. And everyone knows that white people are weak and cry at everything. So if I could endure the treatment without crying, then certainly the child could do the same.

Again, by God’s grace I was too weak and in too much pain to stand up and tongue whip her for such remarks, but my husband was quick to tell her that not only was she lying to the child, her talk was stupid. Can I just say that I adore him? Seriously y’all. Adore him.

Focus. Renewing of the mind is what is needed. Those types of things don’t just happen here in Kenya. We recently saw an advertisement for a news broadcast being shown in the states called “Is the US ready for a black man to be President?” What a stupid question. Is it not enough that he is a man? He needs to be called a black man? Is he not a man? Maybe I missed it, but have the other candidates been referred to as “white men”? No, for some reason it is enough to acknowledge them as men. I just wonder if God looks at His children and refers to them as black or white, or any other color. No, in fact, Scripture says that He refers to us by name. So, He does not call me “white Shauna” and someone else “black so-and-so.” No, it is enough to call us by name. Because whatever color He decided we would be, we first bear His image. I wonder if that is what He sees first. His own image reflected back to Him, after all, He put it there. I wonder if He ever says, “Black what? That’s my child. That’s enough.”

Acts 17:26-28 says, “From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’”

Rev was telling me the other day about a conversation he had overheard between two Kenyan women who were talking about us. They were assuming that Rev was a foreigner and did not understand their language, so they were speaking boldly. They were saying that he had only married me for money, because I wasn’t even beautiful, and that they could easily seduce him and steal him away from me with their beauty. Then they began insulting my shoes, saying that I was a Westerner but wasn’t even up with fashion.

Ouch. That hurt. I mean, if they don’t think I’m beautiful, that’s one thing, but don’t talk about my shoes. That’s really…high schoolish. Honestly, though, there is a time in my life that those words would have wounded me deeply, but as I sat there listening to it, that still, small voice in my heart kept saying over and over again, “You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are fearfully and wonderfully made.”

You see, I didn’t choose my skin color, or my weak eyes, or my ears. I did not form them with my hands, but they were formed by my Creator, and He says I am fearfully and wonderfully made. He says I am beautiful (Song of Songs 4:1). I’m prone to believe that word over a couple of women who judge by worldly standards and evil perspectives. I’ve seen the beautiful work of my Lord. I have seen how creative He is and how high His standards of excellence and beauty are. If He says I’m beautiful, I believe it with everything in me.

We are separated by things that should not divide us, and the blood that was poured out over us is too often taken for granted as not being enough to unite us. The image that was put in us at creation does not bring us together, yet we are divided over petty things such as the tinting on our skin. Renewing of the mind. That is what we need. All over the world. Renewing of the mind.

For those concerned, my bladder/kidney situation is all but resolved. I am still taking antibiotics to finish up the course, but all pain is gone and seems to have returned to normal. I feel like these thoughts tonight may have been a bit all over the place, but that’s where I am right now. Hope you can find some sense in it somewhere.

Maybe there are some assumptions or dividing ideas that you are holding onto, aware or not. Ask for God to reveal them to you so that you may deal appropriately with them.

Psalm 139:23-24 says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Ask Him. We are called to be Ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making his appeal through us. He has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. We cannot work for reconciliation in others when we ourselves have not yet been reconciled. Ask Him. He is faithful to let you know.

In all things, friends, there is Grace and Peace. Love y'all.
-Shauna

6 comments:

  1. Danielle FranciscoAugust 19, 2008 at 11:11 AM

    Thank you so much Shauna for your somewhat random thoughts. They all spoke to me in amazing ways. Especially the section on being fearfully and wonderfully made. As a woman, I struggle with my appearance on a regular basis and that verse is the only one that knocks my head back on straight.

    Thank you for writing about your family struggles. If only people could look past the exterior and see that we are one in Christ. God made us all unique and special and we are all made for his Glory.

    Praise God for your healing! You and the family are in our prayers and hearts.

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  2. Shauna,

    Loved this post! So much insight, so much to learn. Thank you for your honesty and your transparency.

    I am glad that you are feeling better! You are doing a great work and of course, satan would like to distract you. Your reference to touching his garment is once again my only hope so I will be clinging. Keep writing from you heart, I am certainly learning.

    Sheryl

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  3. Hi Shauna,

    I'm from the Pantano MOPS group and have been reading your blog all summer. I have really enjoyed reading about your experiences and your insights into what God has for us. This post really spoke to me, as I was reading the part about being fearfully and wonderfully made, I thought of my 4 year old daughter and the school years that are ahead of her - I'm sure that verse will be a powerful tool! Also I appreciate what you said about your children being children, God does not see color or race and neither should we - thank you for being so blunt about the whole thing - even though I agree with you on that I'm sure I have used those terms or something similar but not anymore! Thanks! God Bless!

    Julie

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  4. Shauna, thanks so much for your thoughts. I am new to your blog, but very interested! My godson, who often lives with me, is from the DRC, and we do talk about race. The truth is, his experience of life in the US will be different than mine because he is a black child. The world will treat him differently. I would not be a responsible parent if I did not prepare him for that.

    He knows he is fearfully and wonderfully made by a God who loves difference and diversity. He also knows this is a fallen, broken world, and he knows what to do if he is stopped by police, which I did not need to know at 12. It is legitimate to ask if America is ready for a black President--race is a huge undercurrent in this election, and I would be lying to a black child to suggest to him that it wasn't. My boy is too smart not to know. He needs to know I see it too.

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  5. Shans99,
    Thanks for your comment and I appreciate where you are coming from, but I have to say that on this issue I cannot agree with you.
    Race is what we make of it. No where in Scripture do I see where God has divided us up by the color of our skin. No where has He commanded certain behavior or speech based on the color of the skin.
    I can see where He has designated between male and female, husbands and wives, parents and children, slaves and masters (not color oriented), but no where do I see designation to a people based on the color of their skin.
    We make it a dividing factor and we teach that divisiveness through the generations. Where a young man would have to know anything at all beyond trust about being approached by the police is a travesty.
    Our time in Africa has taught me what it is like to be an outsider, to look different and be different from a people. Wherever we go, I am referred to at "white person" (mzungu in Swahili). I guarantee you that my name and my identity is not "white person," just like that of your godson is not "black child" and my children are not "mixed." As a parent, I believe it is my job to prepare my children to see the world as God sees it, not as the world sees it. The world's view is not trustworthy.
    It is good for them to know that they are different, just as God created every single one of us unique and different. But the color of our skin does not define who we are, how we interact with the world, our credentials to do anything in the world, or our value in the world. We determine that for ourselves based on well we know the One who made us. What does He think of us? What does He call us?
    As far as the election, race should have absolutely nothing to do with this election. The only it does have something to do is because people want to make it about that. Race doesn't define their credentials. Race doesn't define who they are as human beings. Race doesn't define their issues. Race is based on pigmentation. That's it. Some have more than others. That's it.
    I will agree to disagree with you on this one. Scripture and my heart say too much to the contrary of what you have stated.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate your willingness to disagree with me. Grace and peace in all things as we journey on.

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  6. Shauna, thanks for responding. I think as Christians we walk a balance between living into the Kingdom and claiming that citizenship and knowing that we live in a broken, fallen world that plays by very different rules.

    True enough: God makes no distinction by skin color. Man does, however, and to not prepare a child for that world is, I think, irresponsible. It is indeed a travesty that a 12-year-old boy needs to know something besides trust of police, but that is life in America for most black men, regardless of their station in life. My pastor is one of the most color-blind people I know, yet he will say that the things he has to tell his own teenage son about responding to police, traffic stops, etc. is very different from what white members of our church tell our children.

    Hundreds of years of sin don't disappear because I wish they would. Race *is* a factor in this election, because for so many people it is still a deciding factor in whether or not they will vote for someone; that makes it an issue, a huge one. And I think it gives us a valuable opportunity to talk about it in a way that goes beyond "Let's act like race doesn't exist" when the experience of black people tells us it does.

    My godson is a black child. It is not his whole identity, but it is part of it, just as being male is, being Congolese is, being a brother is, being a soccer player and math specialist and class clown is. Christian is his primary identity and the one that is most transformative, but all those other factors are shaping who he is.

    And I guess that is what I would say: I agree with you that race does not define people. It does shape them--in this broken world in which we insist on racial categorizations, that is just an ugly reality to deal with. I've lived in Africa too and been called "mnlungu" in South Africa and "mzungu" in Tanzania, but I've spent most of my adult life in an inner-city black community in the US, and when the people there tell me their experience of life is shaped and interpreted by race, I think it's arrogant of me to tell them to shake it off, that race doesn't matter.

    Race still matters, as Cornel West says. I long for the day it doesn't, but until then, I think it would be irresponsible to raise my boy without the tools to combat racism in his world, just as it would be irresponsible to raise a girl without the tools to combat sexism.

    Always great to connect with someone who is also a "boundary crosser" of sorts. Grace and peace.

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