Rachel Dolezal and the Sin of Discontentment

Our eyes are never satisfied (Proverbs 27:20) with where we are or who we are. I once heard George Ross put it this way “We always want to be someone else, doing something else, somewhere else.” We envy the lives of others. Rarely, are we satisfied with who God has made us or where he has placed us. Introverts want to be extroverts. Lighter-skinned people want to be the tan ones. The left-brained people want to dominate by the right side of their brain. We are discontent.

The Discontentment of Ms. Dolezal

In 2015 Rachel Dolezal‘s parents revealed she was a white woman trying to “disguise herself” as a black female. She was the president of the NAACP’s chapter in Spokane, Washington. She disclaimed her white parents. She claimed her adopted brother was her son to carry on her facade. She frequents the tanning bed and hairdresser to maintain her appearance. She has admitted she was born white, but she chooses to identify as black. Dolezal identifies as black because of her discontentment.

Dolezal is an example of how far we will go when we are discontent. Have you ever put a significant amount of effort into conforming to the image of someone else?  What have you done to alter who God has made you? At times, we think our lives would be better if we were someone else, doing something else, somewhere else.

But God

God has made us in his image (Genesis 1:26). The Lord crafted us in our mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13). He gave us our eyes, smiles, and voices. He has gifted us with talents and abilities. He chose our ethnicity, personality, and family. God has had and still has control of every detail of our lives and he is using them for our good (Romans 8:28). Beloved, whatever hinders you from being content, God gave it to you. God has placed you where you are in life. You may be downcast about who you are, but the Master is still molding and making you (Romans 8:29). God has placed you at your wearisome job for a reason. Take courage that by God’s grace you are who you are. His grace has brought you where you are. When you are tempted to be discontent, remember the grace of God.

 

Side Rant:

I can’t leave this post without talking about Ms. Dolezal’s unique option or privilege. Canceling her appointments to the tanning bed and hairdresser could change her life. She could choose to identify as white. Black people don’t have that option. We are black twenty-four seven and that comes with some advantages and disadvantages. One of those disadvantages is pain and historical trauma. I would be curious to ask if Ms. Dolezal would like the whole black package.

Does she want to always wonder “Are they treating me this way because I am black?” What about the feelings of powerlessness? Or the feelings we have when people ignore our history? What about the televised misrepresentations? Does she want to look at injustice and say that could be me or my family? It is costly being someone else.

Whoever we idolize they have particular issues and sins that they have to deal with. Their social media accounts only capture a snapshot of what their lives are like. Instagram may capture their laughs but not their loneliness. Facebook post may reveal their wisdom, but not their weariness. Their emojis don’t show you their hearts. When you find yourself wanting to take a trip to someone else’s life remember that means you have to carry their baggage and yours.
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Is It Because I Am Black?

I wonder if he just noticed what just happened.” I was on a recruiting trip at a conference and it was lunch time. My white colleague and I decided to explore the mall in hopes of finding a place to eat. After looking at the long line and the other restaurants we decided to eat at a place that served chicken and waffles. There was no line. A Caucasian girl was taking orders and preparing food. We ordered the same meal. Before we received our order of chicken and waffles she asked if we wanted hot sauce and honey. We were both are from the south so we said “YES” without hesitation.

I watched her pour the honey into one cup. The bottle of honey was almost empty. She squeezed the bottle until no more honey would come out. The cup was filled halfway. Then she went to the back to get a new bottle. She finished filling the first cup to the brim. Then she filled the second cup only halfway. Next, she started to pour the hot sauce.  She filled the first cup, but the second cup was only filled halfway. When I saw the unequal portions of the cups I thought “She is going to give me the cups that are partially filled.” I waited, hoping I was wrong.  Sadly, I was right she handed me the half-filled cups.

I walked away wondering if my white colleague saw what happened. I also pondered another question, “Was I given less because of my blackness?”

The Hovering Question 

Is it because I am black?” I ponder this question quite often. Often I walk into spaces where I stick out because of my darker skin tone. However, I imagine many other African Americans ponder this question as well. But situations like the one mentioned above always bring the question back to mind. My white colleague was dressed similar to me, ordered the same meal, but he received more. I don’t know the reason the girl gave him more, so I am just left with assumptions. However, this is not the case in other situations.

The Hovering Facts

Black people make up 13.3 percent of the population in America. We make up 37.7 percent of the prison population in America. Black people make up 38 percent of the people in poverty in America. More than half of black children in America are born in single parent homes. Twenty-four percent of the people shot and killed by police in 2015 were African American. The unemployment rate for African Americans is 7.9 compared to the 3.8 white unemployment rate. African American boys are perceived to be older and are not perceived to have the same childhood innocence as their white counterparts.

I know that is a lot of stats and you may be able to forget them. I can’t. I was the black boy who was assumed to be older. I have family in prison. I grew up in poverty and in a single parent home. I have seen the videos of African Americans killed unjustly by police. I have family members who desired a job but struggled to find one. These stats haunt me because those numbers have names and faces attached.

The Steadfast God 

I am troubled by the assumptions and stats, but I am comforted by the God who is mindful and cares for us (Psalm 8:4). My soul rests in the fact that His love and His mercy is never ending (Lamentations 3:22). The hairs on my head are numbered. He knows and controls the stats. His sovereignty is enough to calm my vexed soul. However, I still have questions.

Though the stats may hover and assumptions may be many, my God is still on the throne. He knows what happens because of my blackness and He will never give me less than what is good for me (Romans 8:28; Matthew 7:11).

 

Would love to hear others share their stories or thoughts….

 

Lord, If You Had Been There

where-are-you-now

In John’s gospel in reference to the death of Lazarus, these words are written.

Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you would have been here my brother would not have died.” John 11:21

Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him she fell at his feet, saying to him “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died.” John 11:32

I remember sitting in a church service after a tragic incident had happen and heard “God had nothing to do with that.”  If the preacher had looked me in the eye when he said that statement he might have seen the look on my face that displayed my thoughts of “That ain’t right.” At that point in my life, I was a theological Nazi and I thought Jesus made me a missionary to those in theological poverty. As I have gotten older I realized that I have had my moments where I believed “God had nothing to do with that.” I never uttered the exact words but my actions on occasion would reveal this was my belief.

Many times I believe it is easier to say God was not there in a tragic event than to explain how he was watching when it happened. We live in a sinful world that is full of the sinful men. If you are having trouble believing how terrible this world is STOP READING right now and turn on the news. Believers must either decide that God takes breaks while sin takes action or that God is watching while the effects of sin affect this world. However, I found myself number of times in my walk when sin seemed more present in my environment. They resulted in me asking God, where are you? The cries of my heart echoed that of Mary and Martha “Lord, if you had of been there.” Mary and Martha were saying Jesus if you had of been with us longer our brother would still be alive. They were saying Jesus if you had been here things would be better than they are now. So how do we answer the question of where is God when the results of sins seems like more of a reality then he is? I would just like to share what I have learned.

My Answer

I answer the question with Exodus 2:24-25:

“And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.”

I heard a sermon by Voddie Baucham explaining this passage and the Lord rearranged my theology through his sermon. God does not leave or take breaks while sin seems to run rapid. God hears! God Remembers! God sees!  God Knows! This is good news because if the opposite is true then there is reason to be depressed. If the opposite is true then God turns his head for moments in time while evil runs amok. I don’t know about you but if God takes breaks then the fear of knowing that would scare me more than snail in a salt mine. However, I thank God that HE IS EVERYWHERE AT ALL TIMES.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones rightly said:

“This is the fundamental thing, the most serious thing of all, that we are always in the presence of God.”

We can never say God was not there.

Where can I go to escape Your Spirit?
Where can I flee from Your presence?
 If I go up to heaven, You are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, You are there.

Psalm 139:7-8

 

Praise the Lord I Can Sing….

How shall we sing the Lord‘s song in a foreign land? (Psalms 137: 4 ESV)

Growing up I always was reminded of my race, which allowed me to be aware of those who were of a different race around me. One way my family, school and church would remind of my race was to bring up slavery and black history. Most of my life I heard about the hardships of slavery, the racism of the south, and civil rights leaders. However, I also learned how they sang. They sung to songs like Wade in the Water, Oh, Freedom, Keep Your Eyes on the Prize, and We Shall Overcome. They sang these songs while often abused, oppressed, dehumanized, beaten, and seemingly hopeless. Although, they sang these songs with hope that one day they will escape their temporary hardships.

The scripture in Psalm 137 is in reference to the exile of the Israelites and how they remember Jerusalem. They remember the temple or the house of the LORD. They were away from the place they called home, which was destroyed. The temple they remembered was demolished and they were taken captive. They were down cast and in a state of deep sadness. Their captors asked them to sing one of the songs of Zion in a land far from home. Israel was haunted by the desire to be back in the land they loved.

Often times I survey the news headlines and the condition of the world is depressing. This world still is plagued with poverty, oppression, abuse, illness, disaster,death, and sin. We have all been affected one way or another by this. There is no where you can run or hide in this world to escape it. As believers we know we have a inheritance that awaits in a place not made or contaminated by the sickness of this world. The news is if we are believers we have reason to sing because we know this world is corrupted, sinful, and temporary. We have reason to sing because of 2 Corinthians 5:1

“For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”

However, if the hope of Christ did not flood my soul  and I had a accurate view of the condition of the world, no song would come from my lips. I would live too downcast to sing a song knowing this world is full of wickedness and it would come to an end. The knowledge of pain and suffering would haunt my mind knowing it would always be this way. The thoughts of my death would make me hesitate to close my eyes.

BUT, Praise the Lord, I can sing now because I know the truth. I can sing the Old Negro Spiritual with joy:

Soon-a will be done a-with the troubles of the world
Troubles of the world, troubles of the world
Soon-a will be done a-with the troubles of the world
Goin’ home to live with God

Amen.