We had just become new parents and I was glad to find out that car rides helped lull my daughter to sleep. I started looking forward to my quiet time after lunch where would drive around until she fell asleep. On one of these regular routines, I found a new beauty in a new neighborhood I had not explored before. Green, lush, manicured lawns with tall mature trees providing canopy to the quiet street. Just like I had always done, I relaxed my chair and started reading my book while my daughter slept away in the back seat.
But on this particular day, something new occurred. An elderly white lady knocked on my car window 10 minutes later. I smiled at her and wondered if she needed help, perhaps directions or just crack some old time conversation with someone. Instead, she looked straight at my baby in the back seat and back to my eyes and asked me what my business was in the area. I was taken aback by the question, confused at first but then she continued. She told me there had been break-ins in the area by “folks that look like you.” At that moment, I realized what had just happened. I was face to face with racism.
The same Creator
As I have struggled with this encounter along with other interactions that are more nuanced in nature, I continue to seek the Lord and look to Him for comfort. He is the Lord over all things. He created me and He created the elderly white lady that questioned my worth (Genesis 1:27). What comfort for me to know that I am His creation. Even though I was perceived as a threat to that elderly white lady, I am comforted knowing who I am in Christ. My identity is in Him (2 Corinthians 5:17).
The Lord is not only the Lord over those he created but He is also the Lord over their sinful reactions. Racism motivated that lady’s reaction towards me which is sin towards a holy God.
Fear and resentment taking root
Racist encounters have reminded me what a broken world we live in. I have struggled with resentment towards that lady: resenting her for her whiteness and using it to determine who gets to be on her street and who doesn’t.
I have often wondered: What if it was my black husband that day instead of me? This and other similar incidents my husband has gone through have made me fearful. Recently my husband was repairing our door late one evening and I found myself pacing and full of fear. I was afraid someone might see him and think that a black man was breaking into someone’s house in the white neighborhood we live in and decide to call the police. I decided to take the kids out there to blow bubbles and play to create a different perception. I have realized that I have let fear take root in my heart and determine how I should live. 2 Timothy 1:7 tells us that “God has not given us the spirit of fear but of power and love and of and self-control.” Therefore, I can whole-heartedly trust God for the safety of my husband and my family. I can lay down my resentment and fear at the cross. I am a broken sinner in need of a Savior. And in return, I can obtain peace knowing that that God is in charge.
With the recent killing of George Floyd and protests that have swept across the country, I noticed that the sin of resentment is still alive in my heart. Like many others that witnessed the horrific death, I was angry. I also realized that bitterness was clouding over conversations I had with some friends about the death of Mr. Floyd. In one of my conversations with a friend, I used the words “unforgivable” and other words that later made me realize how resentful I was. The Holy Spirit convicted me to open my Bible to Hebrews 12:15-15: “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”
Living free through faith in Jesus
How do I respond to my own sin then? In faith, I do confess these sins to the Lord. Bearing the weight of resentment and fear is too much for me to carry. I have an invitation from Jesus to lay down my burdens on his shoulders so I can live free. Matthew 11:28 says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Through faith, I believe the glorious truth that we are all equally created in the image of God the Father. When others see my or my husband’s skin color as a threat, I can remember God himself designed it. When I am overcome by fear over my son growing up and being judged as a threat due to his color of his beautiful skin, I can submit my fear to the Lord. When it becomes difficult to love, I am reminded how much we do not deserve God’s love. We deserve condemnation. And yet, He has lavished so much grace on us through Christ’s death on the cross.
United and one in Christ
With Christ’s redeeming work on the cross, I find the courage to share His love to others. God Himself first loved us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). As a child of God, I can share in my suffering with my Christian brothers and sisters. I have been encouraged by other white believers that have reached out to me during the past few months and prayed with me. I have had honest discussions about race with my white sisters in Christ. We have been heartbroken together over the racial disunity in our country.
I am encouraged that Christ has united us all as brothers and sisters. Christ has predestined us for adoption as sons and daughters through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:5). And since we are one in Christ, we cannot let the sin of racism to divide us. Through this divine unity that we have together, I have been praying to find ways to promote racial unity among people that I know. As I long for a world where my children won’t be treated unfairly due to their race, I can work together with my brothers and sisters in Christ to pray and for Christ to lead us as instruments of change through the gospel.
Helen Maritim-Adipo has been married to Mike for 11 years and have been blessed with two beautiful children, Malika 7 and Eli 3. They have been attending The Orchard Barrington for 4 years. Helen works as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst serving individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities. She is also a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor. Helen enjoys spending time with friends, travelling, cooking, and gardening. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her bike. She says, “I am a follower of Christ and passionate about sharing his love with others.”