June 3, 2020
As a believer here is one of my guiding verses I keep coming to when I know I have to guide and lead my son during difficult times:
“But Jesus said, ‘Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children’. ” (Matthew 19:14)
I believe we have always been given an opportunity to bring our children close to the heart of God so that HE can shape them and grow them up for His Kingdom work (He has ALWAYS given us this opportunity for centuries…but I this has been on my heart and mind lately and so I wanted to write about this as a reminder to all the parents who follow me that we need/should be bringing our kids close to His heart so that he can help sow the seeds of hope for a better future).
I hope you all understand and know that I am writing this post out of the sincerity of my heart and that my goal is to encourage you as parents to open up the conversation with your kids (no matter what color or race) you are. I am in no shape or form trying to be an authority in this subject matter and I am not trying to preach to anyone- because I am one of the worst sinners ever. I fail. I fall short. I need grace on a daily basis. Simply put, I really hope you can read this through the lens of a parent (and a believer) talking to you. (And if you are still seething with resentment and anger towards me about writing about this topic…you may not want to follow me anymore because I want to use my business to glorify God…and one way I want to honor God is by using my role as a parent/business owner to remind other parents that we have a huge responsibility on our shoulders to lead our children to love others WELL).
With all that being said I am still always afraid of how people perceive me and I am always afraid of what people think about me, and of course, as I am typing this out, I am worried that I will be bashed to pieces because I am a believer, I’m not “diverse” enough, not “enough” in something blah blah blah (insert some fear). But I am going to press on because my son is watching me and I want to be a woman of integrity.
I’m going to start off by saying…I never knew what racism really meant until I moved to the south and then it hit me in the face when I was 19 years old (that’s when I moved to the South for college). It is an ugly thing. And because of my skin color, I am perceived as white (I am mixed Southeast Asian but that’s not the point) so I have been fortunate enough to receive so many privileges that I know I take for granted, and that my neighbors of color do not receive, and that makes me so sick to my stomach.
It also makes me sick to my stomach that this evil sin of racism has been an underlying current in our Nation’s history for generations upon generations and we act so surprised when things happen to disrupt our “perfectly curated world”. I know I am not the only one upset by what is happening. But now that I am a Mother, I see that it is my role and God-given job to teach my son about his privileges (since I did marry a white man and we are extremely blessed on in so many areas of our lives I do see it as my duty to raise my son to be aware of his blessings in life and aware that his primary purpose in life is to Glorify God by serving and loving others well.)
One of those roles is to continue to always set an excellent, loving, and godly example to other families, ESP the “younger” clients I interact with because I firmly believe that everything I say and do, kids are watching. And if kids are watching me in our 30-45 minutes of interaction, you bet I believe that kids are watching what their parents are saying and doing during this very pivotal moment in our nation’s history.
It IS important to have these hard discussions about racism with our children now because we are sowing seeds into their hearts and shaping their future.
Unfortunately, we live in such an ego-centric society (a ME centered society) that has been fueled even more by the powers and fire of social media and we are so consumed with our own egos that we forget to actually stop and consider what our words, actions, and anger-fueled thoughts are doing to our neighbors (and we forget that our children are watching us).
Then we act surprised when our children grow up and act out in so much anger and hatred (because of unspoken racism and unspoken abhorrence) in their hearts and we ask “why are they behaving like this? who can we blame? It’s ____ and _____ fault this is happening!” and then it continues the vicious cycle because we are not actually stopping to THINK about how our past actions have fueled venomous actions towards other people.
I understand there are SO many layers to the brokenness in our society, and I am a firm believer that there will NEVER be an instant remedy or solution to the problems we are facing in the world-(in our culture)-today. But I do believe that it is our role as parents (as caregivers) to our children is to make sure we are setting mature, upright, and wise examples to them.
Here are ways we can do that:
-Take a step outside of yourself and start introspectively thinking about the racism and hatred you may have towards others within your own heart. If you feel anger or resentment rising up inside of you, really be honest with yourself and examine that anger…where is it coming from and how can you deal with it in a healthy way? (Sometimes when INSTANT white-hot anger raises in me, it’s an indicator to me that I have some issues I need to deal with and immaturity I still am dealing with) (Again there is nothing wrong with the emotion of ANGER…it’s just what we do with it makes or breaks our character).
-Take a step further and see how your actions are playing out because of those layers of resentment.
-Are you truly taking steps to better your character by having hard and uncomfortable conversations OR are you conditioning yourself to “FEEL” like you are okay and you are not the problem? (Because let me tell you, we ALL have issues in our hearts no matter what our skin color is, and we all need to dig deeper and ask God to reveal issues in our hearts to help us grow and mature so that our reactions are life-giving and not life-taking to others)
-Are you educating your kids to be aware that there are different races around them? (If so, how are you presenting theses topics to them? Is it through a filter of sarcasm and negativity or biasedness?)
-We could all need to approach these topics with a stance of humbleness (not a stance that people owe us something). When we act arrogantly and act as if the world owes us something…our children see that and that sows bitterness in their hearts as well. Pray to be humble (it’s hard for me to be humble, to be honest, so I’m preaching to the choir).
-Actively be involved with diverse communities (there are SO many ways of doing this). One way my husband and I are involved in our home city of Nashville, TN is by plugging ourselves into Nashville Neighbors. (Again, there must be tangible actions after talking about it at home)
When we take actionable steps, these steps are not going to be an “overnight success” these steps may take months, years heck…even decades to crawl out of, but if we continue to take these steps towards actually cultivating healthier and more loving hearts our children WILL see this and it will sow the seeds of hope into their hearts and in turn when they are adults they will have the tools they need to treat their fellow neighbors with love and respect.
Again, I know there are so many added layers of problems in our country (world) like racism (as mentioned), but there is also abuse, trauma, social and economic traumas, etc. and some families are going to have to do REALLY deep work to step out of some twisted and evil narratives of their past family foundations and past traumas done to them. And in order to STEP out of the narrative, it takes a lot of grit, perseverance, hard work, and healthy communities who will fight for you.
Hey, it’s going to be uncomfortable work parents, but because we have been gifted with the role and blessing of getting to lead our children (for a VERY short period of time less than 18 years specifically) we have an obligation (and for those of us who are believers, I am going to take it a step further and say we have a heavenly obligation) to sow seeds of hope into our young one’s minds and actually SHOW our kids how to live lives of peace towards ALL of our neighbors.
So yes, even though we are going through some infuriating and downright sad and gross times right now in history, remember to put your phone down, and work through your anger first before going to social media, or whatever outlet you use to VENT your anger through because those little eyes are watching you, they are hearing what you are saying about “so and so” and they are being formed and shaped to have the same racist/hateful/biases and hurtful mindset that you have.
I hope, for the sake of my son, that in 20 years when he is a young adult, my husband and I will see the fruits of our labor of having sown in seeds of godliness, maturity, and discipline in his heart. I hope that he will grow to be a man of character, godliness, and a man who is full of joy and compassion towards EVERYONE and he will have the integrity to stand up for people who may not have a voice and that he will use his position in life to honor God.
But again, that prayer is something that my husband and I have to work on NOW and it’s hard work. It’s grueling work. It’s draining work. It’s tiring work. But this is what we believe God has called us to do. We have to dig deep, ask God to continue to take away the layers of sin/racism/hatred in our own hearts, and press into maturity so we can sow healthy seeds into Blaise’s future.
So parents, are you willing to do the hard work it takes for your children’s future?
I hope so.
Dolly DeLong is a Nashville-based family, elopement & branding photographer, and a business educator & encourager. Dolly loves serving families, eloping couples, and business owners with her timeless, radiant photography. She loves capturing the joy and emotion in both digital and film photos.
She also has a heart for serving the larger business community. Dolly shares her knowledge of tools like Pinterest, email marketing, and time management with fellow business owners in an encouraging and supportive way through Pinterest 1:1 training, helpful blog posts, and other resources.
Dolly’s faith and love for her family motivate her to help other business owners find the joy and freedom she’s found in running a successful small business.
Whenever she has a spare moment, she enjoys watching TV (i.e. Survivor), eating way too many sweets, and listening to podcasts while running or walking. To work with Dolly DeLong Photography LLC, please email her at email@example.com or fill out her contact form here.