Since February is Black History Month, I thought I would take this opportunity to make a confession: I am not black. I realize that this comes as no surprise to those of you who know me, or to those of you who can see my picture at the top of this page. However, for the remainder of my readers, I thought that I should make this point clear. I am not black.
I have a very good friend who is black (I miss you, by the way). I learn alot about what it means to be a black man in the United States by listening to him. I do not become black by listening to him, but I do gain a different perspective than I would have otherwise. And, as I have learned more about what it means to be a black man in the United States, I have also learned more about how to love and serve people who are different from me.
In the spirit of the post, I will continue the confessions: I am not a woman. God did not make me a woman. I have never been a woman. However, my wife is a woman. She has taught me alot about what it means to be a woman. Sometimes, I listen to her and I learn. I learn about the struggles of being a woman and about the difficulties of being a mother. I also learn about many of the joys. Even though I’ve learned from her, this does not make me a woman, but it does help give me a different perspective and, hopefully, to understand women a little more.
Also, I was not born in another country. Even though some people suggest that Alabama is another country, it is not – I checked. However, I have some good friends who were not born in the United States. They struggle with many things because they are in a foreign country. They face many difficulties. I’ve learned about some of these struggles and difficulties by listening to them. This does not make me a foreigner, but it does help me understand their perspective, and it helps me to know how to love and serve others who are not from this country.
By the way, I’ve never been a foster child or an orphan. Never. I was raised in a loving home with my birth mother and my birth father and a younger brother who was my full sibling. I knew that my parents cared about me, and I think my brother liked me most of the time. I do not know what its like to be an orphan or a foster child. But, I have recently met a man who was raised in several foster families. I’ve already started listening to him, and I think he has much to teach me. I’m looking forward to hearing his perspective and learning more about God and life and love from him.
I am not black. I am not a woman. I am not a foreigner. I am not a foster child. But, God has shown me that I can learn from a black man, a woman, my foreign friends, and even a person who grew up in foster families. I can learn about God. I can learn about people. I can learn about life. I can learn about love and acceptance and redemption and hope. I can learn what it means to live together in community in the Spirit with those who are different from me. And, I can learn that I need to hear and grow from their perspectives, just as they can learn and grow from mine.