Racism…it does not just attack African Americans, but it impacts all ethnic groups in the United States. Racism is the reason I did not grow up as a practicing Christian, or speak Spanish. Could you imagine being married and bringing your children to the newly built church near your house, hoping to be part of a welcoming Catholic community? Instead, my parents dealt with parishioners’ disgusted looks of disapproval. This occurred in Colorado Springs, Colorado, back in the 1990s.
As a result of this bad experience, my mother and father decided not to bring us to church anymore. In addition, my father decided not to teach Spanish to my sister and I, even though he was raised speaking both Spanish and English. He wanted to prevent my sister and me from being discriminated against for being part Hispanic.
Well, that plan backfired with me. Even though I could not speak Spanish, I ended up facing prejudice in elementary through high school, when our family moved to Lexington, South Carolina. I was so upset with all the discrimination, I decided I was better off alone to avoid being bothered by people. I became a loner, and I called myself a lone wolf.
The prejudice I faced from people not only made me want to avoid everyone, but it made me dislike people. Though I never treated people with disrespect, instead I always believed to treat others the way I would like to be treated. I was not going to treat others cruelly, just because people did to me. I sought to be kind to people, since that is what I wanted.
Unfortunately, in my mind, I will mention again…I disliked people…including other Hispanics…especially Mexicans, since I blamed them for how white people treated me. Yes, I am part Spanish, but that is not all of me. Though I took Spanish in school, I despised the language. I would have rather claimed not knowing the language, just to prove I was not Mexican or Hispanic (though I am part Spanish. I am Apache/Spanish mixed).
Once I got to college, I was no longer discriminated against. People saw me as a biology student, not a Mexican. I became more outgoing, and my negative views of people began to disappear. At the same time, I sought to reclaim my Christian faith that I lost so long ago. My father had tried to get my family to go to church back when I was in middle school a few times. However, my dad’s job and everyone’s excuses (wanting to sleep in, etc.) stopped us from attending Mass.
Fast forward to age 20, I attended a Christian church for the first time in about 8 years. Two years later, I got confirmed at the same Christian church I attended with my family in middle school. Throughout those years, I began to open up and get out of my shell that I had hid in for so many years. I slowly let go of past hurts, began to trust people, and allowed Christ to work through me to love others as He has loved me for so many years, and continues to this day.
Where am I now? Well, I have developed friendships with Hispanics from different countries within the past few years, and I have started to relearn Spanish (I stopped taking Spanish past the 10th grade). A few months ago, a friend mentioned during a church event that I could sing to a Spanish Mass attender, which led me to sing at Spanish Masses. I cannot speak Spanish that well, but I can sing! I hope by attending and singing at Spanish Masses, I will eventually learn the language again.
Throughout my childhood and early adult life, I have been making the transition from the lone wolf avoiding the world to reclaiming my true identity that I lost, a Hispanic Christian on fire for the Lord. Truly, when you seek Christ, He restores you to who you are meant to be, yourself, not just yourself, but who He made you to be.
1 Peter 5:10 – “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, establish, and strengthen you”
If you ever found yourself in a similar situation as I was, or just a difficult situation in general, look to the Bible for words of life that will set you free from bondage of your current situation. The Word of God is living, therefore every word is relevant to the present time, and each verse from the Bible provides that exact help that someone needs. For example, one of my favorite verses in Psalm 91:1 – “You who dwell in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shade of the Almighty” If you read the entire Psalm, it just gets better and better.
Psalm 91 is a reminder that if you follow God, He will be there for you when you need Him. Not only when you need Him, but He is always there. For example, Mathew 8:20 –“… And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” The Gospels are the perfect source of help for anyone dealing with anything. If you think, “My life is so…..(fill in the blank)” Instead of getting down, thinking no one can relate to your situation….just remember…..Hebrews 4:15 –“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin” Jesus is the One Person we can rely on for help, and stories of his life and ministry can remind us that He has been through similar, or worse situations, then what we have been through. Not only that, we are never alone, because He is always there for us, helping us carry our crosses. We need not to get discouraged or lose hope. If I had lost hope or got discouraged from finding my true love, God, I would have never known the amazing things God had and does have in store for me. God Bless! 🙂