Race and Sexuality. Two words filled with shame and stigma in my heart, yet the Lord is beautifully rubbing back the layers of to show me His sweet and deep love and grace.

Beginning with race. I grew up in a Christian school with mostly White peers; it never bothered me, and it fact I never really noticed. It is when conversations began about diversity and words like Black culture began to pop up in my life that I began to take note that I was different. For so long I have rejected and despised the thought of being different, of being inferior and less than. Yet in my weaknesses and in the face of fear, the Lord is ever near.

The Lord has been bringing to my heart the theme of association this semester, the truth that He is not afraid to associate with the outcasts and to be with them and to love them, and may I, too.

There are too many thoughts that race through my head: I don’t want people to judge me, I don’t want my hair to stand out or to be too loud, I don’t want to be associated with Black people because then people won’t like me and will think I am like them, but I am different and set apart because of Christ. Every person, Black or White or anything is uniquely created by the King of Kings, and God took great delight in them. There is no shame in association because Jesus died for me, too, and loves me and each and every person regardless of their race. He looks and gazes deeply at our hearts and loves for us to come near to Him. Though some days it is burdensome and hard being Black, I know that it is beautiful because it puts me in a unique position to share the grace, love, peace, and joy of the Lord in this hard world. What a joy for the Lord to use me in this way!

Now for the harder conversation: sexuality. It has been a word filled with such brokenness and shame that I have stuffed down and hid from the Lord, and long to be set free to share with others that He may be glorified in it. I remember growing up faintly thinking it would be icky to marry a boy and that I would rather live with my friends. As I grew up, I felt rejected by boys and unwanted and unlovely, and wondered if I must be gay or if they thought that way of me. I knew by then that homosexuality was detestable in the sight of God, but temptations have a way of knowing what is right, but relentlessly attacking the heart anyways. Thoughts of lust for other girls filled my heart. I am afraid of what others will think of me and even how I view my own faulty thoughts. I am terrified to bring these things into the light that aren’t talked about in the Church, but if it leads even one closer to the heart of Jesus, may I boldly share my struggles and burdens so that we may draw ever nearer to the Lord and drink more deeply from His well of grace.

Even typing this, my heart floods with fear and shame with sharing these, yet I know there is freedom in it. This is because my thoughts and temptations and lusts do not define who God made me to be: His child sealed by His Holy Spirit. I believe that He who is in me is greater than He who is in the world. My sinful thoughts may plague me, but it leads me to a place of compassion, empathy, and understanding for others who struggle and allows me to love them more like Christ who has showed grace on me and empowered me to love others well.

These are two areas of my life that I pray God would continue to peel back the broken layers of my shame and fear of association that His Kingdom may be advanced, for He is very sweet and good.

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