More accurately, my first born is an olive-toned Native American, and my youngest is black. I’m Slovenian and my husband is Irish. We are both olive-ish, after a summer's tan. Until our second son was born—the black son—no one really saw our family as bi-racial. Truth is, the thing that earned us the bi-racial status was not race or ethnicity, but skin color.
As a bi-racial family, a white couple with children of different-than-us colors, how should we raise our children? Should we train their eyes to see color as significant (i.e. black pride, Indian heritage, etc.) or coach their hearts to be color blind, to treat every person as created equal and beautiful—the image of God?
Yes. It must be both.
Lessons are just beginning. Jaden is almost three; joyfully in the “what” and “why” stage. Every other minute is a moment to teach. As devoted Christ-followers, we want to raise our children according to God’s Word. We try our best to discipline with consistency and grace; we strive for bedtime Bible study with scripture memory and songs; we live out the Gospel inviting people into our home and serving others regularly so our boys see love modeled.
We feel the weight of parenting.
Life lessons aren’t simply so our boys grow up to be successful citizens. The instruction is to help them find freedom in Christ for their eternal souls, while living a radical adventure for our Lord. Our parenting is to provide for their needs, love them unconditionally, and guide them to know their Creator. The first two jobs may be exhausting, but relatively easy. It’s the third job of parenting that takes a village! A village of friends and family (including authors of books) saturated in the Word of God, equipping our hearts for that task.
A Lesson from Adoption
Years ago, as God burdened our hearts for adoption, Dustin and I gave over our plans for our family. We said, “Okay, God…you expand our family in the timing and way you choose, with the children you choose for us, for Your Glory and the Gospel to Expand.” First, God gifted us a perfect, chosen-for-us Native American son, whom we named Jaden. Through his adoption process we shared the Gospel with hundreds, and will forever see Jesus proclaimed through his life.
And just 20 months later, we brought home our second perfect, chosen-for-us son, Uriah “Ri”. Through his miraculous story, we share God’s hope for the helpless (i.e. the Gospel), and were given a surprising platform in life and ministry to address this current, appalling racial war.
As one quote reads, “My friends, adoption is redemption. It’s costly, exhausting, expensive, and outrageous. Buying back lives cost so much. When God set out to redeem us, it killed him.”
Adoption is quite possibly the greatest way we as humans can show the watching world God’s act of redemption for us, all colors of us.
If we didn't need the Redeemer to save us from a broken world with sin and darkness, adoption wouldn't be needed. But, this world is broken; sometimes moms can't care for their children. What a sacrificial and humbling request to be asked to love and care for the life of a precious child.
As our boys get older and questions come we’ll explain more in depth. For now, we simply say, “Sometimes God chooses a lady who gives life to a child, and another one to care for the life of that precious child. Mommy was chosen to care for your life.”
We never planned for our children to have such a ‘voice’ in their young lives. Our prayer was simple obedience. By humbly allowing God to grow our family, even when unconventional and at times, uncomfortable—He has chosen to use our bi-racial, colorful, family as a beacon of hope—and change.
I love putting our sons to bed. I snuggle them close. Individually I whisper into their little ears, “Can I tell you something?” Giggles. “Do you know how much I love you?” More giggles. “God wants to use your life for something great. You were chosen out of all the kids in the whole world to be mommy’s. You are my gift.”
Likewise, the gentle whisper of our Loving Father says, Are you listening? Do you remember how much I love you? I died for you so you could be Mine. Do you realize I perfectly created you to be and do all I planned you for? Do you realize I chose you out of all the people of the whole world to be Mine? You are my precious child. And I will care for your life—forever.
Through Adoption, God has taught me how He, my Father, could love someone so different from His own characteristics. Our children may not look exactly like us in appearance, but they are wholly our sons. Both Jaden and Uriah were placed in our home, “colored” as they are, for a specific purpose of the Almighty Creator. And God chose us, their parents, to help them navigate their life.
Colored to Perfection
Jaden has a large birthmark on his arm. Just recently, he began noticing it. Simply, I explained, “Baby, God is an artist. He colored on you making a beautiful picture.” Sometimes, Jaden looks at his arm and says with a big smile, “God colored me beautiful.” And then I show him how Uriah has a birthmark too. Not quite as big, but God colored him too.
Enjoy color as a gift from God. We serve a Creator God, an artist. He chose to make people beautiful with different skin pigmentation, hair color, facial features, and sizes.
God is perfect in His Being. He is the author of Life... and He marvelously, graciously chose us as humans to represent Him in this world, the Imago Dei (i.e. Image of God). God is Spirit; therefore, it is not our physical form that "images" God. We image Him in our creativity, rationality, relationality, emotion, intellect, and spirit. Restating the obvious... Skin color does not determine how we image God. All ethnicities, all colors of people are image bearers, because God created ALL HUMANS in their spiritual, emotional, relational, and intellectual beings to be the Imago Dei. When God created man and woman, he made them both in His image. In them existed all the colors of the people. And God said, “This is very good.” We must be careful to call any human, based solely on physical appearance as something lesser than who God created them to be.
Creation was the agent of diversity. Sin is the catalyst for broken relationships, pride, and racial supremacy.
May we each look thankfully in the mirror how God colored us, and then turn to one another with new eyes and see, Red, Yellow, Black, and White…we are precious in God’s sight, perfectly colored for His Great Purposes. And in Christ Jesus, perfectly re-created to image God to the watching world.