I stood before a crowded room of over 50 adolescent 7th graders on Friday and told them about my family, my interests, my likes and dislikes, my favorite books, movies, music, and places to visit. It was my attempt to summarize who I am so they might have some insight into the kind of person I am and the type of community I want us to have in my classroom. It was going pretty smoothly. I was excitedly showing off my brother who is proudly serving in the United States Army, my mom who also loves working with middle school students "just like them," my dad who is the "sweetest, most sincere, and funniest person I know," my best friend and husband whom I love to "hang out with," and my two dogs who are as much of a mess as they look in the pictures. Their eyes were wide with interest, grins on their faces showed their amusement, and their posture encouraged me to continue. I flipped to the next slide where I revealed that one family member was missing, and I explained our adoption of Zane that is currently in process. On the slide, I had a beautiful Ethiopian flag, a decadent picture of moist Ethiopian coffee beans, two pictures of the captiol, Addis Ababa, and a large outine of Africa in the middle. I don't know what the children were thinking when I told them we were adopting, but I do know that many of their faces were excited and surprised and others were confused and perplexed. I've never seen such a contrast of emotions! One even asked, "Will he be black?" It's a great question! One that many wouldn't know to ask because they might assume that because Zane's from Africa he would be very dark. I tried to answer as best as I could with "His skin color could range from light/tan skinned to very dark skinned. There are many different people in Ethiopia and cultures from the middle east, Italy, and East Africa merge to make up this country." There was an interesting hush across the room, and honestly, I don't know what to make of it. I don't know if I should make anything of it at all, and I try not to in my mind. But I can't stop thinking of the boy's face after his question was answered. To me, it was a look of disapproval or disappointment. I hope I'm making the wrong assumption about his look, but still I can't get it out of my mind. If he was disapproving...why was he? Of what was he disappointed? Is it because I'm too white to parent a tan/dark baby? Is the baby too black to have a white mom? Is it too weird to adopt a child at all? Is it upsetting to him that I might choose to mother the motherless, rather than birthing a child biologically? What do people perceive about me? Do they think I am a merely caught up in a generational trend? Do they think I am an arrogant "princess"-type thinking I can save the world? And why do I care what they think? Why?
It is so difficult for me to look at the world and accept injustices, abuses, and inequalities. I don't want to be misunderstood, yet I don't want to be defensive either. People will have their judgements, but there is only one Judge. People will have their opinions, but there is one Truth. And He is worth it all.
When I look at Zane in my mind's eye, I see the utmost in earthly beauty. He is full of color, full of life, full of hope, and full of wonder. When I imagine Him, I imagine the face of one who has seen the face of God. There is radiance, gratitude, and peace. I don't know what color he will be, but I know He will be beautiful and there will be no one else in all the world like him. I know he will be fearfully and wonderfully made; knit together by the hands of God. I know I will be lost for words and yet so full of things I want to say to him. His color will be vibrant and He will be made in God's image.
When I imagine Heaven, I imagine there are colors I've never seen before. Paul said that we now see through a glass dimly, but then we shall see face to face. What we think of as blue on earth will have no semblance to the radiant shades of blue we will see when our eyes are unveiled. Likewise, the colors of our skin will radiate with glory indescribable. I imagine a sea of people who shine with the light of Christ and the beauty of rich browns, tans, blacks, reds, and yellows that have never been perceived by mankind. What humanity has made into a divisive and volatile physical attribute that has caused hatred and wars, God is making into a glorious and everlasting Kingdom that reflects His nature and His beauty.
I want so badly for people to know how color-blessed we are on this side of Heaven. I wish humans could love one another and really understand God's love for us. What would we do and how would we treat people if we really embraced them as our brothers and sisters? How would our children respond to our example? How would future generations embody the call of the Great Commission? Maybe adoption wouldn't be such a perplexing thing to our children after all.