Trust: Part 1

Late last year, someone offered me some unsolicited advice.  “You’d better enjoy life now, and enjoy life with your daughter,” he said.  “When she grows up, she won’t even know what freedom is, because the world’s being taken over by Muslims.”

I wish I could think more quickly in situations like that.  I stood there with my mouth hanging open for a few seconds, and then went on about my business (I was thirty seconds away from officiating a funeral.)

That ridiculous comment has weighed on me for several weeks, and it came back to me early this month.  My mother-in-law has posted some old family photos online, which are a delight to peruse.  Her family came from the Azores (islands belonging to Portugal), and settled in Rhode Island about one hundred years ago.  Here’s a picture of her mother and uncle as teenagers:

Here’s why I thought about the “Muslim” comment as I looked at these photos:  the two people you see here were victims of discrimination.  Not anything approaching the cruelty of Jim Crow laws or the Taliban’s regulations, mind you, but discrimination nonetheless.  Blue-eyed “white” people living in the Northeast used to think of Portuguese people as servants.  No self-respecting Anglo at the time would invite a person of Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, Romanian, Greek, or any other southern European origin to a civic club or dance or business meeting.  Brown-eyed, olive-skinned people were supposed to live in separate areas of town and silently show up for work with their aprons or coveralls on.

When I look at the photo, I see people who decided that discrimination wasn’t going to get the better of them.  They chose to have a little trust.  Admittedly, I never met these two people.  From the stories I hear, though, it seems that they were tough and determined people.  My husband’s grandmother went on to move to North Carolina, raise a family, own a business, and own a home.  Folks may have looked at her funny down here in N.C. (“Where you from, anyway?”) but she didn’t let it bother her.

I choose to have that same attitude for myself, and for the sake of my little daughter with the Portuguese heritage, for the sake of my Muslim friends, and for just about anyone’s sake.  I refuse to spend my life worrying about bad apples.  I choose to trust that God can overcome.

I choose to trust in a God who can overcome poverty … discrimination … hatred … oppression … misinterpretation of holy words … poor decisions by governments … lack of economic opportunity.  I choose to trust in a God who brings people out of the desert, out of the lion’s den, and out of the grave.

I choose to trust in a God who can show me something new, and help me overcome my own prejudice.  I choose to trust in a God who works through “foreigners,” tax collectors, lepers, prostitutes, widows, orphans, and anyone else whom you might not appreciate if you have blinders on.

I refuse to give in to the twisted comfort of the “ain’t it awful” game.  It’s so easy to sit around and moan about how the world is going to the hot place in a handbasket.  I trust that God will give me a role to play in making the world better!

And you know what?  Even if the world is turned upside down by some hateful people, I trust that God will not abandon us.  Paul didn’t write Romans chapter 8 for fun.  Political power is always temporary, guns run out of ammo at some point, and warmongers meet the sharp side of the sword sooner or later.  God is forever.  I choose to trust in Him.

May the smiles on these two young people’s faces be shared by all, no matter what obstacles are placed in their way.

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