Our country is known as the land of the free. So many have fought and continue to fight to give us that freedom. Yet, recent events reveal that although as a country we have reached new levels of acceptance and equality, we still have much ground to overcome. With social media and a technology which places a camera in each person’s pocket, injustice and prejudice is no longer hidden but has provided a global witness to events that are now being felt by millions.
As a country we have recently lost significant life and our very own have been targeted for their race, political service, or even those who wear a uniform and pledge to protect and serve.
As America’s lawmakers and politicians argue about who is to blame, with no answers or help in response to the outcry from her people, we remain divided.
Yet, I believe there is a bigger picture that laws, and certainly not politicians, can solve.
My children are adopted. The other day, as we were driving to school, my son innocently and sweetly asked me about his “real mom”. My immediate answer was, “I am your REAL mom.” I followed that with an answer to his question regarding his biological mother; of whom I have great love and admiration- for many reasons; but mainly, it was her that brought my son to this world, he is a part of her, she a part of him. Yet he and my daughter are mine, wholly and fully- mine. My love for them is intense and all-consuming as a result of motherhood. It is that amazing maternal nature in women that becomes realized the moment she becomes a mom.
There is nothing more dangerous than a momma bear who has a cub… and there is nothing more fierce than a woman who will do anything and everything to protect her child… adopted or natural- there is no difference, because that child is hers.
America is beautiful. It is a land of the adopted. The native-American and the immigrant. Diverse and different. Cultures and races brought together to become a gritty, strong, loud and vibrant people. We have fought, we have bled… we have been terrible and truly ugly, yet through our ugliness, beauty has been revealed…. A beauty that is real and authentic. Our beauty, our truth, our victory is in those before us, who shed their blood for brother and sister to be free, equal, to worship based on their hearts leading, to live, to find opportunity in a land that provides it… this is our beauty… this is our America. In our tragedy, in our evil, goodness prevailed. This is our legacy.
You, my adopted sister, brother, mother, father, and child… are mine. You are uniquely and beautifully mine. You are not of my flesh, but you are mine in truth- and I will love you, care for you, fight for you and die for you- because you are… mine.
What God sees in each one of us, is our uniqueness, our diversity, because He created us to be beautifully and powerfully different.
Our God is a great and magnificent Creator. He is the master artist and every living thing is the result of the stroke of His hand and the breath of His Words. What makes each of us beautiful- IS our diversity.
Yet EVIL uses our differences to separate us; when God, in His creation, made us diverse to increase us, to make our lives rich, through and because of our differences. How foolish our rhetoric has been, how foolish our hatred is… and how magnificent, if we only stopped and looked, what God has given us. He took a beautiful blank canvas and created color, sizes and gave each His individual stroke… our own unique and specific fingerprint… our own narrative.
How sad that we look not at each other for the beauty of being remarkably different, but to hate because we are different.
These days have been tragic, yet it is in these times when we as a nation can become stronger… or we can instead allow it to further pull us apart. There is an opportunity here… will we seize upon our hope and victory as a people, or will we allow foolishness and hatred to break us?
If we, as a people, can stop yelling, stop arguing and stop speaking over each other… if we as a people can stop the rhetoric that is intentionally misinterpreting the other’s ideas… and begin to see each other through the eyes of God, we will once again reveal our beauty that can crack and break the malicious lies of hatred that has distorted our truth.
Let us see the value and power of each other.
I will embrace the victims- their beauty and innocence of whom we have lost and grieve with those who love them and mourn. I will listen to those who are afraid, confused and feel unheard. I will look at my brother, my sister, my children of this blessed country who think or have differences than me and reach my hand out to them and call them- my family
The easy road and deceitful way- is to label, but it is important that we all clear our heads and define each individual as an individual, no matter what vocation, race or faith they may be aligned. Not every person of a race can be labeled… each man and woman is unique and created to be different. Each has their own specific fingerprint, which is distinctly their own. The same is for any vocation. There are so many men and woman in uniform that get ready every morning and because of their career they serve us, all of us. As well, let us not attack those who differ in faith or politics. They have real and valid experiences that led them to their points of view and to the way they worship and believe. I must not label all, due to the one who was extreme and sick.
The bigger picture cannot rest upon politicians, because the only answers to the differences that divide us are within each of us. We are adopted into this beautiful home called America. We must open our hearts, stop the hate that grows in our hearts and begin to look at our brothers and sister, our fathers and mother… our children… no matter what color, what vocation, or what faith and see in each a beautiful design of a Great Creator, as our “real” or true family… It is in their uniqueness, it is in our differences that give us beauty. And more importantly we are fighting a war that has already been won.
Each life holds the heart of God, each one is designed in the image of God. If we can simplify our hearts and not only accept our differences but embrace them, we can be America the Beautiful again.
-written by Andrea Casteel Smith, author of Scarred Beautiful