Tuesday, February 24, 2015

He defines us...

It was the Christmas season of 1969, and I was home from college on break and working part time at J. C Penney as a gift wrapper/clerk. I took my lunch break and decided to go to the drugstore and get myself a soda.  All of my life up to that point I had attended segregated schools in my hometown. However when I went away to college, it was in a town that with recent marches and sit-ins, there was considerably a lot of changes. With those changes there had also been tragedies and lost of some lives, and as a student I was the beneficiary of the price paid. In my college town, my room-mates and I could go downtown and eat at the KFC or  drink at the public water fountain that no longer had signs for "colored" and "white". I remember us giggling to ourselves and feeling special after going into a public bathroom and walking out without someone yelling at us.  It was with this attitude that I went into that drugstore that day, not a smug attitude, but an attitude of confidence that change had come and now I am just like everyone else.

I was not trying to make a statement or be defiant, all I wanted was a soda. When I walked up to the counter, I did notice some strange looks and it did take a really long time for the lady working the counter to finally come over to me to ask what I wanted, but did not consider that change had not come entirely to my hometown.  My original intention was to order my drink and leave to go back to work, but because the waitress was moving so slow, I sat down at the counter on one of the stools.  Finally she came over with my drink and sat it on the counter in front of me. I paid her then inserted the straw to take a sip and that is when her movements that had been in slow motion all this time turned to turbo speed as she rushed over to me and said "You cannot sit there."  I asked her "Why?" and she said "Because we do not serve people like you at this counter." I then asked her "What kind of PEOPLE am I?" and she replied with so much anger in her voice "Nigras."  Now when I look back in retrospect and giving her the benefit of the doubt...maybe she was trying to say "Negroes", but with the venom in which she said it, I think she was aiming for the other word. LOL  I laugh now, but back then, trust me, it was far from funny. Because with that, something snapped in me and I watched in what looked like what had now become my turn to be in slow motion  as I took the large soda with ice and dumped it over the counter with a big splash. I did not aim for the waitress but I am sure that she got several DROPLETS on her shoes anyway. I arose from the stool and as I slowly left the store I could hear the waitress and others by now, shouting, cursing and calling me awful names.

After exiting and walking back to my job I fully expected to have the police follow and arrest me, or even someone throw something to hit me in the back.  But thank God, that did not happen, even though that walk was only about a block, it felt like an eternity to get back into the safety of J.C.Penney that day. Now... did I benefit from tossing that soda on the counter? No, and I would handle it much better and differently today...but can I be honest and say that it sure did feel good back then :-)

Recently I was having a phone conversation with my 13 year old granddaughter about the movie "Selma" that we each had seen; she and her friend of the same age were blown away with the portrayal of some of the scenes of segregation and how some people felt about it back then. When I told her that when I was 13, "that way" was a real part of my life. Now don't get me wrong, I did not have a tough life, both my parents were hard working folks that gave me and my siblings the very best that they could in everything, I never remember wanting for anything as a child growing up.  They also taught us to have respect for others as well as ourselves. My father worked in a Paper Mill,which was considered a very good job back then, but he was not allowed to eat his lunch in the cafeteria/break room, he and his other black co -workers had to find a place in the rafters or wherever to eat.  But my Dad never complained, he was just so thankful to have a steady job that provided for his family. He worked there many years and was awarded special recognition upon his retirement.  My mom was a housekeeper and not only was she excellent at keeping other people's homes, but she kept her own home immaculate and organized. I have so much to be thankful for, because they taught us to be good at whatever we do and never let someone else's opinion of you, define you. But it was still a time when segregation reigned and underneath even all the love and security that my parents provided for us, was a certain fear of being rejected or even harmed while out in public because of the color of our skin.

That experience that day at the drugstore and many other similar experiences I have had do not define me. Yes, I am black, an African American, a Negro if you will, I was made by God, I am not a mistake and though it may sound cute...God is NOT color blind. When God made me He knew exactly what color He wanted me to be and He does not expect me or anyone else to ignore that fact. I do not expect others to NOT see my color, just as I will not ignore theirs; but I will respect our diversities. God in His graciousness made diversity in all of creations...I think it would be quite boring if we all looked the same.  :-)  We have so much to benefit from each other.  While a bouquet of only yellow daffodils is certainly beautiful and can brighten a day, there is so much you can say about a bouquet of yellow daffodils, red roses, purple tulips and pink peonies!  The mixture and abundance of diverse colors and features of a mixed bouquet will bring hours of OOO's and AAAH's (ever been to the Philadelphia Flower show?)

I am sure that many of us from all races can share stories about when we have been mistreated because of prejudice (pre-judged by the color of our skin) but we all know that those experiences do not define us.  God is the One that defines us.  When we surrender our past hurts and rejections to Him, He becomes our foundation of which we build not only our existence but our very character.  I found this list on a website and according to His Word, this is how He defines us:

I am God’s child (John 1:12)
I have been justified (Romans 5:1)
I am Christ’s friend (John 15:15)
I belong to God (1 Corinthians 6:20)
I am a member of Christ’s Body (1 Corinthians 12:27)
I am assured all things work together for good (Romans 8:28)
I have been established, anointed and sealed by God (2 Corinthians 1:21-22)
I am confident that God will perfect the work He has begun in me(Philippians 1:6)
I am a citizen of heaven (Philippians 3:20)
I am hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3)
I have not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7)
I am born of God and the evil one cannot touch me (1 John 5:18)
I am blessed in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing(Ephesians 1:3)
I am chosen before the creation of the world (Ephesians 1:4, 11)
I am holy and blameless (Ephesians 1:4)
I am adopted as his child (Ephesians 1:5)
I am given God’s glorious grace lavishly and without restriction(Ephesians 1:5,8)
I am in Him (Ephesians 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:30)
I have redemption (Ephesians 1:8)
I am forgiven (Ephesians 1:8; Colossians 1:14)
I have purpose (Ephesians 1:9 & 3:11)
I have hope (Ephesians 1:12)
I am included (Ephesians 1:13)
I am sealed with the promised Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13)
I am a saint (Ephesians 1:18)
I am salt and light of the earth (Matfthew 5:13-14)
I have been chosen and God desires me to bear fruit (John 15:1,5)
I am a personal witness of Jesus Christ (Acts 1:8)
I am God’s coworker (2 Corinthians 6:1)
I am a minister of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:17-20)
I am alive with Christ (Ephesians 2:5)
I am raised up with Christ (Ephesians 2:6; Colossians 2:12)
I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 2:6)
I have been shown the incomparable riches of God’s grace(Ephesians 2:7)
God has expressed His kindness to me (Ephesians 2:7)
I am God’s workmanship (Ephesians 2:10)
I have been brought near to God through Christ’s blood (Ephesians 2:13)
I have peace (Ephesians 2:14)
I have access to the Father (Ephesians 2:18)
I am a member of God’s household (Ephesians 2:19)
I am secure (Ephesians 2:20)
I am a holy temple (Ephesians 2:21; 1 Corinthians 6:19)
I am a dwelling for the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2:22)
I share in the promise of Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:6)
God’s power works through me (Ephesians 3:7)
I can approach God with freedom and confidence (Ephesians 3:12)
I know there is a purpose for my sufferings (Ephesians 3:13)
I can grasp how wide, long, high and deep Christ’s love is(Ephesians 3:18)
I am completed by God (Ephesians 3:19)
I can bring glory to God (Ephesians 3:21)
I have been called (Ephesians 4:1; 2 Timothy 1:9)
I can be humble, gentle, patient and lovingly tolerant of others(Ephesians 4:2)
I can mature spiritually (Ephesians 4:15)
I can be certain of God’s truths and the lifestyle which He has called me to (Ephesians 4:17)
I can have a new attitude and a new lifestyle (Ephesians 4:21-32)
I can be kind and compassionate to others (Ephesians 4:32)
I can forgive others (Ephesians 4:32)
I am a light to others, and can exhibit goodness, righteousness and truth (Ephesians 5:8-9)
I can understand what God’s will is (Ephesians 5:17)
I can give thanks for everything (Ephesians 5:20)
I don’t have to always have my own agenda (Ephesians 5:21)
I can honor God through marriage (Ephesians 5:22-33)
I can parent my children with composure (Ephesians 6:4)
I can be strong (Ephesians 6:10)
I have God’s power (Ephesians 6:10)
I can stand firm in the day of evil (Ephesians 6:13)
I am dead to sin (Romans 1:12)
I am not alone (Hebrews 13:5)
I am growing (Colossians 2:7)
I am His disciple (John 13:15)
I am prayed for by Jesus Christ (John 17:20-23)
I am united with other believers (John 17:20-23)
I am not in want (Philippians 4:19)
I possess the mind of Christ (I Corinthians 2:16)
I am promised eternal life (John 6:47)
I am promised a full life (John 10:10)
I am victorious (I John 5:4)
My heart and mind is protected with God’s peace (Philippians 4:7)
I am chosen and dearly loved (Colossians 3:12)
I am blameless (I Corinthians 1:8)
I am set free (Romans 8:2; John 8:32)
I am crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20)
I am a light in the world (Matthew 5:14)
I am more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37)
I am the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21)
I am safe (I John 5:18)
I am part of God’s kingdom (Revelation 1:6)
I am healed from sin (I Peter 2:24)
I am no longer condemned (Romans 8:1, 2)
I am not helpless (Philippians 4:13)
I am overcoming (I John 4:4)
I am persevering (Philippians 3:14)
I am protected (John 10:28)
I am born again (I Peter 1:23)
I am a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17)
I am delivered (Colossians 1:13)
I am redeemed from the curse of the Law (Galatians 3:13)
I am qualified to share in His inheritance (Colossians 1:12)
I am victorious (1 Corinthians 15:57)


5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dear Veronica,

Thank you for sharing this part of your life with me. It is very meaningful, more than you know.

I appreciate the list of how God sees us very much and have copied it to have close at hand. Thank you.

Love,
Lily - another child of the King

Anonymous said...

Hello Veronica,

I have come by a few times to see if you have been here with a new post or to post the replies to your post. (I left one so I know there have been some.) But you haven't yet put them on yet. So I hope that you are okay and maybe just away from the computer for a bit. Just sending up a prayer for you while I am here.

You don't have to post this on the blog... it is just a little message to you of missing you.

Love,
Lily

Veronica said...

Thank you so much for stopping by Lily. I have not posted any new "blogs" recently, I guess because I have been a little busy. I miss it too :-). I do hope to be up an running again by the weekend as the Lord leads. Thanks for checking up on me, that means a lot to me. Thanks for your prayers, they are so appreciated. Sending hugs to you.

Karin Alfaro said...

Hello, Veronica,
I made a mistake. My new blog is visionandunderstanding.blogspot.com. So, I will take it as it was meant to be to find you.

All the Best,

Karin

Veronica said...

Hi Karin,
Thanks for stopping by, mistake or not. :-) I hope that you will stop by again soon. I will check out your blog as well. Take care.