By Juanita Floyd
How does one determine who to love and accept? While attending a Christian Women’s Conference hosted by Evangelist Betty Blissett in Bowling Green, Ky., our group met this beautiful and vibrant young lady at the hotel. We all began a general conversation about children, vacations, conferences, etc.
During the conversation, she told us that she had two girls and, as most proud mothers will do, she proceeded to pull out her cell phone to show us their pictures. The girls were absolutely gorgeous with long, flowing, curly hair. Of course, we told her how beautiful they were. She said, “I don’t know what to do with their hair.” Fellow church members, Louise and Wanda, began to tell her products to use and where she could purchase them.
She then told us she had recently met her father for the first time. As she was talking, her countenance changed. he said, “After meeting the girls and me – my dad wasn’t sure he could accept us.” I immediately knew why. She said, “As you can see my children are biracial … my dad said, ‘If you promise me you won’t date or marry another black man, maybe I can accept you and your children.’” In that one moment we were all speechless!
Instantly, questions and thoughts began to flow through my mind. From a child up until now, I could vividly recall how my mother constantly said, “You must love and not hate.” So, I have always believed that all races must love each other. Yet, sitting in that hotel lobby, I had to face my own prejudices of acceptance. I had to ask myself, “What if that was my adult child – what would I do?” What would I say? How would I react? Could I accept an interracial marriage and children – children born of my flesh? Would I issue an ultimatum like the woman’s dad? Would I say, “Because you did this…you are no longer a part of my life?”
Winnie the Pooh said, “Just because an animal is large, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t want kindness; however big Tigger seems to be, remember that he wants as much kindness as Roo.” I wept inwardly for the young lady and for myself – knowing that just because a child happens to be a product of an interracial relationship or because of the choices one makes in life – that person is still a child of God and wants to be loved and accepted.
Then I thought about our Lord and Savior who could have easily said, “Because of who you are – I cannot accept you; because of your color – I cannot accept you; because of your sins – I cannot accept you; because you are handicapped – I cannot accept you; because you are different, I cannot accept you; because you didn’t live your life the way I wanted you to – I cannot accept you.”
Shel Silverstein said, “There is a voice inside of you that whispers all day long, ‘I feel this is right for me, I know that this is wrong.’ No teacher, preacher, parent, friend or wise man can decide what’s right for you — just listen to the voice that speaks inside.” The voice spoke to me and reminded me of the Lord’s love, grace and mercy for all mankind.
What started out as a mere trip to a women’s conference became a time for me to reassess my definition of acceptance and a time of repentance for hidden prejudices. Ironically, the conference theme was the “Bride of Christ”, and how we must remove every spot or blemish that is not like Christ from our lives.
In your own life, can you determine who to love or accept? Are there hidden prejudices in your life? You be the judge.
Juanita Gambrell Floyd is vice president for Finance and Administration at CREATE Foundation. Contect her at firstname.lastname@example.org.