Category Archives: disappointment

Untwisting the Past

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Freckles

“If she didn’t have so many freckles on her face, she would be so much prettier.” These are the words that were said to me daily. I should have been use to the sting, but it always felt like a new cut that let me know how I did not measure up. My mom was born with a complexion that was the color of white pearls. She didn’t need to tell me that she did not like my skin color, she showed it through her side remarks and constant efforts to purify my skin through different toners, face masks, and creams.

As a person of color, my story is a common one. The practice of extending or withholding favor based on a person’s skin tone is called colorism (Millner). It can usually be found within a cultural or social group where skin color is divided into dark-skinned and light-skinned. The negative attitudes are not from outside groups, but from grandparents and parents who show favor toward the light skinned children; same race men who ignore the dark-skinned women; commercial and print ads that use pale skinned models to push how light skin equates beauty, success, and love.

So how do we change attitudes about skin color? When I was facing this issue with my daughter who was called, “ugly” because of her dark skin, I had to take a hard look at my opinions on the topic, and then I had to reorganize my attitude since it was clouded by my mother’s voice and that of my culture. This led me to find books, dolls, female role models, and enter my daughter into the world of professional modeling. I did this because I wanted to use these things to have open conversations about color, and for her to understand that people come in different shades, but our worth is the same.

It is hard to have so many negative messages affect my daughter. But ultimately, I want my daughter to understand what I didn’t when I was her age, she is beautiful and smart because she is “fearfully and wonderfully made” by God (Psalm 139:14).

Don’t let others label you. Too often when you are tagged, it can stick for long time. It is easy to believe what others perceive, but those things are often based on assumptions. Don’t let people limit who God made you to be.

Breaking Free of Your Past

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You are worthless.

You are stupid.

You will not amount to anything.

You are a disappointment.

Though words like these were told when we were children or by a co-worker, the words can still sting and crush how we see ourselves as adults. We tell ourselves to move forward and not believe the words, but they linger and stay with us, to the point of clouding our perspective and even tormenting us.

“Why couldn’t I do more with my life” or “Why am I such a loser?” As women and mothers, it is so easy to point out our flaws and the things that we didn’t do. It even makes us feel guilty and blame ourselves for not spending our time wisely or not doing more with our lives.

Sometimes when I feel like this, I want to be a turtle and hide in my shell. I want to close myself off from people because I am ashamed for lacking in so many areas. When I am like this, I can’t think about my future because I am so stuck in the past that is affecting my present life.  I also do not want to be around people because I have hardened my heart from getting hurt from another person.

It is a rough road to be on alone. Yet, we don’t need to believe in those negative words. We just need to turn to God who loves us and sent His Son to save us. Also, remember that no person’s life is so horrible that God can’t do something wonderful in His timing.

Rahab was a prostitute

David was a murderer and committed adultery

Paul persecuted Christians

Peter denied Jesus

It is easy to allow the past to dictate our lives and to numb pain through food, television, and keeping busy, but when Jesus died on the cross, he washed away every dirty stain, our tears, and past wounds with his blood. He transformed us into new creations. The old life is gone and a new life has begun (2 Cor. 5:17).

As Easter is coming, may this be a reminder to lay the shattered pieces of your life at the foot of the cross and be healed within. You are a new creation who is being molded daily to the likeness of Jesus Christ. Be free from the garbage of the past and remember that you were chosen by Christ for a purpose.

Not Fitting a Mold

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Do you ever feel like you don’t fit the mold? I constantly felt this way growing up and it was not only because I am an Asian woman with freckles, who is above average in height, and can break a person’s nose with one finger, but because starting in kindergarten, I was a latchkey kid who had to take care of my older brother while my parents worked two jobs. Even though my brother is four-years older, it was explained to me that because my brother was a male, I had to take care of him. Every day after school, I was responsible for opening the front door of our home, feeding my brother a snack of Chef Boyardee or ramen noodles, and warming up the rice and soup for dinner.  I also had to prepare a bath for my brother, make sure he brushed his teeth, and then clean up the house before going to bed. I did this until he left for college.

On the weekends when my mom was home, she would point out every flaw on my face. She always thought my nose was too flat and wide, so she would massage my nose bridge and make me sleep with a wooden laundry pin on it. I always remember how she would also make me practice smiling in a way that did not make my nose look flat and my eyes too slanted. She told me that my looks were “too Asian.”

When my mom was not advising me about my outward appearance, she was teaching me how to cook a good meal for my brother since she knew he would be the “one” to attend a top university and become a successful businessman or doctor. When I would ask her about the dreams that she had for me, she always said it was to grow-up to be a beautiful woman, so I could marry a doctor, move to Northbrook, and have a husband who could buy me a big house.

When it was time for me to attend college, I picked a school that was far away from home. I wanted to finally experience freedom and find myself. I did not want to take care of anyone or be told who I was as a daughter and female. Many boys thought I was pretty, but called me a snob and lesbian for not wanting to date and go to social events. One boy became so upset at my lack of interest in him that he got his fraternity brothers to hide in the trees one night and rape me. I was able to escape because of my black belt in Tae Kwon Do, but I was never the same person after that incident. My hope and innocence died with each layer of clothing the boys were able to peel off my body.

When I withdrew from the college, I was so bitter inside that I pushed everyone away and put up a wall. For years, I let the animosity build because I was tired of the unfair expectations of me and how everyone was trying to put me in a mold. Why was I not allowed to be me?

When I sought out the church to guide me through these dark times, I was told by my pastor and church leaders to “stop being angry” and to guard my heart as a single woman. They believed that once I found a good husband, any pain would go away since marriage brings wholeness to individuals.  But how could I think about marriage when I had such a broken past? No one wanted to address this part of me because they believed being in a relationship, learning to be a submissive wife, getting married, and having children was the highest calling for a woman.

When several men began calling me and saying that God wanted us to be in a relationship and get married, I became so angry that I wanted to punch them in the face. I didn’t understand how two people could worship the same God, but hear different messages. Was I the one who was not open to His leading because of the bitterness or sin in my heart? I sought the advice of people at church again and I was told that I had the wrong perspective because I should want to be in a relationship with a godly man and I should feel blessed.  I had career and academic goals for myself, but they insisted that marriage and having a child would make those desires unimportant because ” I would understand how being a mother is the highest honor since I would be used by God to bless the lives of my child and anyone who came into my home.”

After many of these type of conversations with the leaders of the church, I had a meltdown and walked away from Christianity for two-years. Not because I was disappointed with God, but because of the way that people in my life, especially individuals in church leadership misused and abused their authority to oppress and dominate -sometimes even justifying their ideas by using passages in the Bible incorrectly. These wrong interpretations are damaging since they distort God’s design for a woman and can make her feel bad about herself.

In John Piper’s essay, “Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood,” he talks about the importance of returning to masculinity and femininity that is biblical.  When men do this, there will be ” a sense of benevolent responsibility to lead, provide for and protect women in ways appropriate to a man’s different relationships.” As for women, there will be  “a freeing disposition to affirm, receive and nurture strength and leadership from worthy men in ways appropriate to a woman’s different relationships.”

Without a doubt, the greatest achievement of any human being is to discover God’s design and fulfill it. This should be the goal for the church and society. For women, should not be placed in a mold since it limits who God made them to be.