I sat alone watching the video being shared all over Facebook of Alton Sterling losing his life this past week–my stomach turned, and all I could muster was whispering, Oh Jesus….Jesus, Jesus.
When this was followed by Philando Castile losing his life, and then Dallas police officers being shot & killed defending & protecting people, I could not help but consider what my role is as a white, middle-class momma of three. Because, even if I don’t feel my children are threatened or my husband is in danger when he is doing his job, the loss of these lives, and the hate-spewing, name-calling, line-drawing division the enemy is stirring up is of the utmost concern to every child of the King; and further, if we don’t consider how to be part of the solution, we may as well be part of the problem.
So, naturally, as a momma, I considered what I am teaching my people–I know they are not hateful or antagonistic against people of different races. My girls’ only mentions of people’s skin color to date has been to admire their beauty. Audrey was shocked, last year, on Dr. Martin Luther King, jr. day when I taught her about the civil rights movement and why it was necessary at the time. The idea of looking down upon someone or thinking less of them because of their skin tone was foreign to her, and for this I am grateful. I imagine that many of you mommas have children who feel the same way.
And, so you may think you have done your job–you are part of the solution because you are not raising children who have spent time marinating in hate of another people group. Until a few days ago, I would have agreed with you, until I listened to a sermon podcast from Bethel Church, entitled, “Transforming Your Life,” and learned of the principle of first mention.
The principle of first mention says that the first time something is mentioned to us, and the information given on that topic, our brains then use as a lens on that topic. For example, if I teach my children God’s truth about sex first, and then they hear something else on the school bus or in Health class, they will use what I have taught them as a filter through with to process everything else on the topic; they will keep what lines up with that filter, and dismiss everything that doesn’t. If, on the other hand, I let my children hear about sex on the school bus first, and then at age 16 give them “the talk,” they will sift all of what I tell them through the filter already provided to them on the school bus.
So, mommas, if we want to raise people who love with Jesus-love regardless of skin color, social background, upbringing, or income-level, we had better be the first ones making mention. I used to think that not discussing skin color, for example, was a good plan because it showed my children that, to me, it isn’t a big deal. However, what I am doing is leaving them without a God-honoring lens for race relationships & leaving the filter to be set by whoever happens to first mention the topic to them. Scary to think about, isn’t it?
So, today, to be part of the solution, part of turning the enemy’s weapons back on his own camp, we need to be the first to mention the messy & painful history of race relationships to our children. It needn’t be complex to begin especially for young children. I plan to sing a familiar song with my girls, “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world, red, brown, yellow, black, and white, they are precious in His sight…” and be sure they know that their momma & daddy believe that God created people with all different skin colors (just like he created us with different noses, eye hues, and mouth shapes), and there are some people who would like us to believe that one color is better than another. But, those people are wrong. Every single human being was created in the likeness of God and for that reason alone their life is sacred.
So today, mommas, make mention & set a filter so we can raise up a generation whose perspective on race relationships lines up with that of Father God’s.