My children have taught me so much. There was a time when I was naive enough to believe that I taught my children everything they needed for success in life and that they were too young to teach me anything at all. I took them to church; I demanded they did well in school and going to college was strongly encouraged; I taught them to live a life of morals and to respect authority. And even though my children are now grown and I have three adorable grandchildren, I realize just how much they have taught me over the years and how they continue to teach me about life, love, and acceptance -- even the grandchildren.
As a young girl growing up in the south, I was exposed to atrocities that I didn't realize were atrocities at the time. We are taught certain beliefs when young because of our parents' beliefs, because of our environment and demographics, and sometimes just plain out of the influence of others we came in contact with daily. Unfortunately, an upbringing in the south in the sixties did not come without its share of lessons learned from nothing more than grave ignorances. I grew up in a segregated south and it wasn't until I was in my high school years that I even had minorities in some of my classrooms -- minorities meaning any student who was a race other than caucasian. It was a bit uncomfortable to say the least because my parents had never allowed me to be around those who were not like me. But as my children were growing up, I unintentionally tried to protect them from minorities because that was the only way I knew. Now, I certainly am not blaming my parents for my own faults because my parents grew up in the south as well and were products of their childhood influences. Today I am very ashamed to admit that I had a very segregated childhood and when I see some of the things that happened in the sixties in the south, I realize just how scary it can be for those who are not accepted because they happen to look or be different from the majority.
So it was very enlightening for me as my children were coming up to see that their views of others were completely unbiased and that they strictly looked upon others as the same, no matter their skin color, their race, or their cultural upbringing. I tried not to be racist because by that time I had begun to see the truth of the matter and to truly believe it, that: God created all men equal. But as much as I tried, I still had this fear of mingling with those who were different from me and I'm afraid I passed some of that on to my children although, today, thankfully you'd never know it. I mean, all men being created as equals was a belief of my faith, but it's funny how we allow our past and our environment to influence us in what we know in our hearts is wrong. Sometimes we are just too afraid to speak out against what we know is incorrect, and that is a sad thing to admit. But my awakening has been a long time in coming over the years as I've truly begun to embrace the equality of all people, and my children and grandchildren have been a huge influence in that.
My children, by some beautiful miracle that does not involve me, are the most accepting people I know. So much so that my oldest daughter has served as a missionary in Central America for going on six years now. When we first found out that they felt called to do this, my first thought was Can't you just serve people here? Why do you want to move so far away and serve a culture you know nothing about? But Hollie has a great love for hispanics, and specifically for the people of Honduras. It is a love that I have come to understand more in recent years as I've had the pleasure of visiting this country and getting to know a little about the people. My youngest daughter has always had a love for the underdog who lives in urban America -- the lost, the homeless, the downtrodden, the forgotten. She has been intricately involved with these folks since she was in college and this love will continue to drive Abbie's passions, her choice of lifestyle, and her decisions for the rest of her life I am sure. I cannot leave out my dear son. Even though he has never directly served in what we consider mission work, he served six years in the military, and that is a mission above all missions! He sacrificed his life not only for those on the homeland, but also for his brothers on foreign soil. He learned very early on that his comrads were greatly varied...some white, some black, and every race in between. His best friend was a precious hispanic man (love you, Perez!!), and Tim has never met a person, no matter their ethnicity, who he does not treat as his equal. There truly is no color when you are bound by the common ground of love.
The image of Preston playing with her little friends tells a story in and of itself -- that babies come into this world having no prejudices, just accepting people for who they are. This picture spoke to my heart when I received it the other day and I felt compelled to share. So I share all this with you to remind you that there is hope. There is hope for all to get along as one, to love each other regardless of differences in color and culture, and to do it despite the fact that you lived so much of your life not embracing that truth. I owe my children a great debt of gratitude for the truths they have taught me, to love others as equals and to actually desire and embrace diversity. They have taught me to look beyond our differences to our many uncountable likenesses, and to love unconditionally no matter what. And they are teaching their children to do the same. My grandchildren have friends from all walks of life and all backgrounds, and they truly see no difference. The beauty of a person's soul is all they see, and for that I am truly proud.
Posted by CC
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