Wednesday, June 18, 2008


I was reminded today about my college years. And I'm not talking about the all night partying and the drinking and the boyfriends. That happened later, as so much in my life has. I have done a lot of things way too late; I have done some regretful things long after I should have known better. But I digress.

I attended two small Christian colleges in Lansing, Michigan and Grand Rapids, Michigan. I was one of the few African-American students at either school, and if I didn't realize it by the time I stepped on the campuses, I realized it after I had been there even after a couple hours. I realized it when I came away from my experience unsure if my being black had anything to do with why I did not truly enjoy my time in undergrad, like some of my friends did at their universities of choice. I walked away with a good sense of who I was and who I was not.

I was a passionate person that loved God and was willing to go where He would lead me, even in really uncomfortable environments.
I was a woman that was becoming more solid in my faith and could vocalize in intelligent ways the principles I believed.
I was a person that could stand out in a crowd and not hide my head in shame, whether I intended to stand out or not.
I was a Black woman.

I was not a White woman.
I was not endowed with long blond or brunette hair and blue or green eyes.
I was not engaged to the White guy on campus that played the acoustic guitar in chapel.
I was not a product of a Reformed Church background or a Church of Christ background.
I was not a pastor's daughter.
I was not going to be the favorite of some of my professors, though I did intrigue some.
I was not a resident of suburbia.

I was, however, a product of the ghetto - the same ghetto that many of the ministry majors in my classes were planning to inflitrate and impact.
I did not have very many friends outside my race and was looking forward to the opportunity to meet new people far different from where I had come from.
I grew up in a single parent household.
I believed in "speaking in tongues" and laying on of hands as part of true Kingdom ministry, acceptable practices at the predominantly black inner city churches I attended but not at either school.

That's who I was and was not and was again. I was reminded of that time period 10 years ago when I was a college student, trying to navigate the terrain and figure out what I was doing at those schools. I left the first school, hoping to find some acceptance in the second but did not get everything I hoped for. I was very lonely.

I was reminded of all those feelings and emotions because an African-American young lady that attends my church named JoNesha will be attending a college like the ones I did. I know probably more than most others that she may indeed experience the type of environment I lived through at Great Lakes Christian and Reformed Bible Colleges. She will realize more than ever who she is, even in the Christian institution she will be attending.

She will know that she is a Black woman. And she will either learn to love it more or secretly hate it because being different is a bitter pill to swallow - I don't care how people proclaim that uniformity is a curse. When you are around people that see your skin color first and your character second, when they believe your Christianity is somehow inferior to theirs though really a different form of the same beautiful flower, when they think you can never be as intelligent as they are, you begin to consider if being different is so wonderful.

My prayer and hope is that JoNesha will not come away with regret, that she will not wish that she had attended a different school than the one she will enter in Fall 2008. My hope for her is that Huntington University will give her the open doors and open opportunities for her to be her truest self with no apologies. She has gone through way too much to not enjoy college and the life beyond high school. I do not want her to have anything less than what she desires - which is a good experience in which to grow.

I pray for her.

I pray that she will become a stronger woman no matter the outcome of her college adventures. It is so important that she become the person God has intended for her to be.

I pray for her.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Josiah's Eyes

I received an email from a very good friend of mine today that included recent pictures of her son, Josiah. I fell in love with his eyes. I fell in love with the purity and innocence. I feel in love with his beauty and knew immediately that I had experienced another element of God's grace when I looked into her baby's face. I knew that I had found what I needed to see today - today when I feel lonely and sad and alone. I looked at her son and knew that one day we would both have families and our sons would play together. Her Josiah Rashad would love playing with my Harrison William. They would be the best of day. I would be able to send her updated pictures of Harrison and she would ooh and ahh over his day. She would give me advice about breastfeeding and songs at three a.m. and the best diapers to use. She would tell me about the beautiful way babies learn about the world they were born to impact.

I realized all of this the day I looked into Josiah's eyes.