October 29, 2013


I had a student in the English class I was teaching at a community college a couple years ago tell me the most beautiful story. I was talking to them about my life growing up as a biracial child. For me, the combining of two different cultures has been precious. I have never had any real confusion about who I was or where I belonged. I grew up with both my Black father and White mother, who loved each other dearly. There really was not much room for confusion, because I knew them both, loved them both, and knew that they loved me.

My student’s story was about her son. He had been attending his first year of school and often came home raving to his mother about his new friend. When she tucked him in at night, he’d tell her all the fun stories from his school days playing with his comrade. In the mornings when he got up, he was excited to go back to school because he knew his friend was going to be there. One day she arrived at the school earlier than usual to pick up her son. He saw her at the door and came running, as children often do when they catch a glimpse of Mom. He gave her a hug and then immediately pointed across the room so that he could show her who his new friend was.

“He’s right there!” he said, beaming and pointing.

“Which one?” she asked, perplexed as she followed his tiny finger into a sea of children.

“The kid in the red shirt!”

When her eyes landed on her child’s friend, she couldn’t help smiling. In a class with 25 or so children, every child in her son’s room was White except her son’s best friend, who was wearing a red shirt. In a room in which all but one shared the same skin tone, her son could not think of a single characteristic that would identify his friend to his mother from the other children in the room, except for his red shirt.

Identifying Me

When my student told me that story, I was moved. There is a reason that Christ said that in order to enter the kingdom of heaven, we would first need to become like children. Children are precious. Children don’t hate until they are first taught hate.

There are a lot of things Jesus could use to point us out to His Father. I can just see Him discussing bringing me into the kingdom.

“That’s her!” He’d say, beaming as He’d point me out to God the Father.

“Which one?” He’d respond. Now, at this point there are a million things Jesus could use to identify me. He could point me out as the girl that’s been a hypocrite or the same girl who stole that ankle bracelet from the convenience store in ninth grade and to this day has never been caught for it. The girl who threw up all over her twin bed the first time she got drunk in high school, or that girl who lost her cool and spewed a few choice words when she got cut off on the highway (and that one was more recent than I’d like to admit).

We try not to tell each other about our shortcomings because we fear we will lose respect. We keep things from one another, sometimes even from our closest friends, for fear that if they found out they wouldn’t see us anymore, and they’d just see the sin.

I Forgive You. Let’s Move on 

I read a devotional entry once by Max Lucado in his book Just Like Jesus, in which he talked about a personal friend who had had an affair. The affair had happened more than a decade earlier, and the husband never confessed it. When his wife finally did find out, 10 years later, they dropped everything and took a trip together to put out the noise of the world and focus on each other and their relationship.

As I read this part, I did what I often do while reading or listening to stories: I put myself in the leading character’s shoes. I thought, If that were my husband, I would leave him. I am not saying that is the right thing to do, and I am not saying that is what everyone else should do. I am simply saying what I think I would do in this situation.

In Lucado’s book the couple is on vacation together, reflecting and crying, and trying to figure out how to move forward. The woman is trying to figure out if she can move on from this infidelity. Lucado says this: “In this case the wife was clearly in the right. She could have left. Women have done so for lesser reasons. Or she could have stayed and made his life a living hell. Other women have done that. But she chose a different response.”

“On the tenth night of their trip my friend found a card on his pillow. On the card was a printed verse: ‘I’d rather do nothing with you than something without you.’ Beneath the verse she had written these words: I forgive you. I love you. Let’s move on.

I was struck by this story, because in the character of this woman I recognized the character of Christ. Romans 3:23 reminds us: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Red Shirts All

We do not deserve Christ. We have hurt Him, we have disgraced Him, we have betrayed Him, and if He came back right now, I believe many of us would crucify Him all over again. If you are sunk in the guilt of your past, so much so that you cannot breathe or move, lie still, because Jesus wants you. On your pillow is a card, and on that card is a note penned from the hand of Christ that reads: “I forgive you. I love you. Let’s move on.”

Jesus, the one whom they called Christ, is so good, because everything we have done, every secret sin He’s seen us do in the dark, means nothing to Him the second we have sincerely repented and sought His forgiveness. I’m not perfect, but at least I know what a loser I am; and because of that, I am forced to seek His shelter and guidance every morning the second my eyelids open. Yes, there are a million different things Jesus could use to point me out to the Father. Lucky for me, He’ll just stand there beaming, proud to point me out in the crowd. And the single characteristic that He notices that would distinguish loser me from a roomful of saints is my red shirt.

In heaven we’ll all be wearing red. It will be the color for every season. Trust me, no matter what you’ve done or where you’ve been, you can still seek the refuge of Christ, and when you do, stand tall and be proud to slip on that beautiful, distinguishable, bright-red shirt.

“That’s My friend!” Jesus will say, smiling. “The one washed in the blood of the Lamb.”